South East Spain

A busy port on the Mediterranean Sea, Valencia is located in the south east of Spain, in the identically named autonomous community, also being its key location. Founded by the Romans in 138 BC as a small colony of approximately two thousand Roman settlers, Valencia expanded over the centuries into the third largest city in modern Spain.

The 15th century is remembered as the most prolific in the city’s long history, when art and culture flourished and significant buildings were constructed, surviving to this day. Tourism has only been lucrative for two decades, after the renovation of many historical vestiges.

Plaza Redonda in Valencia downtown square

Known as a centre of culture and splendid architecture since medieval times, Valencia is visited by many for its historic centre, some of its streets dating back to Roman as well as Arabic times.

The city’s churches and cathedrals are also notable attractions, primarily the Valencia Cathedral, built during the 13th century in gothic style, with later baroque and Corinthian style additions. Another famed church, El Templo, was first used by the Knights Templar, which have stirred popular imagination for centuries. Also, there are more than a dozen sizeable museums worth visiting, including the Valencian Museum of Ethnology and the Prehistory Museum of Valencia.

Every year, Valencia organises the notable festival of the Falles (Fallas), celebrating St Joseph, during which immense, painstakingly crafted puppets are burned. The festival attracts masses of tourists annually and is considered the largest bonfire event across Spain. Other highly favoured activities include a day out at the Bioparc Valencia safari park, which is said to be an interactive and educational experience, or visiting the city’s large and impressive aquarium.

Another attraction which should not be missed, the Gardens of Turia were built on the Turia riverbed after the course of the river was diverted, and are now a charming display of floral diversity.

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