Valencia is the capital of the autonomous community of Valencia and the third largest city in Spain after Madrid and Barcelona. The Port of Valencia is the 5th busiest container port in Europe and the largest on the Mediterranean Sea.
Pompey razed Valentia to the ground in 75 BC as punishment for its adherence to Sertorius, but it was rebuilt around fifty years later, including large infrastructure projects, and by the mid-first century was experiencing rapid urban growth. Pomponius Mela says it was one of the principal cities of Tarraconensis province. Valencia suffered a new period of decline in the third century, but an early Christian community arose there during the latter years of the Roman Empire in the fourth century.
After the death of Almanzor and the unrest that followed, Muslim Al-Andalus disintergrated into numerous small states known as taifas, one of which was the Taifa of Valencia which would exist for four distinct periods: 1010–1065, 1075–1099, 1145–1147 and the last from 1229–1238.
The city remained in the hands of Christian troops until 1102, when the Almoravids retook the city and restored the Muslim religion. Although the self-styled 'Emperor of All Spain', Alfonso VI of León and Castile, drove them from the city, he was not strong enough to hold it. The Christians set it afire before abandoning it, and the Almoravid Masdali took possession on 5 May 1109. The event was commemorated in a poem by Ibn Khafaja in which he thanked Yusuf ibn Tashfin for the city's liberation.The declining power of the Almoravids coincided with the rise of a new dynasty in North Africa, the Almohads, who seized control of the peninsula from the year 1145, although their entry into Valencia was deterred by Ibn Mardanis, King of Valencia and Murcia until 1171, at which time the city finally fell to the North Africans. The two Muslim dynasties would rule Valencia for more than a century.
On 9 October, King James, followed by his retinue and army, took possession of the city. The principal mosque was purified and the Mass was celebrated. James incorporated city and territory into the newly formed Kingdom of Valencia, one of the kingdoms forming the Crown of Aragon, and permitted all people that lived in the city, Jews, Muslims and Christians, to stay there and live as citizens of the kingdom.
The Republic (1931–1939) opened the way for democratic participation and the increased politicization of citizens, especially in response to the rise of Conservative Front power in 1933. This climate marked the elections of 1936, won by the Popular Front political coalition which promoted the fervor of the masses. The military uprising of July 18 failed to triumph in Valencia. For some months there was a revolutionary atmosphere, gradually neutralised by the government.
Valencia is famous for its gastronomic culture; typical features of its cuisine include paella, a simmered rice dish with seafood or meat (chicken or rabbit), fartons, buñuelos, the Spanish omelette, rosquilletas and squid (calamares).
- The Valencia Cathedral was called Iglesia Mayor in the early days of the Reconquista, then Iglesia de la Seo and by virtue of the papal concession of 16 October 1866, it was 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 Holy Saviour; the Cid dedicated it to the Blessed Virgin; King James I of Aragon did likewise, leaving in the main chapel the image of the Blessed Virgin which he carried with him and is reputed to be the one now preserved in the sacristy. The Moorish mosque, which had been converted into a Christian church by the conqueror, was deemed 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 chapter hall, and James I added the tower, called El Miguelete because it was blessed on St. Michael's day in 1418. The tower is about 58 m high and topped with a belfry (1660–1736). In the 15th 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 Baroque style of that period. At the beginning of the 18th century the German Conrad Rudolphus built the façade of the main entrance.
- The Torres de Serrans or Porta de Serrans is one of the twelve gates that were found along the old medieval city wall in Valencia. It is considered one of Valencia's most iconic buildings and is one the best conserved monuments in the city.
- The Museu de Belles Arts de València English: "Museum of Fine Arts of Valencia" is an art gallery founded in 1913. It houses some 2,000 works, most dating from the 14th-17th centuries, including a Self portrait of Diego Velázquez, a St. John the Baptist by El Greco, Goya's Playing Children, Gonzalo Pérez's Altarpiece of Sts. Ursula, Martin and Antony and a Madonna with Writing Child and Bishop by the Italian Renaissance master Pinturicchio. It also houses a large series of engravings by Giovan Battista Piranesi. The museum is housed in the St. Pius V Palace, built in the 17th-18th centuries. It has also sections dedicated to sculpture, to contemporary art and to archaeological findings.
- The Llotja de la Seda English "Silk Exchange" is a late Valencian Gothic style civil building, built between 1482 and 1548, and one of the principal tourist attractions in the city. The UNESCO considered it as a World Heritage Site in 1996 since "the site is of outstanding universal value as it is a wholly exceptional example of a secular building in late Gothic style, which dramatically illustrates the power and wealth of one of the great Mediterranean mercantile cities.". Behind the current building, there was an earlier one from the 14th century, which was called the Oil Exchange (Llotja de l’Oli, in Valencian, or Lonja del Aceite, in Spanish). It was used not only for trading with oil, but for all kind of business. Where in 1348 was traded perxal (percale) as some kind of silk. Valencia's commercial prosperity reached its peak during the 15th century, and led to the construction of a new building.
- The City of Arts and Sciences is an ensemble of five areas in the dry river bed of the now diverted River Turia in Valencia, Spain. Designed by Valencian architect Santiago Calatrava and started in July 1996, it is an impressive example of modern architecture. The "city" is made up of the following, usually known by their Valencian names: El Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía — Opera house and performing arts centre;L'Hemisfèric — Imax Cinema, Planetarium and Laserium; L'Umbracle — Walkway / Garden; El Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe — Science museum; L'Oceanogràfic — Open-air oceanographic park. Surrounded by attractive streams and pools of water, it and the surrounding areas of the "city" are typically used as a relaxing place to walk day or night, with an open air bar outside El Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe during the evening.
|The City of Arts and Sciences|