Walking through Valencia's history
Valencia has been and is one of the most interesting capitals of the Mediterranean, due to its exceptional location and its continuous cultural miscegenation. Valencia is a city open to the sea, with an outstanding architectural heritage that has managed to preserve the past and adapt to the future.
Although the city had a remarkable relevance during the Roman period, possessing infrastructures of the highest level, at the end of the Empire the city was partially destroyed. "Valentia", the Roman Valencia, had not only an important port but also a forum, a circus, a basilica and a temple dedicated to Asclepius. Nowadays only some ruins of the forum have remained or the other buildings were converted by Christians and Muslims.
The cultural crossbreeding began after the fall of the Empire when the city was taken over by the Visigoths. The city recovered some life and activity until the Muslim conquest in the 8th century. The Muslims took the city peacefully, which contributed to the coexistence between Christians and Muslims. During the almost four centuries of Muslim and Islamic rule, the pre-Muslim customs were respected and the Mozarabic community (Christians living in al-Ándalus) could coexist socially and culturally.
At the beginning, the city belonged to the Caliphate of Cordoba but, after its fall, it became a "taifa", i.e. an independent kingdom. During the time of the Taifa (between the XI-XII century) the city flourished. Great engineering works were done, creating irrigation systems, and the city was fortified. They also built a souk (Arab market), an almunia (small palace with gardens) and a leisure garden that was called Russafa, today one of the most famous neighborhoods of the city.
The Christian kingdoms, led by El Cid Campeador (among others), tried to conquer the city. But it was not until the beginning of the 13th century that Jaime I The Conqueror managed to take the city, although the inhabitants of the Taifa were allowed to stay.
The most imposing historical buildings in Valencia were built during the Valencian Golden Age (15th century) and so it is attested by the Lonja de la Seda, the Micalet and other Valencian Gothic buildings such as the Cathedral and La Seu.
At present the Valencian Community is one of the most prosperous of the Spanish State and its capital has notable examples of contemporary architecture as well, especially the City of Arts and Sciences, designed by Santiago Calatrava.