Oranges are the symbol of Valencia. The countryside in Valencia province has tens of thousands of orange trees. The street trees of Valencia city are loaded with oranges, ripening in December and January. The city oranges are extremly bitter.
This beautiful Art Noveau building houses the largest indoor market in Europe selling fresh produce. Begun in 1914, completed in 1928, it covers 8000 sq metres. Fish and seafood has its own section. The variety of crustaceans on sale is extraordinary. They are so fresh that most are still alive.
The dome of the market lights 8000 sq metres of stalls selling produce of all kinds. As well as fruit and vegetables, there are stalls that specialise in the finest Iberico hams, herb and spice stalls that sell genuine saffron for paella, stalls of goat and sheep milk cheeses such as Manchego and everywhere the ubiquitos bacalao - salted cod.
The Lonja is one of the most famous civil gothic monuments in Europe. It was declared a National Historic and Artistic Monument in July1931 and was made a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in December 1996. Valencia was an important city for the silk trade in Europe in the Middle Ages. The buildings that form the Exchange complex, built between 1482 and 1548, was where silk merchants negotiated their business. Until 5 years ago a philately and numismatic fair took place in the hall every Sunday.
The foreshore of Malvarosa has been protected from building development by the wide paved 'paseo maritimo', and the avenue of palm trees. At weekends Valenciano families stroll the 2 km promenade and take 3 hour lunches at the half-dozen or so restaurants along the beach. The beach itself, of fine, gold sand, is some 150 metres wide, to the water's edge.
These girls were about to perform Valanciano folk dancing in the cathedral square. From bright sunlight, just as the dancers formed up, it began to pour with rain....
Valencianos love dogs. Every second flat has a dog, usually a very small one like a chihuahua or minature Yorkie, fiercely guarding a balcony many stories up with a constant yapping.
In the streets around Mercado Central and the Silk Exchange are a couple of philately, numismatic, old postcard and cinema poster shops that have not seen a customer for decades. In 15 years of visiting and 5 years of living in Valencia I have never seen any activity or any person in this shop or the next.
Like the previous photograph, this shows a shop that, despite the "I buy" and phone number on the facade, has long since seen anyone buying or selling a stamp, coin or movie poster. It has remained exactly the same for the 20 years I have known it. It is in a prime location, a few steps away from Mercado Central, La Lonja silk exchange and the dozens of bars and cafes in the surrounding streets. It may well remain so for another 20 years
The City of Arts and Sciences is a complex of spectacular modern architecture at the southern, seaward end of the Turia Gardens, created in the old bed of the now diverted River Turia. The architecture, by Valenciano Santiago Caltrava and Mexican Felix Candela, is unquestionably world class. Political and financial controversy has dogged this project from the first proposals drawn up in 1989, through the opening of the final building, the Opera House in 2005, to the present day.
The Science Museum with the Assut d'Or bridge and La Agora events hall in the background. Originally budgeted at €300 million the final cost was €1300 million. The complex generates €113 million yearly.
Calatrava's centrepiece, The Opera House. This spectacular building, opened in 2005, was already in need of expensive repairs 10 yeasrs later. The panels of the roof were deteriorating and falling off. The whole roof had to be stripped and the panels replaced. A bitter argument as to who was at fault developed between Calatrava, local government and the building contractor.
L'Hemisferic with the Opera House in the background. L'Hemisferic is an IMAX cinema, planetarium and laserium.
A temporary art installation.
Italian-Swiss billionaire Ernesto Bertarelli won the 2003 America's Cup yacht racing series with his boat, Alinghi, staged at Auckland. NZ. The A.C. winner chooses where to defend the next challenge. Bertarelli chose Valencia. The city poured money into building the America's Cup marina complex. Alinghi was designed specifically to perform well in the light airs off Valencia and duly won again in 2007.
The years leading up to Alinghi's 2nd defence of the America's Cup saw much investment by the city into the marina complex & a track for Formula 1 racing. Originally contracted for 7 years from 2008, local financial problems curtailed the racing at the circuit to 5 years. Alinghi lost the Americ'a Cup in 2010. Since then, the A.C. marina & the F1 circuit have lain idle.
This building, part of the investment by Valencia city & region into the infrastructure of the Americ'a Cup & F1 track complex, had no use as an events venue for several years after the A.C. and F1 circuses left town. For many years I saw not so much as a cleaner inside. Now, with bars and restaurants, it provides an attractive location overlooking the marina.
El Carmen is one of the oldest and most atmospheric 'barrios' [neighbourhoods] in the old city. It will take decades, because that's how things go in Spain, but eventually this area will be as hip as London's Soho or Portobello Rd and Manhatten's Greenwich Village.
Valencia has a great many of these sizeable mural art pieces. There are dozens of decades-old end walls on vacant lots to paint them on. The execution of these large images is invariably superb - the artists take these very seriously and commit money to hiring cherry pickers to paint them. This one, on the walking tour route from Mercado Central up to Calle de los Caballeros, never fails to amuse.
Valencia - paella. Valencianos take their signiture dish very seriously. Jamie Oliver's addition of chorizo in a paella recipe caused a row that had the Spanish Ambassador to Britain involved. This one and one similar nearby, fed many hundreds of people who had been queueing patiently for 20-30-40 minutes for their helping. The street had 'a table' and chairs 120 metres long down the centre. A plate of paella and a beer cost €1. Note the ingredients boxes are the fuel for the pan.
The fish and seafood in Mercado Central is astonishing in its variety and freshness.
Valencia is a painting at every turn. What impressed me very much is that this woman clearly had no qualms about her safety on the street. She feels quite secure.
El Cabanyal is the old fishing village, parallel to the shoreline, with Malvarosa beach to seaward. A barrio made up of a grid of streets 4kms west of the city centre, it's days as the hub of the fishing fleet is over. The area has been running down for years and become something of a haven for low-life. There are signs, opposed by current resident, of money moving in and beginning to restore the very attractive tiled houses there. Casa Montaña is said to be the best tapas bar in Valencia.
This restaurant is on the street that connects the old city around Mercado Central and the plaza of the cathedral, passing the palace of the Borja/Borgia family on the way. Despite being in the centre of a tourist trail it offers a very good menu del dia lunch at a very moderate price. Regretably the walls have been repainted a somewhat grubby cream.