Constructed in 1876 over the ruins of a convent, the enormous Casa de la Beneficencia occupies an entire city block. Until 1982, the building was used to educate children, but today it’s home to two separate museums: the Museu Valencià d’Etnologia and the Museu Prehistòria de Valencia. These are fields of study which complement each other well and, if you have a lot of time, both museums can be visited with a single ticket.
L’Iber Museo de los Solditos de Plomo lays claim to the largest collection of tin soldiers in the entire world, with over one million tiny figurines lining its shelves. It’s a strange museum, made even stranger by its location within a beautiful palace on one of Valencia’s most popular streets. Collections as eccentric as L’Iber are usually based in the dusty attic of a scary old hermit.
Housed in the dried-out skeleton of the world’s biggest whale, the Prince Felipe Science Museum is worth visiting primarily for the other-worldly architecture of Santiago Calatrava. A joint ticket will allow you to check out the exhibits here, and catch a show at the IMAX theater in the nearby Hemsiferic.
Situated within the confines of a 16th-century monastery on the banks of the Turia riverbed, the San Pío Museum of Fine Arts is a treasure trove of medieval religious paintings, classic Valencian works, and masterpieces from the most famous of Spanish artists.
Burjassot is just to the north of Valencia, close enough to be connected via tram. The town’s defining symbol is its Patio of Silos, where Valencia’s grain was stored for centuries, and which was later used as a refuge during the Spanish Civil War. We showed up for a tour, shortly after the historic silos had been opened to the public for the first time.
Valencia continues to surprise us. Although we had known about the existence of Cabanyal’s Museo del Arroz for years, we had never bothered visiting. It’s a rice museum, you know? It never captured our curiosity. But we shouldn’t have delayed so long, because this museum is fantastic.
The MuVIM, or Museu Valencià de la Il·lustració i la Modernitat, is located in the park where the city’s first public hospital was built, in the 14th century. Today, the municipal library occupies the former hospital building.
When the Institut Valencià d’Art Modern opened its doors in 1989, it was Spain’s first museum dedicated to modern art. Found on the western corner of the old town, bordering the Turia riverbed, the IVAM is probably Valencia’s most important and popular museum.
Let’s say you’ve visited Xàtiva Castle. Amazing, but it sure was exhausting. The hike up that hill? The size of the place? I bet you’re happy to be done! But don’t relax quite yet, because you’re not going to like what I’ve got to tell you. The castle might be the highlight, but so far you’ve only seen a fraction of what Xàtiva has to offer. Take a quick siesta, have a cup of coffee, bang out a line of coke, whatever you need to do: you’ve still got a long day ahead of you.
Valencia wears its age well, since many of its oldest elements have been incorporated seamlessly into the modern city. The Baños del Almirante and the Alumdín, for example, fit in so well that it’s easy to forget they’re both 700 years old.