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About Valencia

Valencia in Roman times

Valencia (derived from the Latin for "valour") is an ancient city and now the third largest in Spain. Founded by the Roman Empire in 138 B.C., its full, Latin name was Valentia Edetanorum. In about the beginning of the eighth century it was conquered by the Arabs and became part of the Caliphate of Cordoba. It was given the name of Balansiya in Arabic. Upon the fracture of the Caliphate into the taifas, or Iberian emirates, the Amirs assumed command of the emirate of Valencia. This marked a golden age for the city, which was irrigated and increased its commerce with the Christian kingdoms. In the legend of El Mío Cid, El Cid is exiled to Valencia and eventually conquers it. Following the conquest of the city by the Christian King James I of Aragon in 1238, it repelled two attacks from the neighbouring kingdom of Castilla in 1363 and 1364. The city's Jews were forcibly converted to Christianity in 1391, followed by its Muslims in 1456. Valencia's cathedral, originally named Iglesia Mayor, was built between the 13th and 15th centuries, with an interesting mix of artistic styles. As construction on it began in the Gothic period, it comes as no surprise that this is the main architectural influence, but later on it also acquired aspects of late Romanesque and even early Baroque architecture.

Valencia Today

Valencia reached its apex in the 15th century. The first book in Spain to be printed was printed here. During the Napoleonic occupation Joseph Bonaparte, Napoleon's brother whom he annointed King of Spain, briefly transferred the capital to Valencia. When the French withdrew, Valencia organised a military revolt that saw Ferdinand VII come to power. The industrialisation of Valencia commenced in the 1850s with the introduction of clean running water. In 1882 electrical power was introduced in the city. In the 20th century the population of Valencia tripled in the space of a scant hundred years, rising from about 214,000 in 1900 to about 739,000 in 2000. The current population is about 810,000 within the city proper and about 1,739,000 in the metropolitan area. It is the fifteenth largest city in the European Union. During the Civil War it was briefly made the capital of the Spanish Republic. The city's metro is relatively new, dating back to the 1980s. In the modern day, Valencia is a fascinating city deeply imbued with Spanish culture and with no shortage of sights to see and events to experience.

La cremà

Valencia is especially known throughout Spain for Les Falles, a contest of giant sculptured models called ninots destined to be burned at the stake during the cremà, except for the winner which is "pardoned". According to popular tradition, burning the ninots banishes all the problems and bad luck of the past year. The ninots can represent just about anything, from pop culture icons and politicians to historical figures or simply invented characters. If you'll be in Spain in March you simply cannot miss it. Valencia is also the first European city to host the America's Cup boat race. Valencia's history has contributed to the character and personality it has developed, bequeathing it a vivacious culture and economic prosperity in modern times. Also of note is that Valencia has one of the largest markets in Europe, the Modernist Central Market, its vast array of colours and perpetually lively atmosphere contributing to its great success. Its prices on items such as meat, fish, pastries and cake are those you'd typically find in about any market, but the goods are of an outsanding quality.

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