Ciutat Vella in Valencia: the student neighbourhood guide!
Ciutat Vella stands for The Old Town in Valencian language. It’s the best neighbourhood in Valencia to get lost…just stroll around its narrow winding streets with no fixed destination! When living here you can really feel what Valencia is all about. Its bustling atmosphere and its mediaeval monuments in the northern part of Ciutat Vella neighbour upon the shopping hub in its southern part. We tell you all you need to know about this area in this neighborhood guide!
Source: www.flickr.com (Dom Crossley)
The old city centre
Ciutat Vella is the old city centre, imaginarily delimited by the old medieval city wall, whose ruins can still be seen in some spots. Number 1 district in Valencia is composed by the following neighbourhoods: La Seu, La Xerea, El Carmen, El Pilar, El Mercat and San Francesc. It takes up the area inside the old dried riverbed, Guillem de Castro Street, and Xátiva and Colón streets.
Bustling neighbourhood in Valencia with a mediaeval layout
Narrow winding streets -some of them pedestrianised- turn Ciutat Vella into a maze. The medieval layout is a distinctive feature, so if you want to stroll around slowly don’t forget your map! Watch out for luxurious residential buildings standing next to neglected spots in this tourist and bustling area of the city. Ciutat Vella has been revitalized during the last years by local bohemian people who have come to live to the old town. Because of its antiquity, the neighbourhood hosts most of the important historical buildings, museums and monuments in Valencia.
The southeast of Ciutat Vella, in spite of being also a tourist spot, has a different atmosphere. Part of the shopping city center is located here, with wider streets, shopping malls and international brands shops.
Varied gastronomic offer
Variety is what best defines the dining options at Ciutat Vella. If you’re looking for fast food, restaurant chains or buffet options, head southeast to the shopping city center. However, if you rather taste traditional Spanish food, it’s better to walk on the opposite direction.
La Taberna de la Reina offers cheap and exquisite pinchos in the emblematic La Reina Square, which are small portions of food on top of crispy bread. Just pick the ones you like!
Very close to this square is Horchatería Santa Catalina, which is one of the best places to ask for orxata con fartons at merienda time (or afternoon snack): a vegetable based white beverage served with hand-made scones. In Winter, chocolate con churros takes over snack time for a bit of extra calories.
Source: www.youtube.com (How to cook that)
Nightlife in El Carmen
Nightlife in Ciutat Vella is concentrated in El Carmen neighbourhood, which is in fact one of the most popular places to begin a night out. Restaurants and cocktail bars are jam-packed with young people from different urban tribes and international tourists. Until 3 a.m. you can dance to almost any kind of music: punk, house, underground music, reggae…El Carmen gets really noisy with people having fun on terraces and pedestrianised squares, and those who want to party till dawn head to Calcutta club.
Fallas in Ciutat Vella
During one week in March, the city centre transforms into a continuous party. Plaza del Ayuntamiento, where the city hall lies, hosts one of the biggest paperboard statues (monumentos falleros burnt on the last day of the feast) and traditional mascletás, a true exhibition of fireworks at 2 p.m. In Fallas, pedestrians conquer the streets and local people wear the typical costume and party on the street. Ciutat Vella is the heart of Fallas in Valencia, and some streets become so crowded it’s even difficult to cross them!
Mascletà in Plaza del Ayuntamiento. Source: www.rachelinbarcelona.wordpress.com
Ciutat Vella neighbourhood’s facilities
Despite the fact that Ciutat Vella is a tourist spot, there are several supermarkets and local food stores to do your groceries in the areas of El Carmen, El Pilar and Sant Francesc.
Wherever you choose to go, please don’t miss the local market Mercado Central, which deserves a particular mention. Local people come here with their shopping cart or basket to buy the best fresh food in the city: fish and meat, vegetables, olives, typical Spanish products…Did you know that this amazing structure holds more than 400 stalls in more than 8000 square metres?
Valencian Central Market. Source: www.solamante.es
Ciutat Vella hosts some of the streets with a higher density of shops per metre. If you’re looking for luxury brands, head to Calle la Paz or Poeta Querol, but if you rather renew your wardrobe with international fashion brands stroll down Calle Colón. In addition, four shopping malls are available for you: two El Corte Inglés buildings, Galería Jorge Juan and Boulevard Austria.
The trendiest shopping experience is given by Mercado de Tapinería. This new urban market is the place to go if you want to discover new items each week in its ephemeral stores, attend a showcooking session or enjoy a music concert. It’s quite difficult to explain what it’s all about!
Mercado de Tapinería. Source: www.3viajes.com
In contrast with the trendiest experience, you may find the most traditional handmade products made by local artisans in la Plaza Redonda, which was renovated a few years ago, and where you can expect to find pottery, embroidery, handmade clothing…And if you’re mad about wicker, watch out for wicker products shops in Músico Peydró Street, commonly known as calle de las cestas (or the baskets street).
Calle de las cestas. Source: www.valenciaculture.com
There are a few private gyms in Ciutat Vella and a public sports center in El Carmen neighbourhood. However, if you don’t mind practicing sports outdoor, bear in mind that the biggest green area in Valencia is just across Ciutat Vella’s boundaries, where you may meet other residents cycling or running. In a city with such a nice weather, it’s really easy to stay fit!
Source: Víctor Gutiérrez Navarro (www.flickr.com)
The green area we mentioned just above is Jardines del Turia, although Valencians call it El Río (the river). In 1957, part of Valencia suffered a flash flood, so the local government decided to divert the river and dry the riverbed, replacing the water with trees, grass, parks for children and some buildings. The north and east boundaries of Ciutat Vella neighbour upon it.
Cultural offer and attractions
Do you picture yourself living next to the main cultural attractions in Valencia? Then Ciutat Vella will completely satisfy you! Some examples of places you should visit are: the Valencian Cathedral and Basilica in Plaza de la Virgen, the two mediaeval towers of Quart and Serranos, the Gothic Silk Exchange, the Valencian bullring, the Colón Market built in 1916, the magnificent churches of Santa Catalina and San Juan del Hospital…
Plaza de la Virgen. Source: Dom Crossley (www.flickr.com)
Moreover, if you want to go to the next movie premiere, you may choose between ABC Park or Lys Cinemas, nearby Plaza del Ayuntamiento. For classic and remarkable films The Filmoteca very close to them is the perfect place! And if you’re a theatre lover, write down the names of el Principal, Rialto, Olympia, Escalante and Talía theatres.
Talia Theatre. Source: www.objetivocomunitat.lasprovincias.es
The majority of Valencian museums are found in Ciutat Vella. The Prehistoric Museum, the IVAM (modern art museum) and the MUVIM (museum of modernity and Enlightenment) are perhaps the most significant ones.
It’s really easy to find a public library in Ciutat Vella. However, the Main Public Library is definitely worth a try, as it’s the biggest one in Valencia and the atmosphere inside is really nice.
Colón, Xátiva, Ángel Guimerá and Alameda metro stations skirt Ciutat Vella with lines 3, 5, 7 and 9. In 3 minutes from Colón station you can reach UV Blasco Ibáñez Campus, UPV or UV Tarongers Campus in 15 minutes and the sunny Valencian beach in just 25 minutes.
Besides, the most visited train station in Valencia (Estación del Norte) is just outside its boundaries. Note that in Valencia there’s a cheap public bike system (Valenbisi), so it’s another option you have to move around the city.
In Ciutat Vella you may find a room for about 300-350€/month, although there are some cheaper options. Living here has so many advantages…Beroomers can help you find your next room or flat!
Short and sweet
- Atmosphere: includes the old city centre, with its narrow winding streets and luxurious buildings next to neglected spots, and the busy main shopping hub of Valencia.
- Location: imaginarily delimited by the old medieval city wall. Is the centre of Valencia.
- Residents: from wealthy (or not) local families to bohemian people.
- Local traditions: Ciutat Vella is the heart of Fallas celebration, when firecrackers, street parties, typical costumes and delicious traditional food fill the streets up!
- Facilities: supermarkets, local food stores, local market, green areas, varied cultural offer…And its southern part hosts the main Valencian shopping hub.
- Transportation: Reach UV Blasco Ibáñez Campus in 3 minutes, UPV or UV Tarongers Campus in 15 minutes and the beach in just 25 minutes. Use the public bike system to move around the city.
- Rental rate: Rooms at shared flats have a price of 300-350€/month, although you may find cheaper options.
- Area of Valencia: it includes the areas of: La Seu, La Xerea, El Carmen, El Pilar, El Mercat and San Francesc.
Source: Heather Cowper (www.flickr.com)
Ciutat Vella has something different in comparison to other neighbourhoods for students in Valencia, although each one is unique for something. And if you’re still thinking about which would be the best city to live in, then read the complete guide of neighbourhoods for students!
La Paz Street. Source: www.skyscrapercity.com
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