Mercado Colón at night.
Mercado Colón at night.

Photo: Mauro Rongione


Five must-do's in beautiful Valencia

Valencia, on the Spanish Mediterranean coast, is much more than just one of Spain's sunniest cities and the birthplace of the country's national dish, paella. Join us on an architectural tour of the past and present of beautiful Valencia.

Photo: Mauro Rongione

Stunning food temple

Mercado Central is a big draw, with 300 traders and a huge variety of Spanish delicacies - from local charcuterie and mountain cheeses to Valencia's famous oranges and world-class olive oils. But don't forget to look up at the ceiling. Valencia is often admired for its tiles and right at the top of the dome you can see the most intricate web of hand-painted, ornamental patterns. It's easy to see why it took the Barcelona-trained pair of architects a whole 14 years before the beautiful art nouveau temple could be inaugurated by King Alfonso XIII himself in 1928. Come here early at seven in the morning, when you'll find the city's restaurateurs vying for the best seafood.

Mercado Central

Plaza Ciudad de Brujas, Valencia

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Closes at 3pm

Photo: Mauro Rongione

Personal pop-up

Temporary boutique hotels are literally popping up all over the world right now. In Spain, affordable quality chain One Shot Hotels has established a little elegance in the country's major cities, from Madrid to San Sebastian. The name of the hotel in Valencia is the same as its address: Colón 46 - in the bustling city center, near Estació Nord and the magnificent Santa Maria Cathedral.

One Shot Hotels / Colón 46

Colón 46, Valencia

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Photo: Mauro Rongione

The home of The Great Architect

At the City of Arts and Sciences, Valencia's highly regarded architect Santiago Calatrava (who designed the Turning Torso in Malmö) has created his very own combination of micro-world and playground. Subject of praise and criticism in equal measure, the City of Arts and Sciences lies on the road between the city center and the Mediterranean and is home to an opera house, planetarium and museums. If you can't manage to take in everything on show in the 350,000m2 space, at least allow yourself time to stroll around and be fascinated by the organic forms, which outwardly bear quite a resemblance to the skeletons of some enormous dinosaurs or sea creatures. If you're there when Valencia is at its hottest, continue east for a cooling dip in the sea.

City of Arts and Sciences

Av. Professor López Pinero 7, Valencia

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Photo: Mauro Rongione

Cultural Cluster

The Bombas Gens art center only opened six months ago, but has already become an established oasis of modern art, in particular photography. In the spring (until 27 May), for example, there will be an exhibition of striking American image sequences entitled 'The Whiteness of the Whale' by photographer Paul Graham. Housed in a 1930s former hydraulic-pump factory in the newly hip neighborhood of Ruzafa, Bombas Gens is similarly an aesthetic refuge for the eye. Your stomach won't miss out either, as Valencia's celebrity chef Ricard Camarena recently decided to move his Michelin-starred restaurant to the basement of the art center.

Bombas Gens Centre d'Art

Avinguda Burjassot, 54, Valencia

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Beautiful Colón

Valencia's other food paradise is actually even older and grander than the central market. Mercado Colón first opened on New Year's Eve 1916 and introduced modernism to Valencia. Having been a traditional market hall, it closed to undergo a major renovation. After reopening in 2003, this cast iron beauty now calls itself Gastro Market and has become the extended living room of the locals and an absolute foodie destination; there's an open food court (which doesn't close until 3am) crammed with restaurants and cozy bars, with less of a focus on stores. Its location in the heart of the city still makes Mercado Colón a powerful experience for both the stomach and the eye, though. Not least its spectacular façade, complete with towers and billowing mosaics.

Mercado Colón

Jorge Juan 19, Valencia

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