We, the Valencian people, are extremely fortunate in having a large green belt area which cuts through the city from one end to the other and which we can enjoy throughout the year: the banks of the river Turia.
The river Turia was the scene of disastrous floods in 1957, which even today sends shivers down the spines of those who lived through it, as it caused numerous deaths and destroyed many buildings. After the havoc reeked by this disaster, it was decided to re-route the river to the outskirts of the city, thus guaranteeing the future security of its citizens.
Years of debate ensued in Valencian society as to the use of the large space reclaimed from the water. Various proposals were put forward but the one which met with most approval, right from the start, was the creation of a municipal park which everybody could enjoy.
Today the former riverbanks constitute the lungs of the city. Its six kilometres are divided into different sections, such that each one fulfils a definite objective with its individual characteristics.
In different areas there are fully-equipped, top class sports facilities, athletic tracks, rugby and football pitches, skateboard and roller-skating zones, baseball ground, petanque, cross-bike tracks, stretching and warming up/workout areas …. and as it is a green belt area you will see a large number of people jogging, cycling, practicing tai chi and even climbing.
Rent a bike
One interesting option is to rent a bike and just pedal a while. Undoubtedly, this is one of the most pleasant activities to practice in the area as it lets you enjoy a bike ride taking in the different scenery as well as the city’s architecture, sculptures and even in some stretches, its music.
There are several play areas and children’s parks together with various activities programmed throughout the year. Among the parks, The Gulliver Park stands out. This is a recreation of the well-known literary figure whose arms and legs are transformed into gigantic slides, climbing ropes, tunnels and other surprises for the little ones in the house.
For the general public, there is the Palau train. Once on board, it will take you around the different sections of the park, much to your delight. The lake in front of the Symphony Hall (Palau de la Musica) offers “dancing water” sessions, where the fountain moves to the rhythm of the accompanying music and light effects.
Another outstanding feature of a walk along the riverbank is the cultural dimension it acquires. Since it takes in most of the city, we can contemplate some of Valencia’s most emblematic buildings: Torres de Serrano, Palau de la Musica, the small gauge train station (trenet) etc. We can stop off and pay a visit to some of the numerous museums which we find along the way. The Modern Art Museum, the Fine Art Museum, even the Fallero Museum will appear en route, not to mention, of course, the ultra modern City of the Sciences, the end point of the journey and really deserves a separate mention.
The different bridges spanning the river are an interesting part of the route as they can be viewed from an unusual ground view perspective. These bridges could be said to represent the city’s evolution as we can see in them a range of structures from classical architecture to Santiago Calatrava’s most recent creations.
Depending on the time of the year of our visit to the city, we may coincide with one of the different events held in this area: artisan and gastronomic fairs, social or cultural meetings, children’s activities, etc., but omnipresent are people – playing, reading, picnicking, walking the dog, playing drums or just sunbathing, all of which makes this river a dynamic life space (not only plant life).