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Valencia is a model of modern Mediterranean living that has somehow managed to reinvent itself for the 21st century without treading on its own past. Much of the credit for that lies in its willingness to indulge the postmodern fantasies of local-born architect Santiago Calatrava which have transformed a once derelict area of the city into a vast surreal futurescape that is straight out of science fiction. The city already bears the stamp of centuries of history with the Old Town providing an almost perfect living timeline of architectural layers from Moorish to Modernism via Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Art Deco. Like other Spanish cities, Valencia comes to life at night. Las Fallas in March -- a bacchanalian riot of paella and pyrotechnics -- has long been considered one of the world's great fiestas while, looking east towards the Balearics, Valencia's beachfront nightlife is reminiscent of a more laidback Ibiza. But it has been Calatrava's creations have created a new buzz and confidence around a city long overshadowed by Madrid to the west and Barcelona to the northeast. In years to come it may be that Calatrava's name becomes as synonymous with Valencia as Gaudi's has with the Catalan capital.
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