One of the largest spectacles of art takes place in the main square of Valencia, the Plaza Ayuntamiento. This display of art and tradition is called the Fallas Festival and it takes place during the first 19 days of March. The history of this annual festival dates back to the Middle Ages, when carpenters would burn their remaining wood planks to celebrate the spring and pay tribute to San José, the patron saint of carpenters. This tradition grew to become a key part of the culture of Valencia and now displays pyrotechnic shows and beautiful wooden works of art for anyone in the city to enjoy. Not around for the festival? No problem! You can still explore The Museo Fallero de València throughout the year to experience the rich history of the Fallas Festival whenever you come to visit.
What better way to immerse yourself in the culture of Spain than to explore the art that tells the storied history of Valencia. In Valencia you can find a wide variety of art throughout the city by wandering the many museums this city holds or even discovering the local works of street art as you walk through the neighborhoods. No matter which way you go about exploring the art of Valencia, you can be sure to find whatever it is you are looking for through the vast displays of art in the city.
L’Institut Valencià d’Art Modern, also known as the IVAM, is one of the most well known art museums in Spain and for good reason! The IVAM is the perfect spot for those interested in modern art. It carries a constantly changing selection of exhibitions you can see throughout the year. For example it currently houses exhibits such as “Julio González and the avant-gardes” which displays the unique sculptures created by Julio González, and “An exercise in violence” by Guillermo Ros, depicting systemic violence through an artistic means. But the rotating exhibits are not all that the IVAM has to offer. It contains a permanent collection of 11,322 artworks in various mediums. The IVAM also has exhibits on music, theater, cinema and much more so you are guaranteed to find something here to spark your interest.
Another museum to visit is the Bombas Gens Centre d’Art. Located on the outskirts of the city, this museum contains more than just art, it holds a fascinating look into the history of Valencia as well. The building was originally a factory built in the 1930s to manufacture small machinery, and included a shelter for air raids during the time of the Spanish Civil War that can now be toured by the public. The Bombas Gens Centre d’Art now displays art from artists nationally and internationally. It contains a rotating display of art in each of its galleries throughout the year, so no matter what time you come to visit you are sure to find a fascinating exhibit. It also hosts a variety of activities for anyone to experience and enjoy. Currently, the Bombas Gens Centre d’Art is displaying an event titled “Factory Games: An Historical-Art Approach To The Situation Of Children’s Rights,” which gives a detailed look into the children working in factories in Valencia from the past. But that is not all it has to offer! You can also experience the current, local music by attending the Bombas Dj Sessions. This activity is open to the public to enjoy and partake in an experimental project hosted by the Bombas Gens Centre d’Art.
For a more historical look into the art of Valencia, check out the Museo de Bellas Artes de València. This museum contains the fine art of many Valencian artists. For example, there is an entire room dedicated to the art of the famous painter Joaquín Sorolla. The Museum of Fine Arts of Valencia also boasts the title of the second largest art gallery in Spain, giving you plenty of options to explore the art within its walls.
However, museums are not the only locations to explore art in the city of Valencia. You can find a much more unique side of the artistic experience just through roaming the city of Valencia on your own. Experience the walls of Valencia treated as their own canvas as you walk through the neighborhoods and see the street art done by locals. One of the neighborhoods most well-known for its brilliant street art is El Carmen. The large murals take up space on the sides of old buildings, combining the new and modern culture with the historical past. You can see the works of famous local artists such as Hyuro, who is known for her mural of Moses, which is one of the most popular works of street art in Valencia. One of the best parts about coming to see the street art in the city is the constantly changing murals. You never know what art you will get to enjoy on your visit to Valencia!
Everyone knows Hemingway for his writings, but something not many notice is the role of Valencia, and the whole of Spain, in his novels. In his very first novel, The Sun Also Rises published in 1926, two distinct places are mentioned, a restaurant, La Pepica, and the beach La Malvarrosa. There are mentions of Valencia in seven other publications by Hemingway including For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940) and A Farewell to Arms (1929). In an article published by 24/7 Valencia, it’s noted that Hemingway spent his days writing in bed before having a late lunch, followed by his attendance at the bullfights, and finally ending his day at Malvarrosa for a late swim. Hemingway treated Valencia as his headquarters, always returning to the same spots for fun and writing. In 1937, Valencia was rumored to be the place where he would take his lover, and later third wife, Martha Gelhorn a renowned war correspondent for a getaway during the war. The last documented time Hemingway was in Valencia was 1959 when famous photographer Paco Cano photographed him standing next to bullfighter Antonio Ordonez. If you’re looking for places to visit in Valencia many of the same places Hemingway stayed, ate, and socialized at are still around, click here and here for names of some of these places.
As one of the oldest cities in Spain, Valencia has a long cultural history that you can explore. Founded by the Roman army in 138 BC as a way of integrating Spain into the Roman Empire, Valencia became known for its economic and social wealth. As the first urban residents of the city, much of the landscape has been built over or torn down. According to 24/7 Valencia, the city even had to be rebuilt after its destruction by Pompey in 75 BC. During the Roman occupation, Valencia became a hub for city life. The city of Valencia was turned from rural farmland into a thriving metropolis. Evidence of forums, bathhouses, and temple complexes can be seen at the Almonia Archaeological Museum in Plaza Decimo Junio Bruto. Excavations at the museum lie under the city’s main square, the Plaza of the Virgin. While much of Roman architecture is gone today, hints of Romanesque style remain part of architecture for years to come.
Around 625 AD, the Visigoths took control of Valencia, but their time was mostly artless aside from a massive church built in the center of the city, pictures of the Visigothic crypt can be seen here. To learn more about the Visigoths check out this article. In 711 AD the Moors conquered much of the Iberian Peninsula, including Valencia. The Moors prospered in the city of Valencia, glass, silk, ceramics, leather, paper, etc. were all thriving industries. What Valencia: Online Travel Guide provides more on the Moorish development of Valencia, including their use and improvement of Roman irrigation systems. The most notable piece of architecture built by the Moors was a mosque, between the Plaza of the Virgin and the Plaza of the Queen. The Mosque is no longer visible today as it was destroyed and on top of the rubble, a grand Cathedral was built. Valencia had great economic growth under the Moors, in Arabic at the time Valencia meant ‘City of Gold’. For 500 years the Moors controlled and profited off the city, much of the layout of the city was constructed during this time, with improvements to the irrigation systems and Jewish, Christian, and Muslim quarters. Moorish architecture is largely gone today but pieces of their influence can be seen all over the city, some characteristics of Moorish architecture are horseshoe arches, complex geometric designs, and intricate designs (exempt from plants, animals, and people according to Islamic belief). For more examples of Moorish architecture go here. The Moors lost control of the city when King James the 1st retook the city in 1238 AD.
Under the control of the Kingdom of Aragon architecture of the city reflects a gothic style. Following the siege of Valencia, a bat was said to be flying around King James I when he entered the city the first time. Images and carvings of bats are now found in Gothic-style buildings all around Valencia as it became the emblem of the city and a symbol of protection for the city. Construction for the Cathedral, pictured to the left, began in the 13th century but wasn’t finished until the 15th century. The Spanish Gothic style is reminiscent of the Golden Age of Valencia. Following the Spanish Reconquista the city, an emblem of Spanish pride and honor was a period of great prosperity. Much of the city’s great architecture, which still stands today, includes La Lonja, Torres de Serranos, the Church of San Juan de L’Hospital, and the Convento de Sant Domenec, which actually has a Neoclassical and Baroque style interior. In buildings like the Convento de Sant Domenec, the mixing of Gothic and Baroque or Renaissance architecture isn’t uncommon. The Golden Age of Valencia brought great amounts of economic and social wealth into the city, merchants silk exchange, patronage to the church, and high taxes made the city and its people very wealthy. Baroque and Renaissance architecture is the reflection of wealth. Churches and patrons could afford splendid displays in churches and in their homes. An example of this is the Church of San Nicolas which has a Gothic exterior but a very extravagant Baroque interior (images below). For more information on Valencia’s Golden Age of art and architecture follow this link.
When studying abroad, a common concern people have is money and budgeting. Most students are on a budget and might not want to travel because of that however, there are many things to do and places to see at very low costs while taking study breaks!
To start, Valencia has many dining options that are very reasonably priced. The most affordable places, that also accept coupons, are Gusto dI Roma and The Orange Club. Most food on their menu does not exceed 15 euros. If you want to see a list of all the reasonably priced dining options in Valencia, click here.
One of the most important, and cheapest, attractions you must see while in Valencia is the Torres de Serranos. The entry fee is only 2 euros and you can climb to the top of the tower for spectacular views and to learn more about the former defense towers. Another must see attraction in Valencia is the Plaza de la Virgen tour. It is the most famous square in the city and home to many of Valencia’s must-see sights including the Cathedral, the Turina Fountain, the Basilica de la mare, and much more. These are just a few of the reasonably priced cultural things you must see. Here is a link to a list of numerous things to do while sightseeing in the city.
Lastly, Valencia is known for the numerous amounts of shopping malls available. The most common malls are Aqua Multiespacio, Nueva Centro, and Centro Comerical Arena Multiespacio. These malls are all located within the city or along the coast, making them easily accessible. They have many different shopping options and have cute deocrations for the holidays.
All in all, there are many different must-see sights in Valencia that are a reasonable price or even free!
Ever wondered what type of food Valencia is known for? Well, you have come to the right place! For those interested in Valencia’s cuisine while studying abroad, you must try Valencia’s famous paella. Paella is a dry rice dish and the first recipe was documented in the 18th century. The dry rice dish includes rice, chicken, vegetables, and seafood.
The name Paella is a Valencian word that means frying pan; this alludes to not only the dish, but how it is cooked as well. There is a tradition about the pan the dish is cooked in that goes way back. Paella has a special pan that it’s cooked in that has sides that are only a thumbs width high and is studded with dimples. These ‘dimples’ are a tradition of the pan and are still used today when serving paella. According to Noah Charney, Paella was invented in Valencia specifically because the Romans introduced irrigation systems and the Arabs planted rice. Furthermore, standard history claims that farmworkers in the countryside of Valencia invented this dish during their lunch breaks at work. Traditional paella is usually prepared over an open fire because the Mediterranean region had few slow burning woods, but contained woods that were high in acid content which caused the paella to burn quickly. Additionally, there are 5 types of Paella, which originated from the original type, which is Paella Valenciana. The other four types include: paella de marisco, paella mixta, paella vegetarian, and paella negra.
Another reason you should try paella is because it is moderately healthy. It has essential vitamins and minerals which are needed for human health. Additionally, it contains a moderate amount of protein when meat is used and a good amount of fiber. Moreover, paella is always made with fresh ingredients and served hot. An authentic paella Valenciana dish has ten ingredients. These ingredients are short grained rice, rabbit, water, chicken, wide green beans, tomatoes, garrofo beans, salt, olive oil, and saffron. If other ingredients are added to your Paella Valenciana dish, it is a denomination of the original. With that being said, not all rice is paella. People often confuse the two however paella must have all of those ingredients to be true paella.
Not only does paella have to be prepared a proper way for it to be true paella, there are also some rules on how to consume it. These traditional elements go way back to when the Moorish Kings servants would create rice dishes by taking the left-overs in large pans they had from royal banquets. One element of paella is that is always cooked and served to only even amounts of people. Additionally, the size of the paella determines how many it serves. Paella pans are custom for an even number of people. Adding people/servings to the original serving size makes the paella thicker, causing its quality and flavor to decrease.
After hearing the history and uniqueness of paella in Valencia, you should definitely travel to Valencia to experience more cultural cuisine while studying abroad! You cannot find the originality anywhere else but Valencia itself. Want to learn how to make your own Paella? You can find the recipe here.
Valencia has a rich a vast history, with it being the home of the hero EL Cid from 1092-1099. Valencia is the birth of the Spanish printing press, and the first Spanish printing school was set up here in 1479. A printing press may not sound like much, but it was the only way to get news, imagine today not having any new or access to social media. That is how important the printing press was to Spain back in 1479. During the renaissances period is when Valencia was a city of frame and art thanks to the silk trade and maritime trade. Wonders like Valencia cathedral, The Torres de Serrano and La Lonja being known as the silk exchange center, and all of these buildings are built in the exciting gothic style. The La Lonja was the highlight of this era due to it’s role in silk trading, and is the prime example of gothic with it’s complex nature and large rooms. information from https://www.valencia-tourist-guide.com/en/general/valencia-spain-history.html.
Valencia during it’s golden age was coined the city of 100 bell towers, with these towers being a special place in Spain with the bells acting as a large dinner bell. The tallest of the bell towers at 71 meters is Church of Santa María de Ontinyent which has it’s own vault and 13 bell towers within it. Another tower known as the EL Miguelents is a site that you can’t miss with it’s seemingly unfinished roof and has one of if not the biggest bell in Spain. The tower was half finished in 1736, because the bell tower looked better in an unfinished state and is still used today. After this golden era we come to the harsh, but still beautiful era of the 20th century with the Spanish civil war. Valencia in 1936 was the headquarters of the Republicans who did not enjoy the rule of Francisco, even though the Republicans lost Valencia still beat Francisco’s rule. The Levante Offensive of 1938 is very much a part of Valencia’s history, as Franco failed to capture Valencia from the Republican forces. Credit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Levante_Offensive and https://www.comunitatvalenciana.com/en/be-inspired/bells-of-the-region-of-valencia-the-tallest-bell-tower-is-in-ontinyent.
If Franco had capture Valencia than many works of arts would have been destroyed and replaced with Franco’s image. In 1957 a very massive flood from the River Turia came with waters as deep as two meters rushing the city which the city was not equipped to deal with. It is said that three quarters of the city was ruined by the flood and 60 lives were killed in the flood The city of Valencia had the plan nicknamed plan sur was ahead of it’s time and had the mission of rerouting the River Turia. At first the plan was to make a highway but in 1970 many pushed back for a park to be formed. The new riverbed even become an 18 section park 1982-present day, the park even houses the City of Arts and Sciences. The park has the largest urban garden, with the park itself being 9 km long in fact it is so big that it runs across most of central Valencia. https://www.comunitatvalenciana.com/en/be-inspired/bells-of-the-region-of-valencia-the-tallest-bell-tower-is-in-ontinyent.
“History of Valencia.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, October 11, 2021. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Valencia#Golden_Age_of_Valencia.
This wiki page offers a board look at the timeline of events in Valencia. It allows the reader to get a general idea of the history, than the sources below can be used to get a more in depth look at events.
“How Valencia Turned a Crisis (and a River) into a Transformative Park.” Metropolis, August 11, 2021. https://metropolismag.com/projects/how-valencia-turned-crisis-river-into-park/.
This website describes how Spain took a massive flood and turned it into a positive. The flood may have destroyed ¾ of the city, but now this once flooded area is a beautiful park. It goes to show how a group effort can take so a tragic event and turn it into a boon for Valencia. The park is one of the most visited in Valencia and is the heart of central Valencia.
“Navigation.” Go to Comunitat Valenciana, 2021. https://www.comunitatvalenciana.com/en/be-inspired/bells-of-the-region-of-valencia-the-tallest-bell-tower-is-in-ontinyent.
This source will take you on a journey of the most popular bell towers In Valencia.
“Valencia Spain History: History and Background of the City of Valencia, Spain.” Valencia Spain history: History and background of the city of Valencia, Spain. Accessed November 21, 2021. https://www.valencia-tourist-guide.com/en/general/valencia-spain-history.html.
“Valencia.” Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica, inc. Accessed November 21, 2021. https://www.britannica.com/place/Valencia-Spain.
General information on the many places in Valencia that are rooted deep into it’s history