Valencia - Spain
|Thursday, 22 May 2008 04:44|
Valencia was founded by the ancient Romans in 137 BC and has been pillaged, burned and besieged numerous times by various conquerors over the centuries since, but the vivacious Spanish city has sailed into the second millennium as Europe's quintessential sophisticated modern holiday city, a favored location for the America's Cup yacht race.
Situated on the Mediterranean coast about four hours south of Barcelona, Valencia is spread out around its busy port and backed by the hills which give way to the plains of Aragon.
(also bä-lĕn'thyä) A city of eastern Spain on the Gulf of Valencia, a wide inlet of the Mediterranean Sea. First mentioned as a Roman colony in 138 B.C., Valencia was taken by the Visigoths in A.D. 413, the Moors in 714, and James I of Aragon in 1238, after which it flowered commercially and culturally. The city was the seat (1936–1937) of the Loyalist government during the Spanish Civil War. Spain's third-largest city, it is a popular resort and a commercial and industrial center. Population: 798,000.
Valencia, city (1990 pop. 758,738), capital of Valencia prov., E Spain, on the Turia River. The third largest city in Spain, it lies in a fertile garden region a short distance from its busy Mediterranean port, El Grao, on the Gulf of Valencia. It is an active industrial and commercial center producing textiles, metal products, chemicals, automobiles, furniture, toys, and azulejos [colored tiles]. There also are important shipyards. The city will host the Swiss defense of the America's Cup in 2007.
First mentioned in the 2d cent. B.C., Valencia was a Roman colony. Under the Moors, from the 8th to the 13th cent., it was twice the seat of an independent state (see Valencia, region). From 1094 to 1099, it was ruled by the Cid. After its conquest (1238) by James I of Aragón, Valencia rose to great commercial and cultural importance and rivaled Barcelona. Its university was founded in 1501. In the 15th and 16th cent., through the work of Auzias March and others, Valencia achieved literary and intellectual eminence. It was the seat of the Valencia school of painting in the 16th and 17th cent. It experienced an economic revival in the 19th and 20th cent. During the civil war, Valencia served (1936–37) as the seat of the Loyalist government.
A popular resort, the city is very picturesque, with blue-tiled church domes and narrow streets in the old quarter and fine tree-lined avenues and promenades in the modern section. Among its chief landmarks are the cathedral (13th–15th cent.), called La Seo, with a Gothic belltower (the Miguelete); the Torres de Serranos, 14th-century fortified towers built on Roman foundations; the Gothic silk exchange, called La Lonja; and the 18th-century palace of justice. The city also has a fine-art gallery. The Tribunal de las Aguas, which settles disputes over the irrigation of the outlying garden region, has met regularly in the city since the 10th cent. The modern City of Arts and Sciences complex has striking buildings designed by Santiago Calatrava. There is also a large modern aquarium.
Valencia (Valencian: València [vaˈɫɛnsia], Spanish: Valencia [baˈlenθja]) is the capital of the Spanish autonomous community of Valencia and its province. It is the third largest city in Spain and the 21st largest in the European Union. It forms part of an industrial area on the Costa del Azahar.
The estimated population of the city of Valencia proper was 797,654  as of 2007 official statistics. Population of the metropolitan area (urban area plus satellite towns) was 1,738,690 as of 2007. As of 2007, the mayor of Valencia is Rita Barberá Nolla.
The original Latin name of the city was Valentia (/wa'lentia/), meaning "strength", "valour", the city being named after Emperor Valens, who ordered the foundation of a new colony in Hispania, taken care by later Emperor Theodosius I. During the rule of the Muslim Empires in Spain, it was known as بلنسية Balansiya) in Arabic.
By regular sound changes this has become Valencia (/ba'lenθja/) in Spanish and València (/va'ɫɛnsia/) in Valencian. The Valencian pronunciation in the local dialect is /ba'ɫensia/.
The city of Valencia, is in the region known in ancient days as Edetania. The Roman historian Florus says that Junius Brutus, transferred there (140 BC) the soldiers who had fought under him. Later it was a Roman military colony. In punishment for its adherence to Sertorius it was destroyed by Pompey, but was later rebuilt, and Pomponius Mela says that it was one of the principal cities of Hispania Tarraconensis province. The city was founded by the Romans in 137 BC on the site of a former Iberian town, by the river Turia.
The city has been occupied by the Visigoths, Moors, and the Aragonese.
The Moors occupied the territory peacefully in 714 A.D. When Islamic culture settled in, Valencia – then Balansiya – prospered thanks to a booming trade in paper, silk, leather, ceramics, glass and silver-work. The architectural legacy from this period is abundant in Valencia and can still be appreciated today in the remains of the old walls, the Baños del Almirante bath house, Portal de Valldigna street and even the Cathedral and the tower, El Micalet, which was the minaret of the old mosque.
After the death of Almanzor and the unrest that followed 'the Cid' conquered Valencia for the short period of 15 June 1094 – July 1099. He turned nine mosques into churches, and installed the French monk Jérôme as bishop (this victory was immortalised in the Lay of the Cid). On the death of the Cid (July 1099), his wife, Doña Ximena, retained power for two years, when Valencia was besieged by the Almoravids, and the city returned to the Almoravids in 1102. Although the 'Emperor of Spain' Alfonso drove them from the city, he was not strong enough to hold it. The Christians set fire to it, abandoned it, and the Almoravid Masdali took possession of it on 5 May 1109. The event was commemorated in a poem by Ibn Khafaja in which he thanked Yusuf ibn Tashfin for the liberation of the city. The Almoravid and the Almohad dynasty would rule Valencia for more than a century. In 1238 King James I of Aragon the Conqueror, with an army composed of French, English, Germans, and Italians, laid siege to Valencia, and on 28 September in that same year forced a surrender. 50,000 Moors were forced to leave. Poets like Ibn al-Abbar and Ibn Amira mourned their exile from their beloved Valencia. On 9 October King James, followed by his retinue and army, took possession. The principal mosque was purified, Mass was celebrated, and the "Te Deum" sung. James incorporated city and territory into the new formed Kingdom of Valencia, one of the kingdoms forming the Crown of Aragon.
Catholic sources state that Saint Vincent Ferrer preached so successfully (sometime between 1390 and 1411), converting thousands of Jews, that he was permitted to employ the synagogue for his newly-founded hospital of San Salvador.
In the 15th and 16th centuries, Valencia was one of the major cities in the Mediterranean. The writer Joanot Martorell, author of Tirant lo Blanch, and the poet Ausias March are famous Valencians of that era.
The first printing press in the Iberian Peninsula was located in Valencia. The first printed Bible in a Romance language, Valencian, was printed in Valencia circa 1478, attributed to Bonifaci Ferrer. See Spread of the printing press.
Valencian bankers loaned funds to Queen Isabella for Columbus' trip in 1492.
In 1519–1522 the Guilds revolts took place. in 1609, the Moriscos were expelled from the city.
During the War of the Spanish Succession, Valencia sided with Charles of Austria. On 24 January 1706, Charles Mordaunt, 3rd Earl of Peterborough, 1st Earl of Monmouth, led a handful of English cavalrymen into the city after riding south from Barcelona, capturing the nearby fortress at Sagunto, and bluffing the Spanish Bourbon army into withdrawal.
The English held the city for 16 months and defeated several attempts to expel them. English soldiers advanced as far as Requena on the road to Madrid. After the victory of the Bourbons at the Battle of Almansa (25 April 1707), the English army evacuated Valencia and the city subsequently lost its privileges or furs.
During the Peninsular War Valencia was besieged by the French under Marshal Suchet from Christmas day 1811, until it fell on January 8 the next year.
The last victim of the Spanish Inquisition, a local schoolteacher called Cayetano Ripoll, was executed in Valencia in July 1826 accused being a deist and freemason.
During the Spanish Civil War, the capital of the Republic was moved to Valencia, and the city suffered from the blockade and siege by Franco's forces. However, the postwar period was hard for Valencians. During the Franco years, speaking or teaching Valencian was prohibited (in a significant reversal it is now compulsory for every child studying in Valencia).
In 1957 the city suffered a severe flood by the Turia River, with 5 metres (16 ft) in some streets. One consequence of this was that a decision was made to drain and reroute the river and it now passes around the Western and southern suburbs of the city. A plan to turn the drained area into a motorway was dropped in favour of a picturesque 7 km (4 mi) park which bisects the city.
Valencia was granted Autonomous Statutes in 1982.
On 3 July 2006, just days before a Catholic celebration to be led by Pope Benedict, Valencia was the scene of a metro accident in which over 40 people died. The investigation is still ongoing.
On 9 July 2006, during Mass at Valencia's Cathedral, Our Lady of the Forsaken Basilica, Pope Benedict XVI used, at the World Day of Families, the Santo Caliz, a 1st-century Middle-Eastern artifact believed by many to be the Holy Grail. It was supposedly brought to that church by Emperor Valerian in the 3rd century, after having been brought from Jerusalem by St. Peter to Rome. The Santo Caliz ("Holy Chalice") is a simple, small stone cup. Its base was added in medieval times and consists of fine gold, alabaster, and gem stones.
Valencia was selected in 2003 to host the historic America's Cup yacht race becoming the first European city to do so. The America's Cup matches took place in summer 2007. On 3 July 2007, Alinghi defeated Team New Zealand, and successfully defended the America's Cup. 22 days later, on 25 July 2007, the leaders of the Alinghi syndicate, holder of the America's Cup, officially announced Valencia would be the host city for the 33rd America's Cup, to be carried out on June 2009.
The ancient winding streets of the Barrio del Carmen contain buildings dating to Roman and Arabic times. The Cathedral, built between the 13th and 15th century, is primarily of Gothic style but contains elements of Baroque and Romanesque architecture. Beside the Cathedral is the Gothic Basilica of the Virgin (Basílica De La Virgen De Los Desamparados). The 15th century Serrano and Quart towers are part of what was once the wall surrounding the city.
UNESCO has recognised the Late Gothic silk exchange (La Lonja de la Seda) as a World Heritage Site.  The modernist Central Market (Mercado Central) is one of the largest in Europe. The main railway station Estación Del Norte is built in art deco style.
World-renowned (and city-born) architect Santiago Calatrava produced the futuristic City of Arts and Sciences (Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències), which contains an opera house/performing arts centre, a science museum, an IMAX cinema/planetarium, an oceanographic park and other structures such as a long covered walkway and restaurants. Calatrava is also responsible for the bridge named after him in the center of the city. The Music Palace (Palau De La Música) is another good example of modern architecture in Valencia.
The cathedral was called in the early days of the Reconquista Iglesia Mayor, then Seo (from Latin sedes, i.e. (archiepiscopal) see), and in virtue of the papal concession of 16 October, 1866, it is called the Basilica metropolitana. It is situated in the centre of the ancient Roman city where some believe the temple of Diana stood. In Gothic times, it seems to have been dedicated to the most Holy Saviour; the Cid dedicated it to the Blessed Virgin; King Jaime the Conqueror did likewise, leaving in the main chapel the image of the Blessed Virgin which he carried with him and which is believed to be the one which is now preserved in the sacristy. The Moorish mosque, which had been converted into a Christian church by the conqueror, appeared unworthy of the title of the cathedral of Valencia, and in 1262 Bishop Andrés de Albalat laid the cornerstone of the new Gothic building, with three naves; these reach only to the choir of the present building. Bishop Vidal de Blanes built the magnificent chapter hall, and Jaime de Aragón added the tower, called "Miguelete" because it was blessed on St. Michael's day in 1418, which is about 166 feet (51 m) high and finished at the top with a belfry.
In the fifteenth century the dome was added and the naves extended back of the choir, uniting the building to the tower and forming a main entrance. Archbishop Luis Alfonso de los Cameros began the building of the main chapel in 1674; the walls were decorated with marbles and bronzes in the over-ornate style of that decadent period. At the beginning of the eighteenth century the German Conrad Rudolphus built the façade of the main entrance. The other two doors lead into the transept; one, that of the Apostles in pure pointed Gothic, dates from the fourteenth century, the other is that of the Paláu. The additions made to the back of the cathedral detract from its height. The eighteenth century-restoration rounded the pointed arches, covered the Gothic columns with Corinthian pillars, and redecorated the walls. The dome has no lantern, its plain ceiling being pierced by two large side windows. There are four chapels on either side, besides that at the end and those that open into the choir, the transept, and the presbyterium. It contains many paintings by eminent artists. A magnificent silver reredos, which was behind the altar, was carried away in the war of 1808, and converted into coin to meet the expenses of the campaign. Behind the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament is a beautiful little Renaissance chapel built by Calixtus III. Beside the cathedral is the chapel dedicated to the "Virgen de los desamparados".
In 1409, a hospital was founded and placed under the patronage of Santa María de los Inocentes; to this was attached a confraternity devoted to recovering the bodies of the unfriended dead in the city and within a radius of three miles (5 km) around it. At the end of the fifteenth century this confraternity separated from the hospital, and continued its work under the name of "Cofradia para el ámparo de los desamparados". King Philip IV of Spain and the Duke of Arcos suggested the building of the new chapel, and in 1647 the Viceroy, Conde de Orpesa, who had been preserved from the bubonic plague, insisted on carrying out their project. The Blessed Virgin was proclaimed patroness of the city under the title of "Virgen de los desamparados" 'Virgin of the abandonees', and Archbishop Pedro de Urbina, on 31 June, 1652, laid the corner-stone of the new chapel of this name. The archiepiscopal palace, a grain market in the time of the Moors, is simple in design, with an inside cloister and a handsome chapel. In 1357 the arch which connects it with the cathedral was built. In the council chamber are preserved the portraits of all the prelates of Valencia.
Among the parish churches those deserving special mention are: Saints John (Baptist and Evangelist), rebuilt in 1368, whose dome, decorated by Palonino, contains some of the best frescoes of Spain; El Templo 'the Temple', the ancient church of the Knights Templar, which passed into the hands of the Order of Montesa and which was rebuilt in the reigns of Ferdinand VI and Charles III; the former convent of the Dominicans, at present the headquarters of the "capital general", the cloister of which has a beautiful Gothic wing and the chapter room, large columns imitating palm trees; the Colegio del Corpus Christi, which is devoted to the exclusive worship of the Blessed Sacrament, and in which perpetual adoration is carried on; the Jesuit college, which was destroyed (1868) by the revolutionary Committee, but rebuilt on the same site; the Colegio de San Juan (also of the Society), the former college of the nobles, now a provincial institute for secondary instruction.
Squares and gardens
The largest square is the Plaça de l'Ajuntament, which contains the town hall (ajuntament), a cinema which shows classic movies (La Filmoteca), and many restaurants and bars. This is where the noisy fireworks of the mascletà can be heard every afternoon during the Las Fallas.
The Plaça de la Verge contains the Basilica of the Virgin and the Turia fountain, and is a popular spot for locals and tourists. Around the corner is the Plaça de la Reina, with the Cathedral, orange trees, and many bars and restaurants.
The Turia River was diverted in the 1960s, after severe flooding, and the old river bed is now the Turia gardens, which contain a children’s playground, a fountain, and sports fields. The Palau de la Música is adjacent to the Turia gardens and the City of Arts and Sciences lies at one end.
Other gardens in Valencia include the Real, Monforte, and Botanical gardens.
Famous people born in Valencia and Valencia province
Valencia has enjoyed strong economic growth over the last decade, much of it spurred by tourism and the construction industry.
Valencia’s port is the biggest on the Mediterranean Western coast, the first of Spain in Container Trafic as 2008 and the second of Spain in total trafic, handling 20% of Spain’s exports.  The main exports are food and drink (the Valencian region is famous for its oranges), furniture, ceramic tiles, fans, textiles and iron products. Valencia’s manufacturing sector focuses on metallurgy, chemicals, textiles, shipbuilding and brewing. Unemployment is lower than the Spanish average. Small and medium sized industries are an important part of the local economy.
Following the announcement that the 32nd America's Cup would be held in Valencia in 2007, the port underwent radical changes in which the port was divided into two parts, one part remaining unchanged while the other section would be used exclusively for the America's Cup festivities. The two sections are now divided by a wall that goes deep into the water in an attempt to maintain clean water for the America's Cup side.
Formerly an industrial city, Valencia saw rapid development that started in the mid-1990s, expanding its cultural and touristic possibilities, which turned it into a vibrant city, restoring old landmarks like the old Towers of the medieval city (Serrano Towers and Quart Towers), monasteries like the San Miguel de los Reyes monastery, which now holds a specialized library, the whole Malvarrosa beach, with the construction of a 4 km (2 mi) long paseo or complete quarters, like the old Carmen Quarter, which has seen extensive renovation.
Another appealing feature of the city is its numerous convention centres, like the Valencia Fair (Feria de Valencia), the Conference Palace (Palau de Congressos) and several 5 star hotels.
The city of Valencia and the surrounding area are expected to attract millions of visitors from around the world given that the city of Valencia has been chosen to host the 32nd America's Cup. The first America's Cup competitions took place in June and July 2005 and were key attractions during the summer of 2005. According to official data from the organizing committee, as many as 150,000 visitors flocked to Valencia's port each day during the two-week events.
Also, on 10 May 2007, Bernie Ecclestone announced that Valencia will be the host of an urban circuit of F1, beginning in 2008, and on 1 June 2007 the contract was signed in the F1 headquarters.
One notable demographic change in Valencia in the last decade has been the growth in the foreign born population which has risen from 1.5% in the year 2000  to almost 13% in 2007 , a trend that has also occurred in the two larger cities of Madrid and Barcelona  The main countries of origin were Ecuador, Bolivia, Colombia, Morocco and Romania.  Although the foreign born population rose by 2.4% overall between 2006 and 2007 this varied widely with a 13% jump in the number of those born in other E.U. countries and similar rise in those arriving from Central American countries. With the exception of South America, there was a fall in those foreign born residents from other continents, with the largest decrease being a 14% fall in the number of North American born residents. 
Valencia has a very changeable Mediterranean climate, with hot dry summers, mild humid winters and stormy autumns and springs.
Its average temperature is 17.8 °C. As the chart shows their average values range from 11.5 January and the 25.5 August.
The precipitation is 454 mm. per year. This is usually intense and concentrated in the Autumn.
City of Valencia observatory Altitude (m): 11; Latitude: 39 28 48; Length: 0 22 52;
Valencia is known for Las Fallas, which is a famous local festival held in March, for paella valenciana, traditional Valencian ceramics, intricate traditional dress, and the striking new architecture of the City of Arts and Sciences designed by its own son, architect Santiago Calatrava.
La Tomatina, an annual tomato fight, draws crowds to the nearby town of Buñol in August. There are also a number of well preserved Catholic fiestas throughout the year. Holy week celebrations in Valencia are considered the most colourful in Spain. Valencia has a metro system, the Valencia Metro.
Valencia is also famous for its football club Valencia C.F., which won the Spanish league in 2002 and 2004 (in which year it also won the UEFA Cup), and was also a UEFA Champions League runner-up in 2000 and 2001, it is one of the most famous football clubs in Spain and Internationally.
The two official languages spoken in the city are Valencian (known as Catalan elsewhere) and Spanish. Due to political and demographic pressure in the past, the predominant language is Spanish, but Valencian is predominant in most of the surrounding metropolitan area and province of Valencia . In fact the government weakly emphasizes the usage of the local language. It does this, for example, by posting all signs and announcements of the Metro in Valencian and Spanish translations in smaller type underneath. Valencian is also used when naming streets. New street signs, when erected, are always given the Valencian name for street (Carrer). However the older street names bearing the Spanish names are only replaced when necessary. This results in a situation where in longer streets both languages can often be seen on street signs.
Valencia is famous for its vibrant nightlife. In the 1980s and 1990s the town was famous for the so called ruta del bakalao. Today, the more alternative/bohemian bars and nightclubs are concentrated in the Carmen, while the student nightlife is found around Blasco Ibáñez and Benimaclet, the more mainstream weekend nightlife has its clusters in the areas of Cánovas and Joan Llorens. In the summer, there is also nightlife on the beach and at the Port. Agua de Valencia is the city's unofficial cocktail.
Valencia is famous for its wonderful gastronomic culture. Paella – rice dish that can have fish or meat (chicken and rabbit) –, orxata, fartons, buñuelos, Spanish omelette, rosquilletas and squid (calamares) are some examples of typical Valencian foods.
Public transport is provided by the Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat Valenciana (FGV) which operates the Valencia Metro and other rail and bus services. The Valencia Airport is situated 9km west of downtown Valencia.
Districts of Valencia
|Last Updated on Monday, 23 February 2009 19:32|
We have been getting a lot of questions and we know there are a lot of experienced backpackers here, so we would compile a list of tips for them.