Valencia, Spain cruise holidays
Vibrant Valencia, Spain's third-largest city is a popular and picturesque resort known for its pavement cafes, parties (Las Fallas) and paella. Amongst art and architecture you can see plazas, palaces, churches and cathedrals, before heading to one of the city's white sandy beaches to cool off. The old city is a great place to begin and offers a superb selection of sights and landmarks. Valencia Cathedral displays 3 magnificent portals; one Baroque, one Romanesque and one Gothic. Once inside you can climb the octagonal Miguelete Bell Tower to see sweeping views then from here navigate the narrow streets to the Plaza del Ayuntamiento, the Museo de Belles Artes or the towers of Torres de Serranos. In the new town wander wide balmy avenues and simply observe and enjoy the Mediterranean way of life. More recent additions to the city include the aesthectically stunning and ultramodern 'City of Arts and Sciences' with its fantastically shaped soaring glass palaces.
New visitors should start at Valencia’s old town, just a short stroll from the stunning port (which was totally remodelled when this maritime city hosted the America’s Cup in 2007). As well as being thronged with tempting tapas bars, the Ciutat Vella is the perfect place to immerse yourself in the city’s heritage of Roman, Renaissance, Baroque and Neo-Classical architecture. Discover the old Silk Exchange, catch sight of the Holy Grail in Valencia’s Gothic cathedral or shop for souvenirs in the unique Plaza Redonda (round square). Ceramics are always a good buy – the industry has been going strong in Valencia for over 1,000 years, as evidenced by the beautiful tile work on many of the city’s buildings.
Whilst in Valencia, take a stroll along the riverbed park of the city’s Turia Gardens. The Turia river was diverted from the city in 1957 to prevent constant flooding, and its former site has been transformed into an urban park, home to beautiful green spaces, sports facilities, routes for walking, jogging and cycling, as well as open-air performance areas. Admire works by national and international designers, graffiti artists and muralists. For an ultra-modern otherworldly experience, head to Valencia’s City of Arts and Sciences, where glistening white structures in undulating shapes meet the sky. The play of light and crystal-clear reflecting pools create a mesmerising scene, and it’s a magical place to watch the sun set. This cultural and leisure centre boasts Europe’s biggest marine park, the Oceanogràfic, designed by the Spanish architect Felix Candela, as well as the opera house, science museum and the Hemisfèric 3D cinema, all designed by Valencian architect Santiago Calatrava.
The structures of steel, glass and white concrete, which are reflected in the surrounding water, are partly covered in ceramic fragments that glisten in the bright sunlight. For me, these buildings offer a powerful metaphor for a city that remembers its maritime heritage and history, yet confidently embraces the future.