Valencia is Spain’s third-largest city. It’s the capital of the Valencia region and the largest city in the south of the country. There are plenty of things to do in Valencia and it’s worth having a long weekend to explore. You’ll find a trendy hipster district centred around the medieval quarter, a vast cultural complex of museums and the apparent Holy Grail at Valencia Cathedral.
There’s a small but friendly gay scene to explore. Madrid and Barcelona get all the attention, but Spain’s third city is full of charm and character. As Barcelona has all but been taken over by tourists, other Spanish cities are getting more attention – Valencia among them.
It’s a great foodie destination. The locals often have a second breakfast with a glass of wine or beer. Great if you’re looking for an excuse to start early! As is usually the case in Spain, dinner doesn’t really happen until much later. On top of the food, you’ll have a lot of history and culture to explore – if you can prise yourself away from the beach. Valencia was founded by the Romans in 137 BC so it’s home to some very old buildings.
The City of Arts and Sciences
If you see one thing in Valencia it should be this. The City of Arts and Sciences is a modernist cultural complex – the largest of its kind in Europe. It’s comprised of six futurist buildings. Work on this huge project began in the mid-90s.
One of the highlights of the City of Arts and Sciences is the Oceanographic. It’s an oceanarium boasting 45,000 animals. It’s the largest and most impressive oceanarium in the whole of Europe. You’ll see sharks, walruses and sea lions – along with 500 other species.
It’s worth booking ahead and planning your trip if time is short. There’s an awful lot to see and it’s very popular. There are often long queues to get in but you can fastrack your way to the front if you book ahead.
Torres de Serranos
A surviving gateway to the Old City from the city’s historic walls, Torres de Serranos is a historic monument. Valencia’s ancient walls are long gone but this gate remains. Originally built in 1392, the Torres de Serranos served as a triumphal arch and a military tower. The tower also served as a prison and a safe house for art during the Spanish Civil War.
Gay bars in Valencia
As Spain’s third-largest city, Valencia has a decent selection of gay bars. Most of Valencia’s gay bars can be found in the El Carme district in the Old Town. The Muse is a popular gay bar that opens over the weekend. It’s a good place for pre-drinks before heading to Desedo 54 to dance the night away. Desedo 54 attracts a youthful crowd.
There are many gay-popular although not gay-specific bars in Valenica. You can also explore the city’s gay cruise clubs, supposing you’re looking for some mischief.
Originally founded way back in 1238 to mark the Reconquista. Built in a Gothic style, subsequent additions have added Baroque, Neoclassical and many other architectural influences. It’s a very striking building. This is the most historic building in the city – you can’t miss it! Be sure to check out the Renaissance frescoes on the altar.
The Holy Grail
You may be thinking of the Monty Python movie or the countless Medieval legends surrounding the grail. It even pops up in the Da Vinci Code and many modern adaptations. The grail stories are among the most popular and widely told in all of literature. Where history ends and myth begins is a topic of endless debate. It’s probably all a myth, if we’re being honest! However, the Vatican has proclaimed Valencia’s Holy Grail to be the real one.
Many other cities have claimed to possess the grail. It’s believed to be the cup Christ drank from during the Last Supper. Valencia Cathedral is said to the place where you’ll find the real Holy Grail. Whether it’s true or not, they have the strongest claim to it. The mysterious cup has been in Valencia since the 15th century.
Barrio del Carmen
This is the younger, trendier – hipster, one might say – part of the city. It was located outside the Walls of Moorish Valencia and was later amalgamated into the Christain city after the Reconquista. You’ll find many of the best bars in town in Barrio del Carmen. Take a stroll through the narrow streets and you’re sure to find some great places to eat. Barrio del Carmen is one of the largest surviving medieval quarters of any European city.
by Alex | On: Gay Valencia