Valencia – a modern architecture story

The city of Valencia is not the first option for travellers heading to Spain. Valencia is in competition with major attractions in Madrid, Barcelona or Andalusia (think of Granada, Sevilla, Cordoba or Malaga)  or major beach destinations like Palma de Mallorca. It is true that there are many, many, interesting destinations in Spain. Nevertheless, the city has been striving to exist on the Spanish tourism map and the official statistics show a significant growth of the number of travellers heading to Valencia.

Either from neighbouring countries like France or Italy , or from Germany and Turkey, the overall number of tourists has been constatly increasing. An interesting phenomenen though, is that approcimately 40% of the touristic demand in Valencia comes from… Spain,  internal tourism. This is a very good indicator that shows a great internal interest from within the country and that it has something different to provide to curious travellers.

In 1957, the city was the scene of a devastating flood that caused major casualities (approx; 80 persons) and lots of material losses. In response to the disaster, the Spanish government decided to put in place the Plan Sur. A plan that “simply” consisted on drying and rerouting the city’s main river, the Turia. Part of the funding of the project was made possible via selling postal stamps as shown below.

Rewriting history

After the river was rerouted, it left the old riverbed, a rich soil at the heart of Valencia’s city center, known as the green river. The map below shows the green river and the new river bed. The original Plan Sur divided the green river into 18 areas, each one with its own flavour and cultural identity. However, the central position of these plots made them always subject to controversy, and obviously source of confrontation between different interests.

Long discussions, and political clashes between different governments and parties, took place onto what to do with all this land. The first iterations were leading to building a new ring road/highway that can serve all of Valencia’s nehgbourhood’s thanks to its central position. Luckily, the final decision led to the creation of several architectural landmarks, including for example the City of Art and Science. A magnificent landmark that is now considered one of the twelve treasures of Spain.

This memorable decision shaped Valencia’s personnality. The creation of art, culture and science from the ashes of a deadly flood. The implementation of the plan took more than 30 years, but significantly increased the city’s attractivness, making it one of the major destinations  for spanish inbound travellers.

When visiting this city you feel these vibes of hope, renewal, arts and amazing modern architecture landmarks. Diffinetely a very interesting city, worth visiting and more importantly, it sets a great example of how challenges can be transformed into great opportunities through string decisive moves, such as rerouting a river and recreating a city’s destiny.

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