VALENCIA, an ancient city that braved numerous sieges and still came out victorious
Valencia, a beautiful ancient city, is the third most-populated city in Spain and the capital of the autonomous community of Valencia. Located on the western part of the Mediterranean Sea, Valencia is known for its rich heritage, enthralling architecture, and ancient culture.
However, nestled amid the high-rise and plush infrastructure of modern-day Valencia lies the vivid proof of the indelible scars caused by innumerable attacks, sieges, and bombardments on this city.
Romans founded Valencia but Muslims ruled it
Founded by the Romans in 138 BC, Valencia became one of their most prosperous colonies. So the history of this city dates back almost twenty-two centuries. And since then, until the mid-twentieth century, Valencia has been subjected to countless attacks and invasions.
Firstly, the arrival of the Visigoths in the year 413 and then the Moors in the year 714 resulted in the establishment of Muslim rule in Valencia. The famous Cathedral of St. Vincent was turned into a mosque.
The end of Muslim rule in Valencia
Muslim rule continued till 1092, when the Castilian knight and warlord Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar, ‘El Cid’, with an army comprising of Christian and Moorish soldiers, besieged the city of Valencia.
The siege continued till May 1094, and he ruled the city for the next five years, from 15 June 1094 until the Almoravids attacked the city in 1099.
El Cid eventually died on 10 July 1099 due to the famine caused by the siege by the Almoravids, who completely captured the city on 5 May 1102 under the leadership of Mazdali.
Subsequently, for the next 136 years, Valencia remained under the control of the Moors. During Muslim rule, many Jews lived in Valencia, one of whom was the prominent Jewish poet and philosopher Solomon ibn Gabirol.
The downfall of Muslim rule started when King James I of Aragon attacked Valencia in 1238, and finally managed to capture it on 28 September. This forced fifty thousand Moors to leave the city.
The Black Death Of 1348
The mid-fourteenth century brought fresh troubles for Valencia. There was a steep decline in the population, firstly due to the infamous ‘Black Death of 1348’, and then to various epidemics, wars, and riots. This was one of the most horrendous phases in Valencia’s history.
The Golden Age of Valencia
The fifteenth century is known as the ‘Valencian Golden Age’. Under the monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella, there was a long period of peace and harmony, which promoted art and culture. During the 15th and 16th centuries, Valencia emerged as one of the most influential cities in the Mediterranean.
However, after the discovery of the Americas, Valencia was unable to participate in the new world commerce due to its location. So the ancient city sank into a major economic crisis. This crisis deepened in the 17th century. In 1609, there was an expulsion of the Muslim population that had converted to Christianity. But in the 18th century, Valencia became a major manufacturer of silk.
Valencia braved numerous wars
In the 19th century, the Peninsular War, the Spanish War of Independence, the First Battle of Valencia, and the Battle of Vitoria further annihilated Valencia and its territories. Ferdinand VII became King after achieving victory in the Peninsular War, which freed Spain from the Napoleonic domination.
In the early 20th century, industrialisation was booming in Valencia, but the two World Wars further destroyed its economy. By the end of the Second World War, Valencia miraculously managed to survive, even after 442 bombardments!
The rise of modern-day Valencia
The Valencian economy started to recover in the 1960s. Numerous job opportunities were created thanks to the implementation of various projects, and the result was a surge in population.
Over the last few decades, Valencia has also emerged as one of the cities most visited by tourists from around the world. Supported by modern amenities and world-class infrastructure, modern-day Valencia succeeds in attracting visitors due to its rich culture, captivating heritage, and remarkable history.