Lifeguard station nº2

El Cabanyal, Valencia

Photo Credit: Sébastien Cordat

A few steps from the beach in El Cabanyal sits the Font de la Nau de l’Aigua, a gorgeous water fountain whose shape tells you a little bit about the history of this part of Valencia, Spain. Once known as Las Arenas, fishermen used to line the coast in thatched cabins casting for the day’s catch. Though most of that is gone now, hidden nods to earlier times still remain.

El Cabanyal, like so many other places in Valencia, is known for its mastery of tilework. A stroll down a local street will serve buildings clad in spectacular hand-painted tiles and fresh food markets where ornate tilework graces stalls selling fruit and vegetables. The most famous of all being La Lonja de Pescado, the longtime fish market of El Cabanyal.

Local Impressionist painter Joaquin Sorolla often took to the beaches here to depict coastal life – scenes of subjects relaxing on the sand or the return of fishermen – these idyllic views were threatened by time and the unending ambition of real estate developers. For years the town suffered a downturn, leading to a controversial plan that saw many homes destroyed in order to connect the inner city to the coast.

But more recently, the area has seen a resurgence as a kind of hot spot for tourists. Drawn perhaps to the tilework or the charm of the local markets, today El Cabanyal has been dubbed “one of the coolest neighborhoods in Europe.”

In large part, the beach has been at the center of the city’s modern success – whether for recreation, professional activities, or for leisure. On a beautiful sunny day visitors can look out to the water, admire the way the sun reflects off the surface and understand the essence of life in El Cabanyal – and rest assured if you become too captivated by the glimmering waters, life guards are standing by to ensure you make it safely back to shore.

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