Roman, Arabic and Christian Due to its strategic position on the Mediterranean coast, Valencia is a veritable melting pot of cultures. The city was founded in 138 BC by the Romans. The original Forum is currently home to a museum located in the Plaza de la Almoina.
After the Romans, the Visigoths arrived in Valencia but in 714, the Muslims established control in the city, a situation that lasted until 1238 when King Jaime 1st ousted them in the name of the Kingdom of Valencia. As architectural evidence of this epoch, we can point to the remains of the walls that surrounded the Tossal Gallery or the Angel Tower.
The medieval period left an even greater legacy, it was a time when the economy flourished thanks to agriculture and maritime commerce. The Cathedral, Torres de Serranos and Torres de Quart, La Lonja de Seda (the Silk Merchant Market) - an official World Heritage Site - and the Convento and Puente de la Trinidad, are some examples of this splendorous golden epoch of the city in the 14th and 15th centuries. Maritime commerce, and especially the silk industry, led to an economic renaissance which had an effect on ideas, the arts and wider cultural issues.
Perhaps the best physical illustration from this period is the Palau de la Generalitat, a gothic construction that has been designated as a Site of Cultural Interest and currently home to the Regional Government of the Community of Valencia. Also of great interest is the Colegio del Patriarca. The Barroque and Enlightenment periods left us buildings such as: Basilica de la Virgen de los Desamparados, the Palace of the Marques de Dos Aguas, the Plaza Redonda and the Museum of Fine Art which has the second largest collection of paintings in Spain next to Madrid's El Prado. Roman, Arabic and Christian. Modernism Valencia boasts one of the largest collections of modernist work in Spain.
Excellent examples of this civil architecture can be seen in the Estacian del Norte (North Railway Station), the Mercado de Colon (which was refurbished in 2003 and converted in to a recreational centre and the Mercado Central) this last building is the biggest market in Europe with 8,000 square metres and almost 1,500 stalls, offering an enormous range of fresh food products.
Also worth a visit are the Casa de la Lactancia (which currently houses the La Alameda urban spa), the Palacio de la Exposicion (Exhibition Palace), the Tinglados, located in the port, near to the Edificio del Reloj (Clock Building), and the Blasco Ibanez Housemuseum.
Valencia: symbol of the avant-garde Valencia left the 20th century and marched into the third millenium as a leading city. The Palau de la Musica, has become a bastion of music. The IVAM (Valencian Institute of Modern Art) is soon to be extended, with an exciting project designed by Japanese architects Kazuyo Sejima and Ruye Nichizawa. In the 1990's began an ambitious plan that has seen the old Turia riverbed converted into magnificent gardens and the location for the inspirational City of Arts and Science complex, designed by the Valencian Santiago Calatrava, including the recently inaugurated Palau de las Arts. The Conference Centre, designed by Norman Foster, the MUVIM (Valencia Museum of The Enlightenment and Modernity), designed by Guillermo Vazquez Consuegra, and the Feria Valencia trade fair complex with its impressive extension, are just some examples of the city's internationally recognised futuristic constructions.
We must, of course, make mention of the port and docks redevelopment that is taking place for the hosting of the 32nd America's Cup. This is presided by the Veles e Vents guest centre, which was designed by the British architect David Chipperfield and Valencia-born Fermin Vazquez. Another highlight is the base for the Italian team, Luna Rossa, which was designed by the renowned architect Renzo Piano.