The Turia Gardens: Valencia's green heart

Public date: 
Thursday 26 April 2018

Nothing sums up Valencia like the Turia Gardens. This haven of peace shows the ingenuity of a city which turned adversity into success, diverting the Turia river after serious flooding in 1957 and transforming its bed into a leisure area where history, modernity and nature go hand in hand. It is a truly unique space where you can enjoy sports, music, food, children’s attractions and much more…

Crossing the city from end to end, this nine-kilometre long green belt has become a favourite spot for Valencians and visitors alike. Besides being an ideal environment for running, cycling or simply relaxing with a picnic under the trees (you can buy excellent provisions at nearby shops like Mantequerias Ferrero or Vegamar), the Turia Gardens are home to must-see tourist attractions and events.

Where do you start? If you’re not sure where to go, here is our guide to the main points of interest along the former course of the river:

  • Let’s start from the top. The aptly named Parque de Cabecera (Head Park) is an oasis of calm with gardens and lakes, and also home to one of Valencia’s top attractions: Bioparc. Here, both young and old can get close and personal – thanks to invisible barriers – with different species of African fauna, from lions and rhinos to the inquisitive meerkats. Before you leave this area, pop into the Museum of History of Valencia to delve into the city’s illustrious past.
  • The Turia Gardens attract athletes and fans of all kinds of sports (both to practice them or as mere spectators). Besides an end-to-end cycle lane and a 5K running circuit, you will find sports facilities like the Serranos and El Rumbo football schools, the Turia Athletics Stadium, the Jardines del Turia Rugby Stadium and even a cricket pitch, home to the Levante Cricket Club! Do you like skateboarding? Head for the Skateplaza, next to the Astros Fénix Beisfam baseball pitch.
  • The Palau de la Musica, home to the Valencia Orchestra, is a mecca for music lovers. The building itself, a kind of “crystal palace” with a giant glass dome over lush gardens and a front lake with fountains, is popular with Instagrammers. But the real attraction are the excellent concerts at its auditorium, which will feature Russian conductor Vladimir Ashkenazy and Portuguese pianist Maria Joao Pires this spring. Besides, the Menut Palau programme will get the young ones into music too.
  • But, without doubt, the most popular destination for children is the Gulliver Park, with its giant sculpture of the legendary traveller. Kids simply love climbing up his stockings, hiding in his sleeves or sliding down his hair. And many adults wish they were children too, just to have the chance to run riot on this giant!
  • As you walk along the Turia Gardens, there is a constant reminder that this really was a river once upon a time: the many bridges you will go under! See how many you can count, from the oldest, the Puente de la Trinidad (dating from the 15th century) to the modern Puente de L’Assut d’Or, one of three bridges designed by Santiago Calatrava, nicknamed the jamonero (ham-rack) because of its shape. It is also worth climbing up to street level to admire the flowers of the colourful Puente de las Flores or the gargoyles of the Puente del Reino.
  • Once the colossal bulk of the Palau de les Arts opera house appears on the horizon, you will know you are close to the true star of the Turia Gardens: the City of Arts and Sciences. Find your favourite spots amongst the spectacular buildings of this futuristic complex designed by Santiago Calatrava… and make sure you have enough memory and battery in your mobile to take photos!

And that’s not all. The former riverbed often hosts events such as the recent Mostra de Vinos, showcasing the best of the local gastronomy. And this is also the setting of the main fireworks displays during the Fallas Festival and the July Fair. A place to relax or celebrate, the Turia Gardens are not only Valencia’s lungs, but its heart too!