Valencia, or València, 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 2.3 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.
About two thousand Roman colonists were settled there in 138 BC during the rule of consul Decimus Junius Brutus Galaico. The Roman historian Florus says that Brutus transferred the soldiers who had fought under him to that province. This was a typically Roman city in its conception, as it was located in a strategic location near the sea on a river island crossed by the Via Augusta, the imperial road which connected the province to Rome, the capital of the empire. The centre of the city was located in the present-day neighbourhood of the Plaza de la Virgen; here was the forum and the crossing of the Cardo Maximus and the Decumanus Maximus, streets which are still the two main axes of the city. The Cardo corresponds to the existing Calle de Salvador- Almoina and the Decumanus to Calle de los Caballeros.
Pompey razed Valentia to the ground in 75 BC as punishment for its adherence to Sertorius, but it was rebuilt around fifty years later, including large infrastructure projects, and by the mid-first century was experiencing rapid urban growth. Pomponius Mela says it was one of the principal cities of Tarraconensis province. Valencia suffered a new period of decline in the third century, but an early Christian community arose there during the latter years of the Roman Empire in the fourth century.
A few centuries later, coinciding with the first waves of the invading Germanic peoples (Suevi, Vandals and Alans, and later the Visigoths) and the power vacuum left by the demise of the Roman imperial administration, the church assumed the reins of power in the city and replaced the old Roman temples with religious buildings. With the Byzantine invasion of the southwestern Iberian peninsula in 554 the city acquired strategic importance. After the expulsion of the Byzantines in 625, Visigothic military contingents were posted there and the ancient Roman amphitheatre was fortified. Little is known of its history for nearly a hundred years; although this period is only scarcely documented by archeology, excavations suggest that there was little development of the city. During Visigothic times Valencia was an episcopal See of the Catholic Church, albeit a suffragan diocese subordinate to the archdiocese of Toledo, comprising the ancient Roman province of Carthaginensis in Hispania.
The city surrendered without a fight to the invading Moors (Berbers and Arabs) in 714 AD, and the cathedral of Saint Vincent was turned into a mosque. Abd al-Rahman I, the first emir of Cordoba, ordered the city destroyed, but several years later his son, Abd al-Balansi Allah, had a form of autonomous rule over the province of Valencia. Among his administrative acts he ordered the building of a luxurious palace, the Russafa, on the outskirts of the city in the neighbourhood of the same name. So far no remains have been found. Also at this time Valencia received the name Medina al-Turab (City of Sand). When Islamic culture settled in, Valencia, then called Balansiyya, prospered from the 10th century, due to a booming trade in paper, silk, leather, ceramics, glass and silver-work. The architectural legacy of this period is abundant in Valencia and can still be appreciated today in the remnants of the old walls, the Baños del Almirante bath house, Portal de Valldigna street and even the Cathedral and the tower, El Micalet (El Miguelete), which was the minaret of the old mosque.
After the death of Almanzor and the unrest that followed, Muslim Al-Andalus disintergrated into numerous small states known as taifas, one of which was the Taifa of Valencia which would exist for four distinct periods: 1010–1065, 1075–1099, 1145–1147 and the last from 1229–1238.
The city remained in the hands of Christian troops until 1102, when the Almoravids retook the city and restored the Muslim religion. Although the self-styled 'Emperor of All Spain', Alfonso VI of León and Castile, drove them from the city, he was not strong enough to hold it. The Christians set it afire before abandoning it, and the Almoravid Masdali took possession on 5 May 1109. The event was commemorated in a poem by Ibn Khafaja in which he thanked Yusuf ibn Tashfin for the city's liberation.The declining power of the Almoravids coincided with the rise of a new dynasty in North Africa, the Almohads, who seized control of the peninsula from the year 1145, although their entry into Valencia was deterred by Ibn Mardanis, King of Valencia and Murcia until 1171, at which time the city finally fell to the North Africans. The two Muslim dynasties would rule Valencia for more than a century.
In 1238, King James I of Aragon, with an army composed of Aragonese, Catalans, Navarrese and crusaders from the Order of Calatrava, laid siege to Valencia and on 28 September obtained a surrender. Fifty thousand Moors were forced to leave. Poets such as Ibn al-Abbar and Ibn Amira mourned this exile from their beloved Valencia. After the Christian victory and the expulsion of the Muslim population the city was divided between those who had participated in the conquest, according to the testimony in the Llibre del Repartiment (Book of Distribution). James I granted the city new charters of law, the Furs of Valencia, which later were extended to the whole kingdom of Valencia. Thenceforth the city entered a new historical stage in which a new society and a new language developed, forming the basis of the character of the Valencian people as they are known today.
On 9 October, King James, followed by his retinue and army, took possession of the city. The principal mosque was purified and the Mass was celebrated. James incorporated city and territory into the newly formed Kingdom of Valencia, one of the kingdoms forming the Crown of Aragon, and permitted all people that lived in the city, Jews, Muslims and Christians, to stay there and live as citizens of the kingdom.
According to historical data on the capitulation of the city, the kingdom of Valencia had a population of 120,000 Muslims, 65,000 Christians and 2,000 Jews, who by the terms of the capitulation and its covenants were mostly allowed to remain on their land. According to the Arab historian Hussein Mones of the University of Cairo, these were the words which King Zayan spoke to James I when he surrendered the keys to the city:
The city went through serious troubles in the mid-fourteenth century. On the one hand were the decimation of the population by the Black Death of 1348 and subsequent years of epidemics, and on the other, the series of wars and riots which followed. Among these were the War of the Union, a citizen revolt against the excesses of the monarchy, led by Valencia as the capital of the kingdom, and the war with Castile, which forced the hurried raising of a new wall to resist Castilian attacks in 1363 and 1364. In these years the coexistence of the three communities that occupied the city—Christian, Jewish and Muslim—was quite contentious. The Jews occupying the area around the waterfront had progressed economically and socially, and their quarter was gradually expanding its boundaries at the expense of neighboring parishes. Meanwhile, the Muslims who remained in the city after the conquest were entrenched in a Moorish neighbourhood next to the present-day market Mosen Sorel. In 1391 an uncontrolled mob attacked the Jewish quarter, causing its virtual disappearance and leading to the forced conversion of its surviving members to Christianity. The Muslim quarter was attacked during a similar tumult among the populace in 1456, but the consequences were of minor importance.
Golden Age of Valencia
The 15th century was a time of economic expansion, known as the Valencian Golden Age, in which culture and the arts flourished. Concurrent population growth made Valencia the most populous city in the Kingdom of Aragon. Local industry, led by textile production, reached a great development, and a financial institution, the Canvi de Taula, was created to support municipal banking operations; Valencian bankers lent funds to Queen Isabella I of Castile for Columbus' voyage in 1492. At the end of the century the Silk Exchange (Llotja de la Seda) building was erected as the city became a commercial emporium that attracted merchants from all over Europe.
This boom was reflected in the growth of artistic and cultural pursuits. Some of the most emblematic buildings of the city were built during this period, including the Serranos Towers (1392), the Lonja (1482), the Miguelete and the Chapel of the Kings of the Convent of Santo Domingo. In painting and sculpture, Flemish and Italian trends had an influence on artists such as Lluís Dalmau, Peris Gonçal and Forment Damian. Literature flourished with the patronage of the court of Alfonso the Magnanimous, supporting authors like Ausias March, Roiç de Corella, and Isabel de Villena. By 1460 Joanot Martorell wrote Tirant lo Blanch, an innovative novel of chivalry that influenced many later writers, from Cervantes to Shakespeare. Ausiàs March was one of the first poets to use the everyday language Valencian, instead of the troubadour language, Occitan. Also around this time, between 1499 and 1502, the University of Valencia was founded under the parsimonious name of Estudio General (General Studies).
Valencia was one of the most influential cities on the Mediterranean in the 15th and 16th centuries. The first printing press in the Iberian Peninsula was located in Valencia. The first printed Bible in a Romance language, the Valencian Bible attributed to Bonifaci Ferrer, was printed in Valencia circa 1478.
Following the discovery of the Americas, the European economy was oriented towards the Atlantic to the detriment of the Mediterranean trade. Despite the dynastic union of Aragon with Castile, the conquest and exploitation of America was the exclusive domain of Castile. The Valencians, like the Catalans, Aragonese and Majorcans, were prohibited participation in the cross-Atlantic commerce. Faced with this loss of business, Valencia suffered a severe economic crisis, which manifested itself early in 1519–1523 when the artisan guilds known as the Germanies revolted against the government of the Habsburg king Charles I in Valencia, now part of the Crown of Aragon, with most of the fighting done in 1521. The revolt was an anti-monarchist, anti-feudal autonomist movement inspired by the Italian republics, and a social revolt against the nobility who had fled the city before an epidemic of plague in 1519. It also bore a strong anti-Islamic aspect, as rebels rioted against Aragon's population of mudéjars and imposed forced conversions to Christianity. The uprising and its leaders were brutally repressed by the vicereine Germaine of Foix, an action which accelerated the authoritarian centralization of the government of Charles I. Queen Germaine favored harsh treatment of the agermanats; she is thought to have signed the death warrants of 100 former rebels personally, and sources indicate that as many as 800 executions may have occurred in total. The agermanats are comparable to the comuneros of neighboring Castile, who fought a similar revolt against Charles from 1520–1522.
The crisis deepened during the 17th century with the expulsion in 1609 of the Jews and the Moriscos, descendants of the Muslim population that converted to Christianity under threat of exile from Ferdinand and Isabella in 1502. From 1609 through 1614, the Spanish government systematically forced Moriscos to leave the kingdom for Muslim North Africa. They were concentrated in the former Kingdom of Aragon, where they constituted a fifth of the population, and the Valencia area specifically, where they were roughly a third of the total population. The expulsion caused the financial ruin of some of the nobility and the bankruptcy of the Taula de Canvi in 1613. The Crown endeavoured to compensate the nobles, who had lost much of their agricultural labour force; this harmed the economy of the city for generations to come. Later, during the so-called Catalan Revolt (1640–1652), Valencia contributed to the cause of Philip IV with militias and money, resulting in a period of further economic hardship exacerbated by the arrival of troops from other parts of Spain.
The decline of the city reached its nadir with the War of Spanish Succession (1702–1709) that marked the end of the political and legal independence of the Kingdom of Valencia. During the War of the Spanish Succession, Valencia sided with Charles of Austria. On 24 January 1706, Charles Mordaunt, 3rd Earl of Peterborough, 1st Earl of Monmouth, led a handful of English cavalrymen into the city after riding south from Barcelona, capturing the nearby fortress at Sagunt, and bluffing the Spanish Bourbon army into withdrawal.
The English held the city for 16 months and defeated several attempts to expel them. English soldiers advanced as far as Requena on the road to Madrid. After the victory of the Bourbons at the Battle of Almansa on 25 April 1707, the English army evacuated Valencia and Philip V ordered the repeal of the privileges of Valencia as punishment for the kingdom's support of Charles of Austria. By the Nueva Planta decrees (Decretos de Nueva Planta) the ancient Charters of Valencia were abolished and the city was governed by the Castilian Charter. The Bourbon forces burned important cities like Xativa, where pictures of the Spanish Bourbons in public places are hung upside down as a protest to this day. The capital of the Kingdom of Valencia was moved to Orihuela, an outrage to the citizens of Valencia. Philip ordered the Cortes to meet with the Viceroy of Valencia, Cardinal Luis de Belluga, who opposed the change of capital because of the proximity of Orihuela, a religious, cultural and now political centre, to Murcia (capital of another viceroyalty and his diocese). Because of his hatred of the city of Orihuela which had bombarded and looted Valencia during the War of Succession, the cardinal resigned the viceroyalty as a protest against the actions of Philip, who finally relented and returned the capital to Valencia.
With the abolition of the charters of Valencia and most of its institutions, and the conformation of the kingdom and its capital to the laws and customs of Castile, top civil officials were no longer elected, but instead were appointed directly from Madrid, the king's court city, the offices often filled by foreign aristocrats. Valencia had to become accustomed to being an occupied city, living with the presence of troops quartered in the Citadel near the convent of Santo Domingo and in other buildings such as the Lonja, which served as a barracks until 1762.
Late modern and contemporary
The 19th century began with Spain embroiled in wars with France, Portugal or England, but it was the War of Independence which most affected the Valencian territories and the capital city. The repercussions of the French Revolution were still being felt when Napoleon's armies invaded the Iberian Peninsula, against which the Valencian people rose in arms on 23 May 1808, aroused by such characters as Vicent Doménech el Palleter. The mutineers seized the Citadel, a Supreme Junta government took over, and on 26–28 June the First Battle of Valencia occurred when Napoleon's Marshal Moncey attacked the city with a column of 9,000 French imperial troops; he failed to take the city in two assaults and retreated to Madrid. Marshal Suchet began a long siege of the city in October 1811, and after an intense bombardment forced its surrender on 8 January 1812. After the capitulation, the French instituted some reforms in Valencia, which became the capital of Spain when the Bonapartist pretender to the throne, José I (Joseph Bonaparte, Napoleon's elder brother), moved the Court there in the summer of 1812. The disaster of the Battle of Vitoria on 21 June 1813 obliged Suchet to quit Valencia and the French troops withdrew in July.
During the Napoleonic invasion, the Valencians had sent their representatives to the Cortes of Cadiz, where a liberal, anti-seigneurial national constitution was drafted. Ferdinand VII became king after the victorious end of the Peninsular War, by which Spain was freed from the Napoleonic domination. When he returned on 24 March 1814 from exile in France, he was requested by the Cortes to respect the liberal Constitution of 1812, which seriously limited the royal powers. Ferdinand refused and went to Valencia instead of Madrid. Here, on April 17, General Elio invited the King to reclaim his absolute rights and put his troops at the King's disposition. The king abolished the Constitution of 1812; this act was followed by the dissolution of the two chambers of the Spanish Parliament on 10 May. Thus began the six years (1814–1820) of absolutist rule, but the constitution was reinstated during the Trienio Liberal, a period of three years of liberal government in Spain from 1820–1823. A fervent follower of the absolutist cause, Elío had played an important role in the repression of the supporters of the Constitution of 1812. For this, he was arrested in 1820 and executed in 1822 by garroting. Conflict between the absolutists and the liberals continued, and in the period of conservative rule called the Ominous Decade (1823–1833) which followed the Trienio Liberal there was ruthless repression by government forces and the Catholic Inquisition. The last victim of the Inquisition was Gaietà Ripoli, a teacher accused of being a deist and a Mason who was hanged in Valencia in 1824.
Baldomero Espartero became, on the death of King Ferdinand VII in 1833, one of the most ardent defenders of the hereditary rights of his daughter, Isabella II. On the outbreak of the First Carlist War, the government sent him to the front, where he severely defeated the Carlists in many encounters. He was associated with the radical, or progressive, wing of Spanish liberalism and would become its symbol and champion after taking credit for the victory over the Carlists in 1839. During the regency of Maria Cristina, Espartero ruled Spain for two years as its 18th Prime Minister from 16 September 1840 to 21 May 1841. Under his progressive government the old regime was tenuously reconciled to his liberal policies. During this period of upheaval in the provinces he declared all the estates of the Church, its congregations and its religious orders to be national property, although in Valencia most of it was subsequently acquired by the local bourgeoisie. City life in Valencia carried on in a revolutionary climate, with frequent clashes between liberals and republicans and the constant threat of reprisals by the Carlist troops of General Cabrera.
The reign of Isabella II as an adult (1843–1868) proved to be a period of relative stability and growth for Valencia in which services and the infrastructure, including municipal water supply, paved roads, and gas distribution were substantially improved, and a large-scale construction project was initiated at the port. Gas lighting was introduced in 1840 and soon after a public works project began to pave the streets with cobblestones, a task that took several years because of the lack of council funds. The public water supply network was completed in 1850, and in 1858 the architects Sebastián Monleón Estellés, Antonino Sancho and Timoteo Calvo drafted a general expansion project for the city which included the demolition of its ancient walls (a second version was printed in 1868). Neither proposed project received final approval, but they did serve as a guide, although not necessarily closely followed, for future growth. By 1860 the municipality had 140,416 inhabitants, and beginning in 1866 the ancient city walls were almost entirely demolished to facilitate urban expansion. Electricity was introduced to Valencia in 1882.
During the Cantonal Revolution of 1873, a cantonalist uprising that took place during the First Spanish Republic, the city was consolidated with most of the nearby cities in the Federal Canton of Valencia (proclaimed on July 19 and dissolved on August 7). It did not have the revolutionary fervor of the movement in cities like Alcoy, as it was initiated by the bourgeoisie, but the Madrid government sent General Martinez-Campos to stifle the rebellion by force of arms and subjected Valencia to an intense bombardment. The city surrendered on August 7; Alfonso XII was proclaimed king on 29 December 1874, and arrived in Valencia on 11 January 1875 on his way to Madrid, marking the end of the first republic. Despite the Bourbon restoration, the roughly even balance between conservatives and liberals in the government was sustained in Valencia until the granting of universal male suffrage in 1890, after which the Republicans, led by Vicente Blasco Ibáñez, gained considerably more of the popular vote.
During the second half of the 19th century the bourgeoisie encouraged the development of the city and its environs; land-owners were enriched by the introduction of the orange crop and the expansion of vineyards and other crops,. This economic boom corresponded with a revival of local traditions and of the Valencian (Catalan) language, which had been ruthlessly suppressed from the time of Philip V. Around 1870, the Valencian Renaissance, a movement committed to the revival of the Valencian language and traditions, began to gain ascendancy. In its early stages the movement inclined to the romanticism of the poet Teodor Llorente, and resisted the more assertive remonstrances of Constantine Llombart, founder of the still extant cultural society, Rat Penat Lo, which is dedicated to the promotion and dissemination of the Valencian language and culture.
In 1894 the Círculo de Bellas Artes de Valencia (Circle of Fine Arts in Valencia) was founded.
During the 20th century Valencia remained the third most populous city of Spain as its population tripled, rising from 213,550 inhabitants in 1900 to 739,014 in 2000. Valencia was also third in industrial and economic development; notable milestones include urban expansion of the city in the latter 1800s, the creation of the Banco de Valencia in 1900, construction of the Central and Columbus markets, and the construction of the Gare du Nord railway station, completed in 1921. The new century was marked in Valencia with a major event, the Valencian regional exhibition of 1909 (La Exposición Regional Valenciana de 1909), which emulated the national and universal expositions held in other cities. This production was promoted by the Ateneo Mercantil de Valencia (Mercantile Athenaeum of Valencia), especially by its chairman, Tomás Trénor y Palavicino, and had the support of the Government and the Crown; it was officially inaugurated by King Alfonso XIII himself.
Industrial workers began to organize in increasing numbers to demand better living conditions. The Republican party of Blasco Ibáñez responded to these demands and gained enormous popular support, dominating the ruling council between 1901 and 1923.
World War I (1914–1918) greatly affected the Valencian economy, causing the collapse of its citrus exports. The establishment of the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera in 1923 tempered social unrest for some years, but not the growing political radicalization of the working classes. The labor movement gradually consolidated its union organization, while the conservative factions rallied around the Valencian Regional Right.
The Republic (1931–1939) opened the way for democratic participation and the increased politicization of citizens, especially in response to the rise of Conservative Front power in 1933. This climate marked the elections of 1936, won by the Popular Front political coalition which promoted the fervor of the masses. The military uprising of July 18 failed to triumph in Valencia. For some months there was a revolutionary atmosphere, gradually neutralised by the government.
The inevitable march to civil war and the combat in Madrid resulted in the removal of the capital of the Republic to Valencia. On 6 November 1936 the city became the capital of Republican Spain under the control of the prime minister Manuel Azana; the government moved to the Palau de Benicarló, its ministries occupying various other buildings. The city was heavily bombarded by air and sea, necessitating the construction of over two hundred bomb shelters to protect the population. On 13 January 1937 the city was first shelled by a vessel of the Fascist Italian Navy, which was blockading the port by the order of Benito Mussolini. The bombardment intensified and inflicted massive destruction on several occasions; by the end of the war the city had survived 442 bombardments, leaving 2,831 dead and 847 wounded, although it is estimated that the death toll was higher, as the data given are those recognized by Francisco Franco's government. The Republican government passed to Juan Negrín on 17 May 1937 and on 31 October of that year moved to Barcelona. On 30 March 1939 Valencia surrendered and the Nationalist troops entered the city. The postwar years were a time of hardship for Valencians. During Franco's regime speaking or teaching Valencian was prohibited; in a significant reversal it is now compulsory for every schoolchild in Valencia.
The dictatorship of Franco forbade political parties and began a harsh ideological and cultural repression led by the Church. The financial markets were destabilised, causing a severe economic crisis during which rationing was imposed; a black market in rationed goods existed for over a decade. The Francoist administrations of Valencia silenced publicity of the catastrophic consequences of the floods of 1949 with the attendant dozens of deaths, but could not do the same after the even more tragic flood of 1957 when the river Turia overflowed its banks again, killing many Valencians (officially, eighty-one died; the actual figure is not known). To prevent further disasters, the river was eventually diverted to a new course. The old river bed was abandoned for years, and successive Francoist mayors proposed making it a motorway, but that option was finally rejected with the advent of democracy and fervent neighborhood protests. The river was divided in two at the western city limits (Plan Sur de Valencia), and diverted southwards along a new course that skirts the city, before meeting the Mediterranean. The old course of the river continues, dry, through the city centre, almost to the sea. The old riverbed is now a verdant sunken park called the 'Garden of the Turia' (Jardí del Túria or Jardín del Turia) that allows cyclists and pedestrians to traverse much of the city without the use of roads; overhead bridges carry motor traffic across the park.
The economy began to recover in the early 1960s, and the city experienced explosive population growth through immigration spurred by the jobs created with the implementation of major urban projects and infrastructure improvements. With the advent of democracy in Spain, the ancient kingdom of Valencia was established as a new autonomous entity, the Valencian Community, the Statute of Autonomy of 1982 designating Valencia as its capital. On the night of 23 February 1981, shortly after Antonio Tejero had stormed Congress, the Captain General of the Third Military Region, Jaime Milans del Bosch, rose up in Valencia, put tanks on the streets, declared a state of emergency and tried to convince other senior military figures to support the coup. After the televised message of King Juan Carlos I, those in the military who had not yet aligned themselves decided to remain loyal to the government, and the coup failed. Despite this lack of support, Milans del Bosch only surrendered at 5 a.m. on the next day, 24 February.
Valencia has experienced a surge in its cultural development during the last thirty years, exemplified by exhibitions and performances at such iconic institutions as the Palau de la Música, the Palacio de Congresos, the Metro, the City of Arts and Sciences (Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències), the Valencian Museum of Enlightenment and Modernity (Museo Valenciano de la Ilustracion y la Modernidad), and the Institute of Modern Art (Instituto Valenciano de Arte Moderno). The various productions of Santiago Calatrava, a renowned structural engineer, architect, and sculptor and of the architect Félix Candela have contributed to Valencia's international reputation. These public works and the ongoing rehabilitation of the Old City (Ciutat Vella) have helped improve the city's livability and tourism is continually increasing.
On 9 July 2006, during Mass at Valencia's Cathedral, Our Lady of the Forsaken Basilica, Pope Benedict XVI used, at the World Day of Families, the Santo Caliz, a 1st-century Middle-Eastern artifact believed by many to be the Holy Grail. It was supposedly brought to that church by Emperor Valerian in the 3rd century, after having been brought by St. Peter to Rome from Jerusalem. The Santo Caliz (Holy Chalice) is a simple, small stone cup. Its base was added in medieval times and consists of fine gold, alabaster and gem stones.
Valencia was selected in 2003 to host the historic America's Cup yacht race, the first European city ever to do so. The America's Cup matches took place in summer 2007. On 3 July 2007, Alinghi defeated Team New Zealand and successfully defended the America's Cup. Twenty-two days later, on 25 July 2007, the leaders of the Alinghi syndicate, holder of the America's Cup, officially announced that Valencia would be the host city for the 33rd America's Cup, held in June 2009.
Since 1991 the City Council has been governed by the People's Party of Spain (Partido Popular) (PP) and Mayor Rita Barberá Nolla who became mayor by a pact made with the Valencian Union. She is a member of the National Council of the People's Party and a Representative in the Valencian regional Parliament (Corts Valencianes). She turned down an offer to become a national deputy at the 2008 Spanish General Election.