ISCA 2021 was originally planned to be held in Valencia, Spain. While we were very much looking forward to welcoming you to Valencia this year, the ongoing pandemic has prevented us from doing so. As a tribute to our original host city, we are posting this page to show you a glimpse of all that Valencia has to offer. We hope that you will be able to explore these in person sometime in the future.

Valencia (officially València in Valencian) is a historic port city that dates back to Roman times. The third-largest city in Spain, Valencia is home to a rich heritage, rooted in cultural traditions and celebrations such as the Falles festival and the world-famous paella. We encourage you to read below to discover the city and surroundings! You can find more information on sights, activities, and other tourist information at the official Visit València website.


Old City Monuments

Cathedral and Plaza de la Virgen

Valencia's Cathedral (13th century), located at Plaza de la Virgen, is a Gothic-style building although it preserves many elements from different periods, from Romanesque to Baroque eras. The Cathedral shows history and art and protects valuable treasures such as the Holy Chalice, which is kept in the Chapel of the Holy Chalice at the Cathedral. Documentation and archaeological studies lead us to think that the Holy Grail of Valencia is the one used by Jesus in the last supper.

Moreover, the Cathedral holds one of the most important pieces of art from the first Spanish Renaissance. The Renaissance frescoes of the main altar were rediscovered ten years ago by removing the Baroque vault that covered them. The paintings were commissioned by Cardinal Rodrigo de Borja, future Pope Alexander V, to the Italian artists Paolo da San Leocadio and Francesco Pagano, who began the work in 1476.

Additionally, the Cathedral Museum exhibits up to 90 works of different styles by Maella, Goya or Juan de Juanes. Finally, if you climb the 207 steps of the Miguelete tower, you will get the best panoramic views of the city.

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Lonja de la Seda (Silk Exchange)

The Lonja de la Seda is a late Valencian Gothic-style civil building. It is an emblematic building of the city that was was declared a World Heritage Site in 1996 by UNESCO. The Lonja is located in the city center, in front of the Central Market and the Temple of Santos Juanes.

The exchange was built between 1492 and 1548, and is composed of three parts and a garden (the Orange Garden). The main hall, Sala de Contratacion (the Contract Hall), is a large space with gorgeous twisted columns that support the domed ceiling. Its height of 17.40 meters gives the columns a special sense of size and proportion. This was the financial center of the Lonja, where the merchants work out contracts. The second part of the building is the the Torreón, on the ground floor there is a small chapel dedicated to the Immaculate Conception. The two upper floors were used as a prison for those who reneged on their debts.

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Lonja de la Seda (Silk Exchange)

Central Market

Mercado Central, or Central Market, is a public market located in one of the most emblematic modernist buildings in the city. It is located across from the Lonja and the temple of Santos Juanes. It is the largest market with fresh produce in Europe, full of Mediterranean flavors and aromas. This Valencian agora has more than 1200 stalls where most vendors sell food items, although souvenir shops and restaurants are located inside the market as well. It is a place where you can buy traditional products, yet it is also a space where more and more tourists visit. It covers more than 8,000 square meters and is full of decorative references to the orchard and gardens in València. Its structure, formed by iron columns, remind us of the Eiffel Tower; tile and stained glass make it an attractive architecture especially on account of the light that enters through the roof at various points, and through colored window panels.

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Central Market

San Nicolás Frescoes

The church of San Nicolás de Bari and San Pedro Mártir, also known as the Valencian Sistine Chapel, is a brilliant representation of Roman Catholic churches. In the middle of El Carmen, in the historic center of Valencia, it is probably the best example of coexistence of a temple of Gothic structure of the fifteenth century with baroque decoration of the seventeenth century that we find in the city of Valencia.

A few years ago, the architectural and pictorial restoration of the church began, overseen by the former director of the Sistine Chapel restorations in the Vatican, whose magnificent results allow us to contemplate the church nowadays in all its splendor.

The baroque fresco depicts the life of Saint Nicolas and was designed by Antonio Palomino in 1694 and realised by his pupil Dionis Vidal in 1704.

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Modern City

Turia Gardens

After the Turia River course being rerouted south of the city to prevent continual flooding in the city, the former bed of the river has given rise to a 9-kilometer garden, one of the largest urban parks in Spain. It runs through the city from the Cabecera Park and Bioparc at the west to the futuristic City of Arts and Sciences at the east, bordering the historical centre. With green spaces, interesting museums on both sides, leisure and sports areas, children's playgrounds, it is the perfect place for runners, cyclists and families. Crossed by 18 bridges full of history, the former riverbed passes by the city's main museums and monuments.

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The City of Arts and Sciences

The City of Arts and Sciences is a scientific, architectural, and cultural leisure complex with six buildings surrounded by attractive streams and pools of water, which covers around 2 kilometers at the end of the former riverbed of the Turia River. All of these buildings were designed by Santiago Calatrava and Felix Candela, and they are an impressive example of modern architecture. The project began the first stages of construction in July 1996, and was inaugurated in April 1998 with the opening of L'Hemisfèric. The last major component of the City of Arts and Sciences, Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia, was inaugurated in October 2005.

The "city" is made up of the following, usually known by their Valencian names:

  • Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe is an interactive museum of science and technology. The philosophy of the museum is "not touching is prohibited".
  • L'Hemisfèric is an IMAX Cinema, planetarium, and laserium which resembles a giant eye that opens to access the surrounding water pool. The planetarium, with a huge 900-meter concave screen, is a half-sphere composed of concrete 110 meters long and 55.5 meters wide.
  • L'Oceanogràfic is an open-air aquarium or oceanographic park. It is the Europe's biggest aquarium, with seven different aquatic environments including the Mediterranean, wetlands, temperate and tropical seas, the Antarctic, the Arctic, islands, and the Red Sea. Almost 45,000 specimens of 500 different species can be seen, such as dolphins, belugas, walruses, sea lions, seals, penguins and sharks. It also houses wetland bird species.
  • El Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía is the Valencian opera house and performing arts centre. Its regular program includes operas, concerts, zarzuela, and ballet. Panoramic lifts and stairways connect platforms at different heights on the inside of the metallic frames of the building.
  • L'Àgora is a versatile covered plaza that allows the holding of varied events such as concerts, performances, exhibitions, conventions and sports meetings.
  • L'Umbracle is an open structure covering a garden that is more than 17,000 square meters in size. The garden includes many plant species indigenous to Valencia (such as rockrose, lentisca, rosemary, and lavender).

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The City of Arts and Sciences
Photo: Jcca76 (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Bioparc

Bioparc is an innovative zoo with 10-hectare (25-acre) located in Valencia's Turia River bed. It has a large collection of African fauna with barriers that are practically invisible. The zoo recreates the large wetlands equatorial forest, Madagascar, and the savannah. One of the features that has made Bioparc a world-renowned are spectacular enclosures multispecies, with spaces that faithfully recreate the habitats in which animals of different species live together, just as they would in nature. These enclosures are a stimulus and enrichment for the animals, and offer visitors a much more realistic picture of nature. According to TripAdvisor, Bioparc it is among the five best zoos in Europe.

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Beaches and Landscapes

El Cabanyal District

The El Cabanyal maritime district is central to Valencian history. In 1821, it became a separate town, known as Pueblo Nuevo del Mar. Today, it is a singular district of the city, with fishermen activity, a protagonist of traditional scenery, and a wonderful location for the slow life. Its architectural value is incalculable. In the Cabanyal, there are colored buildings tile facades, fishermen's houses, and modernist structures, from Grao Market to the Fisherman's Market, passing through the houses on the street of Sant Pere, La Reina, or Escalant, and the area of Progrés and Amparo Guillem. The social climate and authentic lifestyle, almost extinct in large metropolitan areas, is highly due to the particular plan of the buildings and urban planning.

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El Cabanyal District

La Malvarrosa Beach

The main beach of the city, La Malvarrosa Beach is always animated with local residents as well as tourists. It is at the north of the city coast, and features a length of 1,000 meters and an average width of 135 meters, flanked by the main boardwalk, which accommodates numerous restaurants, bars, and shops. At the beginning of the 20th century, the beach was the location of several paintings by Joaquín Sorolla. Down the boardwalk from La Malvarrosa, towards the town of Alboraya, you can find the Blasco Ibañez House-Museum, which is the rebuilt version of the original house built by novelist Vicente Blasco Ibañez. Some of his works attracted the attention of Hollywood studios and became the basis of celebrated films, such as Blood and Sand and The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. At the south of the boardwalk, close to La Marina de València port, you can find famous restaurants such as La Pepica or Casa Isabel, which were visited, among other celebrities, by Ernest Hemingway and Orson Welles.

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La Marina de València Port

The old port of the city today is the Marina de València, a public space of one million square meters open to innovation and nautical activities. Located next to the Cabanyal town, La Marina de València has become an emerging sociocultural focus of the city. Culture, training and entrepreneurship coexist with sports, tourism and gastronomy, in a seafront that is already consolidated as a district of innovation. In this Valencian dock, historic buildings such as the old varadero coexist with the most avant-garde architectural proposals such as the iconic Veles e Vents. In addition to exhibitions, dance, art and music, at La Marina you can also enjoy very good cuisine; in the immediate vicinity you will find many more restaurants, first class hotels and the Marina Beach Club. With a climate that allows you to navigate every day of the year, all types of nautical activities are the focus in the area. If you are looking for something more relaxed, boats set sail from the dock to enjoy sunsets, meals, and parties on board.

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La Marina de València Port

Albufera Natural Park

Located just 10km from the city of Valencia, La Albufera, the largest lake in Spain, represents nature in its purest form, as an urban oasis surrounded by rice fields, forests, and beaches. It is the origin of one of the main dishes in Valencian gastronomy: la paella. In addition to paella, in the park you can visit towns such as El Palmar and taste other regional dishes, including all-i-pebre and the marinated llisa fish. In addition to boat trips, the park includes up to six marked routes to discover different species of water birds, local vegetation, and the life of real fishermen.

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Albufera Natural Park

El Saler Beach

El Saler beach is inside the limits of the Albufera Natural Park, in the the strip of sand that separates the Albufera from the Mediterranean Sea. This long beach, almost five kilometers long, is made of fine golden sand. Its greatest attraction is its extraordinary natural environment, since it is located in the Albufera Natural Park.

The beach is protected from the west winds by large coastal dunes. These dunes also protect a rich ecosystem that lives between the lagoon and the dunes. Several types of vegetation can be found in this area, such as pines, palms, kermes oak, pistacia lentiscus, and honeysuckle, and all of which provide homes for different species of birds where some are endemic. The dunes and meshes have been recently regenerated, after having been destroyed during the 1960s and 1970s with the intention of urbanizing the area. The urbanization project was halted thanks to neighborhood opposition, and the regeneration effort has consisted of several campaigns since 1988.

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