There’s not a city in the world Jürgen and I know quite so well as Valencia. We lived here for years before starting our travel project, and should there ever come a day we’re ready to settle down, it’s to Valencia that we’ll return. We figured our favorite city on Earth deserved the full attention of our blog, so we spent 91 days seeing the sights as though we were newcomers.
Even at night, Valencia is a city defined by light. The “blue hour” right after dusk is one of our favorite times, when the sky takes on a gorgeous, dark blue tint, and the street lamps illuminate the city’s buildings with a warm yellow light. Here are some photos which suggest that Valencia is at its most beautiful when the sun is making its daily retreat.
At either end of the Plaza de la Reina, you’ll find Valencia’s two most emblematic church towers. The Micalet, or “Little Michael,” is attached to the city cathedral, while the bell tower of the Santa Catalina church is at the end of Calle Paz. Both towers can be ascended; the ticket price is negligible, but the cost to your legs will be great.
The Feria de Julio has been celebrated in Valencia since 1871. With open-air cinema, concerts, fireworks and more, this month-long festival is an attempt to convince residents to remain in the city during the sweltering summer. The feria’s closing act is the Batalla de Flores, or the Flower Battle.
A wedge-shaped grid of streets just to the east of the city center, the upscale barrio of Gran Via is popular during the day for its restaurants, and at night for its clubs. Most Valencians refer to the neighborhood as “Canovas,” after the circular plaza which serves as its unofficial entrance.
Armed with a pen, paper and a list of questions, we set out into the streets of Valencia to meet some locals. As we suspected, this turned out to be a simple task. Valencians practically live outdoors, especially during the summer, and are friendly and approachable. Almost every person we stopped was happy to take a few minutes out of their day to answer our questions.
Although it’s possible to superimpose your own schedule onto Valencia, life is a whole lot easier when you submit to the city’s way of doing things. But what does a normal Valencian day look like? Here’s a quick, generalized rundown. Don’t worry, there are going to be a lot of snack breaks along the way.
It should come as no surprise that the most popular sport in Valencia is football. This is Spain, after all. Of the twenty teams in La Liga, Spain’s First Division, three are from the Comunidad Valenciana (at least in the 2015-16 campaign). And two of these are based in the city itself: Valencia Club de Fútbol and Levante UD. We attended a Monday night derby between them.
With a history reaching back to 1263, Corpus Christi is perhaps Valencia’s oldest festival, and remains one of its most popular. Occurring 60 days after Easter, the festival is held in honor of the Eucharist, but really it just provides another excuse for Valencians to get out on the street and have a good time.