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Blog: Exploring Alicante and Valencia, Spain

September 26, 2005 /

Alicante; Valencia, Spain

By Kirsten Kiser, Editor-In-Chief, arcspace.com

Alicante and Valencia on Spain's Eastern coast, a two hours drive apart, have plenty to offer architecture aficionados.

We started our 5 day arcspace tour in Alicante, the capital of the Costa Blancas.

The Castillo de Santa Bárbara is one of Europe's largest standing medieval fortresses, the bullring one of the oldest in Spain, the National Gymnastics Training Building is Enric Miralles' first major building, and Alvaro Siza's Rectory Building is one of our favorites.

The Castillo de Santa Barbara, with its high walls and domed turrets, sits on the summit of Mount Benacantil, overlooking the city and the Mediterranean Sea. The fortress looks like if carved out of the rock when viewed from the Hospes Amerigo's roof terrace.

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The bullring, built in 1849 and restored and enlarged in 1888, is one of the oldest bullrings in Spain still in use.

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The National Gymnastics Training Building CNAR, completed in 1993, was Enric Miralles' first major building.
Composed of a series of interacting elements, ground-scape, sky-scape and walls of varying permeability, it initiated a new building type in which a large audience focuses on individual performances, and therefore requires a setting less formal than that associated with team sports.
The building relates closely to its site, growing out of the hill and making visual and physical connections to all sides.
More in upcoming arcspace feature.

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Alvaro Siza's Rectory Building at the University of Alicante is thought of as a closed fortress defending itself, in the Hispano-Arabic manner, from the torrentially hot climate.
To enter the building from the main entrance visitors pass through the entire length of the courtyard; a sweeping open space, paved in tan colored sand, flanked by a stark single-storied arcade.

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Enjoy a stroll on the Explanada de España, along the harbour front, or walk around the narrow streets of the old town and you will always find a tapas bar....our favorite is Nou Manolin in the old town.

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Rent a car and drive along the coast to Valencia; a city with a wealth of new and old architecture.

Valencia has one of the largest remaining historical centres in Europe as well as Calatrava's City of Arts and Sciences, Norman Foster's Valencia Congress Centre, Borgos Dance & Partners restored Mercado de Colon and a planned extension to IVAM, Centre Julio González, by SANAA, Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa, as well as a planned Pavilion, by David Chipperfield Architects and b720 Architects of Barcelona, for the 2007 America's Cup.

The most important church the cathedral (La Seo), begun in the 13th century and completed 1482, represents several architectural styles. Its three doorways are respectively Romanesque, Baroque, and Gothic.

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Valencia has been called the city of the 100 bell towers, of which the most outstanding is the Gothic Miguelete Tower (1381-1424) adjoining the cathedral. Climb the 207 steps to the top for a panoramic views over the old quarter.

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Walk around the old city center to the nearby La Lonja de la Seda de Valencia (The Silk Exchange); a masterpiece of late Gothic architecture. La Lonja de la Seda de Valencia was added to the Unesco World Heritage List in 1996.

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The Mercado de Colon, with its soaring iron and glass vault, painted tiles, and ceramic flower kiosks, was originally designed by Francisco Mora in 1913. The building has been meticulously restored and added to in 2003 by Borgos Dance & Partners.

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The Valencia Congress Centre, by Norman Foster & Partners, is an asymmetrical oval form rising to a tall colonnaded entrance canopy. The Centre, completed in 1998, is oriented to respond to the climate and quality of light and shade, water and green spaces found in the city.
In plan the building forms a convex lens or "eye" defined by two arcing facades of unequal length.

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Photo courtesy Norman Foster & Partners

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Drawing courtesy Norman Foster & Partners

The architect of the present building of the IVAM are Emilio Gimenez and Carlos Salvadores. The new extension, by Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa/SANAA, will cover the whole block, including the exterior areas, in a transparent "Skin" that will increase the volume of the building and create new public spaces between the "Skin" and the existing building.
More in upcoming arcspace feature.

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Photo courtesy IVAM

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Image courtesy SANAA

The American's Cup Permanent Pavilion, by David Chipperfield Architects and b720 Architects of Barcelona, will be the centerpiece of the reorganisation of Valencia's industrial port into the base for the America's Cup. The design concept was conceived as a series of stacked and shifting horizontal planes, which create shaded, uninterrupted views.
More in upcoming arcspace feature.

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Image courtesy David Chipperfield Architects

The City is dominated by Calatrava's City of Arts and Sciences, set on the south-east bank of the dried-up river Turia that bisects the city.The white concrete, steel and glass structures are linked by vast pools of white mosaic. The final building within the complex, the Palau de les Arts for opera, is nearing completion.

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Our favorite Tapa bar Bodega casa Montaña, the most authentic tapas bar in town, located in a century old tavern in the area of "El Cabañal" near the port of Valencia. A high quality cellar committed to promoting and extending the culture of wine.

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Starting point: Hospes Amerigo and Palau de la Mar.

More in an earlier kk Letter:
From Santiago de Compostela to Porto, Murcia, Alicante and Valencia ...

Last updated: December 19, 2013

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