A Day in Valencia, Spain

Valencia Spain

Of all the places we visited in Spain, Valencia bore the greatest similarity to an American city – albeit one with a distinct European accent. Its wide, often bustling, avenues lined with an array of modernly functional buildings could easily drop into someplace like San Diego and feel right at home. After nearly a month of continuously touring the Iberian Peninsula, we were understandably happy for this dose of familiarity, regardless how tenuous.

And yet we somehow managed to resist the temptation of Valencia’s largest and newest of New World attractions: the ultra-modern City of Arts and Sciences. Housing an aquarium, a terrarium, a stadium, a planetarium, a “laserium,” an IMAX Cinema(rium?), and an opera house, it’s a one-stop shop for all your entertainment needs. And we totally skipped it.

Courtesy of the City of Arts and Sciences.

I guess we weren’t really that homesick after all, favoring instead the art and architecture of Valencia’s old world past while still reveling in the notion that we weren’t in Kansas anymore – or anywhere remotely close, for that matter.

The Valencia Cathedral

The Holy Grail Valencia Cathedral

The Holy Grail wasn’t so hard to find after all.

Our first stop was to the Valencia Cathedral, a place that might have saved famed archaeologist and adventurer Indiana Jones from both booby traps and Nazis during his quest for the Holy Grail. Unlike him, we didn’t find the Last Super Chalice protected by the Knights Templar in a subterranean room filled with deadly anti-grail decoys. We saw it on open display in a chapel dedicated to the artifact. Maybe if Indi had simply ponied up the €5 admission charge like we did he could have skipped all the theatrics.

Had he done that, he’d have also been treated to a Gothic cathedral that is remarkable even by Europe’s high standards. It’s safe to say that we’ve seen our fair share of fabulous churches. And while they’re all similar, each has some unique flourish that sets it apart from the others.

Surprisingly for the Valencia Cathedral, the Holy Grail isn’t, well, the holy grail of awesome church artifacts. We were honestly more captivated by the amazingly vibrant Renaissance frescoes adorning the main chapel. Hidden for more than 300 years behind a false ceiling, the masterpieces were only rediscovered in 2004.

Valencia Cathedral Frescos

It took about eight years to restore the works, removing ordinary grime and even penis-shaped graffiti that had been etched into an angel’s wing, but they’re now back on display in all their original brilliance. 

The Palace of the Marquis of Dos Aguas

Palacio del Marques de Dos Aguas Inside

Somewhere inside the Palacio del Marques de Dos Aguas is Valencia’s National Ceramics Museum. You’ll be excused for not noticing. The palace completely steals the show.

Even if you don’t go inside, it’s worth the effort to swing by just to see the elaborate Baroque façade.

Palacio del Marques de Dos Aguas Facade

But for a mere €3 (or free on Saturday afternoons) you’ll really want to spend some time strolling around this 15th century palace and maybe even see some ceramics.

Palacio del Marques de Dos Aguas Interior

The Central Market

If you’re hungry, you can stop by Valencia’s famous Central Market. Underneath the attractive iron, glass and ceramic dome, you’ll find a variety of merchants hawking everything from craft beer to, well, more exotic fare.

We picked up enough meats, fruits and cheeses for a hearty picnic in the Royal Gardens.

The X Door

Vintage Lock

Can you escape from The X Door?

Having never encountered anything like the X Door before Valencia, we’re starting to see more of these kinds of games pop up in cities around the world. The concept is simple. You enter a room and all you have to do is walk out the same door through which you entered. Unlocking that door, however, is anything but simple.

Behind The X Door lies a room decorated with an eclectic collection of vintage items and electronic equipment, all of which may be tools or clues needed to open an array of locked cabinets and chests. Somewhere behind all those locks hides the secret to solving the final puzzle and winning your release.

It’s escapist entertainment in the truest sense of the word.

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11 Comments on “A Day in Valencia, Spain”

  1. Chuck & Lori July 9, 2014 at 9:45 am #

    Timely blog as we settle into our month in Valencia! We made it to the City of Arts and Sciences today, in fact: incredible architecture. We too “discovered” the Holy Grail after we attended mass this past Sunday, LOL. Tried to go to the palace but it was unexpectedly closed (guess they decided to take siesta). We haven’t made it to the market yet, but we did spend a day at the beach. And we’re really digging the tapas and paellas!

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    • Brian July 10, 2014 at 3:05 am #

      Yeah, stuff being unexpectedly closed is something I don’t miss about Spain.

      We hit the beach here in Cornwall as well. Only I think our experience was probably a bit different then yours. We were bundled up in fleeces. I imagine Valencia is blazing hot right about now.

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      • Chuck & Lori July 10, 2014 at 10:31 am #

        It was indeed blazing hot this past weekend, but today it’s cloudless, windy, and cool enough we’re wondering if we’ll go to the beach tomorrow or not.

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  2. digger666 July 9, 2014 at 11:04 am #

    Reblogged this on digger666.

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  3. eric.rial July 9, 2014 at 12:04 pm #

    The Fallas festival in March is worth another stop here. Incredible. Fun place at Christmas too.

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    • Brian July 10, 2014 at 3:03 am #

      Didn’t know about the Fallas Festival. Thanks for the tip.

      Like

  4. madisonrolls July 9, 2014 at 2:46 pm #

    I’m currently just south of Valencia and came across the same food in the super market- brains. It had me a little skeeved out for sure.

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    • Brian July 10, 2014 at 3:02 am #

      They’re quite tender and tasty. 🙂 Didn’t have them in Spain but a “lost in translation” scenario at a French restaurant had a big old plate of them sitting in front of me. Nothing to do then but to dig in. 😮

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  5. gabriellesoria July 11, 2014 at 12:21 pm #

    Wow! The Central Market pics are amazing.

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  6. Kristina July 13, 2014 at 1:12 pm #

    I loved Valencia so much! Such a beautiful place 🙂

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  7. The Earth Beneath My Feet July 14, 2014 at 6:42 am #

    The architecture and embellishments are amazing. I would have skipped the unusual fare and settled for fruit, cheese and cold meats too 🙂

    Like

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