Valencià in País Valencià is a Mediterranean seaport and the third largest city in Spain, and is filled with much stunning art and a long and prosperous history, as well as having some wonderful beaches.
Surrounded by beautiful clear waters and fine sand on one side and framed by coastal mountains on the other, Valencià is a city of great natural spaces as well as everything you would expect from one of the largest cities in Spain. Founded by the Romans in the 2nd century as Valentia, it was home to the Visigoths and was taken by the Moors before the Christian reconquest brought it under the control of the Aragonese king. With its position on the Mediterranean, Valencià is a large and popular seaport, and its food, architecture and culture shows the great merging of cultures from the influx of traders from across the sea. In the 15th century, Valencià was in its Golden Age, and the magnificent Silk Exchange was built and became the commercial hub of the city with traders coming from all over Europe and across the Mediterranean Sea. The arts and culture also underwent a boom in this Golden Age of prosperity and artists, sculptors, writers and architects all found inspiration in Valencià. Today, culture is still an important part of Valencian society and the old and the new sit side-by-side in the city.
The ornate Gothic cathedral, containing the Holy Chalice of Valencià, and its striking Miguelete bell tower are one of the city's main architectural attractions along with the imposing guard towers, the Torres de Serranos, which have some great views of the city from the top. The Silk Exchange has some spectacular columns inside and is a wonderful example of Gothic civil architecture, considered one of the most important examples in Europe, and has been recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Alongside all these wonderful historical buildings is the incredible City of Arts and Sciences, a modern complex of cultural and scientific buildings. Inside the complex you'll find the Hemisfèric IMAX cinema, the Príncipe Felipe Science Museum, the Palau de les Arts, the Ágora events hall, the landscaped esplanade of the Umbracle and the fantastic Oceanogràfic, Europe's largest aquarium containing over 500 marine species. Other great museums in the city include the IVAM, the Valencia Institute of Modern Art, and the unusual MuVIM, the Valencian Museum of Enlightenment and Modernity, which is a 'Museum of Ideas' and is about thought and philosophy.
Take a walk around the pretty plazas and parks that abound in Valencià and make sure you visit one of the city's clean sandy beaches. Why not get out on the water and try some water sports like catamaran sailing, canoeing and jet skiing? Kids will be enthralled at BioParc Valencià, a new kind of zoo where the boundaries to the zoo enclosures are hidden so that visitors can be immersed in the wild habitats of the animals around them. Just outside of the city is the lush wetland of the Natural Park of Albufera, home to the Albufera lagoon, which has become a fresh water lagoon over hundreds of years due to irrigation and canals draining the estuary in its past. Climbers, hikers and mountain bikers will love spending some time in the Valencian mountains with sports such as caving and pot holing also popular in the rocky terrain of river canyons and pine forests with hidden caves sheltering ancient cave paintings. In the town of Buñol, just half an hour away by car, the famous La Tomatino festival is held on the last Wednesday of August, where the townsfolk pelt each other with squashed tomatoes in a huge annual tomato fight!
As you'd expect from such a big city, Valencià has some excellent shopping for those interested in fashion. Whether you're looking for high street chains, designer brands or local boutiques, Valencià will have somewhere to suit your needs. The city has some great shops selling more traditional products such as embroidered silk shawls and handmade fans as well as some wonderful porcelain and ceramics. Valencia's most famous dish is, of course, the rice dish, paella. You'll find 2 varieties are popular in the city - paella Valenciana, made with rabbit, chicken and snails, and paella de marisco, filled with a mixture of seafood. Valencians do not mix meat with seafood in this dish. Many other dishes in Valencian cuisine are rice-based and Valencians also enjoy fish stews, and sweets such as rosegons (hard almond cookies) and arrop i talladetes (sliced pumpkin cooked in concentrated grape juice). Valencià is also famous for its oranges, renowned for their sweetness and colour, and whose juice is used in the agua de Valencià cocktail so popular in the city's nightspots. Made from orange juice mixed with champagne, gin and vodka, agua de Valencià is often served in pitchers. The white wines of Alto Turia and Serranía, and the red wines of Requena-Utiel and Campo de Liria, all with their own dominations of origin, will accompany your meal perfectly.
Region: País Valencià
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