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.
If you were to ask a random pool of Valencians which they consider to be the city's hippest neighborhood... well, Ruzafa would probably be the winner. But it wouldn't be a blow-out. The northern district of Benimaclet is smaller and less well-known, but it has a young population, excellent restaurants, and a cool vibe all its own.
The sun was beating hard upon our necks, and our shirts were soaked with sweat. It was Sunday afternoon in the middle of the oppressive Valencian summer, and we were walking through the horta nord of Alboraya, learning about chufa: the tiny tuber which is the principal ingredient in horchata.
Jürgen and I live in Valencia, but we spend at least half the year traveling the globe. And when we're not at home, we rent out our apartment. If you're looking for a base from which to explore Valencia, you might want to consider our place. Wait... do I sense some hesitation? Well, please allow me to convince you.
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.
A humble meal originally from the rice fields of Valencia, paella has become the most emblematic dish of Spanish cuisine, and is now served in restaurants across the world. But for our money, the best is still made in the Comunidad Valenciana. We visited La Matandeta, a popular restaurant near the Albufera, to learn how the perfect paella is made.
The natural lagoon of the Albufera extends to the south of Valencia, separated from the Mediterranean Sea by a narrow strip of sand. It's the largest natural lake in Spain, and supports a diverse ecosystem of birds, fish and plant life. With its abundance of rice fields, paella restaurants, and traditional houses called barracas, the Albufera has become an important piece of Valencia's cultural identity.
La Xerea is one of the six neighborhoods which make up the Ciutat Vella, or "Old Town," of Valencia. And of all the city's neighborhoods, it's our favorite. La Xerea is central, historic, packed with ancient churches, palaces and monuments, and somehow manages to retain the calm of a quiet residential zone. And most importantly, it's our home.
In the town of Manises, you'll find a few workshops which offer the chance to try out the art of ceramics. The most popular is hosted at the Association of Valencian Ceramics, or AVEC. A week after our initial tour of Manises, we showed up at AVEC's doors, ready to learn.
Located literally across the street from the beloved, city-defining Turia Park, the Viveros Gardens have a tough act to follow. But this large park acquits itself well, with a history, beauty, and atmosphere all its own.