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Valentia - the Roman Origins
138 BC to 304 AD

The Roman chapter of the history of Valencia, SpainAlthough the area was originally populated by the Iberian tribes, there actually was no Iberian settlement in this place. Valentia was founded in 138 BC by Roman legionnaires from Campania, Southern Italy, who were given lands in newly conquered territories as a reward for their service.

Although "Valentia" means vigor, it was only a fashion of the times to display military might in city names. Valentia was not meant as a fort, rather it was a retirement buisness for the soldiers. The city instantly became a lively economic player.

However, in 75 BC the Roman Republic sparked off a number of civil wars and Valentia was almost entirely raised to the ground by Pompeus. It remained a ghost town for 50 years or so.

At the turn of the millenium a new influx of Roman colonists re-populated Valentia and it began a sharp ascent towards its apogee in 1st and 2nd centuries AD.

Although it was only a fraction of what is now the city centre, Valentia was a truly blossoming city of its times. The central forum with the administrative and religious structures was surrounded by a strict geometrical grid of villas of the nobility. The city was covered in richly painted marble and surrounded by a wall. There was everything that a city of those times was meant to have, including a 300m x 75m arena for chariot racing, that could accommodate 10000 people. The population kept booming due to the constant trickle of new settlers (in the process creating two major "political parties" in the Valencian Senate - "The Veterans" and "The Old") and so did the economy.

However, the decadence of the Roman Empire in the 3rd century AD led to a decline in prosperity of Valentia.

  The Roman chapter of the history of Valencia, Spain The Roman chapter of the history of Valencia, Spain

Sights from the period: Almoina | Crypt of San Vicente Martir
Map: Location of Roman Valencia


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