Plaza del Ayuntamiento (Town Hall Square)
At the heart of Valencia town center is Plaza del Ayuntamiento (Town Hall Square).
This is the most important square in the city and the location of Las Fallas and many more festivals and events throughout the year.
This lovely square is not far from Estaciòn del Norte (the main train station), next to the bullring and opposite the station is Xativa metro station. The area is surrounded by shops, restaurants, theatres, art galleries and museums and not far away is the old historical town and Calle Colón, which is great for shopping.
A good starting point from which to set out exploring the Ayuntamiento quarter is- surprise, surprise- the Ayuntamiento. A stunning display of Neoclassical architecture at its finest, the city’s palatial city hall hails straight from a golden, lucrative era in Valencia’s history. Its bells chime out the hours and, come New Years Eve, party-goers flock here to keep their eyes on the clock for the big countdown and subsequent grape-eating!
The Plaza del Ayuntamiento upon which the Ayuntamiento sits is itself a sight to see and is bordered by other majestic buildings- such as the main Correos (Post Office)- of the epoch. However, the most charming facet of this grand plaza is the collection of flower stalls bursting with flowers of all varieties, colors and sizes imaginable that surround the impressive floodlit fountain set in the middle.
To the southwest of the Ayuntamiento you’ll stumble across the simple Iglesia de San Agustín (Church of Saint Agustín). Once part of a since-disappeared Augustinian monastery that was one of the city’s largest religious complexes, the church is a simple Gothic structure with but one nave. However, it boasts a peaceful, tranquil and airy atmosphere typical of Gothic architecture, perhaps provided by the five grandiose windows set above the altar which bathe the indoors with light.
Heading east from the Ayuntamiento you’ll find the Palacio del Marqués de Dos Aguas, one of the extravagant structures hailing from Valencia’s celebrated Baroque period. Dating back to the 16th century, this lavishly adorned mansion features as its highlight a huge, Churrigueresque, alabaster doorway that bears resemblance to running water. Check out what lies within the building, as it has a luxurious ballroom as well as the city’s beloved Museo de Cerámica (Ceramics Museum).
Directly south of the Palacio del Marqués de Dos Aguas is the Iglesia de San Juan de la Cruz. Known for its collection of priceless artwork, its sculpted entrance of twisting columns, elaborate sculptures and elegant forms, and its vaulted dome, the beautiful church is the city’s best example of pure Renaissance.
Situated just east of the Palacio del Marqués de Dos Aguas and the Iglesia de San Juan de la Cruz is the Antigua Universidad de Valencia, home of Valencia’s first university. Built in the Neoclassical style but in a manner more sober than that of the nearby Ayuntamiento, the University building is an elegant structure both inside and out featuring lovely cloisters whose doric columns bear witness to open air concerts are held from time to time. Be sure to venture within to its library, which holds the first printed book in Spain: Les Trobles, printed in 1474.
Finally, make sure that the Colegio Seminario del Corpus Christi makes it on to your Ayuntamiento quarter tourism checklist. Founded in 1583, the immense structure of the seminary school takes up an entire city block and was purposely built just across from the University so that students of both institutions could easily attend relevant classes. The structure demonstrates the arrival of the Italian High Renaissance in Spain, which you can see in its cloistered patio. Featuring double arcades of columns, the elegant patio is its most important architectural element and shouldn’t be missed! Within, you’ll also find the impressive Museo del Patriarca, a museum dedicated to showing off the artwork, objects, and atmosphere of the most ultra-Catholic epoch in Spanish history.
Plaza de la Reina and Plaza de la Virgin
From the Plaza del Ayuntamiento it takes approximately ten minutes to walk to Plaza de la Reina and Plaza de la Virgin and the medieval Cathedral and Basilica of the Virgin de los Desamparados are located.
The Seu-Xerea barrrio (Cathedral neighborhood), is only a few square miles, so very easy to explore on foot. Just off the Plaza de la Virgin is the trendy and fashionable Barrio del Carmen.
The stunning central market (Mercado Central) is in the center of the old town and well worth a visit.
Overflowing with the freshest of fruits, veggies and salads and other produce, this is the place to stock up with food and there are many tapas bars and restaurants in the area.
Mercado Central is located in Barrio del Carmen in the old town opposite La Lonja and the Iglesia Santos Juanes.
This is one of the oldest and largest indoor markets in Europe, built with ceramics and an ornate iron and glass covered dome which reaches up to 30 meters. Perched on top of the weather vane are a parrot and fish – the green parrot is the symbol of the market.
Mercado Central opened in 1839 and underwent a major reconstruction between 1914 and 1928. It has recently undergone another major refurbishment and looks better than ever. The market covers exactly 8,160 square meters and is divided into two areas. The basement is now a car park.
Plaza del Mercado s/n
46001 Valencia (Valencia-València)
Opening Hours : Monday to Saturday from 7:00 am to 3:00 pm
Plaça de Bous/Plaza de Toros
Plaça de Bous/Plaza de Toros – Xàtiva
Tel: 963 519 315
Next to the Estaciòn del Norte (North Station) Train Station and opposite the Xàtiva metro station is the Plaça de Bous/Plaza de Toros, Valencia Bullring
Valencia has a very large bull ring on C/Xàtiva which has four levels containing twenty four rows in the stands. In a street nearby is a museum dedicated to bullfighting memorabilia.
This beautiful modernist main line train station is in the center of Valencia.
Covered with ceramics and fruit and edged with oranges, lemons and a variety of fruit, the building is a celebration of this very fertile region of Spain.
Gardins de Turia ~ Turia Gardens
Often referred to as the lung of Valencia and once the riverbed of the old Turia river, the beautiful Turia Gardens wind their way through the length of this magical city from the Parque de Cabecera to the City of Arts and Sciences.
Passing fountains and flowers, you’ll find tennis courts and people jogging and cycling on specially made pathways. This is one of the longest of the parks in Valencia Spain, so if you feel like taking it easy, take a ride on the park train or try a bicycle carriage made for two.
There are cafés and also a special little park for children. The Gulliver Park contains a huge flat figure of Gulliver which kids love to climb and crawl over.
The final destination of this lovely walk is the jaw-dropping, futuristic Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències (City of Arts and Sciences).
There are many bridges connecting the Old Quarter to the new city and the gardens and parks in Valencia Spain.
Botanical Gardens (El Jardì Botànic de la Universitat de València)
The Botanical Gardens of Valencia are situated on the other side of Barrio del Carmen with Torres de Cuart marking the other entrance to the old walled city of Valencia (Torres de Serranos being the other).
There is a very modern entrance at the Botanicaal gardens where you will find a lovely old tree which is literally bursting through the roof.
The gardens date back to the 16th century but have only been on the current site since 1802.
The university researches the medicinal properties of plants as this is invaluable for the understanding of crops and the agriculture of this very fertile region of Spain.
There are over 4,500 different plant species and there’s also a tropical greenhouse (Umbracle) containing sub tropical plants.
El Carmen as a district of the city is a must-see on any tourist’s trip to Valencia. With tight alleyways, honey-colored buildings and tons of vestiges to the district’s past, Valencia’s most popular zone to “hang out” remains much as it was centuries ago.
The medieval city walls which ran along a good portion of El Carmen were pulled down in 1871, but you can get a pretty good idea of its magnificence by taking a look at its two remaining Gothic twin-towered gates: Torres de Serrano and Torres de Quart. The first of the two, Torres de Serrano, was built in the 14th century and served as the exit towards the north and Barcelona. As the more impressive of the surviving city gates, the Torres de Serrano is flanked by two polygonal towers and is complete with battlements, distinct façades on each side, and detailed exterior decoration.
The second gate, the 15th century Torres de Quart, is a simpler structure with twin cylindrical towers but serves as a special ode to the past. Having withstood the various assaults of France’s most famous leader, you can still see the cannonball-induced pockmarks in the gate’s masonry dating back to the invasions headed by the ever-ambitious Napoleon Bonaparte.
Finally, the Convento del Carmen, the convent which lent its name to the plaza on which it sits as well as to the district in which it is found, is a must-see while you’re touring the area. Construction of the religious complex began way back in 1238, though the convent was not consecrated until 1343. Even if you don’t venture within, which is now being used as an extension of the city’s Museum of Fine Arts, be sure to take a moment to revel in its intricate façade- added to the convent in later years. Originally set for an altarpiece, the design was adapted to become a portal and features elaborate and masterful sculpture-work.
Cathedral (Cathedral) & Miguelete (Tower)
Plaza de la Reina (Queen’s Plaza)
Basílica de Nuestra Señora de los Desamparados (Basilica of Our Lady of the Unprotected)
Palau de la Generalitat (Center of the Valencian Autonomous Community)
Lonja de los Mercaderes (Silk or Merchants Exchange)
Iglesia de Santo Domingo (Church of Saint Domingo)
Palacio-Monasterio del Temple (Palace-Monastery of the Templar)
Cripta de la Cárcel de San Vicente Mártir (Crypt of the Prison of Saint Vicente the Martyr)
Between stunning plazas, ecclesiastical buildings, centuries-old markets and, naturally, the cathedral itself, Valencia’s Cathedral district boasts an eclectic mix of things to see. Here is just a brief run-down of a few Cathedral quarter highlights, but it’s certainly not all!
Starting out with the Cathedral serves as a great introduction to the area. Serving as a kind of microcosm of Valencia’s architectural history, the cathedral has bits and pieces of it all. The Puerta de Palau, the Cathedral’s entrance on the Plaza de la Virgen, is Romanesque, the tower as well as the Puerta de los Apóstoles are examples of Gothic architecture, Renaissance chapels can be found within, and the main entrance to the Cathedral on the Plaza de la Reina is pure Baroque.
Within the church is a whole new set of things to see- some of a rather unique variety! Check out the Holy Grail- supposedly the real thing- in the Gothic Capilla del Santo Cáliz (Chapel of the Holy Chalice), Francisco de Goya paintings and Saint Vicente’s arm- yes, his arm- in the Cathedral museum, or climb the 207 steps of the dizzying spiral staircase to the top of the Miguelete (the Cathedral’s unfinished 14th-15th century tower) for the birds’ eye view of the city below!
Just across the Plaza de la Virgen from the Cathedral is the Baroque Basílica de Nuestra Señora de los Desamparados. Dedicated to one of the two patrons of the city, within the 17th century structure you’ll find fascinating frescoes as well as thousands of candles that are constantly lit in front of the image of the Virgin.
The Palau de la Generalitat Valenciano is the seat of the Valencian autonomous government, not to mention a stunning architectural structure worth a look or two! Dating back to 1510, a tour inside- you have to make an appointment to do so, but it’s definitely worth it- will wow you with beautiful frescoes and elaborate ceiling paintings. If you didn’t think ahead to make an appointment, you can still check out its delightful courtyard throughout the week… sans appointment.
One of the city’s most emblematic buildings as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site is the incredible Lonja de los Mercaderes. La Lonja is considered to be one of Europe’s best examples of European civil Gothic architecture- you’ll easily see why. Looking exactly as a medieval castle- at least in our minds- is meant to look, the exterior features battlements, gargoyles and even a tower in which Rapunzel could have very well been kept!
Of the four parts comprising La Lonja’s interior, the highlights are the so-called Column Room and the Sala de Contratación (Trading Room). The Column Room is a spectacular area covered by vaults that are raised a stunning 16 meters upon the slender spiral columns. The Sala de Contratación, where the commerce and paper-signing took place, effectively demonstrates the power and affluency of a major Mediterranean mercantile city during Spain’s golden age of sea trade.
Finally, be sure to make a stop at the Cripta de la Cárcel de San Vicente Mártir (Crypt of the Prison of Saint Vicente the Martyr) for a major blast to the past. Beneath the Church of Saint Vicente, which was later re-constructed after the 13th century Spanish reconquista, is the archaeological site of this Visigoth chapel by the same name.
Once used as a prison- hence the name- for Spanish saint and Valencian city patron Saint Vicente in the days leading to his rather violent martyrdom back in 304 A.D., the crypt now serves not only as a legacy of Saint Vicente and the city’s Visigoth past but also as a valuable exhibition of objects related to the crypt. Take a surprisingly interesting audiovisual journey through Valencian history and check out complementing ancient objects like Roman mural paintings, Visigoth altars and partitions, Muslim artifacts and a sculpure of Saint Vicente the Martyr.
Torres de Serrano