La Lonja de Seda
This magnificent Gothic structure was built in the 15th century to house the city’s Silk Exchange, the marketplace where the famous Valencian silk was traded with merchants (to be sold all over Europe). One of the finest examples of Gothic civil architecture in Europe, the building resembles a medieval castle with its crenellated exterior and formidable tower. The facade features richly decorated doorways, decorative windows, and gargoyles (the grotesque carved creatures that function as waterspouts). The main hall has rich stellar vaulting borne on twisted columns. Visitors may climb the 144 stone steps of the tower’s helical staircase. From the top of the tower, the views of the town are stunning. This attraction is open to the public daily. On Sundays, La Lonja is used as a venue for coin and stamp exhibitions.
Address: Plaza del Mercado, Valencia
Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias
Tourists can experience a cutting-edge world of arts and sciences at this futuristic complex on the outskirts of Valencia. The Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias is one of Europe’s most impressive centers dedicated to cultural and scientific exhibitions. In a two-kilometer space along the Turia River, the complex includes several stunning examples of avant-garde architecture designed by architects Santiago Calatrava and Félix Candela. The Ciudad complex has six main areas: the Hemisfèric IMAX Cinema that screens digital films; the Umbracle landscaped area with excellent views; the Príncipe Felipe Science Museum, an interactive science museum; the Oceanogràfic aquarium; the Reina Sofía opera house, and the Agora concert space. The City of Arts and Sciences also hosts conferences, exhibitions, and workshops related to science and art topics.
Address: 5 Avenida Autopista del Saler, Valencia
Palacio del Marqués de Dos Aguas (Ceramics Museum)
Near San Martín Church is the Palacio del Marqués de Dos Aguas, a spectacular 18th-century mansion. The Marquise Palace is renowned for its opulently decorated facade with an ornately carved alabaster doorway. This aristocratic palace now houses the National Ceramic Museum, which opened in 1947. The museum presents more than 5,000 examples of traditional pottery from Valencia and the surrounding area, azulejos (blue glazed ceramic) from Teruel, and faience (glazed earthenware) from Toledo and Seville. Other interesting items on display include ancient Greek, Roman, and Arab pottery; fine porcelain from China and Japan; and modern pieces by Mariano Benlliure and Picasso. A highlight of the collection is the fully equipped 19th-century Valencian kitchen featuring traditional tiles.
Address: 2 Calle Poeta Querol, Valencia
Catedral de Valencia
The Cathedral of Valencia is a glorious Gothic church with its emblematic Miguelete Tower soaring above the city. Built on the site of an old Moorish mosque, the cathedral was built in the 13th century and renovated in the 17th century. The exterior combines original Romanesque, Gothic, and Baroque architectural elements. Vibrant azure-hued tiles adorn the domes, which are a distinctive feature of Valencia’s skyline.
Before entering, spend time admiring the facade. The splendid Puerta del Palau doorway dates to the Romanesque era, while the Puerta de los Apóstoles (Apostles’ Doorway) dates from the 15th century. The interior has an inspiring ambience with its majestic domed ceiling and a rose window illuminating the space. The various chapels are adorned with masterpieces of art, including paintings by Goya and a crucifix by Alonso Cano. A highlight of the sanctuary is the Chapel of the Holy Grail, with delicate vaulting and star motifs. This chapel illustrates a scene of the 12 apostles in Heaven and the coronation of the Virgin Mary. The most sacred object is a relic of the Holy Grail, an artifact from the first century AD said to be the goblet that Jesus used to perform the Holy Eucharist.
Torres de Serranos (Ancient Town Gate)
This impressive landmark is a symbol of Valencia. The Torres de Serranos represents an ancient gate of the Old Town and recalls an era when the town was surrounded by defense walls. The town ramparts were built in the 14th century on top of Roman foundations. In 1930, the Serranos Towers were restored to their former glory. From these massive towers, visitors can take in sweeping views of the cityscape. The archway of the entrance gate features decorative Gothic details and two shields of the city.
Address: Plaza dels Furs, Valencia