I'm going to be showing you more and more about this stunning and multicultural city in the coming days and weeks, and so before I go into detail about what makes Valencia such a great place to be, live and visit, I wanted to give you an idea about what is what, and where is where. The second part of the series will look more at the areas in Valencia and what they represent.
Valencia is the third largest city, after Madrid and Barcelona, and so brings much of the 'big city' with it. Shopping, airports, commerce and a strong economy all bring people here, as do the arts and the culture to be found here. It's on the eastern coast of Spain, with some of the best beaches on the Spanish Mediterranean coast. Like many of the best Spanish cities, it was founded by the Romans in about 150 BCE and then was a Muslim conquest for another few hundred years in the 8th Century. There are huge medieval city gates, original wall sections, Muslim towers and architecture spanning every century and every style that has been used over the long centuries of Valencia's history.
Valencia is known as a city of culture and art, and is also the home of the most famous Spanish dish, paella. Looking at a map of Valencia, you can see a long park that runs all the way from the western edge to the eastern edge of the city. If you look at this park and think "It looks a bit like a river winding through the city, with the important buildings on the edges", then you would be completely correct. In 1957, this park was the large River Turia, which flooded dramatically, destroying 6000 homes and killing almost 100 people. The river was subsequently diverted and now the fertile ground is home to this park, which allows people to walk, cycle and skate around the city without having to use roads.I love this idea, and can't think of another place I've visited that turned a really bad natural disaster into a way to drastically improve the city and create something lasting and beautiful.
As one of my colleagues has previously written about, the parties and festivals in Valencia are legendary, especially the Las Fallas festival in Valencia, where people gather in March to create and then burn giant crazy paper models. This is also an incredibly energetic city for young people, with one of the fastest growing/recovering economies, and so the nightlife and food culture are both absolutely booming.
There are several districts in the centre of the city that used to be known as the more dangerous and sketchy areas, that are not absolutely growing in popularity, and becoming the coolest areas in the whole city. Somewhere like Russafa is one of these.
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