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Hola Valencia’s Top Five: Churches

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Although sometimes it’s easy to forget, what with its liberal, anything-goes attitude to life, Spain is one of the most deeply Catholic countries on Earth. Valencia has an enormous number of churches, many of which have centuries of history. We’ve visited a lot of them, and have chosen the five which impressed us the most… in no particular order:

Colegio del Patriarca

The Patriarca was San Juan de Ribera, the influential priest who founded this church and seminary in the 16th century. The building hosts an excellent little museum, as well as a courtyard and a church. But the most curious thing is the crocodile, mounted on a wall over the holy water.

The Dragon of the Patriarch

Church of San Martín

Just meters away from the Plaza de la Reina, the Church of San Martín has centuries of history, and was recently renovated by the Light of the Images — a foundation dedicated to the restoration of ancient buildings and works of art. They did a beautiful job.

The Glory of the Baroque: The Church of Saint Martin

The Cathedral of Valencia

The epicenter of Valencian religious life, the Cathedral was a given on this list. The magnificent facade, the jaw-dropping interiors, the Micalet — and of course, the Holy Grail — all make the Catedral an absolute must for any trip to Valencia.

The Bells of the Micalet

Iglesia de San Esteban

Blue and gray are the dominant colors in this beautifully restored church in the quiet neighborhood of La Seu. The church was built over a mosque in 1472, and is one of the prime examples of the Baroque styles in Valencia.

More Information from the Light of the Images

Iglesia de San Juan del Hospital

Built around 1260, this is considered the first church in Valencia after the Christian conquest, and is the only medieval church to survive the years. With a small austere interior accessible through beautiful gardens, this is one of the city’s most impressive and somber places of worship.

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September 25, 2010 at 4:36 am Comments (2)

Hola Valencia’s Top Five: Things to Do

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We did a lot during our time in Valencia, but there were a few experiences that stood out among the rest. These are our favorite things to do in the city… the activities and excursions that we would recommend to everyone who visits Valencia.

Sunset Sailing

Especially on a clear summer evening, the sunset tour on board a catamaran is an unforgettable experience. While stretching out on the ship’s tarp, as they unfurl the sails and turn off the motors, you have a wonderful view of Valencia’s harbor and beaches, with the sun setting beautifully behind the city. And when they bring out the complimentary cava, an already unbeatable evening just gets better.

Sunset on a Catamaran

Soccer at the Mestalla

The days are numbered for the incredible Mestalla stadium, as construction on its replacement (the Nou Mestalla) is almost finished. But, if you can, make sure to visit the old stadium. With its dizzyingly steep terraces and superb atmosphere, it’s a great night out for even people who loathe soccer.

Mestalla – Go while you can!

Horchatería Daniel

An institution in Alboraya, the Horchatería Daniel is the most famous and best place to sample the most quintessentially Valencian treat: Horchata. The tasty drink made from tiger nuts is even better when accompanied by freshly-baked fartons. Daniel is an extremely popular, and very big, place. Perfect for a warm Sunday evening.

The Best Horchata in Valencia

The Bioparc

The Bioparc is easily the best zoo I’ve ever visited. The animals are free to roam huge grounds, with no cages or bars anywhere in sight. Elephants, lions, hyenas, rhinos… everything you might expect in a zoo is there, but our favorite was the Lemur zone, where the lively monkeys intermingle freely with humans.

Our First Visit to the Bioparc

The Ciudad de Artes y Ciencias

The outrageous architecture of Calatrava is collected at the end of the Turia riverbed, providing otherworldly backdrops for pictures. Walking along the paths, by the the crystal blue pools which reflect the sparkling white buildings, such as the Hemsiferic, the Opera House, the Science Museum and the brand new Agora, you’ll feel like you’re on some alien planet.

Photo Reportage of the CAC

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September 14, 2010 at 3:15 pm Comments (2)

Hola Valencia’s Top Five: Festivals

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Well, I bet you’ve already guessed one of the festivals on our list! Sorry, Assumption Day, it’s not you. Here are the five festivals we loved the most during our time in this party-loving city!

Fallas

Fallas is the Valencian festival, for an entire week turning the city into a exploding, singing, marching, crying, drinking madhouse. We love it. If you visit Valencia during Fallas, you will never, ever forget it.

Our Mega-Fallas Überpost

Wine Festival in the Turia

Not really a traditional festival in the sense of the others on this list, but a great time regardless. The annual wine festival in the Turia seems to grow in popularity every year and, why not? With an incredible selection of cheeses, sausages and wines, and a great atmosphere which seems to buzz with the joy of spring, this is an event which no one should skip. Unless you’re one of those teetotaling losers.

Heaven on Earth? The Wine Festival

Virgen de los Desamparados

Possibly even crazier than Fallas is the celebration of Our Lady of the Forsaken — Valencia’s patron saint. The Sunday morning parade is the shortest, most intense religious freak-out I’ve ever seen.

The Traslado de la Virgen

Corpus Christi

In May, Valencia’s second most important festival gets underway, with bizarre parades, towering dancing figures and la moma — the lady dressed in white. It’s all tied to religion, of course, but what a giant-headed dancing Moor has to do with the body of Christ is anyone’s guess.

Paseo de las Rocas 2010

9 de Octubre

Get out your Valencian flags and head down to the Ayuntamiento, where the city will be celebrating itself in a grand fashion. This is the most nationalistic of Valencia’s holidays, and there’s often trouble as black-clad (and perhaps slightly fascist) Spanish nationalists come up against Valencian separatists. A good time!

Separatist Shenanigans at the Lowering of the Senyera

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September 2, 2010 at 8:49 am Comments (2)