[baˈlenθja]: a trip to Valencia


Before Winter sets in I decided to take a break somewhere warm but with architectural interest and I chose Valencia, a small city with lots to offer.

Visiting Spain is always a lesson in how to enjoy life to the full, the combination of food, music, meeting friends and the sun, doesn’t fail.

Arriving around midday I walked around to get a feel of the city, the city plan is based on a series of blocks in a grid system broken by plazas thriving with activity, it is fairly easy to loose yourself and wander off down the intriguing alley ways past earth-pigmented buildings embellished with typical Spanish details. Whichever direction you wander off in you will always come to water or greenery, as there is the Jardín del Túria to the north, River Turia to the south and the Balearic sea to the east.

There is plenty to see here and the gardens were a particular delight, following a sharp but heavy rain storm the locals sheltered under a Calatrava bridge and it could be seen how successful this long green strip was set in amongst the city buildings. The strip is sunken and has main roads to both sides but it was incredibly peaceful to walk among the exotic plants and trees, it felt like another place.

Walking through the gardens towards the Balearic sea I happened upon the Ciutat de Les Arts I Les Ciencies by Calatrava and Candela, a wonderful but subordinate display of large alien-like buildings. The set of buildings give the impression of being transported to the future with the white concrete backdrop and the shallow turquoise water sparkling in the sun heavily against the facades. Each building was independent from the next, with mind-blowing cantilevered roof sections and floating floors. One building resembled the head, one the eye, another the spine and so on. It did remind me a lot of seeing Gaudi’s work in Barcelona, there was the deliberate attempt to incorporate traditional elements of Spanish details such as the broken ceramic tile which is an industry Valencia is famed for. All the structures were sunken in water , possibly due to the area once being the bed of the River Turia itself, the river was re-routed. Up on the sidelines was the Umbracle a long raised winter garden with delicate tendrils creating a roof structure reminiscent of the palm leaves that filled the interior, the canopy was beautiful as it was so fine and yet emparting shade over the plants and visitors, creating a tranquil and cool atmosphere.

The city itself is quite lively in parts and is in complete contrast to the gardens, people dining, dancing, dressing in medieval costume, weddings in vintage cars, parties, people walking dogs even night markets kept appearing selling a unique collection of items from scented candles to bread to temporary tattoos.

I only managed to get there for a couple of days and wished I could be there for a longer spell just to tell you all more.

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