Valencia is situated on the river Turia, but in the past this river regularly caused floods. After a severe flooding in 1957 it was decided to change the course of the river.
Ex-dictator Franco wanted to build a motorway in the old riverbed, but fortunately that plan never went ahead. Instead, it became a beautiful green lung across the city. These Jardins del Turia are no less than 9 kilometres long, and there is plenty to do. There are music performances and other cultural events, sometimes a circus has put up its tents, or there is a fair. It's always busy, it's the central meeting place for Valencians.
The gardens run from Cabecera Park on a hill to the grounds of the 'Ciudad de las Artes y de las Ciencias', or the city of arts and sciences. The most interesting part is in the centre of the city, from the old Puente del Real (Royal Bridge). In addition, the royal gardens, with their numerous statues and fountains, are an ideal place for picnics. The Museo Provincial de Bellas Artes is housed in an old monastery. Paintings by Ribera, Velazquez, Murillo, El Greco and Goya, among others, are on display. During a walk through the gardens you will find several special sights.
Back in the Turia Gardens is the modern Calatrava Bridge, named after the architect who is also responsible for the buildings in the city of sciences. You might be able to recognize some work by his hand: Calatrava also made the modern bridges over the Hoofdvaart in the Haarlemmermeer (The Netherlands).
As the name suggests, the Puente de las Flores (Bridge of Flowers) is decorated with flowers. If you walk a little further, you'll reach the Palau de Musica and a giant Gulliver, a fun play object for children.
Website: Turia Gardens
Address: between Cabecera Park (with the zoo of Valencia) and Ciudad de las Artes y de las Ciencias, right through the centre of the city
Opening hours: 24 hours a day, evening and night some caution advised
Admission: free of charge
Check the Turia Gardens website for up-to-date pricing information and opening hours.