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The Gardens of Monforte

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Valencia-garten

The small Garden of Monforte, adjacent to the larger Viveros, is one of the more beautiful green spaces in Valencia (location). Its neo-classical design dates from the 1800s, and it’s said to be that century’s last artistic park remaining in the city. With 33 marble statues, numerous ponds and fountains, and a large central pond in the shape of a water lily, the Jardín de Monforte is a wonderful place for an afternoon rest.

On weekends, newlywed couples are a common sight in the gardens. With its abundance of romantic corners and perfect light, Monforte is famously popular for wedding portraits.

Were it not for the ugly high-rise buildings which serve as an unfortunate backdrop, one could almost feel transported back in time while exploring the grounds. It just feels medieval. The name Monforte comes from the park’s second owners. Christened an “Artistic National Garden” in 1941, it now enjoys the funding and protection of the state.

Opening hours are from 10:30 – 18:00, extended until 20:00 in Spring & Summer (21 Mar – 20 Sep).

More information at (Spanish) Wikipedia
… and the Ayuntamiento’s site
Location on our Valencia Map

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November 27, 2009 at 2:09 pm Comments (0)

Rodin in the Plaza de Ayuntamiento

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Seven works of one the world’s most renowned sculptors, Auguste Rodin, are currently on display in the Plaza de Ayuntamiento.

thinker-rodin

And these aren’t “just any” Rodin art pieces. Valencia is playing host to his masterpiece, The Thinker, as well as one of his most powerful and praised sets, The Burghers of Calais.

The Burghers of Calais was made in homage to an historic event. During the Hundreds Year War, the city of Calais was besieged and eventually vanquished by the English King Edward III, who vowed to stop the devastation only if 6 noblemen from Calais would deliver the city keys to him personally. A couple sadistic little catches, though: they had to be naked and wear nooses around their necks. The Frenchmen complied, and Rodin’s larger-than-life sculptures capture the heroism, piteousness and self-sacrifice of these brave, doomed men.

The Thinker needs no real introduction, but it takes on new dimensions in the Plaza de Ayuntamiento. The way the famous Valencian light hits and reflects off the bronze figure is beautiful. We saw it in the middle of the day, and I imagine it looks different throughout the day. And with the large plaza fountain as a backdrop, this will certainly be the most photographed item in Valencia until December 13th, when the exhibit ends.

More images of the Rodin’s art:

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November 24, 2009 at 4:16 pm Comments (2)

Valencia’s Oceanografic: Europe’s Biggest Aquarium

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oceanografic-valencia

We already covered Valencia’s incredible zoo, the Bioparc and thought it was time to pay a visit to our aquatic friends in Europe’s biggest aquarium, the Oceanografic. Found at the harbor end of the City of Arts & Sciences complex, this aquarium features marine ecosystems from throughout the world. The admission price of €23,95 seems steep, but is money well invested. The Oceanographic is huge, and can easily consume an entire day. Over 45,000 individual animals of 500 different species populate the premises.

Highlights abound. Take a walk through the shark tunnel, and try not to shiver as a gigantic Great White swims four feet over your head. We spent too much time watching the seals play, and almost missed the wonderful, high-flying dolphin show. Something unique we’d never seen was a walk-in submarine aquarium — we sat on a bench, in a little bubble and almost felt like a part of the scenery, as Mediterranean fish swam around us.

The greatest attraction, though, was the Beluga whale born in captivity in the Oceanografic. Graceful, beautiful, playful and unbelievably cute. I wanted so badly to give that thing a hug.

The best time to visit is during the off-season (October through May), in the morning hours before the school buses full of pushy, screaming children arrive. Make sure to stop by the information stand first, to find out about special events and check the times for the dolphin shows.

And please remember not to use your flash when taking pictures through aquarium glass: (a) they won’t turn out, because the flash reflects against the glass, and (b) you’ll annoy everyone around you. We were going nuts watching amatuer photographers look in puzzlement at their digital cameras, then take another flash picture. Then stare befuddled at the blown-out photo. Then take another flash picture. Befuddlement, flash, confusion, flash, frustration, flash.

If you have some time to kill and enjoy soothing music and sea life, check out our (overly-long) video of the Oceanografic:

Here’s a version, starring just the Beluga:

Visit the Oceanografic website for more information, current promotions and opening hours.
Location on our Valencia map.

More Oceanografic pictures:

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November 23, 2009 at 9:35 am Comments (7)

Valencia in a Comic: De Mano en Mano

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Valencia’s old city center has a starring role in a new 48-page comic by Ana Miralles and Emilio Ruiz, called De mano en mano. The story follows a €20 bill as it passes to various people throughout the city’s streets and homes.

The comic has received good reviews from the few sites I’ve looked at, and uses its central gimmick to explore the social and economic issues of the city. Valencia is the setting, and the artists recreate a lot of city highlights, such as the Plaza de la Virgen.

Currently available for order, the book costs €18 from publisher Edicions de Ponent. Or wait until it comes to the library!

[Via Levante]

Spanish Comics Here


November 16, 2009 at 4:42 pm Comment (1)

First Feria de Gastronómica in Valencia

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spanish-cheese-cake

2009 has been Valencia’s year of “firsts”. The first ATP tennis tournament, US style rodeo, and Oktoberfest were among the highlights.

So now, Valencia presents the very first Feria de Gastronómica. It’s the same concept as the wine fest or the tapas fair. You buy food & beverage stamps which allow you to sample from different stands.

It’s a feast and if you see something you like you can buy larger amounts of it. Mmm, those cheeses … delicious!

Feria Gastronómica runs until this Sunday and it’s located inside Plaza de Toros.

More yummy pictures:

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November 12, 2009 at 7:49 pm Comments (0)

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