Valencia, the third largest city in Spain, was once known as a commercial port for container ships, with an annual traffic capacity of around 55 million tonnes of cargo. It’s other claim to fame is being the birthplace of the rice-based dish, paella.
However, considerable improvements to infrastructure over the last 10 years, have transformed the city into a truly cosmopolitan metropolis, hosting some of the most prestigious sporting events in the world.
Valencia is extremely diverse, from one area to another you can find yourself surrounded by completely different urban landscapes. In the historic centre of the city itself, one can find many turn of the century buildings including some that date back to the period of Arab domination, any buildings that have been modernised have incorporated the old walls into their structure. Palaces in this area have been restored, and in their place stand luxury restaurants and official Government buildings.
In stark contrast to the historical buildings and cobbled streets of the centre, is the City of Arts and Sciences. It is located where the old Turia River used to flow before it was redirected after the great flood in 1957. The old riverbed is now a sunken park allowing cyclists and pedestrians to cross the city without having to cross the main roads. The park, called the ‘Garden of the Turia’ features numerous ponds, paths, fountains, football pitches, cafés, art stalls, climbing walls, an athletics track and a Zen garden.
The City of Arts and Sciences is a state of the art, entertainment-based cultural and architectural complex, and is possibly one of the best reflections of the enterprising nature of the Valencian people.
The complex is made up of the following buildings:
L’Hemisfèric — Imax Cinema, Planetarium and Laserium. Built in the shape of an eye with an approximate surface area of 13,000 m².
El Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe — This resembles the skeleton of a dinosaur and is an interactive museum of science. It occupies around 40,000 m².
L’Umbracle — A landscaped walk with plant species indigenous to Valencia. Within the interior is The Walk of the Sculptures, an outdoor art gallery with sculptures from contemporary artists.
L’Oceanogràfic — An open-air oceanographic park. It is the largest oceanographic aquarium in Europe with 110,000 square meters and 42 million liters of water built in the shape of a water lily.
El Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía — an opera house and performing arts centre dedicated to music and the scenic arts.
Valencia is now one of the best connected regions in Spain, low cost airlines operate from both Valencia and Alicante airports, motorways link the municipality with Spain’s other major cities and in 2010 Spain’s high speed rail network will incorporate Valencia into its network.
All these improvements had to happen to ensure the city was suitably equipped to cope with the substantial increase in tourism instigated by prestigious sporting events including the Louis Vuitton Challenger Series – the Americas Cup and the Formula 1 Grand Prix urban street circuit.
Valencia invested some €520m in the infrastructure and in the port, making the marina the biggest and best in the Mediterranean able to accommodate superyachts, and improvements in the city have not stopped since.
Sport in Valencia
The Valencian government is continuing with its major infrastructural city projects regardless of the recession. Proof of this can be seen from its continued support of the new metro line which will link the city’s Serrano Towers with the new Formula 1 and Americas Cup neighbourhood.
Since the improvements have been made, hosting the America’s Cup in 2007 (now confirmed for 2010) just adds to Valencia’s record of great sporting events:
The F1 European Grand Prix – to be held in the City for at least another 6 years
The equestrian Global Champions Tour
The Red Bull Air race World Series
The World Indoor Athletic Championships
The ATP tennis Master Series tournament.
Valencia’s future is looking increasingly positive, with the return of the America’s Cup in 2010, the continuation of the F1 Grand prix, the brand new football stadium potentially hosting the 2010 Champions league final, the city being part of the Spanish/Portuguese bid for the 2018 football world cup and providing the sailing part of Madrid’s bid to host the 2016 Olympics, Valencia is certainly persisting and succeeding in putting itself well and truly on the map.
The growth in Valencia’s popularity has now made tourism a 12 month enterprise with over 2 million tourists visiting the city (population of 810,000 inhabitants) annually – an increase of over 200% since 2000. 10% of tourists are now visiting the city via cruise ships, a market that was non existent 10 years ago.
Property in Valencia
The Valencian property market has not suffered as acutely as other Spanish coastal locations, largely due to the fact that there has not been a lot of foreign investment made there over the last decade or so. In the past 8 years, property prices in Valencia have increased by approximately 240%.
Renovated, new modern apartments in prime, central locations of Valencia have been increasing steadily in price over the last couple of years despite the recession however, there are still many opportunities available to purchase un-modernised properties in excellent city locations. In this respect, Valencia still has quite an immature property market in comparison with other major Spanish Cities such as Madrid or Barcelona.
One could be looking at paying anything from €150,000 for a small 2-bedroom 1-bathroom apartment in need of renovation yet centrally located, to well over a million Euros for a large, modern 4 bedroom 4 bathroom penthouse overlooking the City of Arts and Sciences or parts of the Formula 1 street circuit towards the America’s Cup Marina.
Knowing where to buy is vital in any city, and although buying on a front line location within walking distance to the Marina sounds perfect, one really needs to research areas before making a decision. For example, not far from the beach and the Marina in Valencia – in fact, almost front line you can find some very grand properties, but choose the wrong location and you could find yourself under 100 metres away from areas of disrepute.
If living, or having a second home in a city is not your preference, but having the amenities of the city close by are, then there are many locations both inland and on the coast within the Valencian Community that are just under an hour away from the city itself.
Many of these locations have been affected by the recession and some cosmopolitan coastal resorts have recently seen reductions on property of up to 40%.
Lisa Francis is a property buyer for The Property Finders covering Valencia, Costa Blanca & Murcia
Contact: 0800 622 6745