Spain Guide

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Valencia Spain

Valencia is the capital of the region of the same name on the east coast of central Spain. It's the country's third biggest city and although it boasts many great historic, cultural and modern visitor attractions this is one of the least tourist orientated cities to be found in the whole of the Iberian Peninsula. The outskirts consist of an unimpressive collection of modern, sprawling and industrialised areas but the historic heart of Valencia is very beautiful and still very Spanish, almost untouched by mass tourism. This is the home of paella, one of the most spectacular fiestas in Spain and (reputedly) the Holy Grail from which Jesus drank at the Last Supper.

The city's international airport, about 20 minutes drive north of the centre, has regular schedule flights from the major European capitals. The package holiday masses fly into Alicante's El Altet airport, 200 kilometres down the coast, for holidays on Spain's beautiful Costa Blanca (the white coast) south of Valencia. Even if you're heading for a traditional sun and sea holiday on the Costa, take at least one day out from the beach to explore the many delights of this fascinating city. It's awash with museums and art galleries, boasts some wonderful clothes and ceramics shops and is now home to the futuristic Arts and Science Centre which is fast becoming one of Spain's top visitor attractions. Official tourist site for Valencia (see top left button for English).

The state of the art centre was conceived as one of Europe's most imaginative Millennium projects and consists of four main buildings occupying 90 acres of land next to the dry bed of the River Turia. Together the buildings look like something out of a James Bond movie set. There's a wonderful inter active science museum, the "Hemisferic" planetarium where you can make a virtual trip through space, an oceanarium consisting of an underwater city which recreates the habitats of all the world's oceans and the Palace of Arts, equipped with all the latest technology to support performances of theatre, opera and music.

A rather more ancient attraction is the sacred chalice, reputed to be the Holy Grail, housed in the Sala Capitular of the city's beautiful Gothic cathedral. The relic, said to have held the blood of Jesus Christ, is Christianity's most holy prize. Its authenticity is, unsurprisingly, a matter of hot dispute.

The ancient and modern are combined in Valencia's annual "Fallas" celebration when the city becomes a spectacular ball of flame as hundreds of papier mache figures are set on fire to commemorate the feast of San Jose on March 19th. It's one of Europe's biggest and most extraordinary festivals.noisy, exuberant and at times downright dangerous!

In 1961, Hollywood heart throbs Charlton Heston and Sophia Loren put Valencia firmly on the world map with the lavish epic movie El Cid which told the story of how Spain's greatest ever warrior recaptured the city from the Moorish invaders in the 11th century.