Lonely Planet Writer

Valencia’s long-awaited ‘Central Park’ is finally open

The first stage of Valencia’s ambitious Parque Central project has been unveiled, offering visitors an expansive green space by one of the city’s most popular neighbourhoods.

The amphitheatre – part of phase 2 of the development. Image by Gustafson Porter + Bowman

The near 11-hectare (110,000-metre) garden, including 1000 trees, 85,000 bushes and 70 herb species, is part of a larger project which will eventually see the city’s main train lines moved underground.

The first stage of Valencia’s ambitious Parque Central project . Image by Valencia Parque Central Alta Velocidad 2003 S.A

Connecting the vibrant Russafa barrio with Malilla, the project aims to unite neighbourhoods divided by train tracks. The plan for an urban park in the area was first discussed in the 1980s, according to El Pais (article in Spanish).

The park includes a flower and orchard garden. Image by Kike Taberner

The first stage, built on the site of an old rail yard, represents 40% of the total park. Open to the public from 8am-7pm (till 9pm, March-October), the park includes several fountains, a children’s playground and climbing wall and a flower and orchard garden. Train sheds from the old rail yard have also been incorporated into the design.

Considered one of the city’s most significant urban redevelopments in recent history, the completed park will spread 23 hectares (230,000 metres) and cost €73 million. The park will eventually spread to the site of the current Joaquín ​Sorolla train station, which will be decommissioned for a new station, Estación Central, integrated with the existing Estació del Nord.

The North Plaza. Image by Gustafson Porter + Bowman

Though the timeline on subsequent stages is unclear, the final park will include a lake and amphitheatre. The design, overseen by landscape architect Kathryn Gustafson, from Gustafson Porter + Bowman, is inspired by the poem ‘Aigua plena de seny’ (Water full of wisdom), by Valencian Ausiàs March.

“Our design acknowledges Valencia’s unique position as a major trading and cultural centre in European history and its location between several ecological habitats: the Turia River reserve, the agricultural plain (La Huerta), the Albufera Natural Park and the Mediterranean Sea,” Gustafson Porter + Bowman say on their website.

For more information, visit here. (information available in English).  

Words: Robert Kidd