After the end of midterms, getting to know Spain and its culture resumed. This time, my journey took me to Valenci, the third largest city in Spain located on the east coast of the country. Valencia was once a part of the Roman Empire; it was conquered by Moors (medieval Muslim invaders coming from Northern Africa who conquered parts of Spain, Portugal and France) for about 500 years and then eventually re-conquered by Spain in 1238, so the city has an incredible amount history, which is reflected through its architecture and its people. I’ve learned so much in the 48 hours that I was there and enjoyed the scenery to the max! It is actually my favorite place in Spain so far—sorry Madrid 😦
After a short 4-hour train ride, we checked into our hostel and strolled through the city for a couple hours on a lovely Friday evening. We walked by Plaza de la Reina, Plaza de la Virgen, Valencia Cathedral and many more landmarks that were simply beautiful in every possible way.
The next day we walked through half (about 45 mins) of the ‘Garden of the Turia,’ which is a long park that was created on the Turia riverbed after redirecting the river due to the 1957 flood. The riverbed was turned into a park as a strategy to increase tourism and as a way for locals to move through the city without dealing with traffic. At one end of the park, there’s the City of Arts and Science, which is the most modern part of Valencia. It’s comprised of six parts; El Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía – opera house and performing arts center; L’Hemisfèric – IMAX cinema; L’Umbracle – garden; El Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe – a science museum; Ágora – a venue for different events; Oceanografic – largest aquarium in Europe. The different parts were opened one-by-one starting 1998 to 2005. The architecture is astounding and one of a kind so here are some pics!
On our last day we took a walking tour that our hostel (Red Nest Hostel) was providing. It was a tour of “The Old City” and that’s where I got to learn all about the city’s history and culture. Here are some notable cultural points about Valencia!
Paella is widely knows as Spain’s traditional food but it originated in Valencia. It came to happen when the Moors were in Valencia and they brought rice and other ingredients with them so it became a tradition from then on. It is usually made with seafood but I am not a big fan of sea food so I got the Valencian Paella, which was made with chicken, rabbit and vegetables; it was amazing!!
Horchata is a traditional Valencian drink made with nut milk, water and sugar. It is also common to find Horchata with cinnamon in other parts of the world and that is what most people are familiar with. The classic way to have it is by getting Horchata and pastry, and dunking it in!
The Valencia Cathedral is a Roman Catholic Cathedral build in 1238 after it was re-conquered by Spain. If you look closely, you will see that there is the Star of David on top of the gate, which naturally does not belong there. Our guide told us it was a matter of money! When the cathedral was being built, they did not have enough funds to finish it so Jews provided the fund but wanted the star to be put up in return. That simple.
Valencia is almost a middle ground between Madrid and Barcelona! There is the modern and industrialized part of city like Barcelona and there’s also The Old City, which resembles Madrid. However, they are still not as famous so there are less tourists and it is less crowded and that is what I loved most!