Valencia is the capital of the autonomous community of Valencia and the third largest city in Spain after Madrid and Barcelona, with around 809,000 inhabitants in the administrative centre. Valencia is also Spain's third largest metropolitan area, with a population ranging from 1.7 to 2.5 million. The city has global city status.The Port of Valencia is the 5th busiest container port in Europe and the largest on the Mediterranean Sea, with a trade volume of 4.21 million TEU's.
Valencia was founded as a Roman colony in 138 BC. 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 acres; this heritage of ancient monuments, views and cultural attractions makes Valencia one of the country's most popular tourist destinations. Major monuments include Valencia Cathedral, the Torres de Serranos, the 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.
Valencia is integrated into an industrial area on the Costa del Azahar (Orange Blossom Coast). Valencia's main festival is the Falles. The traditional Spanish dish, paella, originated in Valencia. The original Latin name of the city was Valentia (Latin pronunciation: [waˈlentia]), meaning "strength", or "valour", the city being named according to the Roman practice of recognizing 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, Viriato. During the rule of the Muslim kingdoms in Spain, it was called Medina at-Turab (مدينة التراب, 'City of Sands'), since it was located on the banks of the River Turia, while the term Balansiyya (بلنسية) was reserved for the entire Taifa of Valencia. By gradual sound changes, Valentia [waˈlentia] has become Valencia [baˈlenθja] in the Castilian and València [vaˈlensia] in Valencian (in Valencian the grave accent <è> /ɛ/ contrasts with the acute accent <é> /e/, nevertheless the word 'València' is an exception to this rule which is spelled according to Catalan etymology, though it uses a pronunciation closer to Vulgar Latin).
The city is situated on the banks of the Turia river, on the eastern coast of the Iberian peninsula and the western part of the Mediterranean Sea, fronting the Gulf of Valencia. At the time of its founding by the Romans it stood on a river island in the Turia, 6.4 km (4 mi) from the sea. The Albufera, a saltwater lagoon and estuary which lies about 11 km (7 mi) south of the city, is one of the largest lakes in Spain; it was bought by the City Council from the Crown of Spain for 1,072,980 pesetas in 1911, and today 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). Because of its cultural, historical and ecological value, it was declared a natural park by the Generalitat Valenciana in 1986.
Valencia has a subtropical climate on the borderline of the Mediterranean climate (Köppen climate classification Csa) with very mild winters and long warm to hot summers.
Its average annual temperature is 22.3 °C (72.1 °F) during the day and 13.4 °C (56.1 °F) at night. In the coldest month—January—the maximum temperature typically during the day ranges from 10 to 20 °C (50 to 68 °F), the minimum temperature typically at night ranges from 2 to 12 °C (36 to 54 °F) and the average sea temperature is 14 °C (57 °F). In the warmest month—August—the temperature during the day typically ranges from 28–34 °C (82–93 °F), about 23 °C (73 °F) at night and the average sea temperature is 26 °C (79 °F). Generally, summer temperatures similar to those experienced in northern part of Europe 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 °C (66 °F) during the day and 9 °C (48 °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. The January average is comparable to temperatures expected for May and September in the major cities of Northern Europe.
Sunshine duration hours are 2,660 per year, from 150 (average nearly 5 hours of sunshine duration at day) in December to 314 (average above 10 hours of sunshine duration at day) in July. Average annual temperature of the sea is 18.5 °C (65.3 °F). 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. Air Nostrum, a regional airline, is headquartered in Valencia. 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 3973 hectares planted mostly in orchards and citrus groves.
Since the break of the crisis (2008), Valencia has been among the Spanish regions most affected by it and has not been able to slow down growing unemployment rate, growing government debt etc. Severe spending cuts have been introduced by the city authorities.
In 2009, Valencia was 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 suburb of city, in 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 unemployment is lower than the Spanish average.
Following the announcement that the 32nd America's Cup would be held in Valencia in 2007, the port underwent radical changes in which it was divided into two parts, one part remaining unchanged while the other section would be used exclusively for the America's Cup festivities. The two sections are now divided by a wall that projects far into the water in an effort to maintain clean water for the America's Cup side.
Starting in the mid-1990s, Valencia, formerly an industrial centre, saw rapid development which expanded its cultural and touristic possibilities, and transformed it into a newly vibrant city. Many local landmarks were restored, including the ancient Towers of the medieval city (Serrano Towers and Quart Towers), and the San Miguel de los Reyes monastery which now holds a conservation library. Whole sections of the old city, for example the Carmen Quarter, have been extensively renovated. The Paseo Marítimo, a 4 km (2 mi) long palm tree-lined promenade was constructed along the beaches of the north side of the port (Playa Las Arenas, Playa Cabañal and Playa de la Malvarrosa).
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 Touristic Interest (Fiestas de Interés Turístico Internacional) on 25 January 1965, and the Water Tribunal of Valencia (Tribunal de las Aguas de Valencia), which was declared an intangible cultural heritage of humanity (Patrimonio Cultural Inmaterial de la Humanidad) 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 2005 America's Cup yachting races were held at Valencia in June and July 2005 and attracted huge crowds. According to official data from the organizing committee, as many as 150,000 visitors flocked to Valencia's port each day during the two weeks of events
Valencia is known internationally for the Falles (Las Fallas), a local festival held in March, and for paella valenciana, traditional Valencian ceramics, intricate 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 has a metro system, the Metrovalencia (Valencia Metro).
Valencia used to be a location of the Formula One European Grand Prix, first hosting the event on 24 August 2008. The city was axed at the beginning og the grand prix season 2013 . 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 Shangai Academic Ranking of World Universities.
In 2012, Berklee College of Music opened a new campus at the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia providing focus on the music of the region through its Mediterranean Music Institute. Since 2003, Valencia also hosts the music courses of Musikeon, leading musical institution in the Spanish-speaking world.
Valencia is famous for its gastronomic culture; typical features of its cuisine include paella, a simmered rice dish with seafood or meat (chicken or rabbit), fartons, buñuelos, the Spanish omelette, rosquilletas and squid (calamares).