The Fascinating History Behind The Mediterranean City Of Valencia

Every corner of Valencia has a historic secret to uncover.

Valencia is a beautiful coastal gem located in eastern Spain. It is the country’s third-largest city, famous for its stunning architecture, rich cultural heritage, and delicious cuisine. The city has a fascinating history that dates back over two thousand years. Valencia is the capital of the autonomous community which goes by the same name. In this article, we will take a closer look at the history behind the home of paella, from its early origins to the city’s present-day status as one of Spain’s most popular tourist destinations.

The Founding of Valencia (138 BC to 8th century)

The Founding of Valencia
Photo by Joaquin Carfagna on Pexels

Valencia was founded by the Romans in 138 BC as a colony for veterans of the Second Punic War. The city was strategically located on the banks of the Turia River, which provided easy access to the Mediterranean Sea. Under Roman rule, Valencia prospered as a center of commerce and trade, with an economy built on agriculture, wine production, and fishing.

The Visigoths, a Germanic tribe, conquered Valencia in the 5th century AD and ruled the city until it was overruled by the Moors during 8th century. Under its rule, Valencia became influenced by Islamic learning and culture with a thriving economy based on agriculture, textiles, and trade.

The Moors also built numerous Valencia’s most iconic landmarks, including the Almudin, a medieval-style market, and the Silk Exchange which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. During this time, the port of Valencia flourished as a hub of trade between North Africa and the Mediterranean.

The Reconquista and Golden Age
The Reconquista and Golden Age. Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich on Pexels

The Reconquista and Golden Age (8th to 17th century)

In the 13th century, Valencia was reconquered by the Christian Kingdom of Aragon. The city became part of the Kingdom of Valencia – a separate political entity within the Crown of Aragon – and experienced a Golden Age of culture and art, with the construction of numerous Gothic and Renaissance-style buildings, such as the Valencia Cathedral and the Lonja de la Seda.

During the Golden Age of Valencia in the 14th and 15th centuries, the port became one of the busiest in the Mediterranean, with ships arriving from all over Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. Valencia’s strategic location on the trade routes between the Atlantic and Levant made it a vital center of commerce and culture. Valencia continued to prosper under the reign of the Habsburgs in the 16th and 17th centuries, with an economy based on agriculture, silk production, and trade.


History Behind the Mediterranean City of Valencia
Photo by Salvatore De Lellis on Pexels

In the 19th and 20th centuries, Valencia underwent significant changes, including the draining of the Turia River, which had frequently flooded the city. The former riverbed was converted into a massive park, now known as the Turia Gardens, which runs through the heart of Valencia.

During the Spanish Civil War, it served as the capital of the Republican government. The city was heavily bombed by Fascist forces, but many of its historic landmarks survived. In the post-war period, Valencia experienced rapid industrialization and urbanization, which led to the growth of its suburbs and the construction of modern buildings.

The port of Valencia has undergone significant changes, with the development of modern facilities and the expansion of its infrastructure. Today, it is one of the largest and busiest ports in Spain, serving as a major hub for shipping, trade, and tourism. The port is also a popular destination for cruise ships, with millions of tourists visiting the city every year.

Now, Valencia is a bustling city which blends its rich history with modern amenities and attractions. Its stunning architecture, delicious cuisine, and vibrant culture continue to attract travelers from around the world.

The History Behind Bullfighting in Valencia

The History of Bullfighting
The History of Bullfighting. Photo by Stephane YAICH on Unsplash

The tradition dates back to the 19th century when bullfighting became a popular form of entertainment among the Spanish aristocracy. Valencia’s signature bullfighting ring, the Plaza de Toros de Valencia, was built in 1850 and is one of the oldest and most iconic bullfighting arenas in Spain. The ring has hosted some of the most famous bullfights in Spanish history, including the legendary fight between “El Cordobés” and “Paquirri” in 1967.

Over the years, bullfighting has become a controversial topic in Spain, with critics arguing that the practice is cruel, while supporters claim that it is a cultural tradition. In recent years, it has been banned in several regions of Spain, including Catalonia, but it remains legal and practiced in Valencia.

In recent years, there has been a growing movement to end bullfighting in Spain, with many animal rights activists calling for a complete ban on the practice. The act remains deeply rooted in the country’s culture and history, and it is likely to continue to be an issue for many years to come.


Natalia Guerra

Contributing Editor

Natalia Guerra was born in Miami and comes from a Cuban background. Aside from her passion for travel writing and culinary arts, she also loves to step out of her comfort zone to live life to the fullest. Her lifestyle is being a digital nomad, working remotely as she travels the world one city at a time. Her favorite country has been Spain for its beautiful architecture and food, which reminds her of her Cuban culture.

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