Updated: 2 days ago
From decorative facades to curved detailing and organic motifs, Spain's Modernista movement made for some striking architecture.
Rooted in Catalonia, the renowned Spanish Modernism, or Modernisme, movement was led by Barcelona's artistic elite, and it profoundly influenced the enchanting city of Valencia, just down the coast.
In this weekend break Valencia guide, we will take you around the story of this artistic and architectural phenomenon, celebrating its long-lasting impact on Valencia architecture and the city's cultural landscape.
When you travel to Valencia, stay in one of the vibrant neighbourhoods that showcase the city's stunning architecture. Dotted around Valencia's historic centre and the Eixample district is a delightful selection of boutique hotels that place you right in the heart of these architectural treasures.
We've gathered some of the top modernist-inspired hotels that will allow you to fully appreciate the city of Valencia's architectural splendour while enjoying a comfortable and memorable stay, ideal for a weekend trip to Valencia.
with its elegant facade and stylish interiors, provides a luxurious retreat just steps away from Mercado Central. Its blend of modern comfort and classic charm perfectly fits the surrounding modernist buildings, creating a harmonious setting for your stay.
Offers an opulent stay with Modernista influences throughout the meticulously restored historic building. Set in the bustling Eixample district, this hotel is just a short walk from some of the most famous buildings in Valencia, the main train station and the majestic modernist Central Market.
Find the Palacio Vallier boutique hotel just a short stroll from the newly pedestrianised Plaza de la Reina on the edge of Valencia's old town. With a carefully curated blend of modernist elements and contemporary design, this hotel offers a unique and immersive experience in the city's architectural wonders.
Modernisme Cultural Heritage in Valencia
A city known for its rich cultural heritage, Valencia embraced Modernisme as a means of expressing the region’s evolving identity and embracing progress. The city’s expansion to the outskirts of its medieval walls, to accommodate its growing population and flourishing middle-class, helped harness the modernist manifestation in Valencia that lasted until the 1920s.
Architecturally, modernist buildings in Valencia exhibit intricate facades featuring floral and organic motifs, many inspired by the city's agricultural surroundings. The incorporation of wrought ironwork and colourful ceramics are also important aspects of modernist influences. Notable examples include the city’s Central Market (Mercado Central) and the North Station (Estación del Norte).
Valencia’s modernist movement went beyond buildings to incorporate other art forms, including painting, sculpture and the decorative arts. Artists such as Joaquín Sorolla, and Ignacio and José Pinazo, stand out for exploring modernist aesthetics in their artworks, capturing the essence of the city and its people through vibrant colours and dynamic compositions.
Meander around Modernista delights
For lovers of architecture, you’ll be pleased to hear that some of the top places to visit in Valencia are defined by their emblematic modernist style.
In the heart of the city’s Old Town, Mercado Central is a striking example of modernist architecture, with its intricate facade featuring ornate details, colourful patterned ceramics and wrought ironwork. Aside from admiring the impressive face and interior structure, one of the lovely things to do in Valencia is to explore the many bustling market stalls selling local produce daily in this unforgettable space. Or simply sipping an ice-cold horchata tiger nut milk drink or a beer in one of the market’s bars.
Estación del Norte
Perhaps one of the most eminent buildings in Valencia, the city’s North Station, Estación del Norte, was completed in 1917. This building blends all the modernist influences of the decorative arts. Designed by Demtrio Ribes, the facade facing toward the Plaza del Ayuntamiento, is adorned with mosaics and titles that depict Valencian culture in full colour, with Valencia oranges and the city’s shield as the central emblem. Similar tiled and organic designs continue in the arched interior - it’s a beautiful place to visit, even if you’re not taking the train.
Edificio de Correos
Positioned proudly fringing the city’s main square, Plaza del Ayuntamiento, you can’t miss the impressive Edificio de Correos (Post Office). Standing out for its eclectic style and predominant modernist elements, including its entrance and turret. This beautiful building was designed by the architect Miguel Ángel Navarro and was built in 1922.
The quirky facade of this building exudes a modernist style with colourful floral features, right in the centre of the Eixample neighbourhood. The works of the architect Vicente Ferrer, the residential building was commissioned by the architect’s father for a new family home.
Built by the architect Francisco Mora, the modernist-inspired metallic structure of this building features an open brick and ceramic entrance and is now home to a wealth of gastronomic stalls and pop-up markets. Inaugurated in 1916, Mercado de Colón is one of the most photogenic buildings in the city.
Edificio del Reloj
The emblematic clock overlooking Valencia’s marina is one of the most beautiful architectural elements of the coastal neighbourhood of Poblats Maritims. Well worth taking a trip down here, as we’d put visiting this vibrant coastal district as one of the top things to do in Valencia outside the city’s bustling centre.
A former manufacturing hub of small machinery and hydraulic pumps and values, the old Bomba Gens factory is now home to La Fundació Per Amor a l’Art permanent collection of artworks and various temporary exhibitions. Another impressive example of modernist architecture that you’ll find on Avenida de Burjassot.
Palacete de Ayora
Centrally positioned in the 17,000 m2 Ayora Gardens in the neighbourhood of Ayora, the eclectic Palacete de Ayora features a modernist style with classical influences. The palace and its gardens were designed by the architect Pelegrín Mustieles.
Where to eat in Valencia Modernista
Tracing back the roots of Modernism through this vibrant city is hungry work, so why not pick out your restaurants before you go? Here are some of our favourite places to soak up the ambience as you refuel for the rest of the day.
There’s no better way to start your day than savouring some local Valencian delicacies and fresh produce in elegant surrounds.
Set just steps away from the elegant Market of Ruzafa, Blackbird cafe is our perfect pick for sunny mornings. Think flaky pastries, indulgent muesli bowls and thick-cut toast laden with smashed avocado, dark cherry tomatoes and a sprinkling of feta cheese.
For lunch and dinner
With a modern menu and crisp, clean interiors just off the main artery of Gran Via, this establishment offers a fine dining experience with authentic Valencian influences. Sit by the bar to enjoy the atmosphere, or call ahead to reserve your table.
Set in the spectacular interiors of the Central Market, this bar by Ricard Camarena offers an exquisite breather during your day of exploration. Savour the Michelin-starred chef’s take on local tapas, including grilled calamari, pig’s ear and Valencian tomato salad.
Set in the heart of Canovas, this Michelin-noted pick offers a fantastic selection of 21 rice options that bring back images of 20th-century Valencian life. We recommend ordering your paella ahead of tine, then starting your evening with the Goya-style squid mayonnaise and some smoked salmon and aubergine.
Set on the buzzing streets of Ruzafa, this family-run bar offers a seasonal Mediterranean cuisine with an ever-changing menu that makes use of Valencia’s abundant fresh produce. Winner of a Bib Gourmand and mentioned in the Michelin Guide, 2 Estaciones offers fantastic cuisine at fair prices.
Map your route
With very little planning, you can find excellent examples of modernist architecture with a simple stroll around the vibrant neighbourhood of Eixample and stretching slightly further afield to the coastal neighbourhood of Cabanyal and the shoreline fringes. And, wherever you go in the city, don’t forget to look up, as you never know where you’ll spot a lasting legacy of Modernisme.
Hidden surprises in the city
As you stroll the city’s pathways, you’ll find plenty of examples of modernisme beyond the major sites.
Step into the city’s main square, Plaza del Ayuntamiento and observe the many surrounding buildings that exhibit the unique characteristics of Modernisme, with their intricate facades and decorative details. Find the Suay Building on the corner of Calle Correos, with its wrought iron balconies, geometric patterns and statement asymmetric spears that protrude from the central facade.
The Edificio Banco de Valencia on Calle Pintor Soraya on the edge of the old town showcases the intricate ornamentation and elaborate details that are characteristic of the modernist architectural style. This building’s presence adds a touch of grandeur to the cityscape and serves as another testament to the rich architectural heritage of Valencia.
Moving to the Eixample area, near the street Gran Via Marques del Turia, discover several notable buildings that feature modernist influences. Casa Ortega, and Edificio Chapa, featuring intricate ironwork, colourful tiles, and ornate facades, are some of the most characteristic buildings of Valencian modernism. Exploring these streets allows you to further appreciate the beauty and craftsmanship of this movement first-hand.
As you head towards Valencia’s port, Modernisme architectural elements can be seen in the Tinglados del Puerto. These large warehouses, situated by the marina, possess a remarkable aesthetic appeal. Their design, with elements inspired by Modernisme, adds to the overall beauty of the area and creates an atmosphere of charm and elegance.
While the city of Valencia is stunning, have you considered pairing it with a nearby beach break? Head just over an hour south of Valencia and Denia sits squarely on the beautiful Costa Blanca. A bustling beach town that is popular year-round, explore our Valencia city break guide to Denia. Here lies a treasure trove of history, exquisite culinary experiences, and a coastline adorned by magnificent blue waters.