El Carmen Neighbourhood in Valencia: The Student Guide!
What is this neighbourhood with such a Spanish name like? El Carmen, named for the convent located at its main square, is the old city centre of Valencia. This bustling neighbourhood with narrow streets was built within two mediaeval walls and is now a popular place to go out at night. Would you like to know more? Just keep on reading!
Located in the old city centre
El Carmen is the old city centre, located within Ciutat Vella district. It’s a historic neighbourhood, which grew on the space between the Valencian Muslim wall from the 11th century and the Christian wall from the 14th century. The neighbourhood’s official boundaries are: Guillem de Castro Street, Quart Street, Serranos Street and the old riverbed, now transformed into the biggest green area in the city. However, local people consider that the neighbourhood goes further south, till the building of La Lonja (an old local market) approximately.
One of the most bustling neighbourhoods in Valencia
Narrow twisting streets and short old buildings compose the irregular layout of El Carmen. Tourists and Valencian young people of all sub-cultures make the main street Calle Caballeros look crowded, whilst other streets are waiting for pedestrians to discover them. Strolling around is a pretty exciting experience here, but don’t forget your map because it’s quite easy to get lost! The area is busy and gets noisy at night, as it’s one of the most popular places in Valencia to go out at night. Another distinctive feature of this neighbourhood in Valencia is its original street art, which can be as big as a facade in some cases. There are some neglected spots, although governments are making an effort to revitalize the whole neighbourhood.
Source: Oswaldo Rubio (www.flickr.com)
Live the cañas & tapas experience
El Carmen is quite a tourist neighbourhood. However, there are bars and pubs on a student budget if you like to taste Spanish tapas (small portions of delicious food) and drink beer, best known as “ir de cañas”. It’s great to sit down on one of the terraces at Tossal Square and have brunch on a sunny day! Just stroll around looking at the menu prices and choose a different place each day.
Vivid nightlife where everyone can find their place
This area in Valencia is one of the most popular places to begin the night. The area is jammed with restaurants and bars where to have a cocktail after you’ve had dinner. Young people from different urban tribes, apart from tourists, usually hang around, as prices can be quite low.
El Carmen is a noisy neighbourhood in Valencia at night, especially until 3 a.m. when pubs close. You can dance almost to any kind of music: punk, reggae, house, hip-hop, underground, caribbean…Or even just relax at a chill-out lounge. Calle Caballeros is the main street for nightlife in El Carmen, but hidden gems are found in adjacent narrower streets. Radio City is perhaps the most famous one, with live sessions and a very special atmosphere. And if you want to dance till dawn go to Calcutta club.
Local traditions in El Carmen: Fallas and Corpus Christi
When the most important city celebration arrives in March, El Carmen becomes a pedestrianised area. During Fallas, the monumentos falleros (cardboard paper monuments burnt the last day of the feast) take over squares and people -local and tourists alike- who want to see them fill the streets. Las Fallas attracts people from Spain and other countries, and transforms the city into a noisy focus of fun! This is one of the most active neighbourhoods for students in Valencia during Fallas.
This neighbourhood in Valencia also hosts the traditional Corpus Christi Procession, a Catholic celebration of the Eucharist that takes place on May or June. The Rocas (religious carts which represent Biblical events) are really worth seeing.
El Carmen neighbourhood’s facilities
The easiest way to fill your pantry is to buy at small shops in the neighbourhood. The nearest supermarket is within 10 minutes walking distance. What you decide is entirely up to you! But don’t miss the Valencian Central Market. People from all over Valencia come here to buy the best fresh food you can find in the city: vegetables, fish, meat, dried fruit, olives, bakery…400 stalls and more than 8000 square metres inside a really beautiful structure made out of ceramic, stone, marble, iron and mosaics.
Source: Antonio Tajuelo (www.flickr.com)
The Mossen Sorell Market is inside El Carmen, but it’s much smaller than Central Market and attracts less clientes than the latter.
Apart from local shops to do your groceries, El Carmen has other types of businesses to meet your needs. Designer clothes shops, hairdressers, herbalists…If you rather go to a shopping mall or like to buy at international chain shops just walk 15 minutes to the nearby shopping centre of Valencia, in the area between Calle Colón and Calle La Paz.
There’s a public sports centre in the area if you want to practice sport. You may find also the private gym Q-art fitness. In addition, most universities offer sports facilities at campus, so inform yourself about this option!
There’s really no big green area in El Carmen. However, one of its boundaries is the old river bed, which has become the biggest green area of Valencia with 110 hectares. Its non-official name is El Río (the river). During the weekends you’ll see people running or cycling, and doing picnic on the sunny grass.
Cultural offer and attractions
This neighbourhood in Valencia is the old city centre. Thus, there are so many cultural attractions within the neighbourhood and next to it that it’s almost impossible to name them all! Serrano and Quart Towers are two of the antique mediaeval entries of the city that are currently standing. Some remains of the old walls can still be seen, isn’t it exciting?
Serrano Towers. Source: www.feefreespanish.com
The Convent El Carmen stands in the main square of this neighbourhood. In fact, the convent gave its name to the area. Nowadays no monks live there and it has been transformed into a museum. Its church is still active though.
Other buildings within walking distance to El Carmen and which are a must are: the Valencian Cathedral with its tower El Miguelete at Plaza de la Virgen, La Lonja (a 15th century gothic building which is considered an architectural gem and was a marketplace at the time), Palau de la Generalitat and Cortes Valencianas (which are the headquarters for the local and regional government respectively).
In addition, in Plaza Redonda just outside El Carmen neighbourhood you may find stalls with typical Valencian products, such as wicker and ceramic products. Don’t forget to drink delicious Orxata in Horchatería Santa Catalina and ask for fartons to do as locals do!
Source: Vincent Desjardins www.flickr.com
Are you asking yourself if there are quiet places to study in El Carmen? Well, there are no public libraries within the neighbourhood. However, there are several libraries quite near: Library María Beneyto, Library Carles Ros or the library inside the IVAM are possible options. If you don’t mind walking a little bit further, the Main Public Library is within 15 minutes walking distance and is a really inspiring and beautiful place.
Source: Joanbanjo (www.commons.wikimedia.org)
This is not a particularly well connected area of the city, although different public transport options are within walking distance. Check out the distance from El Carmen to your university:
- UPV or UV Tarongers Campus: walk about 10 minutes to take the bus or the tram line 4 and get there un about 30 minutes.
- UCH CEU in Moncada or UCV in Godella: it takes about 40 minutes, first 15 minutes walking and then going underground.
- UV Burjassot: is at a half an hour distance: you may walk about 10 minutes to take the tram or go by bus.
- UV Blasco Ibáñez Campus: it will take you about 25 minutes to reach your classes, whether you go walking or by bus. Perhaps the best option is to rent a public bicycle (Valenbisi), it’s really cheap!
- UCV Campus City Centre: walk 10 minutes and you’re there!
Apart from that, if you like to cycle Valenbisi is a cheap public bike system in the city you may use to move around.
Living in El Carmen can be an affordable experience, as you may find a room at a shared flat for under 300€/month. If you want to make this neighbourhood your next home, Beroomers has different housing options in El Carmen for you, including complete apartments or host families.
Short and sweet
- Atmosphere: bustling, noisy and crowded at night, tourist.
- Location: El Carmen is the old city centre.
- Residents: local families and bohemian and young people.
- Local traditions: Las Fallas feast.
- Facilities: Small shops to go shopping or do your groceries, Valencian Central Market, El Río green area, the Main Public Library…
- Transportation: Depending on where you’re planning to study, you’ll have a good connection (or not so good).
- Rental rate: You may find a room for less than 300€/month in El Carmen.
- Area of Valencia: Located within Ciutat Vella district.
“Negrito” Square in El Carmen. Source: www.tripadvisor.it
El Carmen is one of the most popular neighbourhoods for students in Valencia, you’ll surely like living here! If you’re still making up your mind, surely you’ll find this complete guide of neighbourhoods for students very useful!
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