The Modernist Face of Valencia
05 April, 2016
Valencia is not all Calatrava and paella, just as Barcelona does not account for all of Spain’s Modernist buildings – well, someone had to say it! Clichés aside, if there is anything the first-time visitor to Valencia is likely to be amazed at it is the sheer quantity and quality of its Modernist heritage. It hits you as you wander down its streets, particularly in the historic centre and the Ensanche.
Valencia saw marked urban development in the late-19th century, the upshot of its economic boom at the time. The city grew beyond its old walled precinct, giving rise to an overspill known as the Ensanche. The expansion coincided with one of the burgeoning art movements of the moment, one that would become all the rage among Europe’s middle classes. The movement became known as Modernism, elsewhere dubbed Art Nouveau, Modern Style, Jugendstil, Liberty or Floreale, depending on the country. Not to be outdone, the Valencian middle classes became enthralled by this new style, which a marked a break with the prevailing academic tradition. Its artificers were inspired by nature and experimented with new applications of iron and glass in architecture.
Valencian Modernism is characterised by the use of glazed ceramics on facades and in interiors, which usually feature motifs associated with the region, notably oranges and orange blossom. Among the standout buildings, which you should make a point of visiting on your itinerary of Valencia’s Modernist heritage, are the following:
- Mercat Central. Built in 1914 and designed by Francesc Guàrdia i Vial and Alexandre Soler, both of whom trained at the Barcelona School of Architecture, this is one of the city’s major tourist attractions and it’s not for nothing. The interior metallic structure is painted white, making the colours of wares sold in the stalls stand out all the more. Further, visitors are met by the striking, spectacular central dome, which floods the interior with light. Both the stunning architecture and the congenial atmosphere in the market make this a must-visit for all sightseers in the city.
- Mercado de Colón. Inaugurated in 1916 and designed by Francisco Mora Berenguer, it was commissioned to provide services for the Ensanche district. Prominent is the ornamented brick facade, decorated with a host of ceramic figures – it couldn’t be otherwise! Restored in 2003, the interior now houses various shops, cafés and bars.
- Estación del Norte. Passengers arriving in Valencia by train are rewarded with the sight of this marvellous station. Opened in 1917, it boasts some beautiful areas, notably the vestibule, decorated in wood, glazed ceramics and marble.
- Casa Ordeig. Located next to the Mercat Central, it was designed by Francisco de Mora i Berenguer. He drew inspiration from the Lonja de la Seda (Silk Exchange), which accounts for the Neo-Gothic motifs on the facade.
- Edificio Suay. This grand edifice with its white facade is located on the corner of Calle Correos and the Plaza del Ayuntamiento. It was designed by the same architect as the Casa Ordeig.
- Edificio de los Dragones. Located on the corner of Calle Sorni and Calle Jorge Juan, it was designed by José María Manuel Cortina Pérez and built in 1901. Its Neo-Gothic-inspired decoration is striking and features a profusion of mythical animals, particularly dragons – hence its name.
Apart from the aforementioned landmarks, we recommend you take a stroll along Calle de la Paz, where you will come across numerous Modernist buildings, including the Edificio Camaña Laymon, Edificio Sancho, Casa Gray, and Casa Sagnier I and II.
Ready to discover one of Valencia’s most alluring and evocative architectural facets? Book your flight here.
Text by Los Viajes de ISABELYLUIS
Images by Jocelyn Kinghorn, Marja van Bochove, Carquinyol, Pleuntje, Paul Thompson
05 April, 2016