Valencia’s rich heritage is apparent throughout the city, but perhaps nowhere quite as much as in Valencia’s historic old town – La Ciutat Vella. The heart of Valencia’s city centre and the city’s first district, La Ciutat Vella boasts some of the city’s most beautiful historic buildings.
Here you can scour the Mercado Central for fresh produce on a sunny Saturday morning, wander leisurely through the many beautiful winding streets, take pictures of the street art in El Carmen, visit one of the many antique shops or relax on the Plaza de La Virgen or the Plaza Colegio Patriarca with a cold drink in hand. Truly, La Ciutat Vella is not to be missed!
La Ciutat Vella is divided into six smaller districts, of which El Carmen is the largest and best known.
The History of Valencia’s Old Town
The Ciutat Vella is the heart of Valencia city – the historic centre. “Ciutat Vella” means old town in Valencian, and that is exactly what the Ciutat Vella of Valencia is – a real old Spanish town as you would expect an old Spanish town to be. Historically, it has been home to Roman and Muslim settlements alike. In Roman times, La Ciutat Vella was a walled city, and the centre’s unique star-shaped layout has been attributed to Muslim settlers.
Today, you will find a variety of attractions in La Ciutat Vella, including The Valencia Cathedral and Mercado Central. What’s more, La Ciutat Vella has become one of Europe’s most vibrant and trendy tourist old towns. The district is divided into different neighbourhoods or ‘Barrios’. Of these, El Carmen (located directly below the Turia and the Mercat – the area Mercado Central) is the most famous.
Barrio El Carmen
One of the most charming neighbourhoods in Valencia, Barrio El Carmen is perhaps best known for its impressive street art and vibrant nightlife. Whether you’re looking for a bar, club or restaurant offering delicious Spanish cuisine, El Carmen should be top of your list.
Barrio El Carmen is also home to some of Valencia’s most historic buildings, including the Serrano and Quart Towers (which were once the old city gates), and is a bustling hub in the day, too.
Why Invest in El Carmen in Valencia
Despite rising prices, investing in El Carmen in Valencia’s vibrant old centre is an exciting opportunity. We’ll delve into property prices later. First, here are some reasons to fall in love with Valencian’s old city centre, particularly district El Carmen.
The Breathtaking Historic Buildings
While the other districts of Valencia are mainly populated with restaurants and bars, the city’s most beautiful historic buildings are predominantly found in the old town.
A wonderful example is Valencia Cathedral, located on the Plaza de la Reina, which dates from the thirteenth century. Here you can climb the Micalet tower for a beautiful view of the whole city. However, we wouldn’t necessarily recommend this in the height of summer!
Another example is the Lonja de la Seda, located next to the equally beautiful Mercado Central. In the fifteenth century, silk fabrics were traded in La Lonja de la Seda. The silk exchange has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1996.
You can also visit the hidden stained glass church called Iglesia de San Nicolás, along with the many museums such as the Museo Nacional de Cerámica (the ceramics museum). Beautiful on the outside and impressive on the inside.
Rich Gastronomy in District El Carmen in Valencia
The quality of the restaurants in the old town (and across Valencia) is fantastic. However, we’d recommend looking beyond the popular tourist spots and discovering the hidden gems that boast some of the most delicious food in the city. The beautiful squares, such as Plaza de La Reina and Plaza de la Virgen, offer many adjacent restaurants popular with tourists. While these are indeed good, we believe many lesser-known restaurants are even better. You will find a wide and varied range of cuisines in La Ciutat Vella. From American to Asian, and of course, many traditional Spanish options.
In El Carmen, these hidden gems are nestled in the smaller streets and squares. These offer fantastic quality and prices and denote the passion with which the food is made and presented.
A few of our favourite restaurants:
- Tinto Vino Ultramarino
A combination of Spanish and Italian tapas.
Address: Carrer de la Corretgeria 38
- Le Favole
If you want something different than Spanish tapas and are in the mood for a tasty Italian.
Address: Carrer de l’Hedra 5
- Bodega La Rentaora
Enjoy delicious Spanish tapas and dine amongst the Spaniards. A hidden gem.
Address: Plaça de Mossén Sorell 11
- Taberna el Olivo
Another gem located around the corner from La Rentaora. Especially lovely to sit on the terrace in the summer.
Address: Carrer del Pintor Fillol, 1
- La Comisaria
With only a small number of tables and an open kitchen, it is truly a very special place.
Address: Plaça de l’Arbre 5
- Vuelve Carolina
One of the restaurants of star chef Quique Dacosta located next to the El Ayuntamiento (town hall) square.
Address: Carrer de Correus 8
In Valencia, just like in any big city, you will find a wide range of delicious sushi restaurants, of which Tobiko is undoubtedly one of them.
Address: Carrer de Boix 6
The above restaurants are just a small selection from the range available, but they are worth a visit for an unforgettable dinner. Just don’t forget to make a reservation!
The Urban Vibe of El Carmen
Over the past ten years, El Carmen has developed into a modern and artistic district, attracting the younger generations. About ten years ago, El Carmen wasn’t quite the place it is today, but much investment has been made to make the city centre the lively place it is today. Today, El Carmen is a neighbourhood of small streets where many artists have indulged themselves on the walls between the traditional facades. You will find a lot of street art. You can even book a walking tour to see all the urban art.
El Carmen also has fantastic nightlife. This is mainly located around Plaza Negrito, Plaza Tossal and Calle Caballeros. You will not find large ‘discotheques’ in El Carmen, but mainly dance cafes. These open earlier than the Spanish nightclubs and also close earlier. There is always a good vibe in El Carmen on weekends and actually throughout the week.
El Carmen Has Good Investment Potential
In addition to the above reasons that make the old town of Valencia such a special place, we also consider the old town’s property market a principal reason to invest in the neighbourhood. We briefly mentioned that prices are very attractive throughout Valencia, including the prices in La Ciutat Vella. In fact, they are about half those of the property prices in the centre of Spain’s other main cities of Madrid and Barcelona.
Property Prices in El Carmen
As of April 2020, property prices in La Ciutat Vella increased on average by 3.6% compared to the beginning of 2019. However, house prices here are still about 11% lower than they have ever been before the crisis. If we look specifically at the El Carmen district, we can see that prices there have dropped by 5.6% compared to February 2019. This is partly due to the current limitations that mean you can no longer get a tourist rental permit in El Carmen (meaning you cannot rent your property for short periods). This officially applies to the entire old town and unofficially to the whole of Valencia city. This limitation has caused investors to move to other areas for tourist rental.
Nevertheless, it remains an interesting opportunity because the demand for medium and long-term rentals is still high. There will always be a demand to buy and rent here. As such, the old centre of Valencia will always keep its value. El Carmen is certainly a popular place to live, especially among young people and students. As such, we expect prices to rise again here. For comparison, look at the prices of the nearby suburb of El Mercat. In 2020, house prices there increased by 23.7% from February 2019!
Valencia Old Town – Price Change Per m2
Roughly, the old city centre has an average property price of 2837 euros per square meter. Of course, this depends on the property’s condition and location. There are sometimes also significant differences at the street level.
Furthermore, in the following table, you can see how prices have changed previously per district of La Ciutat Vella.
Valencia Old Town – price Change Per Neighbourhood
Discover Valencia’s Old City Centre
Even though prices are still favourable and La Ciutat Vella of Valencia is one of the most beautiful old city centres in Spain, the old town is not suitable for everyone as a place to live. You mainly need to know where to look.
Because there are many small streets in El Carmen, many houses are very close together. In any case, we advise our customers to look for an apartment on a high floor that provides sufficient daylight.
We can also advise you which streets remain busy for a little longer into the evening than in other, quieter streets. After all, we all want to sleep well at the end of the day. But everything depends on your personal preferences.
Dream Properties Valencia is happy to help you search for a dream apartment in El Carmen in this wonderful and unique city centre of Valencia. We can advise you where to buy, the advantages and disadvantages and help you to discover this beautiful old town from a property point of view. We have access to the full range of properties and are happy to help you find your dream property.
Need more information? Feel free to contact us!
Alternatively, discover more about the other districts of Valencia here.