SEP 12,2016 - SEP 12,2016 (1 DAYS)
Tip 1: City of Arts and Sciences and Turia Gardens - Valencia:
Main Attractions: the Ágora, El Pont de l'Assut de l'Or, L'Oceanogràfic, El Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe, L'Hemisfèric, L'Umbracle, Pont de Montolivet, El Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia.
Tip 2: Turia Gardens and Valencia City Centre.
Tip 3: Eurostars Gran Valencia Hotel.
Start & End: Eurostars Gran Valencia Hotel, near Beniferri Metro station (see Tip 3).
Tips and Hints:
1. Valencia is VERY hot during the (long) summer months. The waist-deep pools and water around the buildings of the City of Arts and Sciences make it cooler.
2. We recommend allowing 1 DAY for visiting only the outside landscaping of the city. Skip entry of the buildings. The architecture outside and walking along the Turia river gardens will consume, easily, one day.
3. To walk around the complex is free. You have to pay to get into the museums and the Hemisferic or taking part in the aquatic activities (like the Bubbles, canoes).
4. Combined ticket for the city's building (excluding aquatic activities) is €37.
5. Bring with you a lot of water and some food. Restaurants around are a bit in scarce and are on the pricey side, There are no more than little cafes/eateries to grab food and drink are close by
6. Come also during the dark. The lighting at night takes it to another dimension, it is even more impressive.
7. There are cheap bikes to hire: €2/hour.
8. There is a left-luggage service where you can leave your luggage or other belongings. It costs 2€ per day - at the entrance building to the Oceanogràfic, next to the information point/office.
Introduction - City of Arts and Sciences: The City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia is situated in a two-kilometre-long area on the old Turia River bed. It is made up of six large elements: the Hemisfèric (IMAX Cinema and digital films) the Umbracle (landscaped vantage point), the Príncipe Felipe Science Museum (an innovative interactive science centre), the Oceanogràfic (Europe's largest aquarium with over 500 marine species), the Reina Sofía Palace of the Arts (dedicated to opera), and the Ágora (a multipurpose space in which concerts and many activities take place). You are transported into the future, not into the past.
Trust me: this is a breathtaking feat of architecture that has to be seen to be believed. Coming to Valencia without seeing the City of Arts and Sciences (in Spanish: Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias or in valencian: Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències), is like going to Paris and not visiting the Eiffel Tower. You can’t skip or ignore this futuristic complex devoted to sciences and culture located at the southern end of Valencia - what was formerly the bed of the River Turia. This spectacular and futuristic complex, was inaugurated in 1998 and designed by the great architects Santiago Calatrava and Felix Candela as well as the engineers Alberto Domingo and Carlos Lázaro, The whole extensive site attracts more than 4 millions of visitors every year. Its architect, Santiago Calatrava, native of Valencia, wished that all eyes turned to the city of Valencia. His mission is accomplished and the “Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias” is today the modern and avant-gardist representation of the city. The 4 square kms of the city contains scientific and cultural buildings such as: the Oceanogràfic (Oceanographical museum), the Museo de las Ciencias Príncipe Felipe (Sciences Museum), the Hemisfèric, the Palau de las Arts Reina Sofía (Arts Palace), the Umbracle (urban gardens) and the (deserted) Ágora. You will also find (very few) restaurants, shops and places to cool down. Around this area, were built high-rise residence towers, offices, hotels and big shopping centers (the Aqua mall and Corte Inglés).
The main purpose of this ambitious project was to regroup in one place, open to everyone - leisure, art and science. It’s a unique concept in its kind in Europe that spread over two kilometers on the formerly river Turia to attract tourists to Valencia for something else than getting tan and enjoying the beach. This project has finalized, nowadays, with being a magnet, for tourists, with its architectural qualities and variety. The whole site is breathtaking collections of architectural gems. A stunning mix of grandiose buildings, green parks, waterways, fountains, museums and exhibitions. Another two goals of this project were to earn money and to revitalize an area of the city that was abandoned before, where hotels and shopping centers were almost empty. Since the construction of the City of Arts and Sciences, all has revived and was renovated in this district.
In April 1998 the complex opened its doors to the public with L'Hemisfèric. Eleven months later, was, inaugurated the Prince Felipe Museum of the Sciences, although the museum was not yet finished. The museum was opened to the public twenty months later. December 12, 2002 was the opening of L'Oceanographic, the largest aquarium built in Europe. Finally, on October 8, 2005 the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía was opened and became the opera house of Valencia.
You can catch a train that will lead you through the City and the Turia dried riverbed gardens and explain a bit about the history of this place. Other activities here include kayaks, some kind of waterbikes and bubbles, all for reasonable prices. I HAD NOT visited any of the buildings on the inside, but the outside looked to me too grandiose but, a bit, lifeless. A stunning mix of concrete and water, still, lacking more green spots - in order to create even better harmony.
Public Transport: from Hotel Eurostars Gran Valencia (see Tip 3 below), Carrer de la Vall d'Aiora, you Walk 350 m to Corts Valencianes Avenue - la Safor. You cross the bustling avenue using the crosslights and catch bus # 99 destination: Estació del Cabanyal. You drop off after 27 stops (or ask the driver for the Agora). It is a long, but delightful ride along this pretty city. You walk 350 m (4 min) to the Àgora, Plaça Num 130 Res Urb.
From Hotel Eurostars Gran Valencia, Carrer de la Vall d'Aiora, 3, walk
240 m (3 min) to Beniferri Metro station, 2 Torrent Avinguda. Take Metro # 1 or #2 to Túria (2 stops). Walk to Petxina - Ferran el Catòlic and take bus #95 to Marina Real (15 stops) and get off at Eduardo Primo Yúfera - Front Àgora. Walk 290 m (4 min) to the Àgora, Plaça Num 130 Res Urb.
First, after dropping off from the #99 bus - we see the Ágora (completed 2009), the most recent addition to the family of buildings making up the City of Arts and Sciences: a polyvalent space with the vocation of being a meeting point that was inaugurated by welcoming the tennis open of the Community of Valencia in November 2009. The name Agora, of course, harks back to the ancient Greek concept of the public forum. Its intricate metal structure, has a blue outer shell which affords a bright, open and diverse space. The multi-functional setting has been planned for the staging of congresses, conventions, concerts, and performances; it can also be converted into an exhibition area. The Agora metallic structure resembles an ellipsis: 88 metres long and 66 metres wide. Its covered area is of 4,800 square metres. This large interior space has been planned as a covered public square with an open ground plan on a level with the adjacent lakes and parades. The fixed roof, when closed, has a maximum height of some 70 metres above ground level. Its silhouette has become a recognizable icon, with its vertical blue-and-white ellipse and interplay of columns and soaring (sometimes, dirty) windows.
TODAY, IT STANDS COMPLETELY DESERTED WITH NO VIABLE USE AND PURPOSE.
El Pont de l'Assut de l'Or (2008) — a suspension bridge in the middle of the complex. A white cable-stayed bridge crossing the dry Turia riverbed, connecting the south side of Valencia with Minorca Street. It stretches between El Museu de les Ciències and L'Agora. The tower of the bridge at 125 meters high is the highest point in the city:
The bridge + the Agora - a stunning combination:
Agora + El Pont de l'Assut de l'Or - view from the Turia riverbed gardens:
Residence buildings in the east from the Agora:
L'Oceanogràfic (2003) — is the largest aquarium in Europe and if you would like to see a large variety of fishes, crabs, seals, sharks you probably want to visit this beautiful park. This aquarium is a home to over 500 different species including dolphins, belugas, sawfish, jellyfish, starfish, sea urchins, walruses, sea lions, seals, penguins, turtles, sharks,and rays. It also inhabits wetland bird species. Furthermore there is a daily dolphin show. The open-air oceanographic park, was designed by Félix Candela. It consists of 110,000 square meters and 42 million liters of water. It was built in the shape of a water lily and is the work of architect Félix Candela. Each building represents different aquatic environments including the Mediterranean, Wetlands, Temperate and Tropical Seas, Oceans, the Antarctic, the Arctic, Islands and the Ted Sea. The Oceanogràfic centre might be a full day out on its own. Opening hours: daily from 10.00 to 18.00, and in the high season even from 10.00 to 00.00. Prices: Adults: €29,10, concessions: €21,85, groups: €19,40.
Entrance to L'Oceanogràfic:
View from L'Oceanogràfic to the Ágora:
Agora + El Pont de l'Assut de l'Or - view from the Turia riverbed gardens:
El Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe (2000) — In this museum you can experiment with technology. In an interactive way you will learn a lot about Science and technology. It Is an interactive museum of science that resembles the skeleton of a whale. It occupies around 40,000 m² on three floors. The exhibitions are designed more for 'entertainment value' than for science education. Much of the ground floor is taken up by a basketball court sponsored by a local team and various companies. The building is made up of three floors of which 26,000 square meters is used for exhibitions. The first floor has a view of the Turia Garden that surrounds it; which is over 13,500 square meters of water. The second floor hosts “The Legacy of Science” exhibition by the researchers; Santiago Ramón y Cajal, Severo Ochoa y Jean Dausset. The third floor is known as the “Chromosome Forest” which shows the sequencing of human DNA. Also on this floor is the “Zero Gravity,” the “Space Academy,” and “Marvel Superheroes” exhibitions. The building’s architecture is known for its geometry, structure, use of materials, and its design around nature. The building is about 42,000 square meter and 26,000 square meters of is exhibition space, which is currently the largest in Spain. It has 20,000 square meters of glass, 4,000 panes, 58,000 m³ of concrete, and 14.000 tons of steel. This magnificent building stands 220 meters long, 80 meters wide and 55 meters high. Opening hours: In low season from 10.00 to 18.00 and in high season from 10.00 to 21.00. Better, book online and reserve your tickets in advance. Prices: Adults: €8,00, concessions: €6,20, students: €6,80, groups: €5,80.
El Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe - view from the Turia riverbed gardens:
El Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe + .L'Hemisfèric:
Bridge between El Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe and L'Hemisfèric:
Bridge between El Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe and L'Hemisfèric - View to the Museu de les Bellas Arts:
Pond opposite El Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe:
Pond opposite El Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe - In the background: L'Hemisfèric and El Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia:
"The Sky Over Nine Columns" - Heinz Mack (a founder and member in Zero Group):
Pond opposite El Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe - In the background: L'Umbracle:
Bubbles in ponds opposite the Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe:
Inside El Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe:
L'Hemisfèric (1998) — an IMAX Cinema, planetarium and laserium. Its design resembles an eyelid that opens to access the surrounding water pool. Before the movie starts, you will receive earphones and then you are able to choose a language. (English, French, Spanish or Valencian). The building is meant to resemble a giant eye, and has an approximate surface of 13,000 m². The Hemesferic also known as the planetarium or the “eye of knowledge,” is the centerpiece of the City of Arts and Sciences. It was the first building completed in 1998. The bottom of the pool is glass, creating the illusion of the eye as a whole. This planetarium is a half-sphere composed of concrete 110 meters long and 55.5 meters wide. The shutter is built of elongated aluminum awnings that fold upward collectively to form a roof that opens along the curved axis of the eye. It opens to reveal the dome, the "iris" of the eye, which is the Ominax theater. There is a miraculous echo inside of the building and if two people stay on the two opposite pillars inside of the eye they can seamlessly speak with each other. Opening hours: 11.00 to 20.00 depending on the 3D movie. Prices: Adults:€ 8,80, concessions: € 6,85, students: €7,45, groups: €6,40. (1998) — an IMAX Cinema, planetarium and laserium. Its design resembles an eyelid that opens to access the surrounding water pool. Before the movie starts, you will receive earphones and then you are able to choose a language. (English, French, Spanish or Valencian). The building is meant to resemble a giant eye, and has an approximate surface of 13,000 m². The Hemesferic also known as the planetarium or the “eye of knowledge,” is the centerpiece of the City of Arts and Sciences. It was the first building completed in 1998. The bottom of the pool is glass, creating the illusion of the eye as a whole. This planetarium is a half-sphere composed of concrete 110 meters long and 55.5 meters wide. The shutter is built of elongated aluminum awnings that fold upward collectively to form a roof that opens along the curved axis of the eye. It opens to reveal the dome, the "iris" of the eye, which is the Ominax theater. There is a miraculous echo inside of the building and if two people stay on the two opposite pillars inside of the eye they can seamlessly speak with each other. The Hemisferic is a unique and spectacular building that represents a large human eye, the eye of wisdom. It houses a large dome screen that forms the largest auditorium in Spain with three projection systems (including IMAX). Opening hours: 11.00 to 20.00 depending on the 3D movie. Prices: Adults:€ 8,80, concessions: € 6,85, students: €7,45, groups: €6,40:
The water pool in front of El Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe. In the background - L'Hemisfèric:
The City of Arts and Sciences is divided into TWO levels that are connected with flights of stairs. The underground level contains the above buildings and the upper level contains the L'Umbracle and the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia. We climb the stairs to the L'Umbracle.
L'Umbracle (2001) — a garden with palm trees, plants and flowers and an open metal cupola which is covering the beautiful garden. During the summer months, a part of the L’Umbracle is often used for parties. An open structure enveloping a landscaped walk with plant species indigenous to Valencia (such as rockrose, lentisca, rosemary, lavender, honeysuckle, bougainvillea, palm tree). It harbors in its interior The Walk of the Sculptures, an outdoor art gallery with sculptures by contemporary artists. (Miquel de Navarre, Francesc Abbot, Yoko Ono and others). The Umbracle is also home to numerous free-standing sculptures surrounded by nature. It was designed as an entrance to the City of Arts and Sciences. It is 320 meters long and 60 meters wide, located on the southern side of the complex. It includes 55 fixed arches and 54 floating arches that stand 18 meters high. The plants displayed were carefully picked to change colour with each season. The garden includes 99 palm trees, 78 small palm trees, 62 bitter orange trees. There are 42 varieties of shrubs from the Region of Valencia including Cistus, Mastic (Pistacia lentiscus), Buddleia, Pampas grass (Cortaderia), and Plumbago. In the garden there are 16 species of Mirabilis jalapa, or the four-o'clock plant (beauty of the night). Honeysuckle and hanging Bougainvillea are two of the 450 climbing plants in the L'Umbracle. There also are 5,500 ground cover plants such as Lotus, Agatea (Fellicia amelloides), Spanish Flags, and Fig Marigolds. There are over a hundred aromatic plants including Rosemary and Lavender. Opening hours: MON to SUN 08.00 - 00.30. Price: FREE. It is the only part of the complex with public access free of charge:
During summer 2016 there were sculptures of Francisco Simões (Portugal), "Cuerpo de Mujer" on display in front of the Valencia L'Umbracle:
L'Umbracle from the El Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe:
Umbracle + Hemispheric + European Space Agency (Easa) Buildings - A VIEW FROM THE AGORA:
From the northern edge of the Umbracle - you can see the Pont de Montolivet. Designed by Santiago Calatrava (1986-89) and used by pedestrians and vehicular traffic. The Montolivet bridge crosses the Túria gardens and connects the district of La Roja with those of Montolivet and the City of Arts and Sciences . To the north, the bridge flows into the square of Europe, one of the largest in the city, while in the south it meets another roundabout located in Avenida del Saler. It is a unique bridge in the city to consist of two clearly different parts: the old bridge, which crosses only the northern half of the garden, and the new one , which continues it to the southern bank. In fact, neither one nor the other is too old, although it was with the construction of the City of Arts and Sciences that it became necessary to widen the existing bridge. This double bridge is, therefore, of remarkable length:
El Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia (2005) — an opera house and performing arts center. The architecture of this building (and the others nearby) is simply out of this world. Close to the mighty building - it looks like a fish with a mouth. Modern architecture at its best. It contains four large rooms: a Main Room, Magisterial Classroom, Amphitheater and Theater of Camera. It is dedicated to music and the scenic arts. It is surrounded by 87,000 square meters of landscape and water, as well as 10,000 square meters of walking area. The Palau de Les Arts has four sections; the main hall, the master hall, the auditorium, and the Martin y Soler theatre. It holds many events such as opera, theatre and music in its auditoriums. Panoramic lifts and stairways connect platforms at different heights on the inside of the metallic frames of the building. The building has a metallic feather outer roof that rests on two supports and is 230 meters long and 70 meters high. One of the supports allows for part of the building to overhang. The building is supported by white concrete. Two laminated steel shells cover the building weighing over 3,000 tons. These shells are 163 meters wide and 163 meters long. The building is reputed for its fantastic acoustics. Opening hours: closed along the days. Open only depending on the performances or current exhibitions.
El Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia from the bottom level:
the northern bridge leading to the Palace of Arts and residence blocks around:
View of the Hemisfèric and the Ágora from the Palace of Arts:
After walking around the City of Arts and Sciences and marveling at the architecture and interplay of the designs, as well as the good fortune of the city of Valencia to have the foresight after the devastating 1957 flood to reroute the Turia river and dedicate the former river bed to a green parkway intersecting the heart of the city, we set off to enjoy lunch. Our next destination are the Turia Gardens.
View to Turia Gardens from the Palace of Arts:
El Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia - from the Turia Gardens:
view from Museum of Bellas Artes to the west:
Valencia - City of Sciences and Artes - view from Museum of Bellas Artes to the east (Turia Gardens):
Tip 2 - From Turia Gardens to Valencia Old City:
Main Attractions: Turia Gardens, Gulliver Park, Palau de la Musica (Concert Hall), Placa Zaragoza, Puente d'Aragón, Puente de la Mar, Puente de las Flores, Puente Calatrava, Jardines del Real, Puente del Real, Plaça de Tetuán, Museo del Patriarca, The Plaza del Patriarca.
The Turia Gardens are built on the former riverbed of the Turia, whose course was altered to prevent constant flooding in the city. After a devastating flood on 14 October 1957, the Turia's course was diverted south of the city, leaving a huge tract of land that crosses the city from West to East, bordering the historical centre.They stretch from Cabecera Park in the north and west to the City of Arts and Sciences in the south and east. The Turia Gardens is one of the largest urban parks in Spain. It runs through the city along eight-nine kilometres of green space boasting foot paths, leisure and sports areas, and romantic spots. Turia Gardens are the largest urban gardens in Spain. Crossed by 18 bridges full of history, the former riverbed passes by the city's main museums and monuments on either bank. Several urban planners and landscapists designed different sections of the park, recreating the former river scenery. They created a unique itinerary of palm trees and orange trees, fountains and pine woods, aromatic plants and ponds, sports facilities and rose beds. The gardens were inaugurated in 1986. The Cabecera Park and Bioparc border the huge gardens to the west, and the futuristic City of Arts and Sciences border it on the opposite side, near the mouth of the river. The Turia Gardens connect a realistic-looking African savannah in the Bioparc with the underwater world and ecosystems you can visit in the Oceanogràfic in the City of Arts and Sciences, and the spectacular opera auditorium and Palau de les Arts housed also in the City of Arts and Sciences. There are many other interesting stops along the way. In the huge Gulliver park (see below), children can climb onto the fingers, hair and legs of a giant, 70m recumbent figure and slide down them like Lilliputians. The Palau de la Música (see below), which offers a complete annual programme, is nearby. Broad esplanades outside the Palau provide spaces where children can skate and play football. The ponds surrounding the City of Arts and Sciences hire out water walking balls and canoes in summer (see Tip 1 above). Valencia is a flat city, so the Turia Gardens are the perfect place for walking, running enthusiasts and those who prefer to cycle on bicycles and segways. As well as hiring a bike, you can hire a ‘bicycle and carriage for two’ – great if you want to enjoy the park at your leisure. These small vehicles are for hire in the Gardens. Valenbisi bike sharing scheme (http://www.budget-travel-tips.com/2011/10/valenbisi-bike-share-valencia-system.html) makes it easy and cheap to rent a bike and explore the city. The docking stations are spread all over the city, many of them being placed along the shores of the Turia Gardens. You will find several bars and cafés with extensive terraces along the way, where you can take a break for refreshment. The gardens are very popular with dog walkers, but in spite of that, stray cats made the riverbed their home, and they can be spotted in trees or sleeping in the grass, fat, happy and free, as people leave them cat food in the places where they know the little fellows hang around.
The part of Turia Gardens around City of Arts and Sciences is the most spectacular of them all - large green spaces, elegant garden design, ponds and alleys, random artworks. Very popular, especially on weekends:
Turia Gardens can be accessed from the steps nearby the nineteen bridges that cross the old riverbed. Some of these bridges are more than 5 centuries old (see below in Tip 3). We walk approx. 1.1 km. along the Turia Gardens from south-east to north-west until we arrive to Gulliver Park, Antiguo Cauce del Turia. A total disappointment. No shade. Almost no water. No people during the hot hours. All fibreglass which with lots of different, huge slides coming down (children can, easily, disappear). Most of the equipment tools in the Gulliver playgrounds are neglected, dangerous or impractical due their temperature. The whole park is baked in the sun. However, the idea of Gulliver and tiny little people crawling over is brilliant. The famous literary work of fiction Gulliver’s Travels was the inspiration for this magical adventure park that lies at the heart of the Turia Gardens. The adventure park includes, also, a scale model of the city, surrounded by a minigolf course, a giant chessboard, tracks, skateboard area and lots of playground equipment:
We continue walking 400 m. northward into and along the Turia Gardens - arriving to Jardines del Palau.
Above them, on your right (east) stands the Palau de la Musica (Concert Hall). Designed by José María de Paredes. The Palau (palace) was inaugurated on the 25th April 1987 and since then has become one of the iconic buildings of modern Valencia and it is considered to be among the most important concert halls in Europe. An enormous glass dome that runs parallel to the Turia river-bed Park provides the main entrance. The exterior ambience penetrates the interior; the green areas flourish in the foyer while the great glass waterfall seems to pour into the pool, specially designed by Ricardo Bofill. From here you can watch the fountains that have been designed to spout to the beat of the music heard from the Palau throughout the garden. Concerts, operas, ballets, conferences, presentations, and all sorts of other educational activities have been and continue to be held inside and outside the building:
Here, we quit the gardens and climb eastward (on our right) to the bustling street of Paseo de la Alameda (Passeig de l'Albereda). The section of the Paseo de la Alameda (south to Zaragoza Square) is the New Alameda:
Here, in Placa Zaragoza (Zaragoza Square), we connect with the Historical Alameda. The historical part or walk runs from the square of Zaragoza (south) to the Municipal Nurseries (north) along 1 km. It is connected with the Paseo de la Ciudadela, on the other side of the river, by five bridges: puente de Aragón (bridge of Aragon), el puente de la mar (the bridge of the sea), el puente de las flores (the bridge of flowers), el puente de la exposición (the exhibition bridge), el puente del Real (the Royal bridge). The Alameda is organized in main avenue, two independent lanes of three lanes each one with zones of parking to the center as the edges; Two strips of lawns on both sides; And a one-way (east-west) two-lane service road to the north. This is where the Torretas de los Guardas (Guard Turrets) are located. The two towers called Guardas, built in 1714 and dedicated to San Felipe and San Jaime, were preserved from the primitive mall and were intended to house the tenants of the nearby orchards and the private walk. The roof of each one has pyramidal form covered with blue glazed tiles. On the façade are the shields of the most influential families of the eighteenth century , symbolizing the aristocratic character of the new Bourbon Valenci. From the Plaza Zaragoza - start Av. del Puerto and Av. d'Arago to your right (east) and the Puente d'Aragón is on your left (spreading over the Turia Gardens):
Torretas de los Guardas / Torretas de aduana (Guard Turrets) - Antigua Estación de Aragón (ancient railway station of Aragon:
As we said before - there are 18 bridges along the Turia gardens. The most outstanding historical bridges are those of San José (17th century), Serranos (16th century), Trinidad (15th century), El Real (16th century) and El Mar (16th century). More recent bridges are the Puente de la Exposición, 9 d'Octubre, Las Flores and l'Assut d'Or, designed by Santiago Calatrava; the Las Artes bridge, next to the IVAM (Valencian Institute of Modern Art), by Norman Foster; and the Ángel Custodio bridge, by Arturo Piera. The former riverbed also links other points in Valencia not to be missed, like the Serranos Towers, a gate in the old city walls that surrounded Valencia, currently converted into a wonderful viewpoint over the historical centre and gardens; the Valencia Institute of Modern Art (IVAM) and the Museum of Fine Arts. All of these are located on the former banks of the Turia, which serve as a guide for an interesting cultural itinerary in the city of Valencia.
We shall walk the Alameda from south to north. It is a landscaped walk of just over a kilometer in length that runs along the left bank of the River Turia, from the Puente de Aragón to the Puente del Real. The current Paseo de la Alameda was part of the old access road to the Royal Palace from the sea (Camino del Grao). Originally a place full of wetlands because of its proximity to the river and certainly unhealthy place. Between 1643 and 1645 Rodrigo Ponce de León, 4th Duke of Arcos and Viceroy of Valencia between 1642 and 1645, ordered to plant two parallel rows of poplars along the river's stream. From this moment the place will be known as the Alameda (place of poplars), losing its previous name of Prado of the Palace of the Real that boasted from the end of 16th century. In the middle of the seventeenth century, the "Fábrica Nova del Riu" finished building the walls and river banks in this area (left bank of the river) so that the place was protected from the floods and became a more livable place. From 1674 a period of public beautification of the place began, creating in 1677 an oval space or square in front of the Royal Palace, a place that would be used as a place of festivities, mainly for bullfights. This space was located approximately in the place that today is called Llano del Real. Towards 1692 La Alameda has become a public walking thoroughfare and the "Murs i Valls Factory" decideed to beautify the walk in all its extension that at that time only reached the Puente del Mar. New trees were planted and the oval square facing the Royal Palace was decorated with balls and stone benches creating the formal entrance to the Paseo de la Alameda.
We arrive to the Bridge of Aragon (on our left, west) which is a pedestrian bridge and for passage of vehicles that crosses dried Turia riverbed - communicating the Zaragoza Square and the Paseo de la Alameda with the Gran Vía Marqués del Turia. It is the work of the engineers Arturo Monfort , José Burguera and Gabriel Leyda . It owes its name to the old railway station of Aragon, now disappeared. It was because of its construction that the Puente de la Mar happened to be of exclusive use for pedestrians.
The next bridge is Pont del Mar (Puente de la Mar), 400 m. north to Pont (puente) d'Aragon. The Bridge of the Sea is a pedestrian bridge that crosses diagonally the Turia Gardens - connecting the Placa d'America and the Paseo de la Alameda. It is the most eastern of the five historical bridges of Valencia. The first bridge that is known had to be raised during the fourteenth century, then built of wood. Damage to this structure that produced the various floods of the River Turia forced in 1425 to build a more robust structure, which already had the foundations and pillars of stone:
Puente de las Flores is 270 m. north to the Puente de la Mar. The Puente de las flores (Flower Bridge), was opened in 2002.,It connects Passeig de la Ciutadella with the Paseo de la Alameda. It owes its name to the flower pots full of flowers that can be found on both sides of the bridge. Puente de las Flores is decorated with 27,000 beautiful flowers of all colours, which vary throughout the seasons. The Puente de las Flores was built (in 2002) to replace a temporary pontoon constructed to meet the demands of the city’s traffic:
A bit north to the Puente - note several interesting (Art Deco ?) buildings along Passeig de l'Albereda:
We continue walking northward along the Alameda and we arrive, after 350 m. to the Puente Calatrava or Pont de l'Exposició (Bridge of the Expocision). The current bridge was designed by the Valencian engineer and architect Santiago Calatrava. It draws its name from the Regional Exposition Valenciana of 1909 and the world-known architect who designed this marvelous bridge. The Alameda Metro station resides here. The metro station located underneath the Exposition bridge, parallel to the Alameda and with access to it, was designed by Santiago Calatrava adopting the Spanish name of the old Alameda railway station that was located on the neighboring avenue of Aragon:
There are 450 m. walk from the Fuente Calatrava to the last historical bridge - Pont del Real. Still a bit south to Pont del Real we observe the towers that crown the walk. They stand through the end to the Jardins del Reial / Jardines de Viveros, and were called Los Guardas (the Guards). They were incorporated into the walk in 1714:
We ignore, at the moment, the Pont del Real and turn direct into the Jardines del Real (the Royal Gardens). The gardens used to be part of the Royal Palace until year 1810, or Viveros (greenhouses). There are many different areas to the park - tree lined avenues, a rose garden, a pond with ducks, fountains, pergolas, the nursery, a restaurant and lawns. The Natural Sciences Museum is also situated in the gardens. FREE gardens. It is the biggest park in the city. On one side, it continues into the pretty jardines de Monforte and, from their west side, they border the dried river Turia garden, which spans the 16th century royal bridge. A vast area of the green grounds provides fresh air for the city (quite rare during the summer months). Throughout the 20th century, the gardens have been repopulated and beautified, and are now a favourite spot for Sunday morning walks. In the summer the central esplanade is converted into an improvised concert hall, especially during the July Fair, and in springtime the walkways are filled with bookstalls during the Feria del Libro. Some nice statues and fountains in the park. There are also restrooms. The cafe/restaurant in the gardens - is good, budget and honest. Just light portions. Overall the gardens are devoid of colour (bear in mind: Valencia suffers long hot temperatures during the summer), and in some areas, water features are in need of maintenance:
We exit the gardens and walk westward (direction of the Turia Gardens) to connect with Puente del Real (Royal Bridge). A 16th century bridge. It holds images of both Saint Vincent Martyr (died in 3rd century AD) and Saint Vincent Ferrer (died in 1419) - carved by Carmelo Vicent and Ignacio Pinazo.
Statue of San Vicente Mártir:
Statue of San Vicente Ferrer:
This bridge was inaugurated to celebrate the wedding of King Philip III of Spain to Queen Margarita, but it seemingly does not take its name "Real" from "Royal" but from "Rahal", an Arabic word that means orchard or garden. The bridge connected the Palacio del Real to the walled city. The Palace itself was demolished in early 19th century by the Valencian people so that Napoleon troops could not place their guns up there to bomb the city. The former Palace's gardens are Jardines del Real or Viveros - we've just visited. The Gothic bridge was built after the 1517 flood destroyed the old wooden bridge. Construction on the Puente del Real began in 1595, with ashlars and keystones from the cemetery of the nearby Santo Domingo Convent, and was concluded three years later, to coincide with the wedding celebrations of King Felipe III and Queen Margarita.
The Puente del Real has nine pointed vaults and a pair of structures housing sculptures of San Vicente Mártir and San Vicente Ferrer . The bridge was severely damaged in the floods of 1957 and was widened in 1964 to increase traffic flow, thereby losing its human scale.
From the western end of Pont del Real we head southwest toward Passeig de la Ciutadella, 110 m and turn right onto Passeig de la Ciutadella and Plaça de Tetuán. Turn left onto Plaça de Tetuán, 80 m. Plaza Tetuan is one of those places in Valencia that just happen to be a cluster of things to see with nothing in common between those. Convento de Santo Domingo is a large, atmospheric monasterial complex that will remind you of the Imperial days. A mixture of Gothic, Renaissance and Neo-classical, it dates from as far back as 14th century:
Right opposite it is Palacio de Cervello. Although not particularly anything special visually, it is a very important building in Valencia - used as a royal residence during the 19th century, Those rooms have seen hugely historic events and are currently housing a museum:
A few meters down is the small park of Glorieta where you can soak up the Spanish afternoon among some very curious trees. As you walk towards there, note the high bank building on your right, Centro Cultural Bancaja it is unbelievable:
There are many more attraction, nearby (Puerta del Mar, Palacio de Justicia, Chapel of San Vicente Ferrer) - but, we shall return to them in other Tipter blogs of Valencia. The same holds for the Old City of Valencia. We assume that, at this point of your daily itinerary in Valencia - you are quite late in the afternoon or, even, in the evening hours. We shall sample the old city in one spot only - the Museo del Patriarca. In these hours of the day - it won't be crowded and you will be able to spare a generous span of time for this rare attraction. From the Plaça de Tetuán there are three altrenative routes to arrive to this museum. All of them are 600 metres walk. The simplest route is the following: Walk south in Plaza de Tetuán, 100 m. Continue onto Carrer del General Tovar
160 m. Continue straight onto Plaça d'Alfons el Magnànim (we shall visit this magnificent square in another Tipter blog on Old Valencia !), 35 m. Turn right toward Carrer de la Nau, 55 m, slight left along Carrer de la Nau, additional 55 m. Turn right onto Carrer de la Nau 200 metres further and the Iglesia / Colegio / Museo Del Patriarca, Carrer de la Nau, 1 will be on your right. Formally, it is called Royal Seminary School of the Corpus Christi. This Royal Seminary School, well-known among the Valencian people as ´The Patriarch´, has as its main aim the training of novice priests following the spirit and wills of the Council of Trent precisely laid down in the Constitutions by its founder Juan de Ribera who became archbishop of Valencia in year 1568. This archibishop was fully committed to the ideal of the reformation of the Church according to the precepts of Trent. It is an important building architecturally for reflecting the importance the Italian Renaissance had in Spain. Guided tours (1 hour) cost 7 € per person and include the rare tapestries. This combination of Museum, Corpus Christi Royal College (seminary) and the church (Iglesia) will consume, at least, one hour from your time. PLAN YOUR TIME IN ADVANCE TO AVOID BEING RUSHED OR DRIVEN OUTSIDE WITHOUT SEEING ALL THE SEMINARY CORNERS !!! The visit in this place is an highly spiritual experience. There are very rare treasures inside. If you are lucky you will hear the monks singing there - a wonderful and moving experience. The guided tour is interesting, but it drives you forward quite hastily without allowing enough time to explore all the museum overwhelming works of arts. Ignore all the concerned websites (there are two of them). The best time to arrive id daily from 11.00 until 13.00. If you wat to take part in the service and listen to the monks songs - come TUE-SUN at 09.30 (the CHURCH, not the museum, is closed on Mondays). You pay the entry fee of 6 € (non-guided, free tour) to the old man in the entrance, on your right).
The building itself is stunning, the architecture. The structure takes up an entire city block, deliberately built in front of the original university so that the students could easily attend relevant classes. The main entrance on Carrer de la Nau shows a mix of architectural styles, and the main double vestibule or hall separates the church from the "Capilla de la Inmaculada", both of which are worth of a visit:
The internal Italian court from the 126th century with with mosaics from Talavera near Toledo, Spain. This is, perhaps, the most important feature architecturally in the Patriarca complex. Considered one of the most beautiful within the Spanish Renaissance:
The interiors are, basically, a single vaulted nave and FOUR deep high arched chapels on the sides leading to a magnificent apse and choir space with a dome above - all crossed by a short transept. The high altarpiece features a masterpiece painting of "The Last Supper" (La Última Cena) by Francisco Ribalta in 1606:
The building also houses the Patriarca museum where you can contemplate a selection of paintings by Archbishop Ribera as well as many other artists. All of these works are representative of the painting done in the 16th and 17th centuries. Many pictures are by Ribalta and very few by El Greco and Caravaggio, Novaro and Baglione.
The Crucifixion of Saint Peter - Caravaggio:
The Kiss of Judah - Caravaggio:
St.Augustin and St. Heronimus - 16th century picture:
Another 16th century picture:
Descent from the Cross, 15th cent., Roger van der Mezden:
On the other side of two sides of the cloister are the church, richly frescoed by the Genoese painter Bartolomeo Matarana (1573-1605)
and the Colegio chapel. The chapel, dedicated to the Passion of Christ, was conceived by San Giovanni de Ribera and painted by Tomas Hernandez, probably on the designs of Matarana, around 1606.
Iglesia del Patriarca - Chapel of the Purisima, the Dome - Frescoes with Biblical Stories - by Tomás Hernández:
The nave is painted with three Biblical scenes (Isaac's Sacrifice, the burning serpent in the desert, Jonah and the sea monster) that symbolize the three moments of Passion, Crucifixion and Resurrection.
Binding (Sacrifice) Of Isaac - Tomás Hernández:
On the sides of the vault, the Prophets of Israel are depicted. Style and design are inspired by the Sistine Chapel in Rome.
Jeremiah - by Tomás Hernández:
Jonah The Prophet - by Tomás Hernández:
Paintings of the Biblical prophets:
Do not miss the frescoes of Carlo Maratta or Maratti (13 May 1625 – 15 December 1713). An Italian painter, active mostly in Rome, and known principally for his classic paintings executed in a Late Baroque Classical manner. Although he is part of the classical tradition stemming from Raphael, he was not exempt from the influence of Baroque painting and particularly in his use of colour:
The Plaza del Patriarca, opposite the seminario, is not less impressive. Decorated with a symmetrical grid of orange trees, the Plaza del Patriarca is home to a couple of Valencia’s most historic buildings: the Real Colegio Seminario del Corpus Christi and La Nau (Universitat de València), both of which date from the 15th century. The square is dominated by the eastern façade of La Nau , an exhibition center of the University of Valencia , which occupies part of the square with a large public fountain with sculptures. To the north is the building that gives its name to the square, the Royal College of Corpus Christi of Valencia or Patriarca Seminario with a huge vertical window covered with a grid, although be on the second floor.
The impressive fountain of Place del Colegio del Patriarca. You can watch and listen to free traditional Valencian music concert on Saturday nights in this square. Nearby can be found the Museo Nacional de Ceramica and Calle Poeta Querol, also known as Valencia’s Golden Mile, due to its great concentration of luxury brands:
The closest Metro station is Colón (walk of 400 m.). From the Plaça del Collegio del Patriarca head south toward Carrer de Salvà, 30 m. Turn left onto Carrer de Salvà, 100 m. Turn right onto Carrer de la Universitat, 25 m. Continue onto Carrer del Dr. Romagosa, 100 m. Turn left onto Carrer de Don Juan de Austria, 120 m. Take Metro line #5 (to the Aeroport). Drop off after 2 stops at Àngel Guimerà. Take Line # 1 to Seminari - CEU and your hotel is near Beniferri station (3 stops). From Beniferri walk 250 m. to the Eurostars Gran Valencia hotel.
Tip 3: Eurostars Gran Valencia:
Overall, a great stay ! Great location. Easy connections with all parts of Valencia through Metro and buses. The hotel overlooks a grandiose square and located near a wonderful tree-lined avenue. Several quality restaurants around (5-10 minutes walk). Fantastic 360 degrees views from the high floors' rooms. Generous, big rooms with very comfy beds. Good breakfasts. Polite and helpful staff members.