The unique architecture of Cabanyal, Valencia: The Weekly Photo Essay

This week the Valencia Life photographer Paul Knowles explored the old fishing village of Cabanyal, Valencia. In doing so, he captured some of its unique architecture. Intro by Eugene Costello

Cabanyal was historically a fishing village quite separate to the city. Even though it is only 5km from the dead centre of the city of Valencia. This means that it has developed its own identity. An identity typified in its unique architecture. It is famed for the wonderful tiles on cottages that abound there. It has a less conservative, more outlaw feel than many parts of Valencia. Some see similarities with villages in Portugal, in fact. This is thanks, presumably, to the azulejos and cafes selling coffees and pastries one sees everywhere.

It was immortalised by Valencian painter Joaquin Sorolla, and on Calle de Mediteráneo one can see a mosaic based on one of his most famous works Sol de la Tarde, Playa de Valencia (Afternoon Sun, Valencia Beach), 1903. It shows powerful bulls pulling fishing boats onto the sands. And “the sands”, Las Arenas, is the name of the main beach in Cabanyal.

The times they are a-changin’…

A Valencian friend was recently explaining to me that, having grown up in Valencia, he felt little affinity with Cabanyal. It was a poor area, he explained, and pretty rough, in his view. So unless you worked on the boats, you wouldn’t really go there.

That has changed beyond recognition. The Guardian newspaper has named it the third coolest neighbourhood in Europe, and gentrification has now made it “hip” in the same way other working-class neighbourhoods such as Shoreditch, London, and Williamsburg, Brooklyn, are now deemed “hip”. Unfortunately for some early investors, predicting future hipness, they bought before the crash of 2008 and still have negative equity. That is changing rapidly, though, and the future looks as bright as the skies above the beach.

No trip to Cabanyal, Valencia, would be complete without a visit to Mercat de Cabanyal. Next, a coffee and a nibble at Ubik’s Cabanyal outlet. While there, have a browse through the attached bookshop, Batisfera, where they have a decent collection of English-language titles. They also have plenty of second-hand titles.

Cabanyal, Valencia – all life is here…  

Paul Knowles runs the number one, five-star rated AirBnb experience, Streets of Valencia Tours

Cabanyal Valencia
A stunning, freshly painted fisherman’s cottage © PAUL KNOWLES / VALENCIA LIFE
The legendary Casa Montana restaurant © PAUL KNOWLES / VALENCIA LIFE
Cabanyal Valencia
The view down Calle de la Barraca © PAUL KNOWLES / VALENCIA LIFE
Cabanyal Valencia
Funky street art adorning the side of the houses © PAUL KNOWLES / VALENCIA LIFE
Cabanyal Valencia
The road that leads you directly to Malvarrosa beach © PAUL KNOWLES / VALENCIA LIFE
Cabanyal Valencia
A beautiful example of the traditionally tiled cottages of the barrio © PAUL KNOWLES / VALENCIA LIFE
Cabanyal Valencia
Yet more street art, this time a mythical creature appearing from the side of a house © PAUL KNOWLES / VALENCIA LIFE
Cabanyal Valencia
Striking yellow ceramic tiles contrasting with the sky-blue façade of this fisherman’s cottage © PAUL KNOWLES / VALENCIA LIFE
Cabanyal Valencia
Another unique cottage, here in striking blue © PAUL KNOWLES / VALENCIA LIFE

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