Travelogue – Valencia, Spain
Valencia is the capital of the autonomous community of Valencia and with about 800.000 inhabitants the third largest city in Spain after Madrid and Barcelona. Valencia was founded as a Roman colony in 138 BC. The city is situated on the banks of the River Turia, on the east coast of the Iberian Peninsula, fronting the Gulf of Valencia on the Mediterranean Sea.
The old town
Its historic Centre is one of the largest in Spain, with approximately 169 hectares. This heritage of ancient monuments, views and cultural attractions makes Valencia one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations. Major monuments include Valencia Cathedral, the Torres de Serranos and the Llotja de la Seda (declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996).
The Museu de Belles Arts houses a large collection of paintings from the 14th to the 18th centuries, including works by Velázquez, El Greco, and Goya, as well as an important series of engravings by Piranesi. The Institut Valencià d’Art Modern (Valencian Institute of Modern Art) houses both permanent collections and temporary exhibitions of contemporary art and photograph.
Fallas – Valencia’s main festival
Valencia is integrated into an industrial area on the Costa del Azahar (Orange Blossom Coast) with a couple of sandy beaches close to the city. Valencia’s main festival is the Falles or Fallas, which is a traditional celebration held in commeration of Saint Joseph. Each neighborhood of the city has an organized group of people, the Casal faller, that works all year long holding fundraising parties and dinners, usually featuring the famous dish, paella, a specialty of the region. A falla is a peculiar, satirical monument made of ﬂammable materials (cardboard, wood, etc.) which is raised in the squares and main street junctions of the cities, towns and villages of the Valencia Region. The monument is exhibited to the public for various days before being burnt on the eve of the Day of Saint Joseph (March 19th).
Each artista faller selects the ninot (the name given to the individual ﬁgures which appear in each of the monuments) he considers the best example of those featured in the monument he has worked on and, several weeks before the plantà (the raising of the monuments in the street), all of the selected ninots are presented together in an exhibition. A prize is awarded to the ninot which, for its beauty, charm or satirical nature, the voice of the people considers worthy of a pardon from the ﬂames. Each year, the prize winning ninots are incorporated into Museu Faller’s collection. Together with the photographs of the best falles and the winning designs of the annual poster competition, the selected ninots make up the museum’s collection.
Tennis in Valencia
Valencia was part of the ATP World Tour in 1995 as well as from 2003 to 2015. First held on outdoor clay the Valencia Open getting into the ATP World Tour 500 series category as an indoor hardcourt tournament held in November at the Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències (City of Arts and Sciences), an entertainment-based cultural and architectural complex designed by Santiago Calatrava and Félix Candela, inaugurated in April 1998.
The complex is over 350.000 sqm in size and comprises the Oceanográfic, an underwater city which features the major oceans and seas of the planet, the Science Museum Principe Felipe, with gret interactive exhibitions; the Hemisféric, an IMAX cinema which also shows 3D and other digital projections; the Palau de las Arts Reina Sofía, a majestic opera hous and the Ágora, a multipurpose space that welcomes events of different types and functioned as home for the Centre Court of the Valencia Open with a capacity of 6.500 spectators.
One of the tournament’s hallmarks was the Fun Park, the shopping, leisure and restaurant zone of the event. In contrast to most of the other big tennis tournaments around the world, the Valencia Open offered spectators the chance to come and enjoy a wonderful tennis atmosphere as this vast space outside the Ágora building was completely free to all and no ticket was required. In its final editon in 2015, the tournament was part of the ATP 250 series.