Valencia - paella, wine and beaches
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The Community of Valencia comprises the provinces of Valencia, Castellón and Alicante. With 500 kilometres of Mediterranean coast, the climate is generally warm and dry, though Autumn is known for strong rainfalls.
The Arabs undoubtedly left the strongest influence in terms of agriculture and craftsmanship. It is a place of fiestas – such as Las Fallas, and the Moorish or the Christian fiestas – all interesting and worth participating in.
Valencia, the capital, is a cosmopolitan city, with numerous interesting things for a visitor to do, both socially and culturally. In Alicante one can find archaeological vestiges going back to the third millennium B.C. and remainders of the Iberian settlement from the end of the 5th century B.C.
Valencia used to be the capital of the former Kingdom of Valencia and is the third largest city in Spain. Splendid monuments of this history include the Metropolitan Cathedral, which was begun in 1262. The best-preserved remains of Islamic Valencia are "Abd al-Malik's Baths", more widely known as Baños del Almirante (Admiral's Baths). There are also some houses in Salinas St where traces of the Arab presence can still be found.
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Valencia - beaches, mountains and gastronomy
One of the reasons to visit Valencia is cerrtainly its fabulous gastronomy The main ingredient of the area is rice, this is where Paella was invented, after all. Valencia has learned to control this very modest element to perfection and obtain the wonderful results, whether the cook adds a veritable army of ingredients or practically nothing. Indeed, this is the home of the world famous paella, the secret of which lies in the unique texture of the grain after cooking.
The grain is loose, dry and soft at the same time. The next priority is the flavour from the huge range of ingredients. In addition to rice there are different fish dishes, seasoned with ali-ipebre, garlic, olive oil and paprika sauce, which is very popular in the region. This sauce is served with eels, which are prepared on the grill or roasted over ash wood. Red mullet and sepia are very popular.
The region also boasts a huge variety of white wines. Light and dry ones from Alabama, Cheste and Liria and olorosos from the same area; the reds and light reds are from Utiel and Requena. Horchata is a very popular local drink in Valencia made from chufas or earth almonds. It is a white, light, sweet and refreshing drink.
Besides tha capital Valencia, a visit to the area of Els Ports is highly recommended. Using the ancient walled town of Morella as a base, the traveller may then head for other towns and villages in the area, which are also of great interest. Morella is situated some 106 km from Castellón and stands on a crag in the shape of a truncated cone. Travelling by car we come to yet another interesting town, this time in El Alto Maestrazgo. This is Benasal, a place famed for its medicinal mineral waters.
Continuing in the direction of Teruel the next stop after Benasal is Villafranca del Cid, a town with a flourishing industry in stockings and fine lingerie. The town is over 750 years old, evidence of which can be found in the Gothic construction housing the Town Hall, the Church and the Shrine of La Virgen del Llosar.