Valencia is architecturally a stunning city, crowded with its many Beaux Arts and medieval architecture. The city center, the old city is small and most major attractions are within a 5 - 10 minutes walk. Compare to its neighbor city of Barcelona, Valencia is nothing like it, though they are both less than 3 hours away by train. Valencia is smaller and signs of its medieval part can still be appreciated by taking a stroll along its narrow streets and alleyways. In terms of the city's architecture, if Gaudi was to Barcelona in the 20th century, then Calatrava is to what Valencia is in the new millennium. The City of the Arts and Sciences is a leisure and learning complex that houses many of Calatrava amazing architecture. It is also one of the largest leisure complex currently being build in Europe and consists of a performance center (second picture above), a science museum, botanical parks, an oceanography museum and a new agora (not sure what it's going to be used for) that is under construction at the moment. The land that the buildings are build on used to be a river that runs along the northern part of the city and since the mid 20th century, the river has dried out and has since been replaced with botanical gardens and sports facilities. It is certainly one of the most environmentally interesting use of land and resources.
The heart of Valencia has never been about its beaches. However, the closest beach to the city is only a 20 minutes train ride away and it is one of the nicest beach I've seen so far. Compare to the city beaches in Barcelona, it might not have the best water sports or activities along the beach, but the fine soft powder sand is enough for me to appreciate its beauty.
I arrived at Sevilla late last night, but between Barcelona, Valencia and Sevilla, some might say that Valencia is too sterile or too clean and has lost its old charm within the old city. Even the central market seems organized, brightly lit and a pleasure to walk around. The building facades seems to have been clean or freshly painted. In either case, Valencia is still a beautiful city to spend a few days at. I enjoyed my two days at Valencia, and the reason being (apart from its architecture), there were very little or no foreign tourist. Things may change at the end of the month as the city is preparing to host the Formula One race.
As for me, my trip is coming to an end soon. From Sevilla, I'll be taking day trips to Granada and Cordoba during my time here. Next week, I'll be heading to Lisbon, Paris and ending my adventure in London.