Geographical Location and Population
The Valencian Region is one of 17 autonomous communities that compose the political map of the Spanish State. Located in the Mediterranean coast of the Iberian Peninsula, its territory comprises an area of 23,255 ㎢. Three provinces compose the Valencian Region: Castellon in the north, Valencia in the middle and Alicante in the south. The latest surveys show that the Valencian Region’s population is estimated at 4,543,304 million.
The city of Valencia was founded by Rome in 138 B.C. Muslim armies arrived at the Iberian Peninsula in 711. The Christian King James I of Aragon seized Valencia from Muslims in 1238.
The union of the Crowns of Castile and Aragon sanctioned the submission of Valencia to Castilian interests. The Conquest of Valencia by the armies of Philip V caused the termination of Laws and Institutions of the Kingdom.
The Spanish II Republic attempted to restore Valencian institutions and culture. The republican defeat in the Spanish Civil War imposed an interlude of 40 years in the recovery of Valencian freedoms.
The Spanish Constitution of 1978 gave way to a quasi-federal organization of Spain in which 17 Autonomous Communities were created. In 1982, the Statute of the Valencian Region was passed.
The Statute attributed almost full competencies to the Autonomous Community in many fields of its public policy. The most important symbol of restoration of Valencian identities was the recognition of the Valencian language as the official language of the Valencian Region, along with the Castilian. -Nowadays the Valencian Region is a region proud of its history, which counts among the most developed Spanish territories, thanks to tourism, construction, industry and agriculture.
Intangible Cultural Heritage
Oral expressions : Local intangible cultural heritage consists of local dialects and particularities of the Valencian language, alongside of popular aphorisms, tales and songs
Performing arts : Traditional songs, instruments, singing styles and dances related to agrarian culture are the valuable Valencian performing arts
Social practices, rituals, festivals :
Most festivities coincide with landmarks of the local Catholic calendar. Some of them are pure religious rituals, such as the Holy Week celebrations. In many of them, the recreational component surpasses the religious one, such as the Carnivals. Fire and gunpowder characterize the festivities that mark the transition from winter to summer, such as the Fallas of Valencia.
The origin of the Las Fallas goes back to the time when carpenters cleared out their workshops and talleres at the end of winter, throwing out odds and ends of wood and old candles and lighting them in the street on the day of Saint Joseph. As Valencia’s biggest festival, it takes place every March with a riotous week of city fires, explosions and parades attracting around two million people.
The Mystery Play of Elche, a sacred musical drama of the death, assumption and crowning of the Virgin Mary performed since the mid-fifteenth century at Elche's main church, was proclaimed a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity of UNESCO(2001).