Valencia: Top Five

A recent, wet, windy winter day in the city of Valencia confirmed and more the wonderful experience we had one September day a few years back. Here are my Top Five attractions, in the order I would prioritise for a fleeting visitor who wanted the very special nature of the city.


#1 The Patriarca. This former seminary is the lowest-key glory one could imagine. The museum part comprises an art gallery of a very rare informality but with works of quality by geniuses (and a reliquary of St Thomas More). The chapel is similarly low-key and ennobled by lovely tapestries. A separate matter is the main church, which has different opening hours, and some lovely services and musical events, including a session of Gregorian chant. This main church is an astonishing visual glory.

# 2 The National Ceramics Museum. Until one is there, one cannot imagine a more extraordinary exterior. Within, there is a lovely series of rooms – I think original – from when the house was an aristocrat’s home. Throughout the maze of other gallery-rooms on other floors, there is a breathtaking array of pottery and some painting. The place is run on lines which are sort of municipal in their absence of flashiness.

#3 Bancaja Foundation. The day we went there were three visiting exhibits, of which only one struck us as seriously distinguished. It was a show of garden paintings by Sorrolla and they were very fine indeed. He is a sort of Spanish Singer Sargent with a side-order of the Skagen School. If the show concurrent with your visit is to your taste, this free, rather grand, gallery might suit very well indeed.

#4 Valencia Cathedral. This is such an obvious place to visit that you may need a reason to do so. Here it is: the building is in that beautiful creamy Caen stone one associates with Chichester Cathedral. Throughout, the place puts is best, well-lit foot forward. Unexpectedly, the attached museum is modern, peppy and moving.

#5 St Nicholas’s church is moving in spades. The fresco work is knock-out. But we found especially compelling the various chapels and art works which came alive in the matter-of-fact but bang-on commentary in our headsets.

You may like to bear in mind that the Metro system does not penetrate the old city where most of the above are. On the other hand, from the Cathedral to the North station where (above ground) there is a very good station bar, and the Xativa Metro, is a gentle 15 minute walk, if you are led by Google’s kindly light.

Disclaimer: I do not say these are the best attractions as though I know many others. I found these by Googling and then testing them, whilst ignoring others, for a one-day spin.

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Publication date

01 March 2018


Mind & body