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Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

Life in Valencia’s Ensanche district: Pla del Remei and Gran Vía

Mercado ColónPerhaps one of Valencia’s most traveled districts, the Ensanche, or the Eixample as it is known in Valencian, comprises the three neighbourhoods of Pla del Remei, Gran Vía and Ruzafa. Here we will focus on the first two that encompass many of Valencia’s most iconic sights, endowing it with the status as one of the more desirable cities to live in Spain. Conforming to its name (in Spanish the word ‘ensanche’ means ‘expansion district’), in the second half of the 19th century, the Ensanche was merely an extension of the city of Valencia, straddling the Gran Vía Marqués del Túria in a weave-like pattern of  blocks of roughly 100 metres in length. The Ruzafa district boasts a distinct urban feel to that of either the Pla del Remei or Gran Vía, as it existed much earlier as an independent municipality from the city itself; it wasn’t until 1877 that it was finally incorporated to form part of Valencia.

Plaza de América buildingThe Pla del Remei district extends in a rectangular fashion, bordered by the Calle Colón, Calle Ruzafa, the Gran Vía del Marqués del Túria and the Avenida Jacinto Benavente (which runs parallel to the former river bed that divides the city). This district stands out for palatial buildings in modernist and rationalist architectural styles, occasionally featuring touches of Art Deco. Here you will find perhaps the most stunning of them all: the Mercado de Colón, Valencia’s modernist jewel which was fully renovated in 1993. The patchwork of streets making up the area include the Calle Colón, the city’s main arterial street lined with shops, Calle Jorge Juan, with its myriad of fashion boutiques, and the Calle Cirilo Amorós, with branches specialized in interior design and décor.

Just a few metres from Pla del Remei stands one of the most renowned new builds in the city of Valencia: the Plaza de América. Built to the highest specifications, this pristine building boasts an interior by Vicente Navarro, one of the city’s most prestigious design studios.

Barona de Valencia building by GoerlichCrossing over the Gran Vía Marqués del Túria, which meets with the Avenida Reino de Valencia and the Avenida Jacinto Benavente to form a triangle, you will find yourself in the Gran Vía district, bursting with restaurants, bars and pubs. The fact that so many of these fine dining and high-end establishments can be found in one place results in a thriving nightlife all year round, especially on streets such as Calle Císcar and Conde Altea, mostly frequented by tourists with high purchasing power. Over the years, restaurants in this area have come to replace the nightlife hub which was once synonymous with the Plaza de Cánovas del Castillo, home of the legendry Dúplex pub in the 80s, whose interior and furniture was designed by Javier Marsical and Nacho Mascardó. Gran Vía is also known for some of the city’s finest architectural masterpieces, including work by Javier Goerlich, Head Architect of the Valencian Town Council from 1931 to 1956, a leading figure in the architectural transformation of the city which took place in the 20th century.

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