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The most familiar place for me in the city of Valencia, where my stay counts a bit more than a month, is walking through or crossing the Turia. The folowing text is a combination of three different people and discussions: two discussions in time with my supervisor, with Petrina and the receptionist.
I went to Turia the first day of my arrival with my supervisor. He loves to introduce it to strangers, and that was a part of the first walk he chose for me. Our walk started with the phrase: “Vamos al Rio” and as the words provoked, I excpected to visit a river indeed.
His favorite part of this walk is when the stranger realizes that the river has no water flowing. Some characteristics of it though reveal that it is a river: it is below the surface of the city ,wide but mostly long. Its length counts almost 9km and cuts across the city from the westest to the eastest part. Moreover, there are old constructions made of stone vertically placed in the park that were meant to hinter water’s force. Finally, there are plenty of brigdes, old and modern ones to pass from the one side to the other.
It was in the 1957 when it was decided that the river should no longer cross the city. The reason was a flood when hundrends of people died. Though, it was not the first time that the river Turia overflowed. The city was expanding in such a way through the centuries that it was evoking the proper’s river flow. As a result the water remembered its previous path and overflowed against human cosntructions. It was in the ’60s when a barrier as constructed to send the river’s stream in the south “guerta” of Valencia. Then a problem occured and variable of solutions were suggested. What will happen with the river bed? Some suggested that it could be a highway. Some others that it could be a park. Both of the options were designed and with effort the citizens of Valencia managed to be a park crossing the city.
The fact that there are certain entrances to the river and that you change level from the rest of the city makes a special sense of this long park.
Even if it is not a river anymore, valencians keep calling it “el Rio”. I suppose they are entering a river indeed but with a subtle difference; the water is replaced by people flowing. Running, bicycling walking, dancing or staying still, having lunch , a nap or simply a quite moment. There are also different thematic parks or sport centres inside the river. Walking the river from the top to the bottom, we passed through so many different situations that riverpeople, that this walk was so stanning as if and we have been travellers through time.