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Discover the beautiful city of Valencia

Valencia, Spain’s third largest city, is a remarkable destination with an old-meets-new character and attitude. Captivating Valencia is well worth visiting for a sunny city break!
 
CityZapper’s editors selected the best tips and advice on Valencia for you, and the team created this online city guide to make your visit to the city an unforgettable one. Rest assured that you’ll only get to see the city’s best and most unique sights, spots and venues.
 
Valencia is situated on the East Coast of Spain where the River Túria meets the Mediterranean. This makes the region a fertile one and Valencia a city with many farmers and growers. Oranges, cotton, lemons, olives, almonds and many other crops and products are grown in the area. Valencia is a lot less touristy when compared to Barcelona but the city’s beauty is equal to that of its bigger sister. The city is known as the birthplace of paella and boasts more than one hundred clock towers, of which the gothic bell tower of Valencia Cathedral is the most famous one. Add 300 days of sunshine a year to that and you’re onto a winner where city breaks are concerned.
 
Valencia offers the best of both worlds. With one foot in the past, the city values its traditions and culture. Standing with the other foot firmly in the present, Valencia embraces the future with its progressive approach to matters and its modern architecture. The latter complements the city’s classic buildings and sites remarkably well. Valencians are justifiably proud of both their city and of their language. In addition to Spanish, Valencian is spoken here as well. This language is nearly identical to Catalan, but Spanish remains the language that is spoken most in the beautiful southern European country that Spain is.

Ciudad Vella is Valencia’s historic centre. It is home to many beautiful architectural feats; every building and every site has a story to tell. Rent a bicycle and cycle through Túria Park, making your way to the Ciudad de las Artes y Sciencas. This cultural and architectural complex is home to a variety of museums as well as to a science centre, an opera house, a performing arts centre and to Europe’s largest oceanographic aquarium. This modern and futuristic part of Valencia is in stark contrast with the city’s historic and car-free centre.

Those that visit Valencia in summer ought to pay a visit to the beach as well. Malvarossa and Arenas are popular among the locals, but Patacona is our all-time favourite beach. It forms the northern part of the city’s beachline and it is less crowded than the city’s other beaches. Patacona is also where you’ll find one of the city’s best places to have lunch: La Más Bonita. After a day at the beach, stroll along Paseo de Neptuno and indulge in a sumptuous and authentic Valencian paella at La Pepica which, if we are to believe the locals, is the best paella in town! If tapas are more your thing, then make sure to head to Bodeguilla del Gato for some great tasting tapas.
 
The historical district of El Carmen is home to the best nightlife in Valencia, whose bars and clubs are situated in the district’s narrow side streets and on its ornate picturesque squares. Enjoy a refreshing cocktail in one of the bars or dance the night away at Valencia’s large clubs. Valencia has a large student population with several universities calling Valencia home. This in turn means that the city is always bustling, both with activities and with young people that give Valencia its energetic vibe. Forget about Barcelona and head 300 kilometres (186 miles) south to discover this true gem of a Spanish city: Valencia!

History

Valencia was founded as a Roman colony by the consul Decimus Junius Brutus Callaicus in 138 BC, and was named Valentia Edetanorum. Sixty-three years later, the city was destroyed during a major battle between Pompey and Quintus Sertorius.
 
In 50 AD, work commenced on rebuilding Valencia. During this time, the city witnessed the construction of its very own Roman amphitheatre, a forum and of Torres de Serranos, one of twelve original city gates that formed part of the city’s ancient ramparts. Torres de Serranos withstood the test of time and it is now a famous tourist attraction in Valencia. The year 1348 saw Valencia’s population being decimated by the Black Death plague epidemic which took a heavy toll on the city.
 
Things started to look much brighter for Valencia during the 15th century, also known as Valencia’s golden age. With a population exceeding 75.000, Valencia became the Kingdom of Aragon’s largest city by far. With the city’s expansion, the number of palaces, churches and markets in Valencia grew exponentially as well. La Lonja de la Seda, the silk market, is a prime example of Valencia’s importance and growth during the 15th century. These days, the market is still in existence and it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site some twenty years ago. In 1478, the very first book ever printed in Spain was printed in Valencia which saw the city become a centre for literature.
 
Valencia kept on growing, both in size and in importance, and in 1502 the University of Valencia was founded. Meanwhile, the silk industry together with the city’s flourishing trade meant that La Lonja de la Seda kept on expanding. This contributed to the fact that the city’s wealth and prosperity remained a stable factor for Valencia at this time in history. In 1900, the city of Valencia saw the opening of its very own train station as well as that of two indoor markets. The Spanish Civil War of 1936 hampered the city’s growth for a period of three years. During this time, Valencia suffered the consequences of the battles between the country’s Republicans and Nationalists, the latter being led by General Francisco Franco.