One of my favourite parts about a city break is its old town. Nothing beats the nostalgia of exploring an ancient town, its sporadic mix of old and new and the remnants of a bygone era.
We were fortunate enough to be staying two minutes away from the Old Town of Valencia so we got a chance to explore this in great detail. Buildings crumbling with time jostled for space with shiny, modern developments.
Below are my top picks to visit in this area:
La Lonja De Le Seda
This architectural masterpiece, popularly known as ‘The Silk Exchange’, is made up of a large hall supported by twisted columns. Other interesting architectural features of interest include gargoyles, tiles and entire wood carved ceilings.
Historically, as the name suggests, this place was used for the buying and selling of silk. However, the design and subsequent commissioning of the construction of the building was to showcase the commercial prosperity of Valencia. La Lonja was constructed at a time when Valencia was a thriving business and commercial destination, so a lot of money and effort was poured into the construction and detailing of this building.
Today it is a cultural icon, relatively well preserved and a great way to understand the commercial and historical significance of Valencia. Tickets are only four euros per person and it’s a definite must-visit should you be in Valencia.
Right opposite to the La Lonja is the bustling fresh food market in Valencia and the largest of its kind in Europe. It’s a weekly Saturday market and is a great place for people watching and buying & sampling of the local produce at competitive prices. You can read more about in this place in my previous blog post here.
Torres De Quart
A majestic way to enter the Old Town is via the Torres De Quart – twin Gothic-style towers. You can also buy tickets to go inside the tower; though we didn’t manage to do that on this visit, we imagine the views overlooking the Old Town will be splendid. Nevertheless, its towering height, architectural detailing and historical significance spanning centuries is fascinating to note.
The Valencia Cathedral
One of the most popular tourist sites and an integral part of the heritage of Valencia is its Cathedral. On the day of our visit, there was a beautiful church service in process and practically the whole town was in attendance. Architecturally, I was more impressed with some of the other buildings in Valencia like the La Lonja and the Parish of Saint Nicolas, but the cathedral is a vital part of Valencian splendour so worth stopping by.
The Parish of Saint Nicholas
This is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful churches I have ever been in. The entry of four euros is absolutely worth it. Don’t be fooled by the simple and austere external facade. As soon as you enter the church, you will be left spellbound by the stunning detailing of the interiors.
Inside you can immerse yourself in a world of frescoes painted over entire walls and ceilings (quite similar in concept to the famous Sistine Chapel). They whisper stories of a glorious and magnificent bygone era.
If you could do one thing and one thing only, I HIGHLY recommend visiting the Parish of Saint Nicolas. It is simply phenomenal and will take your breath away!
Walls of Valencia
Perhaps the most distinctive sights whilst meandering through the nooks and crannies of the old quarter is the sheer number of graffiti and wall art inscribed on every building. Banksy will have real trouble getting noticed here as some of the street art were indeed striking, complete with social messages and protest slogans!