Ruzafa (Russafa in Valencian) is a neighborhood on the south-east side of Valencia. It begins at the Plaza de los Toros and extends southward until reaching the Avenida de Peris y Valero.
The neighborhood has Arabic origins, when it was developed as the gardens for Abd-Allah al Balans; in fact the name Ruzafa comes from the Arabic word for “garden”. And it was from this neighborhood that King James of Aragon prepared his assault on the city in 1238, winning it permanently for Christianity.
Existing outside the fortified walls of Valencia has given Ruzafa a unique flavor; in fact, it was its own municipality until 1877 and well-known as a hub for the importation of tree trunks (you can see the name “Tronco” still proudly displayed through the neighborhood). Nowadays though, Ruzafa is fully part of Valencia and has even become the heart of Fallas, with huge monuments on almost every street corner and the famous street lights of Calle Sueca.
Ruzafa’s nucleus is its market. The streets around this bustling shopping center are confusingly laid out, much like in Carmen, but as you get further away from the market they become more rectangular … and upscale. Some of the buildings along the Avenida del Reino, Rusafa’s northeast border, are stunning.
One of the best things about present-day Ruzafa is the cultural mix of people who call it home. Spaniards mix with South Americans, Africans, Asians and citizens from all over the world, resulting in a lot of interesting restaurants and shops. The night life in Ruzafa is second-to-none in Valencia, especially during the summer. The whole neighborhood seems to live on the streets. It’s not uncommon to walk straight into a street festival (as happened to us a couple months ago).
No visit to Valencia is complete without exploring Ruzafa. Coming soon, we’ll publish a walking tour which will help you hit all of Ruzafa’s highlights!