El Cabanyal is the barrio or neighbourhood in Valencia that is directly to the west of ‘La Playa de Malvarrosa’. In this barrio you can smell and hear the sea next to you, while enjoying the views of a barrio full of authenticity and grit. As you walk through the streets, you can see the area’s turbulent history. The colourful residential buildings stand tall and proud even with evidence of previous distress. The buildings are adorned with powerful, political street art which reveal to us parts of El Cabanyal’s past, and possibly its future. Seriously beginning in 1998, the barrio was under pressure to be destroyed by the then right-wing local government, so that they could build an avenue. This would mean displacing many people from their homes without proper plans to relocate them. The residents of El Cabanyal showed power and passion in their numbers by resisting this change and protecting ‘El Cabanyal’ as best they could.
In 2015, this threat of destruction was officially eradicated. However, a new threat was soon to emerge: gentrification. With the new threat of gentrification, the fight to preserve the fierce identity of El Cabanyal is far from over. The cost of living in this area is rising due to its great location; unfortunately, that means locals are finding it harder to afford to live there. More than 30% of the living areas are owned by foreigners now. The goal for this barrio and its people includes modernization and revitalization without destruction and without residents needing to leave the home that they so much adore.
As you walk through the streets of El Cabanyal, it’s impossible to miss the things that make it distinct and unique from other barrios. The barrio is famous for its ceramic, patterned tiles. Many of the homes have these on their exterior, which attract your eyes and attention. The colours used in these tiles are typically bright and coastal with repeated patterns and pictures. The patterns and colours create illusions and go well with the rest of the barrio. The exterior walls in El Cabanyal range from pastels to vibrant neons in all colours. Their solid, bold colours allow the tiles to match (even when it seems they would not).
It’s no wonder why creatives like Ernest Hemingway and Joaquin Sorrolla were so infatuated with this area. Hemingway is quoted as saying, “You could hear the sea breaking on the beach and the lights shone on the wet sand”. In true Hemingway fashion, he perfectly captures the beauty of Malvarrosa beach. Sorrolla, Valencia’s most famous painter, had a gift for depicting the way the light shines on the sand and waves in Malvarrosa. It was in this enchanting port area that he found much of his artistic inspiration. There is even a mosaic of “Afternoon Sun”, one of his famous works, featured on Calle de Mediterraneo.
Everyone speaks of the plentiful markets in Valencia. Many are more well-known for their centralized location and excellent goods and produce. The Mercat Cabanyal is not as commonly talked about, which is a shame. This market is just as big if not bigger than many of the other markets. It sells fresh produce, dairy products, meat, and more. Inside, there is food. Outside, there are shops for other things like flowers or clothes. Many of the restaurants in the area purchase their goods from here.
Hours: M-Sa: 07:00h – 15:00h
Address: C/ Martí Grajales, 4
La Fábrica de Hielo easily claimed its name as one of our new favorite “chill-out” spots. This artistic and diverse space hides in the barrio of El Cabanyal, just next to the beach. Revamped from an abandoned ice factory; on the inside there is natural light that pours from the ceiling to illuminate a playful, hipster interior with colourful mismatching decor. This is a great place to grab a drink, hangout with friends, and grab a bite from locally sourced food. They also often have live music! Check out La Fábrica de Hielo to feed your artistic side.
LA FÁBRICA DE HIELO
Calle Pavía, 37
Hours: M-Th 17:00h – 01:00h
F: 17:00h – 01:30h
Sa: 11:00 – 01:30h
S: 11:00h – 12:30h
Head down to the coastline and visit Malvarrosa Beach if you’re craving a relaxing beach day. The sand is soft and the water is an inviting cerulean blue. Hemingway even described the “stupendous feeling of eating a melon washed down with a real cold jug of beer” on the beach in Valencia. Pick some fresh melon and beer up from the ‘Mercat Cabanyal and head to the beach and try it! Afterwards, you could spend hours in the sea alone… as the temperature is comfortable and refreshing.
El Cabanyal is a beautiful and unique place whose residents care deeply for their homes and their identity. However, many are afflicted by the constant threat of having to move out due to gentrification. Don’t lose hope, there are options that can help preserve what makes ‘El Cabanyal’ so special and authentic. You can speak to your elected officials on this issue, if anything proves that there is strength in numbers it is El Cabanyal. You can also insist on affordable housing and closely regulate all government and bank-owned property.
Report by Nathalie Feingold & Quincy Walter
Article copyright 24/7 Valencia
More about Cabanyal and Port area: https://247valencia.com/?s=cabanyal
More about Hemingway in Valencia: https://247valencia.com/?s=hemingway