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Postcards from Valencia: a photojournal

Think Barcelona minus the tourist crowds. Think palm trees, oranges and the hometown of paella. Valencia may be Spain’s third-largest city, but it is quite possibly one of the country’s best-kept secrets. An experience as refreshing as its signature horchata, that delicious summertime concoction made from chufa nuts, this city is still some way off the beaten track.

A good place to start is the charming old city (Ciutat Vella) with its understated cathedral. Look out for the distinctive alabaster windows inside, and climb the 207 steps up El Micalet for that panoramic view over the jumbled rooftops. After wandering the galleries of the Museum of Fine Arts San Pio V, a hidden jewel in its own right, descend the old river embankment into the Garden of the Turia, a beautiful sunken park stretching 7 km (4 mi) across the city.

Inspired by the old silk exchange, La Lonja, a certain Valencian by the name of Calatrava went on to become one of the world’s most sought-after architects. In recent years he has bestowed his hometown with the futuristic City of Arts and Sciences (Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències), a monumental complex featuring a brand-new opera house, science museum, and an eye-catching planetarium/IMAX cinema. At its eastern end sits L’Oceanogràfic, the largest aquarium in Europe and a proud creation of late architect Félix Candela.

Whether it’s going out for a copa in the historic Barrio del Carmen, or stretching out on an expansive beach under the Mediterranean sun, Valencia has a little something for everyone. And for the closet pyromaniac there’s always Las Fallas, the annual festival promising sheer madness, all-night parties and plenty of noise.

So how would you get here? Valencia’s airport is well-connected to the rest of Europe and Madrid is just 90 minutes away by high-speed rail. In the meantime I’ll be raising a glass of tinto de verano to three memorable trips, my dear Valencian friends and their beloved hometown. Here’s to my favourite city in all of Spain.

View from the cathedral tower, El Micalet

14th century rose window, Valencia Cathedral

Marble façade, Museum of Ceramics

Torres de Quart, 15th century city gate

Reflections, City of Arts and Sciences

Queen Sofia Palace of the Arts, the Opera House

Late afternoon at the City of Arts and Sciences

“Whale skeleton”, Príncipe Felipe Science Museum

“The party’s inside. Respect the neighbours’ rest.”

Sunset, City Hall in the distance

4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Dakota #

    Beautiful photo journal, I love it! Keep it up!

    April 8, 2011
  2. Dakota #

    Hi James, thank you so much for the long comment – I really love to read what people have to say, thank you! 🙂 Thank you so much for complimenting my photography here that I post. I am glad that you see what I try to project in my photography. What interests me, no matter where I go, are the details, colors and moments… For me it’s something about capturing the essence of a place and the essence of a moment in my life.

    Yeah, that’s me. I really appreciate the exposure that wordpress has put out there for me to the readers all around the world. People’s feedback, intrigue and constant flow of inspiring comments is really nice! Paris was an amazing city, and I still have lots of photos to write about from February. I can’t wait to share them all. 🙂

    Where are you from originally? I love Spain. It’s a really amazing place. I can’t wait to experience it again in May. I like Spain, and I love Spanish people. They’re really warm hearted.- Do you think you will go back to your country, or do you think there are more roads that you have to do first?

    Wow, thanks for the recommendations… I will definitely be researching that, thank you!! I can’t wait now 🙂

    I did find your blog through BDL. Glad I did. Have a great week. 🙂

    April 11, 2011
  3. Dakota #

    p.s Replied via my blog but thought I’d post it to you in case 🙂

    April 11, 2011
  4. We didn’t make it to Valencia. We were going to stop there but were tired of getting in and out of cities. We ended up in Tarragona a few hours north and loved it. We will have to go to Valencia another time. You make it look great.

    April 17, 2011

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