Last week I’ve found myself travelling to Valencia for attending one of the biggest reggae festivals in Europe, the Rototom Sunsplash. I instantly got amazed by the city’s unique vibes; being a huge city -in fact it’s the third biggest city of Spain after Madrid and Barcelona-, Valencia is a city packed with culture, life, energy, parties and of course loads of fun.
While wandering into its narrow streets -which to be honest kinda reminded me of the ones of Barcelona but also of Thessaloniki-, I’ve realised that Valencia’s centre can be explored easily on foot let’s say in one or two days max. Well, there are a lot to be seen and visited, but of course Valencia is not only what you see in the center. “Never judge a book by its cover” they say, but thrive into it and try to get its hidden meanings and character. That’s what I also love doing while traveling; finding the off beaten neighbourhoods, talking to the locals, eating and drinking at places where tourists don’t go and getting lost into the city’s “local soul”.
© Photo: Antonia Marin Segovia / Flickr
To get to the point, that’s how I discovered Benimaclet. Having a friend living in Valencia, we got invited to explore his “unique neighbourhood”. “No need to see more at the centre” he said, “come by my barrio, after all it’s cheaper and the food is definitely better!”.
Benimaclet is in fact one the most unique districts of Valencia. It has a quiet, village-like atmosphere while its traditional paved streets and architecture travel you back in time and steal your heart from the first visit. That’s what happened in my case at least. Its old streets give a feeling of romanticism, worth experiencing while traveling to Valencia.
Benimaclet has a distinctive character, which was forged during the times when this area was an independent village nearby Valencia. Benimaclet had been a separate town until 1878, when it was swallowed up by the ever-expanding Valencia. Nowadays you can still feel the proximity of people on its narrow streets and low buildings, specially in the southern part of the neighbourhood.
© Photo: Kiki Mamatsiou - (it's us while exploring)
Benimaclet is a multicultural neighborhood, and a point of reference among foreign university students and young expats. With a very interesting cultural agenda, Benimaclet became popular to the young people seeking for authentic entertainment and local cuisine outside the city center (well, in fact it’s only 15 minutes by metro from it). The center of Benimaclet revolves around the Plaza de la Iglesia, which is the meeting spot of the neighbourhood’s locals, as well as the district where all the street parties and concerts take place.
While walking in Benimaclet what surprised me the most was as mentioned above, the “village-like” atmosphere. While strolling around, you see people bringing their chairs outside their residences, and chitchatting in front of their doors in the Valencian language. Well, that’s something that my grandma and her friends used to do in their village, and definitely not something that I expected to see in a big city, such as Valencia. I gotta confess that I got impressed. I’m definitely going back soon!
© Photo: KIKE TABERNER
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