The towns of Valencia’s long coast and privileged climate, in particular Benidorm, southern Europe’s skyscraper capital, are famous beach tourism destinations. Country of fire, fireworks and long meals (often featuring the renowned paella), Valencia is a Mediterranean land where people know how to enjoy life. This book tells the story of today’s Spanish provinces of Valencia, Castelló and Alacant (Alicante), with their profound Moorish legacy. The Moors designed the intricate system of irrigation that still nourishes Valencia’s prosperous horta (market garden). They brought, too, the silk, paper, and orange industries.
The area is rich in monuments, many from its golden fifteenth century, when the capital became the wealthiest city on the Western Mediterranean. This bookdiscusses Sagunt’s Roman theater and castle; Gandia, home to the ill-reputed Borja (or Borgia) family of popes; Elx, embraced by 200,000 palms; and Alcoi, anarchist stronghold. Michael Eaude discusses Valencia’s art, literature and architecture: the painters Ribera and light-filled Sorolla; the great medieval poet of anguish Ausiàs March. Santiago Calatrava’s architecture, conjuring the sensation of soaring flight from steel, has given Valencia City its new trophy buildings.
Despite its continuing popularity as a tourist destination, there are still deserted beaches, sinister and beautiful marshland, orange groves and a depopulated mountainous interior. Valencia: A Cultural History seeks to explain this contradictory and divided land, its identity pulled between the Spanish state and Catalonia.
Michael Eaude has lived between Barcelona and the hills of Valencia for thirty years. He has written books on the modern reinvention of Barcelona, the writers Arturo Barea and Manuel Vázquez Montalbán, and Catalonia: A Cultural History.