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This article is about the city in Spain. For other uses of the name, see Valencia (disambiguation).

Valencia, Spain
Coat-of-arms NA
Land (Comunidad) Valencia
Population 764,010 (2002)
Area 134.65 km²
Coordinates 39°29′ N 0°22′ W
Elevation 0-100 m AMSL
Founded 137 BC
Valencia location map
The Hemispheric at the Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències by Santiago Calatrava, Valencia, Spain.
The Hemispheric at the Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències by Santiago Calatrava, Valencia, Spain.

Valencia (Castilian Spanish: Valencia /ba'lenθia/; Valencian: València /va'łεnsia/) is a medium-sized port city (the third largest city in Spain) and industrial area on the Costa del Azahar in Spain. It is the capital of the Land of Valencia and of province of Valencia. Population of the city of Valencia proper was 791,000 as of 2003 estimates. Population of the urban area was 1,012,000 as of 2000 estimates. Population of the metropolitan area (urban area plus satellite towns) was 1,400,000 as of 2003 estimates. As of 2004, the mayor of Valencia is Rita Barberá Nolla.



Valencia has enjoyed strong economic growth over the last decade, much of it spurred by tourism and construction. However, this model of development has led to a great deal of building on rural land. Furthermore, the Valencia government's implementation of the LRAU [law regulating urban activity] has been extremely controversial since it involves the expropriation of the homes of both Spanish nationals and foreign residents without compensation. The matter was the subject of a scathing documentary, broadcast by Spain's second national channel (TVE2) in 2005.

Critics argue that this legislation (which was theoretically designed to protect rural land) is being misused for large urban and industrial developments. The European Union's Committee of Petitions reported on the issue in 2004, finding that the Valencian government was breaching basic European rights. The ambassadors of EU Member States have protested to the Spanish authorities on behalf of their citizens and the issue has been referred to the European Court of Human Rights. Wide media coverage of the case abroad threatens the local "residential tourism" industry.

Nevertheless, the city of Valencia and the surrounding area are expected to attract millions of visitors from around the world given that the city of Valencia has been chosen to host the 32nd America's Cup. The first America's Cup competitions took place in June and July 2005 and were key attractions during the summer of 2005. According to official data from the organizing committee, as many as 150,000 visitors flocked to Valencia's port each day during the two-week events. On the other hand, Valencian citizens in the Cabanyal, Malva-rosa, and Canyamelar districts claim that the America's Cup is being used as a pretext to fuel property speculation, and to demolish historical buildings saved in the past by demonstrations and court rulings.


It is famous for the Las Fallas festival in March, for paella valenciana and the new City of Arts and Sciences.

Valencia has a metro system [1], run by FGV. Valencia has a reasonably successful football club known as Valencia C.F.

The two official languages spoken in the city are Spanish and Valencian (or Catalan). Due to political and demographic pressure in the past, the predominant language is Spanish, as opposed to areas surrounding the metropolitan area in the province of Valencia. The local government makes sure it emphasizes the use of the local language. For instance, all signs in the Metro are in Valencian, with Spanish translations underneath in smaller type.


Pavement of a Valencia street, with arbour. Many ordinary places in the city are designed with attention to detail, and a sense of aesthetics.
Pavement of a Valencia street, with arbour. Many ordinary places in the city are designed with attention to detail, and a sense of aesthetics.

The city was founded by the Romans in 137 BC on the site of a former Iberian town, by the river Turia. (The river flooded in the 1950s killing many Valencians. The river was re-routed and the dry river bed was converted to a park that runs through the city.)

The city has been occupied by the Visigoths, Moors and the Aragonese. In 1094, Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar (El Cid) conquered Valencia (this victory was immortalised in the Lay of the Cid), but the city returned to the Almoravids in 1102. The king James I of Aragon reconquered the city in 1238 and incorporated it to the new formed Kingdom of Valencia, one of the kingdoms forming the Crown of Aragon.

In the 15th and 16th centuries, Valencia was one of the major cities in the Mediterranean. The writer Joanot Martorell, author of Tirant lo Blanch, and the poet Ausias March are famous Valencians of that era.

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, attributed to Bonifaci Ferrer.

Valencian bankers loaned funds to Queen Isabella for Columbus' trip in 1492.

A narrow street of the Old Medieval City.
A narrow street of the Old Medieval City.

War of the Germanies 15191522.

Expulsion of Moriscos in 1609.

During the War of the Spanish Succession, Valencia sided with Charles of Austria. After the victory of the Bourbons at the Battle of Almansa (April 25, 1707), the city lost its privileges or furs.

After the fall of Madrid in the Spanish Civil War, the capital of the Republic was moved to Valencia. The city suffered from the blockade and siege by Franco's forces. The postwar period was hard for Valencians. During the Franco years, speaking or teaching Valencian was discouraged (nowadays it is compulsory for every children studing in Valencia, even if their parents don't wish).

Valencia was granted Autonomous Statutes in 1982.

Valencia was selected in 2003 to be the first city in Europe ever to host the historic America's Cup regatta, to take place in 2007.

The name

The original Latin name of the city was Valentia /wa'lentia/, meaning "Strength", "Vigour". (And during the Moorish occupation it was known as Balansiya.) By regular sound changes this has become Valencia /ba'lenθja/ in Spanish and València in Valencian. The latter name is pronounced /bə'łεnsjə/ in Central Catalan. One possible pronunciation in Valencian (South-west Catalan) is /va'lensja/. (See International Phonetic Alphabet for the symbols used to represent pronunciation.)


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