Dating back to Roman times, the Spanish coastal city of Valencia has also been occupied by Visigoths, Muslims, and eventually the Catholics. You can still see vestiges of those earlier days in the city’s ciutat vella, or old town, where its web of streets still very much recall the past.
Noteworthy sites dot the old-world neighborhoods within this historic quarter. There’s the Lonja de la Seda, where former trade took place, and the Baños Árabes del Almirante, hamman-style baths that date back to the 14th century. A trip to the city’s oldest district, El Carmen, will give wanderers a glimpse into earlier times as well as the present, given that it’s filled with an eclectic crowd and covered in colorful street art.
Other sites pepper this part of town too, including the massive Mercat Central, a market that is home to hundreds of stands selling produce, meat, poultry, pastries and more. Then, there are the main city squares: Plaza de la Reina and, of course, Plaza del Ayuntamiento, the site of city hall and the fire-filled Fallas Festival’s biggest celebrations.
And while the center’s medieval wall has long come down, you can still check out two of its former gates, the Torres de Quart and Torres de Serrano, which acted as passageways to the west and north, respectively. There’s also another smaller gate, the Portal de Valldigna, which was part of an earlier Muslim wall, and served as an entrance to the Jewish and Moorish quarter.
The old town’s maze of streets are not always easily navigated by non-locals, so either come prepared to get lost, or prepared with a map. A walkable city, those in the know also like to get around the flat town by bike.