Valencia, located on the Gulf of Valencia on the Mediterranean coast between Barcelona and Gibraltar, is Spain’s third largest city (after Madrid and Barcelona) with a population of 800,000 in the city and about 2 million in the metropolitan area. The city was founded on the Turia River in 138 B.C. by the Romans who chose the location, about 5 kilometers (3 miles) inland from the coast for defensive reasons, rather than on the coast.
Valencia is well known for its eponymous oranges and is the largest orange producing region in Europe. Approximately 80% of the oranges (and orange juice, etc.) are exported.
Within the former city walls (expanded from Roman times through several different governments until the 1600s), there are innumerable historic structures, making it the largest historic city district in Spain and a very popular tourist city.
Valencia is also well known for its annual festival, Las Fallas (The Falles), in which large stationary wood and paper sculptures across the historic district of the city are burned the last night of the festival — an historic Spanish pre-cursor to Burning Man, held annually on the west coast of the United States.
The modernist Mercado Central (Central Market) is reputedly Europe’s largest covered food market. A broad range of fresh foods are available daily (except Sunday), from fruits and vegetables to cheeses, meats and fish and seafood. Before entering the market for our purchases early one morning, we stopped at a small cafe outside and had a delicious local favorite breakfast — churros and hot chocolate.
While this blog has focused on photographs of the historical center of Valencia, a future post will explore the incredible new development just outside the historical district and old city walls, in the former course of the River Turia, the Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciencies (City of Art and Sciences), a modernist-design entertainment-based cultural and architectural complex designed by the world renowned Spanish architect, Santiago Calatrava.