Antiguo cauce del Turia, València
TOURISTIC AREA: Historical center
The Turia Gardens is one of the largest urban parks in Spain. It runs through the city along nine kilometres of green space boasting foot paths, leisure and sports areas, and romantic spots where you can unwind. From Cabecera Park to the City of Arts and Sciences, the Turia Gardens are the perfect place for runners, cyclists, families and nature enthusiasts.
Crossed by 18 bridges full of history, the former riverbed passes by the city's main museums and monuments on either bank. The vast gardens are built on the former riverbed of the Turia, whose course was altered to prevent constant flooding in the city. After a devastating flood on 14 October 1957, the Turia's course was diverted south of the city, leaving a huge tract of land that crosses the city from West to East, bordering the historical centre. Several urban planners and landscapists designed different sections of the park, recreating the former river scenery.
They created a unique itinerary of palm trees and orange trees, fountains and pine woods, aromatic plants and ponds, sports facilities and rose beds. The gardens were inaugurated in 1986. The Cabecera Park and Bioparc border the huge gardens to the west, and the futuristic City of Arts and Sciences border it on the opposite side, near the mouth of the river. The Turia Gardens connect a realistic-looking African savannah in the Bioparc with the underwater world and ecosystems you can visit in the Oceanogràfic, and the spectacular opera auditorium and Palau de les Arts housed in the City of Arts and Sciences.
There are many other interesting stops along the way. In the huge Gulliver park, children can climb onto the fingers, hair and legs of a giant, 70m recumbent figure and slide down them like Lilliputians. The Palau de la Música, which offers a complete annual programme, is nearby. Broad esplanades outside the Palau provide spaces where children can skate and play football. Small, swan-shaped boats are for hire in Cabecera Park.
The ponds surrounding the City of Arts and Sciences hire out water walking balls and canoes in summer. Valencia is a flat city, so the Turia Gardens are the perfect place for running enthusiasts and those who prefer to cycle on bicycles, segways and tandems. These small vehicles are for hire in the Gardens. You will find many bars and cafés with extensive terraces along the way, where you can take a break for refreshment. The Turia Gardens are crossed by 18 bridges from different periods and architectural styles. The most outstanding historical bridges are those of San José (17th century), Serranos (16th century), Trinidad (15th century),
El Real (16th century) and El Mar (16th century). More recent bridges are the Puente de la Exposición, 9 d'Octubre, Las Flores and l'Assut d'Or, designed by Santiago Calatrava; the Las Artes bridge, next to the IVAM (Valencian Institute of Modern Art), by Norman Foster; and the Ángel Custodio bridge, by Arturo Piera.
The former riverbed also links other points in Valencia not to be missed, like the Serranos Towers, a gate in the old city walls that surrounded Valencia, currently converted into a wonderful viewpoint over the historical centre and gardens; the Valencia Institute of Modern Art (IVAM) and the Museum of Fine Arts. All of these are located on the former banks of the Turia, which serve as a guide for an interesting cultural itinerary in the city of Valencia.
Parque del Gulliver (Tel.: +34 96 337 0204)
Opening hours: Monday-Sunday, 10.00am to 8.00pm, all year round except July and August, open from 10.00am to 2.00pm and 5.00pm to 9.00pm.
HOW TO GET THERE
Antiguo Cauce del Rio Turia, Paseo de la Pechina, Valencia, España