It is not strange if the name of Valencia makes us think of the fire of its Fallas and the loud noise of the bangers, rockets and firecrackers. But … What is in the past of a place with such unusual tastes?
Well, to begin with, it turns out that the city was founded by the Romans, something that always gives more prestige. It was the year 138 BC, and the first inhabitants turned out to be, apparently, veterans of the legions of the Roman General Décimo Junio Bruto who had received lands as a reward for their courage shown in the Lusitanian wars. The name of the new town, Valentia (meaning courage), would have been, precisely, recognition of such warlike value.
The City flourished, yes… until it was destroyed by Pompey in a military brawl between Romans, and it had to be rebuilt again. And again, Valentia came to have exceptional importance, but this time would not last long either. It happened that Rome fell and with it times of invasions, trouble and decay came.
Many centuries had to go by until, during the Muslim domination, the city of the River Turia returned to enjoy some stability. Valencia was one of those famous Taifa Kingdoms, and no less famous is the story of its conquest by Cid Campeador, in the year 1094. Rodrigo Díaz entered the city, occupied it and dragged his beard and sword in its streets during his last years of life. After his death, both Valencia and its walls returned to Muslim hands.
More than a century later, Jaime I de Aragón finished what the Cid had started and finally took over the place. The mosques became churches, but the Arab legacy was going to leave, at least, the complex structure of ditches that originated the famous fertile region of Valencia and changed, forever, the face of this area.
In the fifteenth century, the city was filled with industries and merchants, and rivers of gold began to flow. With the growth scholars and artists also arrived and left artworks that today are part of the brilliant Valencian historical heritage.
But bad times would come too, of course. Weighed down by its support to Carlos of Austria in the War of Succession, Valencia had to see how Felipe V abolished its jurisdiction and gave the title of capital to Orihuela, only to annoy them. The royal revenge also included to dismantle the Valencian armourer, but some of the weapons didn’t melt and, over time, they began to use them at parties and celebrations. And this is how, more than three centuries ago, the famous and thunderous Valencian pyrotechnics was born.
As a less noisy alternative, you can take a morning stroll along the beach of Malvarosa, eat paella in any of its kiosks and, after the appropriate siesta, visit the spectacular City of Arts and Sciences. A plan almost mandatory for any visitor.