Valencia was founded as a Roman colony by the consul Decimus Junius Brutus Callaicus in 138 BC, and called Valentia Edetanorum. In 714 Moroccan and Arab Moors occupied the city, introducing their language, religion and customs; they implemented improved irrigation systems and the cultivation of new crops as well, being capital of the Taifa of Valencia. In 1238 the Christian king James I of Aragon reconquered the city and divided the land among the nobles who helped him conquer it, as witnessed in the Llibre del Repartiment. He also created a new law for the city, the Furs of Valencia, which were extended to the rest of the Kingdom of Valencia. In the 18th century Philip V of Spain abolished the privileges as punishment to the kingdom of Valencia for aligning with the Habsburg side in the War of the Spanish Succession. Valencia was the capital of Spain when Joseph Bonaparte moved the Court there in the summer of 1812. It also served as capital between 1936 and 1937, during the Second Spanish Republic.
The city is situated on the banks of the Turia, on the east coast of the Iberian Peninsula, fronting the Gulf of Valencia on the Mediterranean Sea. Its historic centre is one of the largest in Spain, with approximately 169 ha ; this heritage of ancient monuments, views and cultural attractions makes Valencia one of the country's most popular tourist destinations.
Due to its long history, this is a city with numerous popular celebrations and traditions, such as the Fallas, which were declared as Fiestas of National Tourist Interest of Spain in 1965 and Intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO in November 2016.
In 2015, Joan Ribó, from Coalició Compromís, became mayor.
The original Latin name of the city was Valentia ([waˈlentia]), meaning "strength", or "valour", the city being named according to the Roman practice of recognising the valour of former Roman soldiers after a war. The Roman historian Livy explains that the founding of Valentia in the 2nd century BC was due to the settling of the Roman soldiers who fought against an Iberian rebel, Viriatus.
During the rule of the Muslim kingdoms in Spain, it had the nickname Medina bu-Tarab ('City of Joy') according to one transliteration, or Medina at-Turab ('City of Sands') according to another, since it was located on the banks of the River Turia. It is not clear if the term Balansiyya was reserved for the entire Taifa of Valencia or also designated the city.
By gradual sound changes, Valentia /waˈlentia/ has become Valencia [baˈlenθja] (i.e. before a pausa or nasal sound) or [-βaˈlenθja] (after a continuant) in Castilian and València [vaˈlensia] in Valencian. In Valencian, the grave accent <è> /ɛ/ contrasts with the acute accent <é> /e/—but the word València is an exception to this rule. It is spelled according to Catalan etymology, though its pronunciation is closer to Vulgar Latin.
Valencia stands on the banks of the Turia River, located on the eastern coast of the Iberian Peninsula and the western part of the Mediterranean Sea, fronting the Gulf of Valencia. At its founding by the Romans, it stood on a river island in the Turia, 6.4 kilometres (4.0 mi) from the sea. The Albufera, a freshwater lagoon and estuary about 11 km (7 mi) south of the city, is one of the largest lakes in Spain. The City Council bought the lake from the Crown of Spain for 1,072,980 pesetas in 1911, and today it forms the main portion of the Parc Natural de l'Albufera (Albufera Nature Reserve), with a surface area of 21,120 hectares (52,200 acres). In 1986, because of its cultural, historical, and ecological value, the Generalitat Valenciana declared it a natural park.
Valencia has a subtropical Mediterranean climate (Köppen Csa) with short, very mild winters and long, hot and dry summers.
Its average annual temperature is 18.4 °C (65.1 °F); 23.0 °C (73.4 °F) during the day and 13.8 °C (56.8 °F) at night. In the coldest month, January, the maximum temperature typically during the day ranges from 14 to 21 °C (57 to 70 °F), the minimum temperature typically at night ranges from 5 to 11 °C (41 to 52 °F). In the warmest month – August, the maximum temperature during the day typically ranges from 28–34 °C (82–93 °F), about 22 to 23 °C (72 to 73 °F) at night. Generally, similar temperatures to those experienced in the northern part of Europe in summer last about 8 months, from April to November. March is transitional, the temperature often exceeds 20 °C (68 °F), with an average temperature of 19.3 °C (66.7 °F) during the day and 10.0 °C (50.0 °F) at night. December, January and February are the coldest months, with average temperatures around 17 °C (63 °F) during the day and 8 °C (46 °F) at night. Valencia has one of the mildest winters in Europe, owing to its southern location on the Mediterranean Sea and the Foehn phenomenon. The January average is comparable to temperatures expected for May and September in the major cities of northern Europe.
Sunshine duration hours are 2,696 per year, from 155 (average nearly 5 hours of sunshine duration at day) in December to 315 (average above 10 hours of sunshine duration at day) in July. The average temperature of the sea is 15–16 °C (59–61 °F) during winters and 26–28 °C (79–82 °F) during summers. Average relative humidity is 60% in April to 68% in August.
Valencia enjoyed strong economic growth over the last decade, much of it spurred by tourism and the construction industry, with concurrent development and expansion of telecommunications and transport. The city's economy is service-oriented, as nearly 84% of the working population is employed in service sector occupations. However, the city still maintains an important industrial base, with 5.5% of the population employed in this sector. Agricultural activities are still carried on in the municipality, even though of relatively minor importance with only 1.9% of the working population and 3,973 ha (9,820 acres) planted mostly in orchards and citrus groves.
Since the onset of the Great Recession (2008), Valencia had experienced a growing unemployment rate, increased government debt, etc. Severe spending cuts had been introduced by the city government.
In 2009, Valencia was designated "the 29th fastest-improving European city". Its influence in commerce, education, entertainment, media, fashion, science and the arts contributes to its status as one of the world's "Gamma"-rank global cities.
The large factory of Ford Motor Company lies in a suburb of the city, Almussafes.
The Valencia metropolitan area had a GDP amounting to $52.7 billion, and $28,141 per capita.
Valencia's port is the biggest on the Mediterranean western coast, the first of Spain in container traffic as of 2008 and the second of Spain in total traffic, handling 20% of Spain's exports. The main exports are foodstuffs and beverages. Other exports include oranges, furniture, ceramic tiles, fans, textiles and iron products. Valencia's manufacturing sector focuses on metallurgy, chemicals, textiles, shipbuilding and brewing. Small and medium-sized industries are an important part of the local economy, and before the current crisis unemployment was lower than the Spanish average.
Valencia's port underwent radical changes to accommodate the 32nd America's Cup in 2007. It was divided into two parts—one was unchanged while the other section was modified for the America's Cup festivities. The two sections remain divided by a wall that projects far into the water to maintain clean water for the America's Cup side.
Public transport is provided by the Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat Valenciana (FGV), which operates the Metrovalencia and other rail and bus services. The Estació del Nord (North Station) is the main railway terminus in Valencia. A new temporary station, Estació de València-Joaquín Sorolla, has been built on land adjacent to this terminus to accommodate high speed AVE trains to and from Madrid, Barcelona, Seville and Alicante. Valencia Airport is situated 9 km (5.6 mi) west of Valencia city centre. Alicante Airport is situated about 170 km (110 mi) south of Valencia.
The City of Valencia also makes available a bicycle sharing system named Valenbisi to both visitors and residents. As of 13 October 2012, the system has 2750 bikes distributed over 250 stations all throughout the city.
The average amount of time people spend commuting with public transit in Valencia, for example to and from work, on a weekday is 44 min. 6% of public transit riders, ride for more than 2 hours every day. The average amount of time people wait at a stop or station for public transit is 10 min, while 9% of riders wait for over 20 minutes on average every day. The average distance people usually ride in a single trip with public transit is 5.9 km, while 8% travel for over 12 km in a single direction.
Starting in the mid-1990s, Valencia, formerly an industrial centre, saw rapid development that expanded its cultural and tourism possibilities, and transformed it into a newly vibrant city. Many local landmarks were restored, including the ancient Towers of the medieval city (Serrans Towers and Quart Towers), and the Saint Miquel dels Reis monastery (es:Monasterio de San Miguel de los Reyes), which now holds a conservation library. Whole sections of the old city, for example the Carmen Quarter, have been extensively renovated. The Paseu Marítim, a 4 km (2 mi) long palm tree-lined promenade was constructed along the beaches of the north side of the port (Platja de Les Arenes, Platja del Cabanyal and Platja de la Malva-rosa).
The city has numerous convention centres and venues for trade events, among them the Feria Valencia Convention and Exhibition Centre (Institución Ferial de Valencia) and the Palau de congres (Conference Palace), and several 5-star hotels to accommodate business travelers.
In its long history, Valencia has acquired many local traditions and festivals, among them the Falles, which were declared Celebrations of International Tourist Interest (Festes de Interés Turístic Internacional) on 25 January 1965 and UNESCO's intangible cultural heritage of humanity list on 30 November 2016, and the Water Tribunal of Valencia (Tribunal de les Aigües de València), which was declared an intangible cultural heritage of humanity (Patrimoni Cultural Inmaterial de la Humanitat) in 2009. In addition to these Valencia has hosted world-class events that helped shape the city's reputation and put it in the international spotlight, e.g., the Regional Exhibition of 1909, the 32nd and the 33rd America's Cup competitions, the European Grand Prix of Formula One auto racing, the Valencia Open 500 tennis tournament, and the Global Champions Tour of equestrian sports. The final round of the MotoGP Championship is held annually at the Circuito de la Communitat Valenciana.
The 2007 America's Cup yachting races were held at Valencia in June and July 2007 and attracted huge crowds. The Louis Vuitton stage drew 1,044,373 visitors and the America's Cup match drew 466,010 visitors to the event.
The third largest city in Spain and the 24th most populous municipality in the European Union, Valencia has a population of 809,267 within its administrative limits on a land area of 134.6 km2 (52 sq mi). The urban area of Valencia extending beyond the administrative city limits has a population of between 1,561,000 and 1,564,145. 1,705,742 or 2,300,000 or 2,516,818 people live in the Valencia metropolitan area. Between 2007 and 2008 there was a 14% increase in the foreign born population with the largest numeric increases by country being from Bolivia, Romania and Italy. This growth in the foreign born population, which rose from 1.5% in the year 2000 to 9.1% in 2009, has also occurred in the two larger cities of Madrid and Barcelona. The main countries of origin were Romania, United Kingdom and Bulgaria.
Valencia is known internationally for the Falles (Les Falles), a local festival held in March, and for paella valenciana, traditional Valencian ceramics, craftsmanship in traditional dress, and the architecture of the City of Arts and Sciences designed by Santiago Calatrava and Félix Candela.
La Tomatina, an annual tomato fight, draws crowds to the nearby town of Buñol in August. There are also a number of well-preserved traditional Catholic festivities throughout the year. Holy Week celebrations in Valencia are considered some of the most colourful in Spain.
Valencia was once the site of the Formula One European Grand Prix, first hosting the event on 24 August 2008, but was dropped at the beginning of the Grand Prix 2013 season, though still holds the annual Moto GP race at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo, usually that last race of the season in November.
The University of Valencia (officially Universitat de València Estudi General) was founded in 1499, being one of the oldest surviving universities in Spain and the oldest university in the Valencian Community. It was listed as one of the four leading Spanish universities in the 2011 Shanghai Academic Ranking of World Universities.
In 2012, Boston's Berklee College of Music opened a satellite campus at the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia, its first and only international campus outside the U.S. Since 2003, Valencia also hosts the music courses of Musikeon, the leading musical institution in the Spanish-speaking world.
Valencia is a bilingual city: Valencian and Spanish are the two official languages. Spanish is official in all of Spain, whereas Valencian is official in the Valencian Community. Despite distinct dialectal traits and political tension between Catalonia and Valencia, Catalan and Valencian are mutually intelligible and considered two varieties of the same language.
Valencian has been historically de-emphasised in favour of Spanish. The effects have been more noticeable in the city proper, whereas the language has remained active in the rural and metropolitan areas. After the Castille-Aragon unification, a Spanish-speaking elite established itself in the city. In more recent history, the establishment of Franco's military and administrative apparatus in Valencia further excluded Valencian from public life. Valencian recovered its official status, prestige and use in education after the transition to democracy in 1978. However, due to industrialisation in recent decades, Valencia has attracted immigration from other regions in Spain, and hence there is also a demographic factor for its declining social use. Due to a combination of these reasons, Valencia has become the bastion of anti-Catalan blaverism, which celebrates Valencian as merely folkloric, but rejects the existing standard which was adapted from Catalan orthography.
Spanish is currently the predominant language in the city proper but, thanks to the education system, most Valencians have basic knowledge of both Spanish and Valencian, and either can be used in the city. Valencia is therefore the second biggest Catalan-speaking city after Barcelona. Institutional buildings and streets are named in Valencian. The city is also home to many pro-Valencian political and civil organisations. Furthermore, education entirely in Valencian is offered in more than 70 state-owned schools in the city, as well as by the University of Valencia across all disciplines.
Valencia is famous for its gastronomic culture. The paella (a simmered rice dish with meat (usually chicken or rabbit) or seafood) was born in Valencia; Other traditional dishes of Valencian gastronomy includes "fideuà", "arròs a banda", "arròs negre" (black rice), "fartons", "bunyols", the Spanish omelette, "pinchos" and "calamares"(squids).
Valencia was also the birthplace of the cold xufa beverage known as orxata, popular in many parts of the world, including the Americas.
Every year, the five days and nights from March 15 to March 19, called Falles, are a continual festival in Valencia; beginning on March 1, the popular pyrotechnic events called mascletàes start every day at 2:00 pm. The Falles (Fallas in Spanish) is an enduring tradition in Valencia and other towns in the Valencian Community, where it has become an important tourist attraction. The festival began in the 18th century, and came to be celebrated on the night of the feast day of Saint Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters, with the burning of waste planks of wood from their workshops, as well as worn-out wooden objects brought by people in the neighborhood.
This tradition continued to evolve, and eventually the parots were dressed with clothing to look like people—these were the first ninots, with features identifiable as being those of a well-known person from the neighborhood often added as well. In 1901 the city inaugurated the awarding of prizes for the best Falles monuments, and neighborhood groups still vie with each other to make the most impressive and outrageous creations. Their intricate assemblages, placed on top of pedestals for better visibility, depict famous personalities and topical subjects of the past year, presenting humorous and often satirical commentary on them.
The 19th of March at night Valencians burn all the Falles in an event called "La Cremà".
Valencia is one of the oldest cities in Spain, founded in the Roman period, c. 138 BC, under the name "Valentia Edetanorum". A few centuries later, with the power vacuum left by the demise of the Roman imperial administration, the church assumed the reins of power in the city, coinciding with the first waves of the invading Germanic peoples (Suevi, Vandals and Alans, and later the Visigoths).
The city surrendered to the invading Moors (Berbers and Arabs) about 714 AD, and the cathedral of Saint Vincent was turned into a mosque.
The Castilian nobleman Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar, known as El Cid, in command of a combined Christian and Moorish army, besieged the city beginning in 1092. After the siege ended in May 1094, he ruled the city and its surrounding territory as his own fiefdom for five years from 15 June 1094 to July 1099.
The city remained in the hands of Christian troops until 1102, when the Almoravids retook the city and restored the Muslim religion. Alfonso VI of León and Castile, drove them from the city, but was unable to hold it. The Almoravid Masdali took possession on 5 May 1109, then the Almohads, seized control of it in 1171.
Many Jews lived in Valencia during early Muslim rule, including the accomplished Jewish poet Solomon ibn Gabirol, who spent his last years in the city. Jews continued to live in Valencia throughout the Almoravid and Almohad dynasties, many of them being artisans such as silversmiths, shoemakers, blacksmiths, locksmiths, etc.; a few were rabbinic scholars. When the city fell to James I of Aragon, the Jewish population of the city constituted about 7 percent of the population.
In 1238, King James I of Aragon, with an army composed of Aragonese, Catalans, Navarrese and crusaders from the Order of Calatrava, laid siege to Valencia and on 28 September obtained a surrender. Fifty thousand Moors were forced to leave.
The city endured serious troubles in the mid-14th century, including the decimation of the population by the Black Death of 1348 and subsequent years of epidemics — as well as a series of wars and riots that followed. In 1391, the Jewish quarter was destroyed.
The 15th century was a time of economic expansion, known as the Valencian Golden Age, in which culture and the arts flourished. Concurrent population growth made Valencia the most populous city in the Crown of Aragon.
Some of the most emblematic buildings of the city were built during this period, including the Serrans Towers (1392), the Silk Exchange (1482), the Micalet and the Chapel of the Kings of the Convent of Sant Domènec. In painting and sculpture, Flemish and Italian trends had an influence on Valencian artists.
Valencia rose to become one of the most influential cities on the Mediterranean in the 15th and 16th centuries, but following the discovery of the Americas, the Valencians, like the Catalans, Aragonese and Majorcans, were prohibited participation in the cross-Atlantic commerce, and with this loss of trade, Valencia eventually suffered an economic crisis.
The crisis deepened during the 17th century with the expulsion in 1609 of the Jews and the Moriscos, descendants of the Muslim population that had converted to Christianity. The Spanish government systematically forced Moriscos to leave the kingdom for Muslim North Africa. They were concentrated in the former Kingdom of Aragon, and in the Valencia area specifically, they were roughly a third of the total population. The expulsion caused the financial ruin of some of the nobility and the bankruptcy of the Taula de Canvi financial institution in 1613.
The decline of the city reached its nadir with the War of Spanish Succession (1702–1709), marking the end of the political and legal independence of the Kingdom of Valencia. During the War of the Spanish Succession, Valencia sided with the Habsburg ruler of the Holy Roman Empire, Charles of Austria. 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, captured the nearby fortress at Sagunt, and bluffed the Spanish Bourbon army into withdrawal.
The English held the city for 16 months and defeated several attempts to expel them. After the victory of the Bourbons at the Battle of Almansa on 25 April 1707, the English army evacuated Valencia and Philip V ordered the repeal of the privileges of Valencia as punishment for the kingdom's support of Charles of Austria. By the Nueva Planta decrees (Decretos de Nueva Planta) the ancient Charters of Valencia were abolished and the city was governed by the Castilian Charter.
The Valencian economy recovered during the 18th century with the rising manufacture of woven silk and ceramic tiles. The Palau de Justícia is an example of the affluence manifested in the most prosperous times of Bourbon rule (1758–1802) during the rule of Charles III. The 18th century was the age of the Enlightenment in Europe, and its humanistic ideals influenced such men as Gregory Maians and Perez Bayer in Valencia, who maintained correspondence with the leading French and German thinkers of the time.
The 19th century began with Spain embroiled in wars with France, Portugal, and England—but the War of Independence most affected the Valencian territories and the capital city. The repercussions of the French Revolution were still felt when Napoleon's armies invaded the Iberian Peninsula. The Valencian people rose up in arms against them on 23 May 1808, inspired by leaders such as Vicent Doménech el Palleter.
The mutineers seized the Citadel, a Supreme Junta government took over, and on 26–28 June, Napoleon's Marshal Moncey attacked the city with a column of 9,000 French imperial troops in the First Battle of Valencia. He failed to take the city in two assaults and retreated to Madrid. Marshal Suchet began a long siege of the city in October 1811, and after intense bombardment forced it to surrender on 8 January 1812. After the capitulation, the French instituted reforms in Valencia, which became the capital of Spain when the Bonapartist pretender to the throne, José I (Joseph Bonaparte, Napoleon's elder brother), moved the Court there in the middle of 1812. The disaster of the Battle of Vitoria on 21 June 1813 obliged Suchet to quit Valencia, and the French troops withdrew in July.
Ferdinand VII became king after the victorious end of the Peninsular War, which freed Spain from Napoleonic domination. When he returned on 24 March 1814 from exile in France, the Cortes requested that he respect the liberal Constitution of 1812, which seriously limited royal powers. Ferdinand refused and went to Valencia instead of Madrid. Here, on 17 April, General Elio invited the King to reclaim his absolute rights and put his troops at the King's disposition. The king abolished the Constitution of 1812 and dissolved the two chambers of the Spanish Parliament on 10 May. Thus began six years (1814–1820) of absolutist rule, but the constitution was reinstated during the Trienio Liberal, a period of three years of liberal government in Spain from 1820–1823.
On the death of King Ferdinand VII in 1833, Baldomero Espartero became one of the most ardent defenders of the hereditary rights of the king's daughter, the future Isabella II. During the regency of Maria Cristina, Espartero ruled Spain for two years as its 18th Prime Minister from 16 September 1840 to 21 May 1841. City life in Valencia carried on in a revolutionary climate, with frequent clashes between liberals and republicans.
The reign of Isabella II as an adult (1843–1868) was a period of relative stability and growth for Valencia. During the second half of the 19th century the bourgeoisie encouraged the development of the city and its environs; land-owners were enriched by the introduction of the orange crop and the expansion of vineyards and other crops,. This economic boom corresponded with a revival of local traditions and of the Valencian language, which had been ruthlessly suppressed from the time of Philip V. Around 1870, the Valencian Renaissance, a movement committed to the revival of the Valencian language and traditions, began to gain ascendancy.
In the early 20th century Valencia was an industrialised city. The silk industry had disappeared, but there was a large production of hides and skins, wood, metals and foodstuffs, this last with substantial exports, particularly of wine and citrus. Small businesses predominated, but with the rapid mechanisation of industry larger companies were being formed. The best expression of this dynamic was in the regional exhibitions, including that of 1909 held next to the pedestrian avenue L'Albereda (Paseo de la Alameda), which depicted the progress of agriculture and industry. Among the most architecturally successful buildings of the era were those designed in the Art Nouveau style, such as the North Station (Estació del Nord) and the Central and Columbus markets.
World War I (1914–1918) greatly affected the Valencian economy, causing the collapse of its citrus exports. The Second Spanish Republic (1931–1939) opened the way for democratic participation and the increased politicisation of citizens, especially in response to the rise of Conservative Front power in 1933. The inevitable march to civil war and the combat in Madrid resulted in the removal of the capital of the Republic to Valencia.
On 6 November 1936, the city became the capital of Republican Spain. The city was heavily bombarded by air and sea, and by the end of the war the city had survived 442 bombardments, leaving 2,831 dead and 847 wounded, although it is estimated that the death toll was higher. The Republican government moved to Barcelona on 31 October of that year. On 30 March 1939, Valencia surrendered and the Nationalist troops entered the city. The postwar years were a time of hardship for Valencians. During Franco's regime speaking or teaching Valencian was prohibited; in a significant reversal it is now compulsory for every schoolchild in Valencia.
The dictatorship of Franco forbade political parties and began a harsh ideological and cultural repression countenanced and sometimes even led by the Church.
The economy began to recover in the early 1960s, and the city experienced explosive population growth through immigration spurred by the jobs created with the implementation of major urban projects and infrastructure improvements. With the advent of democracy in Spain, the ancient kingdom of Valencia was established as a new autonomous entity, the Valencian Community, the Statute of Autonomy of 1982 designating Valencia as its capital.
Valencia has since then experienced a surge in its cultural development, exemplified by exhibitions and performances at such iconic institutions as the Palau de la Música, the Palacio de Congresos, the Metro, the City of Arts and Sciences (Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències), the Valencian Museum of Enlightenment and Modernity (Museo Valenciano de la Ilustracion y la Modernidad), and the Institute of Modern Art (Institut Valencià d'Art Modern). The various productions of Santiago Calatrava, a renowned structural engineer, architect, and sculptor and of the architect Félix Candela have contributed to Valencia's international reputation. These public works and the ongoing rehabilitation of the Old City (Ciutat Vella) have helped improve the city's livability and tourism is continually increasing.
On 9 July 2006, the World Day of Families, during Mass at Valencia's Cathedral, Our Lady of the Forsaken Basilica, Pope Benedict XVI used, the Sant Calze, a 1st-century Middle-Eastern artifact that some Catholics believe is the Holy Grail. It was supposedly brought to that church by Emperor Valerian in the 3rd century, after having been brought by St. Peter to Rome from Jerusalem. The Sant Calze (Holy Chalice) is a simple, small stone cup. Its base was added in Medieval Times and consists of fine gold, alabaster and gem stones.
Valencia was selected in 2003 to host the historic America's Cup yacht race, the first European city ever to do so. The America's Cup matches took place from April to July 2007. On 3 July 2007, Alinghi defeated Team New Zealand to retain the America's Cup. Twenty-two days later, on 25 July 2007, the leaders of the Alinghi syndicate, holder of the America's Cup, officially announced that Valencia would be the host city for the 33rd America's Cup, held in June 2009.
In the Valencia City Council elections from 1991 to 2015 the City Council was governed by the People's Party of Spain (Partido Popular) (PP) and Mayor Rita Barberá Nolla who became mayor by a pact made with the Valencian Union.
Major monuments include Valencia Cathedral, the Torres de Serrans, the Torres de Quart (es:Torres de Quart), the Llotja de la Seda (declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996), and the Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències (City of Arts and Sciences), an entertainment-based cultural and architectural complex designed by Santiago Calatrava and Félix Candela. The Museu de Belles Arts de València houses a large collection of paintings from the 14th to the 18th centuries, including works by Velázquez, El Greco, and Goya, as well as an important series of engravings by Piranesi. The Institut Valencià d'Art Modern (Valencian Institute of Modern Art) houses both permanent collections and temporary exhibitions of contemporary art and photography.
The ancient winding streets of the Barrio del Carmen contain buildings dating to Roman and Arabic times. The Cathedral, built between the 13th and 15th centuries, is primarily of Gothic style but contains elements of Baroque and Romanesque architecture. Beside the Cathedral is the Gothic Basilica of the Virgin (Basílica De La Mare de Déu dels Desamparats). The 15th-century Serrans and Quart towers are part of what was once the wall surrounding the city.
UNESCO has recognised the Silk Exchange market (La Llotja de la Seda), erected in early Valencian Gothic style, as a World Heritage Site. The modernist Central Market (Mercat Central) is one of the largest in Europe. The main railway station Estació Del Nord is built in modernisme (the Spanish version of Art Nouveau) style.
World-renowned (and city-born) architect Santiago Calatrava produced the futuristic City of Arts and Sciences (Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències), which contains an opera house/performing arts centre, a science museum, an IMAX cinema/planetarium, an oceanographic park and other structures such as a long covered walkway and restaurants. Calatrava is also responsible for the bridge named after him in the centre of the city. The Music Palace (Palau De La Música) (es:Palacio de la Música de Valencia) is another noteworthy example of modern architecture in Valencia.
The Valencia Cathedral was called Iglesia Major in the early days of the Reconquista, then Iglesia de la Seu (Seu is from the Latin sedes, i.e., (archiepiscopal) See), and by virtue of the papal concession of 16 October 1866, it was called the Basilica Metropolitana. It is situated in the centre of the ancient Roman city where some believe the temple of Diana stood. In Gothic times, it seems to have been dedicated to the Holy Saviour; the Cid dedicated it to the Blessed Virgin; King James I of Aragon did likewise, leaving in the main chapel the image of the Blessed Virgin, which he carried with him and is reputed to be the one now preserved in the sacristy. The Moorish mosque, which had been converted into a Christian Church by the conqueror, was deemed unworthy of the title of the cathedral of Valencia, and in 1262 Bishop Andrés de Albalat laid the cornerstone of the new Gothic building, with three naves; these reach only to the choir of the present building. Bishop Vidal de Blanes built the chapter hall, and James I added the tower, called El Micalet because it was blessed on St. Michael's day in 1418. The tower is about 58 metres (190 feet) high and is topped with a belfry (1660–1736).
In the 15th century the dome was added and the naves extended back of the choir, uniting the building to the tower and forming a main entrance. Archbishop Luis Alfonso de los Cameros began the building of the main chapel in 1674; the walls were decorated with marbles and bronzes in the Baroque style of that period. At the beginning of the 18th century the German Conrad Rudolphus built the façade of the main entrance. The other two doors lead into the transept; one, that of the Apostles in pure pointed Gothic, dates from the 14th century, the other is that of the Palau. The additions made to the back of the cathedral detract from its height. The 18th-century restoration rounded the pointed arches, covered the Gothic columns with Corinthian pillars, and redecorated the walls.
The dome has no lantern, its plain ceiling being pierced by two large side windows. There are four chapels on either side, besides that at the end and those that open into the choir, the transept, and the sanctuary. It contains many paintings by eminent artists. A silver reredos, which was behind the altar, was carried away in the war of 1808, and converted into coin to meet the expenses of the campaign. There are two paintings by Francisco de Goya in the San Francesco chapel. Behind the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament is a small Renaissance chapel built by Calixtus III. Beside the cathedral is the chapel dedicated to the Our Lady of the Forsaken (Mare de Déu dels desamparats).
The Tribunal de les Aigües (Water Court), a court dating from Moorish times that hears and mediates in matters relating to irrigation water, sits at noon every Thursday outside the Porta dels Apostols (Portal of the Apostles).
In 1409, a hospital was founded and placed under the patronage of Santa Maria dels Innocents; to this was attached a confraternity devoted to recovering the bodies of the unfriended dead in the city and within a radius of three miles (4.8 kilometres) around it. At the end of the 15th century this confraternity separated from the hospital, and continued its work under the name of "Cofradia para el ámparo de los desamparados". King Philip IV of Spain and the Duke of Arcos suggested the building of the new chapel, and in 1647 the Viceroy, Conde de Oropesa, who had been preserved from the bubonic plague, insisted on carrying out their project. The Blessed Virgin was proclaimed patroness of the city under the title of Virgen de los desamparados (Virgin of the Forsaken), and Archbishop Pedro de Urbina, on 31 June 1652, laid the cornerstone of the new chapel of this name. The archiepiscopal palace, a grain market in the time of the Moors, is simple in design, with an inside cloister and a handsome chapel. In 1357, the arch that connects it with the cathedral was built. Inside the council chamber are preserved the portraits of all the prelates of Valencia.
El Temple (the Temple), the ancient church of the Knights Templar, which passed into the hands of the Order of Montesa and was rebuilt in the reigns of Ferdinand VI and Charles III; the former convent of the Dominicans, at one time the headquarters of the Capitan General, the cloister of which has a beautiful Gothic wing and the chapter room, large columns imitating palm trees; the Colegio del Corpus Christi, which is devoted to the Blessed Sacrament, and in which perpetual adoration is carried on; the Jesuit college, which was destroyed in 1868 by the revolutionary Committee of the Popular Front, but later rebuilt; and the Colegio de San Juan (also of the Society), the former college of the nobles, now a provincial institute for secondary instruction.
The largest plaza in Valencia is the Plaça del Ajuntament; it is home to the City Hall (Ajuntament) on its western side and the central post office (Edifici de Correus) on its eastern side, a cinema that shows classic movies, and many restaurants and bars. The plaza is triangular in shape, with a large cement lot at the southern end, normally surrounded by flower vendors. It serves as ground zero during the Les Falles when the fireworks of the Mascletà can be heard every afternoon. There is a large fountain at the northern end.
The Plaça de la Mare de Déu contains the Basilica of the Virgin and the Turia fountain, and is a popular spot for locals and tourists. Around the corner is the Plaça de la Reina, with the Cathedral, orange trees, and many bars and restaurants.
The Turia River was diverted in the 1960s, after severe flooding, and the old riverbed is now the Turia gardens, which contain a children's playground, a fountain, and sports fields.
The Palau de la Música is adjacent to the Turia gardens and the City of Arts and Sciences lies at one end. The Valencia Bioparc is a zoo, also located in the Turia riverbed.
Other gardens in Valencia include:
Valencia is also internationally famous for its football club, Valencia C.F., one of the most successful clubs in Europe and La Liga, which won the Spanish league in 2002 and 2004 (the year it also won the UEFA Cup), for a total of six times, and was a UEFA Champions League runner-up in 2000 and 2001. The club is currently owned by Peter Lim, a Singaporean businessman who bought the club in 2014. The team's stadium is the Mestalla; its city rival Levante UD plays in the La Liga after club was re-promoted after club was relegated previous season, its stadium is Estadi Ciutat de València.
Valencia is the only city in Spain with two American football teams in LNFA Serie A, the national first division: Valencia Firebats and Valencia Giants. The Firebats have been national champions three times and have represented Valencia and Spain in the European playoffs since 2005. Both teams share the Jardín del Turia stadium.
Once a year between 2008–2012 the European Formula One Grand Prix took place in the Valencia Street Circuit. Valencia is among (with Barcelona, Porto and Monte Carlo) the only European cities ever to host Formula One World Championship Grands Prix on public roads in the middle of cities. The final race in 2012 European Grand Prix saw an extremely popular winner, since home driver Fernando Alonso won for Ferrari in spite of starting halfway down the field. The Valencian Community motorcycle Grand Prix (Gran Premi de la Comunitat Valenciana de motociclisme) is part of the Grand Prix motorcycle racing season at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo (also known as Circuit de Valencia) held in November. Periodically the Spanish round of the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters touring car racing Championship (DTM) is held in Valencia.
Valencia is also the home of the Asociación Española de Rugby League, who are the governing body for Rugby League in Spain. The city plays host to a number of clubs playing the sport and to date has hosted all the country's home international matches. In 2015 Valencia hosted their first match in the Rugby League European Federation C competition, which was a qualifier for the 2017 Rugby League World Cup. Spain won the fixture 40-30
These towns administratively are within of districts of Valencia.