Valencia 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.
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.
The Christians set fire to it, abandoned it, and the Almoravid Masdali took possession of it on 5 May 1109. 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.
In the 15th and 16th centuries, Valencia was one of the major cities in the Mediterranean.
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.
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 the English army evacuated Valencia and the city subsequently lost its privileges including important civil rights called furs by the way the Bourbons decided to burn important cities like Xativa, where actually is still the picture of the Spanish Bourbon turned back as protest.
During the Spanish Civil War, the capital of the Republic was moved to Valencia, and the city suffered from the blockade and siege by Francos 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.
Valencia was selected in 2003 to host the historic Americas Cup yacht race becoming the first European city to do so. The Americas Cup matches took place in summer 2007. Alinghi defeated Team New Zealand, and successfully defended the Americas Cup. It has been officially announced that Valencia would be the host city for the 33rd Americas Cup, to be carried out on June 2009.
Valencia is known for Las Fallas, which is a famous local festival held in March.
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.
When you go there you are very keen to visit some of the several fiestas, which form the center of attraction. Some of the out of the blue places are described in this article.
1. Sanfermines A visitor going to Spain is all familiar with the World famous event, which in English is known as “Running of the Bulls”. On July 7th of every year in Pamplona, takes place the Festival of San Fermin for a week. Spanish men like to elude the bulls wearing customary white shirt and red sash. In Tudela (July 24th – 28th), Estella (first Saturday in August), Tafalla (August 20th – 25th), and Sanguesa (September 11th – 17th) same event takes place but in smaller dimension.
2. Feria de Abril One must not ignore the Flamenco dancing taking place at Seville every April. In the new form of the festival it is flamenco paradise, complete with sherry wine tasting and Tapas all through the evenings, which originally was a cattle market. During this lively event most of the Running of the Bulls takes place.
3. Semana Santa The priest made the zeal of Christ more comprehensive to the common mass in the Easter weekend in the 16th century. Parishioners chanting and cheering for their respective church, a long, complex procession of people playing out the characters in the story, and thousands of spectators would be seen by the visitors during this time.
4. Las Fallas de San José Visitors will see 10 days of cardboard constructions being burnt to the ground on the last day of the festival fireworks, more of bullfights, and a lot of flamenco dancing and attires during the Valencia celebration of springtime.
5. Ceremonia del Tributo de las tres Vacas “Three Cow Tribute Ceremony” is the English translation of the festival. Every year the town’s dignitaries dress up in medieval gowns on July 13th and can be seen by the visitors; this ceremony dates back to 1375. People of Piedra San Martin are given three cows showing tribute to French inhabitants of the Baretous valley.
6. Travel Spain: Day of Inmaculada From singing traditional song fraternities from all over Spain, to the statue of the Virgin Inmaculada in Seville, which is a late night festivity. Danza de los Seises always happens in the cathedral, it is a dance comprised completely of children who are also dressed in medieval gear next morning on December 7th.
Valencia Fallas is a yearly happening which reaches its highest points on the night of March 19th after having initiated the beginning on March 15th with stunning carton monuments on almost every corner, half hour long fireworks every night, historical parades of the Moorish in the streets and the local people dressed up in their best brocade traditional outfits in a jovial religious procession bringing flowers to the Virgin of the Unsheltered ( the Patron Saint of Valencia).
Another ‘not to be missed’ permanent attraction is the architecture which houses the now complete City of the Arts and Sciences. There are four main buildings:
– Oceanographic – with over 45,000 samples of 500 different species of underwater life including a special tank with sharks which you can walk under.
– Museum of the Sciences Prince Philip – where you can participate in all kinds of experiments and learn a lot more about biology and genetics.
– The Hemispheric – where you can sit back, choose and enjoy any of the three audio-visual shows, either at the Planetarium, the Laserium or on the gigantic screen watching documentaries where you feel you are an active part.
– The Queen Sophia Palace of Arts – this was just opened in October 2005 with the presence of the Queen. Here, all visitors will be honoured with performing arts in theatre, opera and all kinds of dance exhibitions.
If you are planning to travel to Valencia for whatever holiday at the end of next year, you will find yourself with the new Valencia Zoo or BioPark situated in a new green area and housing among other animals, over 250 species from the African savannah. Its to be 14 times bigger than the existing one and will take approximately six hours to see it all, but do not worry because the weather in Valencia is sunny and mild in winter. The young and old will be able to enjoy seeing the natural habitats of all these different animals that one usually cannot contemplate unless you actually travel there.
UK TV in Valencia – how to receive UK TV in Valencia
The Sat and PC Guy installs and maintains Digital Satellite Television Systems, for reception of UK TV in Valencia.
We install Digital Terrestrial Television, TDT, Spain Freeview for Spanish TV reception in Valencia. Depending on your location to the TDT transmitters, you can receive around 30 digital television channels, with the option change the language on many programmes into English.