||Valentia Edetanorum was founded by the Romans in 138 BC, under Consul Decimus Junius Brutus Callaicus, along the right bank of the Turia river, on the site of an ancient Iberian settlement. During the war between Pompey and Sertorius (75 B.C.), the city was destroyed and subsequently abandoned for more than fifty years. It was not until the middle of the 1st century AD that the city flourished again, thanks to the arrival of new inhabitants from nearby areas, urban expansion and the construction of major public works.
At the beginning of the 5th century began the invasions of the Visigoths in the Iberian Peninsula, who ruled until 711, when they were driven out by the Arabs. In the Visigothic period Valencia gained importance from 554 to 625 when, thanks to its strategic location, it was home to military contingents and fortifications against the troops of the Eastern Roman Empire. The latter had in fact succeeded in bringing the frontier of Byzantine Hispania as far as some twenty kilometres south of the city, close to the river Xúquer (Júcar).
In 711 the Visigoth kingdom was crushed by the Arab and Berber invasion. Valencia, or Balansiya (the name used by Muslims) gradually absorbed the customs, language, culture and religion of its new inhabitants. The urban layout also changed: the palace of the Rusàfa was built (which gave its name to one of the city's neighbourhoods, taking up the name of a caliphal residence in Damascus), an initial hinge of cultivation was created outside the city (at the current Barrio del Carmen) and the old Visigoth Episcopal seat was converted into the square of the residence of the governor (wālī), appointed by the caliph of Cordova during the period of the Caliphate of Cordova.
King James I of Aragon conquered the city in 1238, defeating its governor Zayyan ibn Mardanish, and incorporated it into the newly established Kingdom of Valencia, one of the kingdoms that formed the Crown of Aragon. Thus, after five centuries, Arab rule ended, and the Muslim inhabitants were soon expelled from the city. The king promulgated new laws for the city, known as els Furs, which were later extended to the whole kingdom.
The building boom continued in the first decades of the next century. The Central Market and the Mercado de Colón were built; in 1921 the railway station known as Estación del Norte was completed. The flourishing economy was mainly based on agriculture (especially citrus fruits, exported all over the world), metallurgy and the wood processing industry.
In November 1936, after the fall of Madrid in the Spanish Civil War, the capital of the Republic was moved to Valencia. The city suffered for more than two years the blockade and siege by Francisco Franco's forces, who entered the city on 30 March 1939. The post-war period was harsh for the Valencians, whose linguistic freedom was also taken away by the regime: speaking or teaching Valencian was forbidden, using the language was an offence.
On 14 October 1957, the Turia river overflowed, killing many Valencians in what is considered the worst flood in the city's history. The river was later diverted along an alternative course, away from the city; the old dry bed was converted into a park, the Turia Gardens, which run through the city and are a major attraction.
After Franco's death in 1975 and the approval of the Spanish Constitution in 1978, the Valencian Community, of which Valencia is the capital, was granted the statute of autonomy.
||The best known dish of Valencian cuisine is paella. It is a preparation of rice, saffron and olive oil, named after the metal vessel in which it is cooked, called paellero in Valencian. This dish, which is internationally associated with Spanish cuisine, originated in Valencia itself, and has only spread to the rest of Spain since the end of the 19th century. There are now many variations of it, but the traditional recipe, which has taken the name 'paella alla valenciana', is seasoned with meat (chicken and rabbit, pork ribs and meatballs with pine nuts) and vegetables (mainly tomatoes, green beans and peppers). In the traditional version, snails are also used.
Another typical Valencian speciality is horchata, a refreshing drink made with water, sugar and chufa, a tubercle of a plant, cyperus esculentus, widespread in the Valencia plain. Traditionally it is eaten as a snack together with a couple of fartons, typical elongated 'brioches'. It is served in most bars, street stalls and in dedicated establishments known as horchaterías.