Important squares enriched with history, buildings, people, life, the authentic lifestyle of the locals; squares, in which we sat on a bench, savoured churros and smiled to unknown people passing by in Valencia.
This article is the continuation of the article Valencia: The first city we have visited in Spain (I) — a city, that has a special place in our hearts.
Plaza de la Reina
Plaza de la Reina is one of the most crowded squares in Valencia. It is also full of life because it’s right in the middle of the historic city centre. Plaza de la Reina is also ground zero, every street numeration begins exactly here. In the vicinity of the square, you will find in the north the cathedral with the tower El Miguelete and the charming church Plaza Santa Catalina in the south-west.
The name of this square originates from the queen Mercedes Orleans, the first wife of the King Alfonso the 12th. Therefore, the original name of the square was once Plaza de la Reina Maria de las Mercedes.
During that time, the square was remodelled several times, the last time in 1979, when an underground parking lot was created. The centre of the square is full of benches where you can rest, eat your ice cream or just take a look at the surrounding monuments. There are also a lot of cafés and restaurants — perfect for having lunch or dinner.
The name already suggests what this square is: Round, small but authentic. It’s filled with stores with traditional products and surrounded by old buildings. The construction of Plaza Redona began in the 19th century under the supervision Salvador Escrig Melchor. It was designed for the commercialisation of meat and fish. Today, you can find here different stores with all kinds of local goods, like the famous ceramic from Valencia but also broidery, clothing, souvenirs and other things.
Plaza Redonda is known by locals who come here to sell souvenirs you won’t find anywhere else. Sunday is the perfect day to visit it because the vendors arrive with goods like stamps, coins, books, toys and much more.
In the vicinity of the square, you will also find Plaza Lope de Vega, where one of Europe’s narrowest buildings is situated. The red building is, according to the owner, 105 centimetres wide and has only one room per floor.
Plaza del Ayuntamiento
The majestic Plaza del Ayuntamiento consists of multiple administrative buildings, flowers, greenstuff and multi-coloured lights. Here, you will find the central postal office and also the city hall; both buildings have an eclectic style on the outside; inside, the architects seem to have been inspired by the baroque style.
As tourists, we noticed many flower sellers throughout the square, which apparently has been a tradition since 1924.
In Plaza del Ayuntamiento, we visited the tourist info to get a map; you can also ask any question you like and the friendly people will happily answer them. Another reason to visit this square is the fact that a lot of busses pass through; you can hop on and go to any part of the city you like. Plaza del Ayuntamiento is also a very popular meeting place among locals.
If you’re looking for festivities, Plaza del Ayuntamiento is, once again, a good place to be. During holidays like Easter and Christmas, the square is beautifully decorated. If you’re around for the Fallas festival, you’re extremely lucky because it’s the most spectacular holiday in Valencia.
Plaza de Toros
Not far away from Plaza del Ayuntamiento and in the vicinity of the northern train station (Estasion del Norte) is an arena, where bull fights take place. Here, you can also visit the museum and inform yourselves about the history of this tradition.
The arena resembles the Colosseum from Rome. It has been designed by Sebastian Monleon and built between 1850 and 1860. During that time, the locals had such a passion for this sport that it had to be manifested somehow.
Plaza de Toros is considered one of the safest and most comfortable arena in Spain. Up to 10,500 visitors can sit on the seats made from cement. Today, bull fights are being held during the Fallas festival in March; more are being held around July. If you decide to visit the museum, you can also enter the arena. The museum itself is one of the first of its kind in Spain. It holds an impressive collection of worn costumes by famous toreadors (bullfighters), trophies and other artefacts.
To enter the museum, you have to pay only two Euros; visitation is possible from Tuesday to Saturday between ten o’clock in the morning and seven o’clock in the evening; on Sunday, the opening hours range from ten o’clock in the morning until two o’clock in the afternoon.