For the fifth edition of The HR Congress, we’re heading to the coastal Spanish city of Valencia – a burgeoning travel location full of historical charm, relaxed Mediterranean vibes – yet with a modern twist.
Valencia possesses a rich history that stretches back over 2000 years, having been founded during the Roman period as a colonial settlement. In 714, Moroccan and Arab Moors conquered the city, implementing their religion and cultural customs – influences of which can still be found today across. In 1238, the Christian king James I of Aragorn reclaimed the city, paving the way for the Kingdom of Valencia’s eventual merger into what became the modern Kingdom of Spain.
Valencia retains much of its unique historical detail in its festivals, cuisine, and culture, and is the capital of the autonomous community of Valencia. It is the third largest city in Spain, with up to 2.5 million people located in the greater metropolitan area. Although not the largest tourist destination in Spain, it has a growing reputation as a destination and certainly possesses enough attractions to keep even the most discerning tourist busy.
Valencia’s typical Mediterranean climate makes it an agreeable place to visit year round, with hot, dry summers and mild, relatively sunny winters. The climate, regional landscape and proximity to the sea also makes Valencia a great place to experience the best in local wine, food, and produce.
With The HR Congress arriving in November 2020 to the Valencia Congress Centre, we thought it would be a great idea–with the help of our friends at the Valencia Convention Bureau, to outline some Valencian essentials that will leave you wanting to extend your stay. Make sure you check out their website for some more sage local wisdom!
Like many European cities, Valencia possesses no lack of monuments and local attractions–in fact, there are too many to list here in any detail. However, Valencia’s Convention Bureau suggests that a great place to start is the historic city centre. From this starting location you can find the Cathedral of Valencia, the Silk Exchange (Lonja de la seda), the Central Market, the ancient Roman ruins in the Almoina Museum, or take a quick trip to view the city from the Miguelete or the Torres de Serrano.
Valencia is also well known for its eclectic mix of architecture and constructions that span many centuries of design and cultural influence. Some of the main buildings (and styles) to admire include the Cathedral of Valencia (Valencian Gothic), the Central Market (Valencian Art Nouveau), the futuristic City of Arts and Sciences, several Medieval churches (some Valencian Gothic), as well as various buildings demonstrating Roman, Moorish, Gothic, and modern influence.
If checking out local sport is more your cup of sangria, Valencia is home to numerous football clubs, the most famous two being La Liga’s Valencia CF and Levante UD. The city has also hosted Formula One Grand Prix races on a city street circuit (as well as other forms of motorsport), and even hosted the prestigious America’s Cup yacht race in 2007.
The city is well regarded for its markets that stock fresh local produce and wares. The largest and most famous market is the Central Market (Mercado Central de Valencia), which is located in the Old City and features over 1200 stalls full of fresh local produce. The city also features several smaller markets and plazas, catering to various culinary and cultural needs such as The Colón Market, the Plaza de la Reina, and the Plaza de la Virgen. Valencia’s market halls are beautifully constructed and can be considered architecturally significant in their own right.
Valencia is home to many museums and cultural attractions spanning a vast variety of art styles, direction, and historical period. Some of the most notable museums include: Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències (City of Arts and Sciences), Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía, L’Oceanogràfic (the largest aquarium in Europe), El Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe, Institut Valencià d’Art Modern – Valencian Institute of Modern Art, and the Museu de Belles Arts de València (Museum of Fine Arts).
Sitting beside the Mediterranean sea, Valencia unsurprisingly has several fine sandy beaches to explore (and yes, to enjoy even in mid-November). Stretching for kilometres along the city front, you will find a number of urban beaches to satiate your need for coastal ambience. Some of the most notable include; El Cabañal, La Malvarrosa, Patacona, Pinedo, La Devesa and El Saler. All urban beaches are marked by blue flags and are easily accessible by local public transport.
While Paella is the most well-known dish originating from Valencia, there are a number of gastronomical delights the city has to offer. From fresh seafood tapas, to local citrus fruits, wine (including sangria, of course), to traditional sweets and delicacies – there’s something for all palates. The Valencia Convention Bureau suggests the following must-try options:
Valencia Convention Bureau, ‘What to do in Valencia’: https://www.visitvalencia.com/en/what-to-see-valencia
Valencia Convention Bureau, ‘Information about Top Museums in Valencia’: https://www.visitvalencia.com/en/what-to-do-valencia/valencian-culture/top-museums-in-valencia
Valencia Convention Bureau, ‘Valencia Points of Interest’: https://www.visitvalencia.com/en/what-to-do-valencia/valencian-culture/top-monuments
Traditional Valencia Food: https://www.visitvalencia.com/en/what-to-do-valencia/gastronomy
Valencia, Contributing Authors, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valencia