The Turia Garden, first project of World Design Spotlight

The Turia Garden, first project of World Design Spotlight

The Turia Garden is one of the largest urban parks in Spain. It runs through the city along nine kilometres of green space boasting foot paths, leisure and sports areas, and romantic spots where you can unwind. From Cabecera Park to the City of Arts and Sciences, the Turia Garden is the perfect place for runners, cyclists, families and nature enthusiasts. Crossed by 18 bridges full of history, the former riverbed passes by the city’s main museums and monuments on either bank.

This symbolic character, and the relationship of this project with the memory of Ricardo Bofill (1939-2022), make it the inaugural proposal of World Design Spotlight: the celebration of design in València. The first of 52 projects that will serve as a tribute to the community of designers who, from the local level, enhance the image of the city, its projects, its companies and its initiatives, to the whole world.


The vast gardens are built on the former riverbed of the Turia, whose course was altered to prevent constant flooding in the city. After a devastating flood on 14 October 1957, the Turia’s course was diverted south of the city, leaving a huge tract of land that crosses the city from West to East, bordering the historical centre. Several urban planners and landscapists designed different sections of the park, recreating the former river scenery. They created a unique itinerary of palm trees and orange trees, fountains and pine woods, aromatic plants and ponds, sports facilities and rose beds.

After different social movements (El llit és nostre i el volem verd) and popular mobilizations, in 1979 the transfer of ownership of the old river bed to the city was achieved, as well as its final approval as a green area and public park, ruling out its use as a axis of road and rail communications.

Several urban planners and landscapists designed different sections of the park, recreating the former river scenery.


The gardens were inaugurated in 1986. The Cabecera Park and Bioparc border the huge gardens to the west, and the futuristic City of Arts and Sciences border it on the opposite side, near the mouth of the river. There are many other interesting stops along the way. In the huge Gulliver park, children can climb onto the fingers, hair and legs of a giant, 70m recumbent figure and slide down them like Lilliputians.


The well-known architect Ricardo Bofill designed the section of the garden in the noble area of the city, with orange and palm trees, the area next to the Palau de la Música.

Inspired by the Roman notion of urban space as a meeting place, Bofill’s design was based on landscaping and water as a key element and reminder of the previous presence of the river.

The proposed garden was developed from a geometric base, which from the central longitudinal axis, defined the different areas and ordered the space and the paths that cross it.


The different areas, surrounded by native vegetation, were treated in very different ways: as monumental public spaces, botanical gardens and sports facilities.

The “Vetges Tú – Mediterrania” team designed the section from the Casa del Agua to Nuevo Centro, including the sports facilities and some fountains. The Consellería de Agricultura designed the stretch of the “Urban Forest” between Nuevo Centro and the sports area of Serranos, placing thousands of pines. Later, the garden of Gulliver was realized.


The Ministry of Agriculture designed the section of the “Urban Forest” between Nuevo Centro and the Serranos sports center, placing thousands of pine trees. Later, Gulliver’s Garden was made.

Finally, in the last stretch of that green river is the City of Arts and Sciences, the cultural complex designed by Santiago Calatrava, made up of the Science Museum and the Palau de les Arts, among other buildings.

A photographic report by Alfonso Legaz.