Not everything is negative. During the lockdown Valencia has dressed up to show its inhabitants and visitors a friendly and sustainable face. The spring blossoms can still be seen in its parks and gardens, and the wildlife in L'Albufera Nature Park has found a quiet haven to nest and brood and created a real live show. Spain's borders with the rest of Europe are opening up again and if you have chosen Valencia as your destination for your first break with the new normality, this is the city you will find.
Biodiversity: Wildflowers, bees and squirrels in the Jardín del Turia Park
The state of alert brought about a decrease in gardening work in the city's parks. And as flowers and plants grew naturally, we decided to preserve them. Now Valencia has green spaces that have been transformed into wild meadows for pollinating insects, which will help to control pests and improve urban ecosystems. Some of them can be found in the Jardín del Turia Park; don't miss what has developed near the Torres de Serranos. Something similar has occurred in the 60,000 enclosures of the trees. Coloured flowers grew here, which replaced the shrubs that had grown by abandoning the use of poisonous herbicides. A joy for our eyes!
These months of stagnation have also brought new inhabitants to Valencia, like the bees that already live in the 20 hives on the roofs of the public buildings and have a great task ahead of them: pollination and the preservation of the city's vegetation. Thus, Valencia joins the trend of urban beekeeping, along with other large cities such as New York, London or Paris. And if you come across squirrels during your walk in the Jardín del Turia Park, you should know that they have been accustomed to this environment for a year now, which helps to increase biodiversity in the old Turia riverbed.
Start of the rice season in L'Albufera
Flamingos and other species of birds have freely roamed the L'Albufera Nature Park. The standstill also coincided with the planting of rice. During these days, rice begins to grow out of the water of the flooded fields, creating a unique landscape; shades of green that are reflected in the water like a mirror, and which are coloured with a warm orange every evening. Do not miss this moment. You can reach this natural park by bus no. 25; or dare to discover the area by bike on the cycle path that starts in the Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències. Get to know the origins of this unique area by visiting the Racó de l'Olla Interpretation Centre. Climb its lookout tower and enjoy the panorama of the Albufera or take the paths that lead from there. If you are really interested in the environment, take part in the volunteer work organised by Tancat de la Pipa, a reserve in the park. Or else enjoy a trip on the lagoon in the typical local traditional boats (albuferencs), which are now limited to 75% of ots capacity. To crown it all, end or begin your trip with a meal that includes a Valencian paella in its place of origin. Bon profit!
20 kilometres of sustainable and safe beaches
The summer season on the beaches of Valencia has started this year with the good news that the Blue Flags are flying again all along our coast. This European emblem confirms the good quality of bathing water, guarantees accessibility and services and underlines the efforts made to protect the environment, to remind us of the importance of respecting our environment. On the urban beaches of Cabanyal and Malvarrosa, as well as on the other six beaches of the L'Albufera Natural Park, you will find information panels on the measures taken to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. If you have any questions, the informants who were hired to check the beaches this summer will be happy to help you.
The Plaza del Ayuntamiento (Town Hall Square), only for pedestrians
One of the city´s most symbolic squares, the Town Hall Square, is now a large pedestrian area of 12,000 m2, inviting you to stroll and discover the eclectic architecture that surrounds it. From an old monastery, which is the seat of the Town Hall, to the numerous Art Nouveau buildings and the originality of some rationalist style blocks of flats. The best view is from the Mirador del Ateneo viewpoint, which is 50 metres high and offers a 360 degree view of the rest of the city. Climb up and see the rest of the skyline of a city that already has more than 110,000 m2 of pedestrian-only streets and squares
The famous "kilometre 0-point" is located in l'Horta de Valencia
Look no further! The "kitchen of kilometre 0", is located in Valencia, in its fields and orchards - the huerta - on the outskirts of the city. A large garden of 23,000 hectares surrounding the city serves as a pantry for the city's markets and restaurants. During the curfew, the huerta was a real example of resilience, as it continued to feed a million Valencians, but was also able to export fruit and vegetables to other regions of the world. The irrigation system, inherited from the Arabs in the 8th century, is still a true work of engineering that is not outdated. And the FAO - Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations - has recognized it and awarded the Huerta the title of "Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System" (which has only been awarded 7 times in Europe). Now that you know all this, plan a visit and we will recommend the bike again. Where the railway tracks used to run, there is now a cycle path, the Via Xurra, which runs through this landscape. And if you want a real local plan, try the local drink, the horchata, at Daniel's, right in the Alboraia, the cradle of the chufa (tiger nut), the tuber from which this refreshing Valencian drink is made. Now is exactly the right moment!
Initiatives colouring the Valencia city map green
If you could look at Valencia from a bird's eye view, you would see that Valencia is tending more and more towards the green colour. Just before curfew, the inhabitants of the historic centre prepared the last allotment garden of the city, which was added to the list of gardens for self-sufficiency. If you visit Valencia, you can stop by l'Hort de Botja in the district of Velluters and see what was once a deserted piece of land that is now in full agricultural production. Another small orchard (Jardin de la Huerta) is located in an area of Parque Central, the last garden to be included in the city's catalogue of over two million m2 of green spaces. A little over a year after its inauguration, the 100,000 m2 of green space designed by landscape architect Kathryn Gustafson has reached its peak and is a good place to stop off on your way.
Ask for your guide and city map to write down all our recommendations for your next trip to a more sustainable Valencia. Take a look at the companies that rent bikes or book a guided tour on two wheels. Remember to respect the hygiene and safety distance measures recommended by the health authorities. So that you continue to enjoy travelling, especially to Valencia. 😊