Situated in the ciutat vella, or old town, Valencia’s Barrio del Carmen is in many ways where you’ll encounter the soul of the Spanish coastal city. Once sandwiched between the 11th-century Muslim wall and the 14th-century Christian one, it’s a neighborhood packed with history, dating back over 1,000 years.
You can still see remnants of its distant past among El Carmen’s streets. The most impressive of these sights certainly includes the medieval towers, Torres de Quart and Torres de Serrano, both of which once belonged to the now-destroyed Christian wall. Then there’s the Portal de Valldigna (located on the street of the same name) that once served as the gate through the former Muslim wall to the Moorish and Jewish quarter. And the past also lives on in the district’s name, derived from the 13th-century Convent of Carmen, which is now a museum dedicated to the 19th century.
These days, El Carmen is hardly just about the past, though, as this barrio makes up arguably the most hip, trendy and bohemian in town. It’s home to a diverse population of people, and of course the mix of establishments that they frequent. As such, expect to find a healthy concentration of eclectic restaurants, shops, and especially bars since El Carmen is quite noted for its nightlife. The neighborhood is also blanketed by street art, ranging from colorful graffiti to wood installations, and message-filled murals that cover the sides of entire buildings.
Barrio del Carmen spans the northern portion of the old town. Though Calle de Caballeros (or Carrer dels Cavallers, in Valencian) is considered a main drag of sorts, the bulk of the area’s offerings are hardly limited to this east-west avenue.