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Things to Do in Valencia - page 2

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Monastery of San Miguel de los Reyes (National Library of Valencia)

A trip to the library has surely never been as interesting as it will be on a visit to the National Library of Valencia. That’s because this biblioteca is also known as the Monastery of San Miguel de los Reyes, a complex erected in the 16th century, and which -- with just one glimpse at the structure -- is far more than just a place for archiving books and documents.

Built by the Duke of Calabria, the once-monastery sits on the site of a former abbey, and before that even a mosque. And what a complex it is, complete with a two-towered Renaissance façade, beyond which you will find a proper church, and two courtyards; one surrounded by arcaded galleries, the other unfinished and gallery-less. The exterior alone is a commanding site, reminiscent of El Escorial Monastery near Madrid.

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Admiral’s Baths (Baños Arabes del Almirante)

Several hundreds of years ago, the city of Valencia – and much of the Iberian Peninsula, really – was under Muslim control. While most remnants of those times have long faded, you can still catch a glimpse of them at the 14th-century Admiral’s Baths (Baños Arabes del Almirante), the only ones of their kind left in the seaside city.

Although these particular baños were actually constructed just after Valencia came under Catholic rule, they remain very representative of Mudéjar architecture, and of hammam baths found elsewhere in Spain and the world. Indeed, they are composed of common hammam features, including rooms of cold, warm and hot temperatures (the latter being sauna-like). Meanwhile, you’ll see other typically Arabic bath-style details such as the horseshoe-shaped arches and the geometric skylights. The Admiral’s Baths weren’t only used hundreds of years ago, either, but actually remained in use until the 20th century.

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Valencia Cruise Port (Puerto)
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36 Tours and Activities

Cruise ships dock about 2.5 miles (4 km) from the center of Valencia. It is walkable but some ships provide shuttles or taxis are easily found to take you to the central and picturesque Plaza del Ayuntamiento. Otherwise, you can stay in the docks area, which is a lively mix of old and new architecture, restaurants and bars.

From well-preserved Plaza del Ayuntamiento you can wander the ancient streets of Barrio del Carmen, as well as visit the many museums and churches including the Cathedral in the Placa de la Reina, a visually-striking opera house and music hall, and the nearby Gothic Basilica of the Virgin in the Placa de le Verge. The fabulous City of Arts and Sciences includes the aquarium L’Oceanografic - which is primarily under the sea and includes 45,000 creatures from 500 species in different habitats including whales, sharks, penguins and dolphins. The building itself is a very modern building designed by famed contemporary architect Salvatore Calatrava.

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House of San Vicente Ferrer

Cities and regions across Spain have their own patron saints. In Valencia, one of those saints is none other than San Vicente Ferrer, who was born in this very city in the 14th century. It should come as no surprise, then, that his former “home” is a sacred spot for Catholics, and especially for Valencians.

It’s not exactly his home, though, but rather the site of his home. Instead, what you will find in this place is a chapel, much of which was actually constructed in the 20th century. Apart from the intimately sized interior, the tiny church is also home to the hallowed water well after which its street is named, as well as a colorful entryway decorated with tiles depicting the saint’s different miracles.

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