Valencia’s beach to the North of the Port is divided into three areas; the Cabanyal, the Malvarrosa and the Patacona (For purposes of this article we divide it into four). However it really is just one long and very sandy beach with an excellent promenade that you will find people skating, cycling and jogging up and down every day all year round. The beach area is not overdeveloped as great measures have been taken to make sure that there was no massive property development that could spoil the feel of the area. However this has meant that for many years it was ignored. Now things are changing and even the Valencians are starting to appreciate what an underused and excellent asset the city has. To find out why we need to look back at the history of the city.
Valencia grew up during the growth of Spain hundreds of years ago and at that time the river was navigable up to the entrance to the city, the Torres Serranos. Marco Polo used to bring silks from the far East and trade them in the Lonja de la Seda (Now a World Heritage Site opposite the central Market in the city). Nevertheless over the years the river began to silt up and the boats could not get to the traditional city gates (Valencia at the time was a walled city so it was the only entrance from the river)
Little by little the boats got further away from the city until they were forced to dock at the edge of the Mediterranean rather than coming up the river. The City meanwhile had developed and its cultural, population and heritage centre was not going to change. Effectively the enclosed and walled city had turned its back on the sea.
The people who had traditionally lived by the sea meanwhile were fishermen and their families, boatmakers, sailmakers and more who had little to do with the city of Valencia over 4km away inland. They developed their own identities, had a different attitude and a totally different outlook on life from their city brethren.
This differentiation continued well into the 20th century and as Valencia the city grew it came to join up with the area by the coast until to the outsider it became a part of the city as a whole. However the people of the beach area still considered themselves apart. Their attitudes remained different, their allegiances were different (They support Levante football club not Valencia) they had different traditions (Easter parades are reminiscent of Granada and Sevilla rather than the more reserved Valencia) and the feeling in the barrios was still different to the city folk.
In the late eighties Blasco Ibañez Avenue was expanded and there was a plan to extend it through the Cabañal area from the Viveros park effectively dividing it into two. The locals were not happy and fought it bitterly. Over twenty years later there is still no solution to this impasse. Most of the people living in the beach area want rehabilitation and modernisation of the area whereas the local government continues to try and force through demolitions of historic property and the community and they have effectively blighted the area for over 20 years allowing decay, squatters and drugs to thrive in the area to be affected by the demolitions… if they ever happen.
This does not affect the vast majority of the beach area though and here is your little guide to what is what and where you can find it.
Valencia’s Port Area.
Extensively modernised for the 32nd America’s Cup of 2007 and then used again for the 33rd edition, the beach goes north from the port area and the Port itself is now the hub of a new plan for a technological park attracting new businesses into the area. Home to Formula One for a few years the area now has great potential, excellent communications with the metro lines coming in from the centre of the city and a brand spanking new superyacht marina. On the beachfront you get the best selection of Paella restaurants in the world and a huge and imposing five star hotel, Las Arenas, backing onto a squat and social housing ;-).
Property in this area known locally as the Canyamelar part of the Cabañal is excellently priced and with great potential for both rental and long term capital growth. Foreign buyers of property in Valencia seem to love the area for its gritty realism, its excellent restaurants and the vibe that is given off.
The central part of the Cabañal is dominated by the market and limited by the underground railway station which links the area up with the city centre in one stop. In this area you find a mix of older two story fishermen’s houses and 1950’s and 60’s four and five floor buildings mostly without lifts. All of the Cabañal area is just a few minutes walk from the Las Arenas beach and the population here tends to be a mixture of older residents mixing happily with the local student population who attend the nearby Valencia University.
To the east of the Station is the area that will be affected by the planned demolitions and it is scruffy, very scruffy. You can buy a property for a song here but the potential compulsory purchase may well put you off if the evident decay of the area doesn’t. Don’t worry though, it is just a couple of blocks before moving back into the Cabanyal itself. The Northern part of the Cabanyal has hundreds of beautifully tiled two story homes in various states of repair, rehabilitation or falling down. This is a property investor’s wet dream.
The Malvarrosa takes its name from the plant that used to grow wild about the beach area and it is a solid working class area of Valencia with excellent connections by bus into the centre and the marvellous beach just a few minutes walk. The property in the Malvarrosa ranges from apartments from around 40000 Euros up to million Euro houses on their own plots with superb sea views and amazing pool and gardens.
There is a buzz about the Malvarrosa area of the city that is different to the rest of the city, a feeling that people don’t belong to Valencia itself, an otherworldliness and friendliness that is created by the closely bonded community. As in any working class area there are a plethora of fruit and veg shops, a lack of chain stores, grubby corner bars serving surprisingly good food with very reasonable menus of the day and people standing around on street corners smoking, chatting and watching the world go by. Gentrification is happening in certain areas of the Malvarrosa but avoid the Casas Rosas area (One street) as despite the properties being virtually given away you wouldn’t want to live there)
The newest area of Valencia beach is the Patacona. Even just fifteen years ago there were fisherman’s huts here at the side of the Mediterranean which gave it a strange feeling when backed by the growing eight or nine floor buildings being constructed behind them. Then in one of those awful corruption scandals that always seem to involve Valencian politicians and constructors they were given compulsory purchase orders as they violated the coastal law and they were bulldozed. Conveniently this left some prime building land for the constructors to put some new restaurants, apartment blocks and more, conveniently forgetting the Coastal law, just as the building boom went to bust.
However it is not all bad, some old Palaces and houses were left which are now developing a huge buzz with the Llevant restaurant, the La Más Bonita cake shop, the Spaghetti and Blues restaurant/club and more taking off, the Patacona is now being recognised as an excellent place for families to hang out during the day overlooking the beach and for going out in the evening for excellent Mediterranean style food and drink with a sea breeze.
Property is more expensive here, built as it was just a few years ago, and there are a few skeletal buildings that may or may not get finished as the economy comes back to life but expect to pay roughly double per square metre in the Patacona than the Malvarrosa meaning we recommend the Malvarrosa or the Cabañal for that Spanish city seaside bolthole.
There are other areas of the city and elsewhere with coastal acccess of course. To the North of the City is the Port Saplaya Marina where people who maybe don’t have a superyacht but like sailing moor their boats. 4km into the city from the North it is a popular area with an ever growing permanent population rather than the 2 months of summer full and ten months empty feel of many coastal areas.
To the South of the Port you have the Nazaret area which is probably the cheapest real estate that stands direct onto the Mediterranean, (Including that in Africa) However it is not really recommended as it is out on a limb and separated from the rest of the beach area by the container port.