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The Amazing History of Valencia's Turia Garden

It's impossible to miss Turia Garden when visiting Valencia. At over five miles long, the Jardí del Túria is one of the largest urban parks in the country. It snakes through the city and creates beautiful greenery and public spaces accessible from many parts of Valencia.

The park bisects the city from west to east, and it was fun getting to choose which of the eighteen bridges (some modern and others ancient-looking) to cross to get from one part of town to the other. Why so many bridges? The entire park used to be the Turia River. It traveled straight through the city of Valencia until a major flood in 1957 convinced the city to make some changes. After the flood left three-quarters of the city underwater, they undertook a massive project to divert the river. Now, the Turia turns south a ways west of the city and feeds into the Mediterranean around three miles south of its original route.

The city has since developed the dry riverbed into public green spaces. There are futbol fields, children's playscapes, gardens, the City of Arts and Sciences complex, and Gulliver Park. There is a running path complete with kilometer markers and a designated bike lane that goes the whole length of the park.

I felt safe walking home through the park past dark thanks to how well-lit it was and how many other people were there, walking dogs or enjoying a nighttime jog. Gulliver Park is a playscape for kids designed after the Jonathan Swift character, and it's quite a popular site.

It was really cool to enjoy this landscape that came out of an environmental crisis of constant city flooding. While the city first thought of turning it into a highway system to ease traffic, residents insisted on keeping it green. And what a wonderful result they have gotten. The city is working on channels for the river and mitigating the long-term impact of diverting the waterway. It was awesome to experience all this public green space, and the park overall was one of my favorite parts of the city.

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