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article - land of orange groves

Capital of the Comunidad Valenciana, this vibrant city is famous for being the place where El Cid - Spain s national hero - fought against the Moors.

Situated close to the Mediterranean Sea, it possesses two fine urban beaches still within the township, plus several wonderful beaches just a bus ride away - Cullera ... Gand a ... Oliva ...

Shopoholics will enjoy its good, modern shopping center ... youngsters its pulsating nightlife ... and children will adore Gulliver Park Playground, the Botanical Gardens, Zoo and l Oceanogr fic - wonderful modern aquarium and biggest in Europe.

The most important fiesta of this splendid city is that of the Fallas, which lasts from 15th-19th March.

Easter Week is also very much celebrated, with splendid processions.

And - as with all major Spanish cities - it's a culture-vulture and history buffs dream.

At the heart of old quarter you'll find Plaza de la Virgen - once the location of the Roman Forum.

Around this beautiful square is the Cathedral dating from 1262, plus its octagonal bell tower - called "Micalet" or "Miguelete" - the city's landmark.

Once inside the Cathedral s Museum you'll enjoy works by several wonderful artists - Goya, Jacomart, Cellini, Paggibonsi ...

Next to the Cathedral is the Basilica de la Virgen de los Desamparados - a temple dedicated to the patroness of Valencia, built between 1652 and 1667.

Strolling round the area, you'll come across interesting buildings such as Almud n, the Iglesia de San Esteban, Palacio de Almirantes de Arag n, Church San Juan del Hospital and the Convento de Santo Domingo.

The River Turia was actually diverted around the city after a catastrophical flood in 1957 and the Instituto Valenciano de Arte Moderno is to-day located in the old river bed.

Well worth viewing also are its three ancient bridges - Puente del Real, Puente de la Trinidad and Puente de Serranos.

At the Plaza del Mercado you will find La Lonja - one of the best civil Gothic buildings in Europe.

By its side is the Baroque church "Iglesia de los Santos Juanes" and the bell tower "Campanil de la Iglesia de Santa Catalina".

Other buildings of note include the Palacio de la Generalidad, the Town Gate or "Torres de Quart", and the Rococo-style Palacio del Marquis de Dos Aguas.

The Barrio del Carmen is an area representative of traditional Valencian life, while El Ensanche is more representative of modern day.

Valencia is also known as the land of flowers, and its parks and gardens reflect this with the Jardines de la Alameda, the Jardines de Montforte, the "Real" Gardens, the Zoological Garden and the Botanical Gardens.

Land of orange groves, romance and culture ... what more can you ask!




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by Linda Plummer of Top Tour of Spain




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