Updated: Apr 20
Capital of Design Valencia celebrates in style.
Every two years since 2008, the World Design Organization has recognised a special city with outstanding architecture, and urban design that drives civic engagement, attracts businesses and appeals to discerning tourists. During a year-long showcase, the city can demonstrate its best practices in design-led urban policy and architectural innovation.
Combining the application of Mediterranean design with a thriving creative sector, Valencia has become an urban open-air art gallery. Valencia was named the World Design Capital for its striking infrastructure, notably the Turia Gardens, found in the old channel of the Turia river, which is a 10-mile stretch of gardens, cycling paths and jogging routes - a key thoroughfare for people moving around the city.
Prestigious events to celebrate the city's iconic architecture are being held throughout the year at various historical landmarks. These events focus on six main pillars; health and well-being, didactics of design, economy and innovation, heritage and identity, environmental sustainability and equity, inclusion and diversity.
Events worth visiting Valencia for in June include a Film & Design Festival and the World Design Experience Festival. September will be marked by a World Design Street Festival in the Turia Gardens and another celebration of interior design.
Why Valencia is the world design capital
If you’ve ever walked through Valencia’s charming streets, dramatic boulevards, and colossal urban parks, you’ll know why we say that Valencia has a millennia-long legacy of outstanding design. It’s the land of creativity, where tradition meets modernity, nature meets futurism, and artists fall in love.
Valencia's diverse architecture weaves a rich tapestry of intermingled societies. Founded more than 2,000 years ago, it has been marked by several great civilisations. Roman ruins lie beside Visigoth remains, grand Arabic walls and Gothic palaces.
From the gothic Lonja de la Seda, the 15th-century Silk Exchange, and Ignacio Vergara’s 19th-century Baroque facade at the Ceramics museum to the 20th-century art nouveau Central Market and the futuristic City of Arts and Sciences, hundreds of generations have influenced Valencia’s architecture and Mediterranean culture.
This mix of modernity and history coexists perfectly within the accepting environment of Valencia. Buildings that would look out of place anywhere else appear perfectly at home in Valencia. Notably, the impressive City of Arts and Sciences is an educational complex that enhances and balances with the natural environment.
Built towards the end of the 20th Century and designed by world-famous Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, The City of Arts and Sciences is found at the end of the Turia Gardens, where the mouth of the river would have originally been.
A vast avant-garde complex comprising glass, white concrete and steel, reflected in the surrounding ice-blue pools, this futuristic zone is as striking on a clear summer day as it is when floodlit at night.
Easily explore the design capital of the world
- Agenda / Valencia World Capital of Design 2022
Navigating Valencia's meandering streets to visit the various site has been made easy with an interactive map app. The Valencia Design Map shows locations and routes to the art galleries, architectural masterpieces, cafés, and restaurants that make Valencia so unique. Search by neighbourhood or theme and be sure not to miss a thing.
What makes Valencia so special?
Valencia is a truly unique city and the first within Spain to have been given such a regal title, joining the ranks of global cities such as Seoul, Mexico City and Cape Town as a visionary city, leading innovation and design. Valencia was worthy of this great honour and might be the most deserving winner yet. Here’s why!
- City of Arts and Sciences, Valencia
1- The city's design heritage has evolved over millennia to be an eclectic mix of styles and influences, making it stand out even from its neighbours.
2- The events programme features one-of-a-kind celebrations such as the fiery and somewhat feral Fallas Festival. And Valencia being Valencia, we expect many more processions, marching bands and beautiful dresses to follow.
3- Each neighbourhood has its unique art. See ceramic tiles made and painted in exquisite Mediterranean blue designs along the streets of Manises, and wander the streets of El Carmen, admiring modern street art. This adds to the feeling of Valencia being an extensive collection of interlinked villages rather than a fully-fledged city.
4- Valencia is very accessible; most design landmarks are a short distance from each other and within walking distance of the centre. Cycling around the city is also easy, owing to its bike-share scheme and lack of hills.
5- Valencia boasts a lively and vibrant cultural lifestyle with museums, art galleries (notably, the Museum of Fine Arts), and incredible parks dotted with families having picnics and friends kicking around a ball on a summer’s day.
Undoubtedly, 2022 will be a year to remember for the new Capital of Design, the Mediterranean city of Valencia. With so much to see and celebrate this year, we’ll keep an eye on the programme to experience as many festive events as possible.
Even if you've visited Valencia before, there's much more to see and experience in this idyllic Mediterranean city. Valencia has a remarkable history, exquisite cuisine, beautiful architecture and charming landscapes where ancient memories meet modern design.
Now is the time to select where to stay to discover this incredible city, and we have some excellent recommendations for you to read.