In 1957, Valencia experienced a devastating flood that forever changed the city’s relationship with the Turia River. Nearly 3/4 of the city was inundated by floodwater and over 60 people lost their lives. The following year, the city embraced a plan to divert the river around its western outskirts to the Mediterranean Sea.
A park wasn’t the city leadership’s first idea—in an effort to alleviate traffic congestion, they envisioned an elaborate highway system through the heart of the City. But by 1970 the citizens pushed back and protested the highway proposal under the motto “The bed of Turia is ours and we want green!” By the end of the decade, the City approved legislation to turn the riverbed into a park and commissioned Ricard Bofill to create a master plan in 1982. The plan created a framework for the riverbed and divided it into 18 zones. Currently, all but one of the zones has been developed.
The resulting design establishes a monumental 5 mile green swath within a dense and diverse urban fabric, including the historic center of the city, and has an average span of 600 feet, from bank to bank. The park comprises over 450 acres and is characterized by bike paths, event spaces, active recreation fields, fountains, and many notable structures.
A bit more history and a lot of pics of the park in the former riverbed.
Fun fact: now the traffic bridges don’t go above the river, they go above the park.
Openstreetmap, for those interested in a detailed view.
Do you know of any other weird parks like this?
Thanks for this, I was in Valencia recently, noticed that the park looked like it used to be a highway, but couldn’t find the history of it. It’s definitely different, in a good way.