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The first human settlements found in the Province of Valencia date from the Middle Palaeolithic Period, ie, from between 100,000, 80,000 and 30,000 BC. The traces at the Cova Negra in Játiva (Xátiva) and at Las Fuentes de Navarrés belong to Neanderthal man, while the first vestiges of Valencia art found in the Caves of El Parpalló (Gandía), Mallaetes (Bárig) and Barran Blanc (Rótova) date from the Upper Palaeolithic Period.Phoenicians and Greeks appear in its history, followed by the Iberians in the 5C BC of whom there is a record until the new era. In 219 BC, Hannibal, the Carthaginian general, conquered Sagunto causing the 2nd Punic War. With the founding of Valentia in 138 BC, the region is totally romanized, while the greatest splendour of Roman Valencia is reached in the times of Augustus. lt became part of the Visigothic monarchy in the 6C and came under Muslim rule when Musa ibn Nusayr entered the Province of Valencia by way of Catarroja and conquered the capital.
The oppressed Jewish community received the Islamic invaders as liberators. In the I0C Valencia fully enters the political life of al-Andalus and stands out as the capital of a taifa, ie, one of the small Moorish kingdoms in Spain. El Cid Campeador conquered Valencia in 1094, after which it fell to the Almoravids in 1102. In 1238, Jaime I, King of Aragón, won it back definitively and founded the Kingdom of Valencia which he granted a special charter of rights and privileges known as furs, whicn remained in force for five centuries and a half.
In the 15C and a great Part of the 16C. Valencia was one of the greatest economic powers in the Mediterranean. This period coincides with the "Golden Age of Valencia" which produced personalities as famous as San Vicente Ferrer, popes such as Calixtus III and Alexander VI or poets and writers such as Ausias March, Joanot Martorell, Roiç de Corella, Isabel de Villena, Jordi de Sant Jordi or Jaume Roig. 1609 witnesses the expulsion of the Moors. As a consequence of the Bourbon victory at the battle of Almansa (1707), Felipe V decrees the abolition of the special rights and privileges because the people of Valencia had come out in favour of the Archduke Charles of Austria in the War of Succession.
The 19C brought the War of Independence and the heroic deeds of El Palleter, Romeu and Pep de l'Horta, the Carlist Wars and then Canton of Valencia in 1873, which was as short-lived as the 1st Republic, because in the following year Alfonso XII managed to be proclaimed constitucional king at Sagunto. In the 2nd Republic (1931), Valencia tried to recover its self-government, which was prevented first by the Civil War and then by the Franco regime. lt took the democratic process for the people of Valencia, historically constituted as a kingdom, to form their own Autonomous Community, which ¡t is today as part of the Spanish nation.
From the point of view of climate, the broad coastal section is a spring paradise with an annual mean temperature above 17ºC, relative humidity of around 70% and a little over 2,600 hours of sunshine a year and little rainfall.
Since their nature is markedly cultural, the following events in the city of Valencia deserve special attention. The oldest is the International Musical Bands Competition, which is already 100 years old and which takes place in July; the Gatherings of Mediterranean Writers, which brings the intellectuals from countries bordering on the Mediterranean to the capital of Valencia; La Trobada de Música del Mediterrani, from September 10th to 15th, and in the course of the first fortnight of October, the International Fireworks Festival and La Mostra de Valencia. Cinema Mediterrani.
The busy commercial activity of the people of Valencia and their export instinct have turned Valencia into a city with the longest tradition in fairs in Spain. These features were already visible in the Regional Exhibition of 1909 and the National one in 1910, the oldest commercial fairs in the country. Throughout the year, the Valencia Fair Institution organizes twenty-two international fairs today, apart from the original International Trade Exhibition. As regards conventions, Valencia belongs to cities with the best background for such organizations, especially since it rounded off its possibilities and capacity with the Municipal Auditorium, which can be used as a Music and Convention Hall.
Among the typical dishes, the Paella Valenciana comes first, after having become the most international Spanish dish in its own right. The true Paella Valenciana is prepared over a wood fire and has the following ingredients: rice, chicken, rabbit, snail, young beans, "tabella", "garrofó", tomato, olive oil, salt, saffron, red pepper and water. The rice dish has produced an endless variety of different combinations: Arros a Banda, based on fish; and Arros Negre with squid in inky sauce, which are served with all y oli as an appetizer; Paella de Verduras (with vegetables); Arros al Forn (prepared in the oven); Arros amb Bledes (with chard); Arros amb Fesols i Naps (with white beans, pork, lard, "garreta", black pudding and turnips), followed by a long list of other varieties since rice is the local staple food. The Fideua is a "paella" of thin noodles with shellfish and fish, which comes from Gandía where an international competition is organized every year to promote the dish.
All i Pebre is a sauce made with garlic and pepper and normally accompanies eel, a very common dish around La Albufera and Catarroja and as tasty as the Suquet de Peix of La Ribera Baja, the Titainas or the Pimento i Tomata amb Tonyina, the Llisa Torra, the Sang amb Ceba, the Esgarrat, the Figatell, the Valencia Salads... El Gazpacho is a typical dish prepared with hare, rabbit and partridge with "torta de pastor" (lit. Shepherd's pie); sopa coberta or les pilotes; olla churra, calducho or morteruelo; gachamiga, ajoarriero, ajetao, giraboix, lamb prepared in the oven, blat picat, sausage products, mazamorro, cachuli and les coques escaldes are all very traditional fare in the inland regions.
Apart from the excellent quality of Valencia fruit where the orange takes first place, there is a wide range of desserts or sweet dishes, especially arnadi, and a series of typical refreshments, outstanding among which is the horchata, a cold drink -originally from Alboraya- made with chufa, rush or tiger nuts. It is usually drunk with fartóns. As a result of a well conceived plan, the Valencia wines are made with ever increasing care and their quality will also come as a surprise to the visitor. The whites from the Upper Turia and the Serranía or the reds from Requena, Utiel and Campo de Liria as well as some other area will satisfy the most demanding tastes.
The leisure opportunities at night in Valencia have become the most interesting and complete in Spain. The climate favours the entertainment at night almost all year long and fills the open-air bars on Cánovas Square or the romantic dance halls with stage performances around La Malvarrosa. Everywhere, there are barbecues and glamorous little restaurants, discotheques, night clubs, Cafés-cum-theatre, pubs to strike up an acquaintance, flamenco shows and cabarets, not forgetting that unique remnant of the Belle Epoque, the Music Hall.