First mentioned in the 2d cent. BC, Valencia was a Roman colony. Under the Moors, from the 8th to the 13th cent., it was twice the seat of an independent state (see Valencia, region). From 1094 to 1099, it was ruled by the Cid. After its conquest (1238) by James I of Aragón, Valencia rose to great commercial and cultural importance and rivaled Barcelona. Its university was founded in 1501. In the 15th and 16th cent., through the work of Auzias March and others, Valencia achieved literary and intellectual eminence. It was the seat of the Valencia school of painting in the 16th and 17th cent. It experienced an economic revival in the 19th and 20th cent. During the civil war, Valencia served (1936–37) as the seat of the Loyalist government.
A popular resort, the city is very picturesque, with blue-tiled church domes and narrow streets in the old quarter and fine tree-lined avenues and promenades in the modern section. Among its chief landmarks are the cathedral (13th–15th cent.), called La Seo, with a Gothic belltower (the Miguelete); the Torres de Serranos, 14th-century fortified towers built on Roman foundations; the Gothic silk exchange, called La Lonja; and the 18th-century palace of justice. The city also has a fine-art gallery. The Tribunal de las Aguas, which settles disputes over the irrigation of the outlying garden region, has met regularly in the city since the 10th cent. The modern City of Arts and Sciences complex has striking buildings designed by Santiago Calatrava. There is also a large modern aquarium.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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