Valencia or València is the most populated city of the region of Valencia and the third largest city in Spain. Its main festival, the Falles, is known worldwide, while the traditional dish, paella, originated around Valencia.
The city contains a dense monumental heritage, including the Llotja de la Seda (World Heritage Site since 1996), but its landmark is undoubtedly the City of Arts and Sciences, an avant-garde and futuristic museum complex.
The original Latin name of the city was Valentia, meaning “strength”, “valour”, the city being named for the Roman practice of recognizing the valour of former Roman soldiers after a war. The Roman historian Titus Livius explains that the founding of Valentia in the 2nd century BC was due to the settling of the Roman soldiers who fought against Iberian local rebel, Viriatus.During the rule of the Muslim Empires in Spain, it was known as بلنسية (Balansiyya) in Arabic. By regular sound changes, this has become Valencia in Castilian and València in Valencian.
Valencia’s port is the biggest on the Mediterranean Western coast, the first of Spain in Container Traffic as 2008 and the second of Spain in total traffic, handling 20% of Spain’s exports. The main exports are food and drinks. Other exports include oranges, furniture, ceramic tiles, fans, textiles and iron products. Valencia’s manufacturing sector focuses on metallurgy, chemicals, textiles, shipbuilding and brewing.
Valencian culture is part of the essence of the people, displayed in over 60 cultural spaces including museums, monuments, and multidisciplinary spaces.
Valencia is rich in history, as well as in the production contemporary art museums, guild museums, museums with Gothic works or hidden treasures such as the revered Holy Chalice or Santo Cáliz. All of these are located in eclectic and interesting architectural spaces, from the Gothic to the latest and most modern architectural trends. Discovering them is to discover the heart and soul of Valencian culture.
Since 2015, Valencia has been part of UNESCO and World Tourism Organisation programmes to promote the Silk Route, a term coined in 1877 by a German
geographer to describe a series of trade routes from China to Europe for goods such as silk, ceramics and spices.
At the end of the 18th century, there were nearly 5,000 looms for weaving silk in the Valencian district of Velluters (which means ‘velvet-weavers’). Nowadays,
its former atmosphere is still alive through its large mansions, such as the Palacio de Tamarit, and its labyrinthine streets, meaning that you can see how important this industry was in Valencia between the 15th and 18th centuries. The Higher Art College of Silk, which was founded in 1686 and now houses the Silk Museum, is located in this district. This baroque-style building is home to the largest guild archive in Europe, a good collection of silk fabrics and 18th-century looms that you can see in action. This is the starting point for the Valencia Silk Route, a tour with various stops that reveals the invaluable historic, architectural and artistic heritage that the city now enjoys as a result of the silk trade.
Queen Sofía Palace of the Arts is an opera house and cultural centre in Valencia, Spain. The theatre opened on 8 October 2005. The first opera presented, Beethoven’s Fidelio, was premiered on 25 October 2006. Queen Sofía Palace of the Arts is the final structure built of a grand City of Arts and Sciences
What are the Fallas?
The Fallas are unique. For several days in March, this festival converts the towns of the Valencian Community into momentary street art museums to celebrate the arrival of spring. Around 800 monuments made of wood, cartón piedra (literally “stone cardboard”, similar to papier maché) and other materials fill the city’s streets. Music, gunpowder and traditional clothing are all essential ingredients, making the Fallas a unique festival. In fact, its creative values and practical rituals have resulted in the festival being declared Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.
According to certain reports, with the arrival of spring, when the days started to get longer, bonfires were made with wood and old furniture. Often, dolls were added to criticise the behaviour and attitude of neighbours, a common practice in other European towns. The first records of the Fallas of Valencia as we know them today appear from the 18th Century onwards. The neighbourhood-based festival was joined by the work of carpenters and other professionals who helped to spread it throughout the city, until reaching a total of over one thousand Fallas commissions in the Valencian Community today. From the outset, the festival has evolved consistently thanks to its critical outlook and cultural and rejuvenating spirit.
The 19th of March, the feast day of Saint Joseph, patron saint of carpenters, at night Valencians burn all the Falles in an event called “La Cremà”.
One of Valencia’s biggest attractions is the cuisine offered. From traditional Valencian cooking, home of the famous paella, to a wide range of Spanish dishes and succulent international cuisine, there are numerous options to choose from. From Michelin-starred restaurants to traditional tapas bar or modern locals, Valencia offers a cuisine to suit all tastes.
El Templo ‘the Temple’, the ancient church of the Knights Templar, which passed into the hands of the Order of Montesa and which was rebuilt in the reigns of Ferdinand VI and Charles III; the former convent of the Dominicans, at present the headquarters of the “capital general”, the cloister of which has a beautiful Gothic wing and the chapter room, large columns imitating palm trees.
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