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El Carmen: a colorful neighborhood

Barrio del Carmen de valencia

The oldest neighborhood in Valencia, known as El Carmen, contains within it one of the streets with the most history: Calle del Museo, which has two curiosities that you cannot miss….

One is that you will be able to find the origin of Carmen and the one that gives its name to the area: the convent of Carmen Calzado which today has been given a new life turning it into one of the cultural centers with the most ambitious offer in the city: It is a hotel, a socio-cultural center, with events related to leisure and gastronomy of all kinds and what’s more, it’s an urban garden.

And the other… it has to do with cats, but we’ll tell you about it a little later.

First, we are going to locate ourselves a little in history…

The walls of Carmen

This neighborhood, considered the heart of Valencia, millenary, grew between two walls:

  • The Muslim: dating from the eleventh century that limited the eastern part of the city.
  • The Christian one that was formed already in the 14th century and that protected the city on the west.

It has created its own history: it was made up of orchards, suburbs and Muslim shelters; he was one of the brothels that became most famous in the Mediterranean, the largest monasteries of the city, is where the aristocracy has lived in luxury to later become a dirty and marginal area during the industrial revolution and is now one of the neighborhoods most colorful and jovial in Valencia.

Its main streets, from its origins until now, have been Serranos and Caballeros as a result of which the neighborhood was divided into two sectors:

  • The interior: dedicated to textiles and where locksmiths, blacksmiths and boilermakers settled after the reconquest
  • The exterior: where the suburbs were located, such as the Arrabal de Roters, Arrabal dels tints (which gives its name to the use of the dyers), La Blanquería (area for tanners, glovers and shoemakers) or El Partit (a regulated brothel)

Have you ever heard the phrase staying on the moon of Valencia?

The life of the city was hidden behind those walls, where at 10:00 p.m. they closed their doors to protect themselves during the night, thus leaving everyone who arrived late sleeping in the open “to the moon of Valencia” next to the Serranos bridge.

What you cannot miss in El Carmen

If you walk through this zone, you will find several of the fundamental monuments of Valencia such as the imposing Torres de Serrano or entrance to the city, the Torres de Quart another of the areas of the wall, the Portal de la Valldigna, La Plaza de la Virgen, El Miguelete, la Catedral de Valencia o la Church of San Nicolás (here you can get to know the Valencian Sistine Chapel in detail)

You will be able to discover the history of the city’s shelters, wander through its colorful and winding streets and you will find not only an infinity of street art, but also a large number of museums that will make you immerse yourself in the history of this wonderful city:

    • IVAM (Valencian Institute of Modern Art)
    • La Beneficencia Cultural Center: houses the Museum of Prehistory of Valencia and the Valencian Museum of Ethnology)
    • Casa-Museo del pintor José Benlliure
    • Centre del Carme
    • Museum of Prehistory of Valencia
    • L’Iber, Tin Soldiers Museum
    • Valencian Museum of Ethnology
    • Casa-Museo Benlliure
    • Museo del Corpus-Casa de las Rocas

Gastronomy in Carmen

You can find everything from luxury restaurants to tapas bars with supreme quality, very focused on Valencian and Spanish cuisine.

There are two that you cannot miss if you pass by, they are authentic and it is a mandatory stop to get to know our gastronomy well:

  • Tasca Angel (C/ de la Purísima 1): which is a traditional tavern, with fresh seasonal products. It is very small so you will have to go soon to get a seat, but it is worth it!
  • El Refugio (C/ de Dalt 42): restaurant with traditional dishes and an unmistakable fusion mix.

The famous tardeo of the Carmen

As we have said, this neighborhood is famous for the life and atmosphere that is breathed in its streets. It is one of the best places in Valencia to eat and then spend the afternoon listening to live music or enjoying the sun on one of its terraces.

And there are two key places: the area of Calle Caballeros where you will find the Unique, Bolsería and Fox Congo.

And our favorite place par excellence: the Plaza del Negrito, a beautiful square with several gambling dens where you can sit down and have a relaxed drink or start dancing inside the Ghecko, which also has a very original decoration.

Vintage shops

AHHH let’s not forget: you will find many vintage-style shops in the neighborhood at very good prices.

We leave you some recommendations:

Dare to get lost in the streets, you will find all kinds of extravagant shops that you can explore and it will become a fun experience if you like the world of fashion.

Live music at el Carmen

And as it is not for less, during the night you can also take the opportunity to listen to live music, in the city there is a huge cultural movement…

If you like jazz we recommend Jimmy Glass and if you like styles more like reggae, soul, drum and bass or funky you can’t miss Radio City.

Okay yes… in the end we haven’t told you the story of cats and what they represent in Valencia.

It turns out that on the same Calle Museo you will find the house of the cats, but it is not just any house…

According to what the locals say, it responds to a legend from the time of El Cid Campeador and which stated that Catholics thought that cats were diabolical creatures that also attracted bad luck. So after the reconquest of Valencia, it was decided to eliminate them all and not a single one would remain in the city.

But four cats survived.

So, over time, the artist Alfonso Yuste Navarro decided to pay homage to the survivors by creating a house for them and using the year 1094 as a reference, which is when the legend of El Cid dates from.

And since then it has been there, the felines of the city make great use of it and it is one of the places that the curious love to visit.

Would you like to know their secrets with us? Join our Art and Architecture Tour with tickets and thus discover the origins of Valencia.

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