##Valencia’s Turia Gardens are a stretch of nine kilometres of lush green park space open to the public for walking, biking, and exploring. There are many main attractions like museums and monuments in and around this area for tourists and locals to visit. In fact, there are more than three million visitors annually, and for good reason. You will always see people in the area getting their daily exercise routine, with a ten-kilometre path designed specifically for runners, or couples and groups getting together for picnics in the grass. The land surrounds the historical centre of Valencia now and has 18 bridges, which connect the inner circle to the outer.
‘TURIA GARDENS’ is more than just a charming park; it is a prime example of Valencia turning a tragedy into something beautiful and unique. This park is a mark of Valencian pride- a testament to Valencian resilience. The park used to be the site of an unmanageable river. On October 14th, 1957, this river experienced a historic flood that resulted in an estimate of over 100 deaths and huge structural damage. The tragedy was reclaimed when this river was turned into the beautiful public green space that we now enjoy to this day.
The City of Arts and Sciences is one of the twelve treasures of Spain. Valencia’s most modern tourist must-see sight is this complex…it is the crown jewel of Turia Gardens. This area is home to multiple modern, sleek, and atypical buildings that are complemented with the Spanish sun and surrounding nature. ‘THE CITY OF ARTS AND SCIENCES’ was created by the Valencian architect Santiago Calatrava. There are six main buildings, all with different use and purpose. Even if you are not up to pay or participate in the buildings’ activities, this is a lovely place to visit during the day to walk around, take photos, and explore. Around the beautiful white buildings, there are bodies of bright blue water where guests can rent canoes, kayaks, and even “waterballs” (fun for children!). People usually spend up to around 3 hours while in this area. La ‘Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias’ is located at the edge of the old Turia riverbed on the far east side. It is most easily accessible by bike, EMT bus lines (13, 14, 15, 19, 35, 95, 40), or taxi. A trip to Valencia always calls for a trip to the City of Arts and Sciences.
We begin with one of the buildings, the ‘L’OCEANOGRAFIC’ building, which opened in 2003. This is the largest aquarium in Europe! If that does not already have you sold and convinced, there are many other reasons to visit. They have representations of each of the planet’s aquatic environments: Antarctic, Arctic, Islands, Mediterranean, Oceans, Temperate and Tropical Seas, and Wetlands. They also have a Dolphinarium which hosts a dolphin show several times a day. The aquarium is famous for their underwater-tunnels, where visitors walk through the large tanks and are surrounded by the aquatic life. Right now, they have a “Sleeping with Sharks” activity, where visitors “camp” out in the shark tunnel and lay down under and watch the creatures swim above. When you are done, you can go to the Underwater Restaurant called Submarine, which allows you to dine while enjoying the fish-filled tanks that hold over 10,000 different species. In the summer, the L’Oceanographic is open from 10:00h to 0:00h.
It has often been said that port cities have a special relationship with music. Sydney and Liverpool are two famous examples. Valencia has become another. Covering an area of 40.000 m2, ‘PALAU DE LES ARTS’ has become an international centre for classical music and opera in the twenty first century. Indeed, Placido Domingo is a key part of the team. With the latest acoustic technology, a huge auditorium and flexible stage facilities, it is attracting established names from the dance, theatre, opera and wider music world. Indeed, it also hosts popular music concerts with Lisa Stansfield, Level 42, Spandau Ballet, Joan Manuel Serrat and flamenco singer Diego el Cigala being famous examples…
Next, the ‘MUSEU DE LES CIÈNCIES PRINCIPE FELIPE’ is also a spectacular place for the family to visit. This modern science museum is quite interactive, including hands-on exhibitions that stimulate education through science and technology. This space is over 26,000 square meters and is often holding temporary exhibitions, meaning there is always something new to see and do! Currently, their temporary exhibition covers Neil Armstrong which is a tribute to the 50 year anniversary of Apollo 11. The museum also does what they call “experimental classrooms” where guests can sign up for a more hands-on demonstration and understanding of specific scientific principles. In the summer the Museu de Les Ciencias is open from 10:00h to 21:00h.The universe is infinitely fascinating, those of us in Valencia are lucky enough to be offered a glimpse into this undying mystery at the Hemisfèric- Spain’s largest projection hall. The ‘HEMISFÈRIC’ combines music and astronomy in a one-of-a-kind opportunity to observe the summer night sky.
Within the Turia Gardens, there is an imaginative park known as ‘PARQUE GULLIVER’. Once inside this park, you will not be able to miss the giant sculpture of Gulliver that can be explored through various stairs and slides. Feed your inner child by visiting this interactive monument and feel like a native Lilliputian as you climb over Gulliver’s enormous frame. Admission is free and the experience priceless. There is also an annual jazz music festival held inside the Turia Gardens, which always begins with a free show in the grounds by ‘PALAU DE LA MUSICA’, which is currently closed for repairs.
Right next to the Turia Gardens is the ‘MUSEO DE BELLAS ARTES’– translated to the Museum of Fine Arts. The sapphire-domed roofs of this museum stand tall and proud over the bright greenery of the park. This museum is impossible to miss from the outside and the inside is just as impressive. Inside, there are many paintings by famed Valencian painter Joaquin Sorolla and over 2,000 works from countless monumental artists. This gorgeous museum is definitely worth a visit.
Interested in being transported to the plains of Africa within minutes? Look no further than the ‘BIOPARC’ in Rio Turia Park. The Bioparc boasts over 4,000 animals that roam around in a convincing recreation of their natural habitats. This is a truly immersive and educational experience for children and adults alike. A ticket costs just 23.80 euros and some of the proceeds go to worldwide animal conservation.
There is nothing better than bringing a blanket and a “bocadillo” and enjoying a picnic on the emerald green expanse of the Turia Garden. However, if you prefer to eat in traditional seating arrangements, there are lovely cafes scattered throughout the park. One of these cafes, situated in Cabecera Park, is known as Deleita Cafeteria. Here, you can enjoy food and drinks with a picturesque view of a lake. However, those looking for a more active experience will not be disappointed. Countless daily activities are occurring inside the park every day of the week. These activities include Yoga, Pilates, baseball, martial arts, painting, and African dance. There are also quirky activities offered such as; Quidditch and Hula-hooping. For our dog lovers, there are several dog training classes offered in this pet-friendly park. There is certainly never a lack of things to do in this park and there are so many opportunities to socialize and make new friends. Feel free to visit https://turioturia.com for a more expansive list of activities and a look at the updated calendar.
Article by Nathalie Feingold and Quincy Walter
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