Valencia is the third city of Spain, it has over 805,000 inhabitants. It is also the capital of the Valencian Community and the province of Valencia. The city has a soft, humid Mediterranean climate, which means that the summers are hot and the temperatures rise above 40ºC every summer. The winters are soft, with average temperatures of 12ºC in the coldest months. Primary economical activities haven’t changed since the time of the Romans: commercial activities and agriculture. Tourism also is a big source of income for the city.
Famous people from Valencia are the singers Paco Ibañez and Nino Bravo.
In March the fiesta of Las Fallas is celebrated in honour of San José. It can be compared with Carnival but bigger (and with fire!). During an entire week floats that are made by groups from each neighbourhood ride through the city and the prince and princess of Las Fallas are chosen. Parts of the best floats are saved for the Museum of Las Fallas and at the end of the week all the floats are burned in an enormous fire. This celebration attracts many people from all over Spain and Europe.
The Roman Empire founded the city Valentia Edetanorum in the year 138 b.C. It was completely destroyed during the war between Pompey and Sertorius. In the first century AD the settlement was restored and construction of many typical Roman buildings like a forum and an amphitheatre began. A port in the river Turia was also built. In the last decades of Roman reign a huge decadence took place, resulting in abandoned neighbourhoods, incomplete infrastructures and an enormous depopulation took place. The Christians settled in the city and with their arrival it recovered, but from what little documentation still in existence we can learn that not much noteworthy events took place and that the city didn’t develop much.
The city was conquered by the Arabs in 711 and received the name Balansiya. The Arabs restored much of the city and began constructing the city walls. After the fall of the Caliphate Valencia became a Taifa and grew enormously. A new city wall was built. The city was conquered by El Cid at the end of the 11th century, but he reigned only until 1102, when the Arabs retook the city and established the Islam as the only official religion. Ibn Mardanis, the Rey Lobo ruled over Valencia (and also over Murcia), but he had troubles with the almohade tribe, that ruled in the south of Spain and after a long struggle they took the city in 1171. At the beginning of the 13th century the city’s fortifications were improved in order to defend the city against the closing Aragonese troops. Jaime I conquered the city in 1238. After the Reconquista the city suffered from the Plague and from various fights between the Kingdom of Valencia and the Kingdom of Castile. The 15th century was the golden age of Valencia and many important monuments were built, like the Torres dels Serrans and El Micalet. A lot of progress was also made in the arts. The War for Succession caused many problems, as in all of Spain. But the following centuries showed a recovery and the silk industry prospered, with over 25,000 people working in the industry. The French occupation of 1812 was beneficial to the city since it brought with it measures to improve the public health and safety. The 19th century can be characterized by political fights and independence movements. In this period the old city walls were torn down and the city could grow bigger. During the Civil War the city was made capital of the Republic, what made it a big target for Franco’s troops, who eventually took the city in 1939. After the dictatorship the city flourished and new projects like the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias have given Valencia a modern aspect and a distinct, individual personality.
Monuments of Valencia
The Torre del Miguelete
This is one of the most famous monuments of Valencia. It was built between 1381 and 1425. It was originally connected to the cathedral but now it stands alone. The tower measures 51 metres high. The first floor is massive with only the stairway cut out. The top floor houses the bells. From the top of the tower you have a wonderful view of the entire city.
La Lonja de la Seda
This building was erected between 1482 and 1498. It consists of four parts, of which the Salon Columnario is the most beautiful. The ceiling rests on pillars of 16 metres high. The building was used by the merchants of that era. It was designed by Pere Compte, Johan Corbera, Johan Yvarra and Domingo Urtiaga. The building looks like a medieval fortress and represents the economical power of the city in the 15th century.
The Mercado Central
The Mercado Central is a modernist building that was constructed between 1914 and 1928 by Francisco Guardia and Alejandro Soler y March, architects of the Barcelona Architecture School. The Market is still in use and everyday you can find here different fresh foods like fish, seafood and vegetables. The two cupolas give it an aspect of a cathedral, a commercial cathedral. It is located next to the Lonja de la Seda in the centre of the city.
La Ciudad de Artes y de las Ciencias
This modern complex was designed by Santiago Calatrava and Félix Candela and opened its gates on the 16th of April of 1998. It is located ath the end of the old bed of the river Turia. The city houses buildings like the the Museo de las Ciencias Príncipe Felipe, an interactive museum about science and L’Oceanográfic, the largest aquarium in Europe: 110,000 square metres and 42 million litres of water.