Valencia – City of Arts & Sciences
I love Valencia and have even considered moving there. Still might do one day. Although it’s Spain’s third largest metropolitan area, it’s much more livable than Madrid or Barcelona. There just seems to be more elbow room and the cost of rent and eating out is much cheaper.
Since the middle ages, the bat has been the symbolic protector of the city, and you’ll see it everywhere, including on Valencia FC’s badge.
One of the great things about the place is the blend of old and new. Back in the late Fifties, after a catastrophic flood in which many people died, the city government diverted the River Turia which used to run through the centre of town.
The old river bed lay empty for many years. Although subsequent Francoist mayors wanted to turn it into a motorway this was resisted. With the arrival of democracy it was converted into an urban park, great for a walk run or a cycle, a fantastic facility for the people who live here. All of the old medieval bridges still remain so people and traffic can traverse the city without getting in each others way.
In the mid 90s work began on the Ciutat de las Arts i les Ciences (City of Arts and Sciences), a sci-fi ‘city’ conceived by world-renowned Valencia-born architect Santiago Calatrava. It includes a planetarium, a science museum, performing arts centre/opera house and an oceanographic park among other futuristic buildings. I haven’t been inside any of them yet but it’s fun to walk around pretending you’re in Logan’s Run.
It’s not all as idyllic as it may seem though. In the first five minutes of my walk I witnessed three young guys pinching a girl’s handbag as she and her friend were sat chatting by the fountains. The theives saw me filming them on my mobile but as I was on a slope above a low wall they couldn’t get at me easily so they just scarpered on their bikes. So watch your backs, this can still be an edgy town!