València, Spain’s third-largest city feels a world away from the likes of tourist-packed Madrid and Barcelona. She’s a bohemian city, proudly flaunting her local side and brims with history, culture, nature and beauty.
Her old-quarter is a beautiful fusion of Gothic buildings, modern street art lining its winding alleyways, and quaint little squares to grab some tapas while watching the world go by.
València’s history is rich and her architecture captivating – we loved walking and cycling around Valencia’s historical landmarks.
So, here are our top 15 historical landmarks to visit in València with a little bit of information for each one.
- Torres de Serranos
- Bombas Gens Centre D’art
- Torres de Quart
- Centre Arqueològic de l’Almoina
- Catedral de València
- La Lonja de la Seda
- Plaça Redona
- Museo Marqués de dos aguas (National Museum of Ceramics and Sumptuary Arts “González Martí”)
- Plaza de Toros de València (Bullring of València)
- Estació del Nord
- Plaça de la Virgen
- Basílica de la Mare de Déu dels Desemparats
- Mercado Central (Central Market)
- Narrowest Building in Europe
- Torre del Micalet/Miguelete (bell tower of València Cathedral)
1) Torres de Serranos
The Torres de Serranos, built in the 14th century, was used as a defensive system and also as the gateway into València. It is one of the two last remaining gates as the Catholics destroyed the other ten including the wall that encapsulated the city.
The tower is considered to be the largest Gothic gateway in Europe.
Interestingly, people were alerted that the gates would close to the city at 8pm every evening by a bell, and anyone not returning in time would have to sleep outside the city walls. This led to the Valèncian saying of “Dormir a la luna de València” meaning to sleep under the Valèncian moon which now people say to mean hurry up!
You can walk up through the many levels to the top to see views of the Barrio del Carmen and Turia River Gardens.
Don’t forget it’s free on Sundays (10:00 – 14:00) and €2 on other days.Go to the Top
2) Bombas Gens Centre D’art
Situated in an old hydraulic pump factory built in the 1930s and offering over 1,500 works by 150 different artists, this cultural centre is great to wonder around if you’re into art and photography.
There’s a permanent photography collection and some super interesting art works to view.
Free access but closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.Go to the Top
3) Torres de Quart
This city gate, built in the 15th century is one of the two left standing with Torres de Serranos. Torres de Quart played a vital role in stopping Napoleon’s troops in 1808 during the War of Independence against the French.
You can still see the cannon ball scars left on the tower walls today.
Interestingly, while there are no Arab buildings left in the city as they were destroyed by subsequent conquests, Arabs did help build the towers as is evident by the window designs.
It’s free to head up to the top on Sundays (10:00 – 14:00).Go to the Top
4) Centre Arqueològic de l’Almoina
This archeological museum is considered to be one of the best in Europe. It houses a subterranean space to view an amazing collection of monuments from the Roman, Visigoth and Arab cities.
There’s a pool of water at ground level where you can see the Roman city remains below, which looks incredible from both above and below.
Free entrance on Sundays 10:00-14:00!Go to the Top
5) Catedral de València
Sitting in the heart of the old town and connecting two plazas; Plaça de la Virgen and Plaça del la Reina, Catedral de València is a must-see when in València.
It was built on the site of a Roman temple and although it’s a mix of architectural styles as its construction continued for centuries, it is mainly Gothic.
Inside the cathedral is Santo Caliz Chapel, which is said to hold the Holy Grail.
Every Thursday at midday the Government council meet in front of the Gothic entrance to discuss irrigation issues with local farmers. This tradition has continued for more than 1000 years and is said to be the quickest in the world lasting only four minutes.Go to the Top
6) La Lonja de la Seda
Built in Gothic-style in the 15th century, this building is magnificent. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996 and is one of the emblems of the Silk Route in València.
It has four main areas to visit; the trading hall, pavilion of the consulate, the great tower and the orange tree courtyard (patio de los naranjos). Free on Sundays 10:00 – 14:00!
Iglesia del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús de la Compañía, just at the back of La Lonja de la Seda, is also worth popping your head in to, to ogle at the decor whilst you’re in the area.Go to the Top
7) Plaça Redona
Redona, meaning round, is a circular square also known as “el clot” meaning the hole. It’s a curious place full of shops and restaurants.Go to the Top
8) Museo Marqués de Dos Aguas (National Museum of Ceramics and Sumptuary Arts “González Martí”)
This museum is built in Baroque-style and houses the largest national collection of ceramics that go back as far as the 18th century, and includes pieces by Picasso.
The exterior design itself is worth swinging past for.
Free admission on Saturday afternoons and Sunday (10:00 – 14:00).Go to the Top
9) Plaza de Toros de València (Bullring of València)
The city’s bullring is also worth cycling past to view the outside. We didn’t enter.Go to the Top
10) Estació del Nord
This is the main railway station in València and was built in Art Nouveau-style. It’s worth at least cycling past to admire the grandeur.Go to the Top
11) Plaça de la Virgen
This is a charming little square dating back to the Roman times as it sits on the site of the Roman forum. It is surrounded by Catedral de València, the Basílica de la Virgen de los Desamparados and the Palace of the Generalitat.
There is a large, elaborate fountain in the centre of the square depicting Neptune and eight naked women and represents the eight irrigation channels of the Turia River.
This irrigation system was built by the Arabs and their only creation to remain following subsequent conquests.Go to the Top
12) Basílica de la Mare de Déu dels Desemparats
Stood in Plaça de la Virgen, this is a Baroque-style cathedral dedicated to the patroness of the city, the Virgin Mary.
During the time of the Black Death in the 14th century, a coffin of a statue of the Virgin Mary was placed on dead bodies to take them through the streets to the cemetery.
Now, the original coffin has been stood up, dressed up and is on display in the Basílica de la Mare de Déu dels Desemparats. Her posture is such that her head tilts forward due to her position on the initial coffin and so she is affectionately known as the Geperudeta (hunchback) of València.Go to the Top
13) Mercado Central (Central Market)
This public market is one of the largest in Europe and built mainly in Art Nouveau style. Vendors sell a range of fish, meat, drinks and there are also souvenirs available.Go to the Top
14) Narrowest Building in Europe
In the heart of Valencia is the narrowest home in Europe with a facade of just 107m. It’s now the second largest in the world as they have knocked through a wall to the adjoining building.Go to the Top
15) Torre del Micalet/Miguelete (bell tower of València Cathedral)
Easily viewed from Plaça de la Reina, Miguelete or El Micalet and in Valèncian, meaning little Michael, is the bell tower of València’s cathedral built in Gothic-style in the 14th century.
It is possible to climb the tower from inside the cathedral by a spiral staircase of 207 steps. This will reward you with a birds eye view of the city.
Cost is €2 for adults.Go to the Top
As you can see, València is teeming with history and culture. We loved exploring and we hope you love visiting València’s historical landmarks as much as we did – let us know how you got on!