Valencia Introduction Walking Tour, Valencia

Valencia Introduction Walking Tour (Self Guided), Valencia

Valencia, Spain's third-largest city, boasts an ancient lineage dating back to 138 BC when it was established as a colony for Roman war veterans. Originally christened "Valentia," which means valor, a tribute to the battle-hardened soldiers, it eventually evolved into Valencia through gradual phonetic changes.

In 75 BC, the city faced destruction at the hands of Pompey the Great, only to rise anew in the mid-1st century AD. It subsequently hosted Visigoths and Moors, each imprinting their cultural heritage. The Moors, in particular, introduced innovative irrigation systems and crops, thus reshaping the city's landscape. In 1238, the Aragonese Christians conquered Valencia, establishing it as the capital of the Kingdom of Valencia.

Valencia's zenith arrived during the 15th century, its Golden Age marked by flourishing arts, culture, and construction. Thriving on trade with the Iberian Peninsula, Italian ports, and Mediterranean locales, Valencia grew to become one of Europe's largest cities by the century's close. An enduring legacy of this era is the Silk Exchange (Llotja de la Seda), now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

For many, a visit to Valencia begins with the grandeur of the North Railway Station (Estacio del Nord), a splendid architectural relic from the early 20th century. A short stroll away, the lively City Hall Square (Plaza del Ayuntamiento) hosts various events and celebrations.

Notable for its stunning alabaster façade, the Marques de Dos Aguas Palace (Palacio del Marques de Dos Aguas) beckons admirers of architectural finesse.

For gastronomic connoisseurs, the Central Market (Mercado Central) is a sensory paradise offering the best of local cuisine.

A leisurely promenade through the picturesque Queen Square (Plaza de la Reina) offers both respite and captivating views. It leads to the awe-inspiring Valencia Cathedral, a fusion of Romanesque, Gothic, and Baroque architectural styles.

Venture onward to the historic meeting point of Virgin Square (Plaza de la Virgen), where the past gracefully merges with the present. On the horizon, the Serranos Towers (Torres de Serranos) stand as a testament to the city's medieval fortifications.

To bask in nature's beauty amidst the urban landscape, explore the Turia Gardens (Jardines del Turia), an extensive park nestled within a former riverbed.

Valencia is a captivating destination for travelers seeking a blend of heritage, architectural wonders, and vibrant urban life. Even a brief encounter with this city promises an unforgettable experience. To maximize your visit, don your walking shoes and embark on this self-guided tour to immerse yourself in the charm of this Spanish gem.
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Valencia Introduction Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Valencia Introduction Walking Tour
Guide Location: Spain » Valencia (See other walking tours in Valencia)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 12
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.2 Km or 2 Miles
Author: kane
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Estacio del Nord (North Railway Station)
  • City Hall
  • Plaza del Ayuntamiento (Town Hall Square)
  • Mercado Central (Central Market)
  • La Lonja de la Seda (Silk Exchange)
  • Palacio del Marques de Dos Aguas (Marques de Dos Aguas Palace)
  • Plaza de la Reina (Queen Square)
  • La Catedral (Valencia Cathedral)
  • Basilica de la Virgen de los Desamparados (Basilica of the Virgin of the Forsaken)
  • Plaza de la Virgen (Virgin Square)
  • Torres de Serranos (Serranos Towers)
  • Jardines del Turia (Turia Gardens)
Estacio del Nord (North Railway Station)

1) Estacio del Nord (North Railway Station) (must see)

The North Railway Station is the main train terminal in Valencia. From here trains leave daily for several cities in Spain, such as Barcelona, Madrid, and the French boarder. The building is a beautiful example of a modernist architecture, constructed in the early 20th century. Architect Demetrio Ribes designed this majestic and well balanced building in the center of the city.

The outside of the building is decorated with elements that are representative of local architecture. There are also two lovely mosaics on the façade. Inside the station, the decor is also quite appealing. The modernist theme is carried out with more mosaics. The mood is bright, colorful, and the building is worth seeing even if train travel is not on the agenda. The entire first floor is open for public use, while the mezzanine is occupied by offices.

While visiting a train station may be a bit out of the ordinary, it is a nice attraction to see, especially when combined with the bullring next door. If train travel is on the agenda, be sure to arrive a bit early to explore the station before departure.
City Hall

2) City Hall

City Hall, known locally as Ayuntamiento, is the center of government in Valencia. Construction on the building began in 1758 but was not completed until the early 20th century. As such, the building features a number of architectural styles.

The architects who designed City Hall used Neoclassical, Neo-Baroque and Neo-Renaissance architectural styles. The interior includes fine paintings, nude reliefs and marble furnishings. The Crystal Room features large chandeliers, mirrors and painted ceilings.

Visitors to the City Hall will enjoy the Municipal Historical Archive and Museum. Tourists can also step out onto the balcony to see an impressive view of the city. Security is tight at the City Hall but that shouldn't stand in the way of experiencing this impressive building.

The building is located within the Town Hall Square. The City Hall is open from 8 AM to 3 PM, Monday through Friday. There is no entrance fee for the City Hall or its museum.
Plaza del Ayuntamiento (Town Hall Square)

3) Plaza del Ayuntamiento (Town Hall Square) (must see)

The Town Hall Square is a city square that is popular with tourists. The square is most notable for containing the City Hall. However, there are a number of other beautiful buildings constructed during the Valencia's golden age and a spectacular fountain.

Visitors can see the grand architecture of the main post office and the Bank of Valencia. Built 1915-1922, the Central Post Office is a white baroque building, facing the city hall across the square. It looks quite impressive, especially for a post office. Visitors can also enjoy the beauty and fragrance of the many flower stalls.

Those wishing to shop or dine will find plenty of options around the Town Hall Square. However, most will want to take the opportunity to explore the beauty and grandeur of the City Hall.

Anyone who wishes to tour the nearby buildings should arrive earlier in the day because most of the buildings near the square close to visitors by 3 pm.
Mercado Central (Central Market)

4) Mercado Central (Central Market) (must see)

The Central Market, or Mercado Central, is a historic public market in the center of Valencia. This market is notable for being one of the largest in Europe. It also has an unusual design with a multi-layered roof and colorful window panels.

The location of the building was originally an open-air market called Mercat Nou. It dated to 1839. However, the city decided to enclose the market and used a contest to find an architect. The city chose a Valencian Art Nouveau design by Alexandre Soler March and Francesc Guàrdia Vidal to create the space. Groundbreaking on the building began in 1914. It was completed in 1928.

Most of the vendors at the Central Market sell food. Butchers might offer cuts of pork, mutton, beef, oxen and freshly prepared sausage. They also sell prepared foods like burgers and steak. Those wanting to find something less common can search for vendors who sell snails, sweetbreads and tripe.

Other foods available at the Mercado Central include cheeses, spices, fruits, vegetables, nuts, pastries and shellfish. Gourmet offerings include wine, beer, spirits, olive oil, honey, jams and much more.

There are a few vendors who sell souvenirs and non-food gift items. A lucky shopper may be able to find clothing, perfume, jewelry, accessories and ceramics at reasonable prices.

Mercado Central is a popular spot for locals to do their grocery shopping. It is also very popular with tourists who want to try local cuisine, have the experience of shopping in a historic market and find souvenirs to take home.

Why You Should Visit:
- To enjoy a few hours of shopping with locals
- To try local food you may not see anywhere else
- To pick up souvenirs to take home

The market is open Monday through Saturday from 7:30 AM to 3 PM. A few vendors may be willing to negotiate prices, but most products are already marked at a reasonable rate.
La Lonja de la Seda (Silk Exchange)

5) La Lonja de la Seda (Silk Exchange) (must see)

The Silk Exchange was built between 1482 and 1533 in Gothic style. There are incredible gargoyles both inside and outside the building. Some are fairly grotesque but still interesting. There are also coats of arms and other adornments throughout the building. Valencia was a prosperous commercial trading hub in the 14th century. This large building was utilized for trading, and stands as a testament to that fact, although it looks more like a garrison than a building for luxurious silks.

The inside of the building is just as impressive as the outside. The hall of columns is where the actual trading took place. Around the walls, an inscription announces the honesty of those who trade here, as well as welcoming traders of various religions and ethnicities. The columns themselves are a delight for the eye with their massive, twisting, yet graceful styling, reaching high to the roof. Chandeliers also add a touch of beauty, and rather counteract the imposing gargoyles.

The building is a beautiful representation of Gothic style and should not be missed. It is, in fact, a UNESCO world heritage site.

Why You Should Visit:
One of the best examples of Gothic civil architecture in Europe and it's worth going in just to see the ceilings! The courtyard with the orange trees is a pleasant place to sit in the shade and rest for a few minutes.

The audio commentary is really worth getting – inexpensive and gives a great insight into the outside & inside of the building. On Sundays, you can take a look at the coins & stamps market right outside and get inside the building for free.
Palacio del Marques de Dos Aguas (Marques de Dos Aguas Palace)

6) Palacio del Marques de Dos Aguas (Marques de Dos Aguas Palace) (must see)

Considered as one of the best examples of Baroque architecture in Spain, the Marques de Dos Aguas Palace is an eclectic palace inside and out.

Built in the late 1490 in Gothic style, it was remade into the Baroque style in the 18th century. The outside of the building is an interesting blend of rococo and includes a Churrigueresque waterfall that gives the Palace its name. While this combination of architecture and decoration can be seen in several buildings around Valencia, the results here are breathtakingly beautiful.

The interesting blend of styles also continues on the inside. The Palace is home to the National Museum of Ceramics, as well as of famous people's caricatures in the in the Gallery of Humorists. That alone should be enough to merit a visit. The National Museum of Ceramics displays an interesting collection of ceramics that includes beautiful tile work that is recognized throughout the world. There is also a large and well decorated ballroom that is reflective of the grandeur of the period.

There is a small fee for visiting the palace. However, admission is free on Sundays and holidays. Also, children under the age of 18 and those on a pension get in free daily.

Why You Should Visit:
Stunningly beautiful façades, not to be missed even if you don't go into the museum. The interiors don't disappoint either – opulent and glitzy, with a 19th-century exuberance.
Plaza de la Reina (Queen Square)

7) Plaza de la Reina (Queen Square)

Queen Square is one of the oldest and busiest squares in Valencia. The square was founded in 1878 on the wedding day of King Alfonso XII and Maria de la Mercedes. The square was named in honor of the new queen.

The square took many decades to complete. Though groundbreaking took place in 1878, the construction continued through the mid-20th century. Today, visitors will see green grass, flower gardens, palm trees and benches. They will also see easy access to many interesting spots to eat and shop while in the city.

The square is surrounded by cafes, restaurants, shops and historic buildings. Among the most notable is the Cathedral of Valencia which is accessible via the Door of the Irons located on the square.

Queen Square is a good place to stop on the way to the Valencia Cathedral. It is only a short walk from the Silk Exchange.
La Catedral (Valencia Cathedral)

8) La Catedral (Valencia Cathedral) (must see)

La Catedral is often referred to as Valencia Cathedral by tourists who are captivated by its rich history and beautiful Valencian Gothic architecture. However, the cathedral goes by many other names. It is officially the Metropolitan Cathedral-Basilica of the Assumption of Our Lady of Valencia. It is also referred to as Saint Mary's Cathedral.

Whatever you call it, Valencia Catedral is a must-see spot in Valencia. Construction began on the cathedral in 1262 but wasn't completed until around 1459. Still, additions and improvements continued on the cathedral for hundreds of years. A building was added to the church as late as 1970.

Thanks to many additions and renovations over the years, the cathedral features a variety of architectural styles. Valencian Gothic is largely represented, but architecture-lovers will find French Gothic, Romanesque, Renaissance, Baroque and Neoclassical influences. It also has numerous paintings from Spanish and Italian artists. Most of these paintings date to the 15th century.

Along with the beauty of the architecture and the decorative interior, the cathedral holds many secrets and mysteries. During excavations, remnants of Roman buildings were found within the cathedral. Likewise, a number of artifacts and relics are held inside. One of these relics is the Holy Chalice, which is thought by many to be the true Holy Grail. It can be seen in the Chapel of the Holy Chalice.

Tours are available from 10:30 AM to 5:30 PM Monday through Saturday. Visitors can tour the interior, the museum and the bell tower.

Why You Should Visit:
Valencia Cathedral is the most important religious building in the city. One can admire its numerous architectural styles and have a chance to see Holy Chalice.

The cathedral is not open for tours on Sundays. Those visiting Valencia in the summer may find the tour hours extended through 6:30 on weekdays.
Basilica de la Virgen de los Desamparados (Basilica of the Virgin of the Forsaken)

9) Basilica de la Virgen de los Desamparados (Basilica of the Virgin of the Forsaken)

Next to the Cathedral, the Basilica is the most popular religious site in Valencia. Thousands visit its halls every year. It was built in 1652 and dedicated to the Mother of Jesus. It is located in the Virgin Square.

The building is a Baroque architecture, as one might note from the side chapel attached to the main complex. In fact, this is one of the first examples of such architecture in Spain. It can be accessed from a staircase located on the side of the main building.

The Basilica was built on the same site where various other churches, mosques and chapels once stood. The floors have an elliptical shape, which also makes for a quite beautiful building. If you look closely, you will also notice the dome is not centered. It is slightly forward of center, towards the Cathedral.

There are many beautiful pieces of artwork as well as sculptures here. The frescoes are among the best in Spain. One statue of note is the statue of the little Hunchback. Designed in Gothic styling, it depicts a local virgin who was known for her work with the poor and destitute. The face of the statue is Byzantine and is adorned beautifully with jewelry from the faithful.
Plaza de la Virgen (Virgin Square)

10) Plaza de la Virgen (Virgin Square) (must see)

Virgin Square is located in the heart of Valencia. The square offers a beautiful fountain, numerous monuments and plenty of history. You can sit by the fountain, occupy a stone bench or have a drink at one of the many cafes near the square.

The square's most famous monument is the fountain that is dedicated to the Turia River. It portrays eight female figures pouring water from the pitchers they hold. Neptune sits atop the fountain. It was designed by Manuel Silvestre Montesinos in 1976.

The square remains busy with pedestrian traffic throughout the day, but it is quiet and calm due to the lack of automobiles. It is also near many of the city's highlights, like the Valencia Cathedral.


You may climb the cathedral bell tower nearby to get a better view of the city.
Torres de Serranos (Serranos Towers)

11) Torres de Serranos (Serranos Towers) (must see)

The Serranos Towers are one of two sets of towers along the gateway into the old city section of Valencia, with the Quart Towers being the other smaller and younger pair of towers. This particular gateway is the largest of its kind in Europe. They were constructed during the 14th century, a full 100 years before its younger brother. Construction was completed in 1391. The towers was part of the defensive structure protecting the city. At one point in time, prisoners were also housed here.

The towers are reasonably high so you can see over the city rooftops towards the Valencia Cathedral, while on the other side you can walk part of the old ramparts which give you a view of the Turia River. The towers have often been used for festivities and important occasions. Parades would be led through the archway.

The structure is pentagon-shaped and has a common gallery that connects the two sections. The design is classic gothic. When you climb to the top of the tower, you can also see the outlines of the old moat down below.

Why You Should Visit:
A nice part of Valencia history, still well maintained and preserved, and seeming to have some kind of friendly spirit.

It is well worth paying to go inside. It takes less than 30 minutes to walk in and climb. In the square at the base of the tower, there is a good cafe/bar to refresh afterwards.
Jardines del Turia (Turia Gardens)

12) Jardines del Turia (Turia Gardens) (must see)

Turia Gardens is a public park and the largest urban garden in Spain. It is one of the most visited parks in the country. The park is located in the old riverbed of the Turia River.

The 1957 Great Flood of Valencia proved to the town that the Turia River may continue flooding and causing death and destruction. A plan was put forth to divert the river out of the city center using channels and hydraulics. The empty river bed was transformed into the park in 1986.

Turia Park is known for its numerous bridges. Some were built along with the construction of the park and many were added later. A few of the bridges are several centuries old, such as the Sea Bridge, built in 1591.

Turia Gardens snakes through the city and is 4.3 miles long from the BioParc to the City of Arts and Sciences. Visitors will admire open-air art displays, waterways, statues and fountains as they enjoy the scenic route.

The park is open from March to October from 7:30 AM to 9:00 PM. In the winter, the park is open from 8 AM to 7 PM.

Walking Tours in Valencia, Spain

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