In Search of the Holy Grail in Valencia, Spain

Valencians are very proud of their city Valencia in Spain. They are so in awe of their city that anywhere else in the world takes a back seat. This is not said in a disparaging way, but rather exactly how it is in this Spanish city.

The people of Valencia have every right to be proud of this quite unusual and charismatic city. Valencia, as the 3rd largest city in Spain, is often bypassed for Barcelona, Madrid or the Costa anything beaches. This city of Valencia is a city that deserves to be very high up on your to-do list for many reasons, one being that the entire city is made for searching for the Holy Grail.

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The History of Valencia, an abridged version

Valencia actually has me quite baffled. Its history may well have had the city baffled though I doubt it. In a nutshell … Valencia was established by the Romans, occupied by Muslims and won for Aragon in 1238 when its influence grew until it was one of the most important Mediterranean cities of the 15th century.

Its primary claims to fame now are its rice. Yes, it is the rice capital, as well as being a significant center of ceramics and also tourism is now a major factor as they suffered such a hit in the recession.

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Impressions of Valencia

There are many parts to Valencia and not the least is the people. You will be nothing if not blown away by how very friendly they are. Kissing one another within a few minutes of talking is not uncommon. Being invited for lunch or dinner or coffee seems de rigueur in this unique city. Trust me, they are seriously hospitable, pleasant and single-mindedly devoted to their town.

Valencia looks wealthy; there is no denying this. There has been some serious money spent in the past, and it is obvious everywhere you look.

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The historic buildings sit seamlessly beside some of the most avant-garde architecture that you will see anywhere.

Valencia has more green spaces in terms of parks and playing fields that are centrally located, accessible, and very well utilized by locals and visitors alike.

Valencia is justifiably famous for its Huerta, the vegetable, and fruit belt and is one of the finest producers of rice in the world. This rice gives Valencia claim to another of its most notable attractions – paella.

In Search of the Holy Grail in Valencia, Spain, you might like to get The Valencia Tourist Card making it even easier for travelers to get around cheaply and explore the following.

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Ciutat Vella or The Old Town

The plazas in Valencia are tree lined, with gloriously fresh shaded spots to escape the intense summer heat. From these many square radiates out quite exciting back alleys where locals dine, and even onto more green spaces and more plazas.

The Plaza del Reina, or Queen’s place, located in the old town area is just one of these beautiful plazas.

This city square also contains the Plaza Ayuntamiento, the Town Hall. This shows you the opulence that was Valencia’s golden age. In the square’s center is a fountain, which is then surrounded by fragrant flower stalls. Many of the city’s best shops line the adjoining streets.

Valencia’s old town is typical of what you want to see in a Spanish setting with winding alleys and side streets. There are magnificent buildings everywhere from old Churches, the Post Office and Opera House, to some incredible art nouveau buildings housing some of the major banks.

The Old Town is alive with history yet here, and there are some of the funkiest sculptures. Make sure to grab a Valencian horchata and watch the people parade along the streets.

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Barrio del Carmen and its mansion houses, the mediaeval gates of the Serrano and Quart towers, all need to be explored.

Stay in the Old Town and enjoy being close to everything. There are some amazing apartments for vacation rental that will capture the spirit of the city.

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Eat Paella in the Paella capital

Valencia has for centuries been one of the most important rice-producing areas in Spain and is also the undisputed home of paella. Eat and learn how to cook the very uniquely Valencian paella. Paella is king to these people, and you will find the crown being claimed by the children for their own father’s paella. The term we hear often is that it is ‘perfecto’. Our walking guide, tells us that her father is the king of paella because it is all about using the water of Valencia, and getting the right amount of soccarat, the thin, crispy layer of toasted rice on the bottom. Valencians also eat paella straight from the paella pan, with strict rules about eating the section in front of you and not dipping across the ‘wall’ into someone elses, without permission. You will find paella being sold everywhere in Valencia.

We have some top picks. One because we did the master class here and received a Diploma in Paella, making us Paella Ambassadors.The other because as Paella Ambassadors we know that it was very good. Valencia is the holy grail of paellas.

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TOP PICKS:

Escuela de Arroces y Paella Valencian
Address: Carrer dels Juristes, 12, 46001 València, Valencia
Phone:963 15 38 56
Hours: Open today · 10:00 am – 1:00 pm, 6:00 – 8:00 pm

A totally different paella, from Escuela de Arroces y Paella Valencian and just as delicious, is found at

Ocho y Medio
Plaça de Lope de Vega, 5, 46001
València, Spain
Phone:+34 963 92 20 22

La Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias – The City of Arts and Sciences.

These futuristic buildings, one bearing a striking resemblance to the Sydney Opera House, where designed by local architects Santiago Calatrava and Félix Candela. The work started in the mid-1990’s, and it is very much an ongoing project. The economic recession that the city finds itself in has put much of the completion of the site on hold until such times as the economy improves. This is a recurring theme across the whole of Valencia and indeed Spain.

Regardless, make your way there, as this is the holy grail of futurism.

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Walk the Turia Gardens.

The Turia Gardens is the largest inner city urban park. After a catastrophic flood of the Turia River in 1957, the Spanish government redirected the path of the river from the city center to the south. Eventually, the former riverbed was converted to what is now the largest urban green space in the country. The Turia Gardens begin at the zoo and end at the City of Arts and Sciences City and is awash with playgrounds, soccer fields and manicured hedges and lots of people.

The Turia Gardens

Attend the Water Court – a Tribunal Meeting with a Difference

The Tribunal de las Aguas is where irrigation disputes among farmers are adjudicated outside of the church and not inside, as one supposes there may or may not be some influence occurring. This can be a heated meeting as water is totally precious here in Valencia, and control of this water is even more important.

This dates to Muslim Spain and forms part of UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

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Visit the Beach

Visit the beach at Malvarrosa, which starts around the port area and is split into sections such as the Playa Las Arenas and the Playa Cabanyal, and then eventually stretching up to the Playa de Patacona. I am not sure that it is the best place to stay in Valencia. It is not nearly as pleasant or accessible to the city as the historic old town. In saying that, it is worth a visit and a stop to eat paella afterwards… but ask a local for a recommendation first as they know their paella.

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Search Mercado Central or the Central Market

This is where local Valencians go to do their shopping. As one of the oldest food markets in Europe, Mercado Central is adorned with Valencian-style mosaics and filled with Valencians purchasing local foods from trusted vendors. The Mercado Central is open Monday to Saturday, from 8am to 3pm.

The market itself is divided into sections depending on the type of food available such as fish, a meat section, a fruit section and so on. There are some interesting stalls here and a lot of good food to sample.

One of the unique things about the market and its relationship with the nearby cafes and restaurants is that you can buy your ingredients from the Mercado Central and take it to the café and they will cook it for you.

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Going shopping in Valencia

Valencia has a lot of opportunity for some great retail therapy. There are all of the major brands, plus each barrio, or area, will have it’s own street market once a week too. There are unique things to see as you walk around.

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Palacio del Marques de Dos Aguas, Valencia

Go to the Bioparc and Oceanogràfic

If you like animals, then you should not miss the Bioparc, where animals are not kept in cages, but in semi-freedom habitats. Perhaps you will find the Holy Grail here amongst the lions and the giraffes. You can also see tropical fish from as far as the Arctic and the seas of Japan

Time your visit for the Fallas Festival

Fallas is a traditional celebration held in commemoration of Saint Joseph in the city of Valencia, in Spain. The term Falles refers to both the celebration and the monuments created during the celebration.

If you have never experienced  the Fallas Festival, this happens in March, annually

Each day at around 2pm, a massive amount of fireworks are let off in the vast square in front of the town hall. Massive being the understatement.

The Valencians like their firecrackers and even when it is not Fallas it is not unusual to hear what sounds like a volley of firecrackers going off. This can be because someone got married, had a baby, or because the Valencians just feel like it.

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Stop by a Café, Bodega, Tapas Bar

Go to a Café, Bodega, or/and a Tapas Bar. This is where you eat, drink and discuss with the very friendly locals where you might go in Search of the Holy Grail in Valencia, Spain.

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See a Museum

Valencia has 34 museums to choose from, offering art, history, architecture and with a Valencia Tourist Card you will get free entry.

Valencia Cathedral

The cathedral is a lovely old place and well worth visiting. Here you again see the total opulence that is Valencia from the gold gilded altar to Goya’s masterpieces.

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Finding the Holy Grail in Valencia Cathedral

One of the cities more controversial claims to fame is that it has THE Holy Grail, the actual cup that Jesus drank from at the last supper. Other cities, however, have challenged this. It has been put forward that the cup had travelled from Rome centuries ago. When the Muslim rulers took over Spain, The Holy Grail was placed into hiding for centuries and only returned to the city in 1427 by the King Alfonso the Magnanimous.
The Lady Mayoress of Valencia had suggested that the city should be called the City of the Holy Grail. However, she was only recently removed from office in 2015, as she lost the elections, despite have been Mayoress for 20 something years.

As said before Valencia and the rest of Spain took a huge hit in the recession. Her reasoning and this appears sound, is that many tourists would come to the city. Many would be Catholic visitors, and their money would be much needed in Valencia. This way they could finish the amazing City of Arts and Sciences and build even more beautiful buildings and sculptures, parks and cafes.

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In Search of the Holy Grail in Valencia, Spain – We Found It

This is a stunningly beautiful city, and money has flowed freely to make such an aesthetic beauty. The people love their city passionately and are some of the nicest people we have met on our travels. It is a city that works on so many levels. I think that your search has been completed in finding the Holy Grail. It may not be the cup, but it is Valencia.

Important Information

Get a Valencia Tourist Card for 24, 48 or 72 hour, which gives you free public transport around the city on the bus, Metro and Tram zones. It including the journey Valencia-Airport-Valencia as well as Free entry to Public Museums and Monuments.

Take the Valencia Tourist bus and hop on and hop off to see the amazing sites of this city.

The writers were the guests of Valencia Tourism and we thank them for sharing their beautiful city with us.