Just beyond the borders of Valencia’s old town, bridges cross over a river’s canal. But you won’t find water flowing below those bridges – not anymore, that is -- and instead the Turia Riverbed Gardens.
Indeed, until 1957, the River Turia gushed through Valencia. But then a devastating flood prompted citizens to shift the river’s course, diverting the waterway just west of the city. Though this several-kilometer long swath of land was at one time destined for use as a motorway, it was ultimately turned into a garden, making it Spain’s largest urban getaway, and Valencia’s beloved green haven.
Along its meandering course, you’ll find all sorts of park paradise. There are fountains and ponds, cafes and climbing walls, and loads of paths for walkers, runners and bikers. Kids will find their bliss at Gulliver Park, a giant playground inspired by its namesake children’s tale. Along the way, centuries-old bridges cross over the slithering greenery, just as they did when this channel filled with water.
Perhaps the most famous of the Turia Riverbed Gardens’ sites is the City of Arts and Sciences, which sits at the eastern end of the park, near where the original river arrived at the Mediterranean Sea. Here’s where you’ll come upon a complex featuring a collection of buildings with futuristic architecture, and serving both educational and entertainment purposes. Among them are Europe’s largest Aquarium, and L'Hemisfèric, home to a planetarium, laserium and IMAX theater.
The Turia Riverbed Gardens can be easily reached from Valencia’s ciutat vella, or old town, by simply heading east until you hit the former waterway. If, however, you aren’t within walk distance, the park has two MetroValencia stops: Turia and Alameda.