I was in Valencia at the weekend – catching up with my little girl and hearing all about her Yoga training!
It was the first time we had been to Valencia – and I was impressed. I had heard great reviews about the architecture and it doesn’t disappoint.
It is very much a City of two (or three) parts. The third part is a one that the tourist need not see – blocks of apartments thrown up in the 1960’s and 70’s – we’ll gloss over that!
The old town is just an amazing maze of windy streets with buildings nearly touching in parts. It is very easy to get lost – even when you have a sense of direction. There is real history here – played out over thousands of years. The Churches are incredible – the Cathedral is just stunning. They also have the Holy Grail – which took some finding – as it rightly should! A trip to the top of the Cathedral tower was a test of fitness – 207 steps was the price to pay. But the view was worth it.
The central market is an example of how we should shop for food – no vacuum packed, ‘pretty’ food here. Fresh and cheap. This is a proper market and the colours, sounds and smells are an assault on your senses.
But the real treat for me was the modern architecture – principally around the City of Arts and Sciences. It sits in the drained riverbed of the former River Turia. There are four key buildings – El Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe, L’Umbracle, L’Oceanogràfic, El Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia.
Each is completely ‘mad’ in terms of what we expect buildings to look like. But theses are works by two very forward thinking designers for the 21st Century – Santiago Calatrava and Felix Candela. Calatrava’s blinking eye at the Planetarium is just brilliant.
It helps when the sun shines and you see these white structures against a deep blue Valencian sky – but this is exciting architecture. It challenges and it has a wow factor. It is architecture we need more of?