Intercultural

Valencia: Culturally Speaking

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Cailey Dillon is a student at the University of Central Missouri and an ISA Photo Blogger. She is currently studying abroad with ISA in Valencia, Spain.

After getting to spend three whole months in this charming little city called Valencia, I have learned a thing or two and am finally getting the hang of my surroundings (I know, about time right, Cailey?). I’ve noticed that some of my friends here won’t recognize the places or things that I’m referring to unless I put it in relation to a bar, pub or club that we frequent. I am one of the lucky ones since I decided to take multiple classes that push me out into the streets- (literally)- to learn about the place in which I now call home. Had I not chosen my classes so carefully, I may have ended up in a boring class and never seen for myself all that Valencia has to offer. Let’s dive in to the more cultural places you may not know about in Valencia, shall we?

San Juan del Hospital, view from the back pew

San Juan del Hospital, view from the back pew

San Juan del Hospital was by far my favorite place I got to visit in Valencia. From the outside, San Juan del Hospital looks like nothing more than big doors which is nothing out of the ordinary for Valencia. However, San Juan is the oldest church in Valencia dating back to 1238.

Original crosses from the Crusades

Original crosses from the Crusades

When you first walk through the large double doors, you will see on your left original painted crosses from the Crusades behind a protective layer of glass.  When you walk inside, it is silent and peaceful. The peace and serenity that you find behind these doors is unparalleled in such a large, busy city.

Hustle and bustle in the heart of Mercado Central

Hustle and bustle in the heart of Mercado Central

Next up is the Central Market (Mercado Central)- oh- what a place!  There’s something about market places that truly highlight the culture of a city. This market screams Valencia. It’s so busy and colorful!

A colorful and fresh assortment of fruit

A colorful and fresh assortment of fruit

There are vendors, shops and even little restaurants lining the inside of the 8,000 square meter structure. I like to think of Mercado Central as the heart of Valencia. When I first visited Mercado Central, I was blown away by how big and lively it was. Inside you’ll find locals, tourists, young people, old people and definitely hungry people.

Valencian oranges can be found all around this park and do their job of adding a splash of color

Valencian oranges can be found all around this park and do their job of adding a splash of color

Jardines Real is also known in Valencia as the Viveros Gardens or Viveros Park and this park dates back to a Muslim-ruled Valencia. On the north end, you will stumble upon the famous “Rose Garden”. Viveros Park is home to 167 different plant species. Throughout the park, you’ll find fountains, statues, plant tunnels, benches and yes- a plethora of cats! This park serves Valencia as a place of nature- a green heart in the middle of the city. Locals may walk through here on their daily route, take their dogs here to get some exercise or just to enjoy some peace and quiet. Tourists may put this location on their itinerary as it is a work of art and a place to stop and smell the roses- literally!

The courtyard that proceeds the La Lonja building

The courtyard that proceeds the La Lonja building

La Lonja de la Seda, also known as “The Silk Exchange” during the Moorish times in Valencia, is one of the most important buildings in Valencia, culturally speaking. Today La Lonja is merely a tourist attraction, an architectural wonder and, if you’re a local, a nice place to find yourself at the end of a walk through Valencia.

Close up of a gargoyle on the side of La Lonja

Close up of a gargoyle on the side of La Lonja

The Contract Hall blew me away, the courtyard is a peaceful place to relax and come on; who doesn’t love gargoyles?  La Lonja is a popular place for tourists and locals alike.

The entrance to the Monforte Gardens featuring the famous set of marble lions

The entrance to the Monforte Gardens featuring the famous set of marble lions

The Monforte Gardens are so serene. In the heart of bustling Valencia, an escape like this is difficult to come across. In the garden you’ll find a famous set of two marble lions that came from the front of the famous Royal Palace of Madrid.

The famous "Love Tunnel" at the back of the garden

The famous “Love Tunnel” at the back of the garden

Lining the back of the Monforte Gardens is a flower tunnel, commonly known as the Pinterest-famous “love tunnel”, covered by bright purple flowers with benches lining the tunnel. Culturally, this is a place of relaxation, a “pause button” you could say.  It’s a nice little find in Valencia!

Well, now you know an abundance of culturally fabulous places that await your arrival around Valencia– go check them out! You won’t be disappointed. Thanks for reading!

The world awaits…discover it.

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