Valencia, Spain is situated in the center of the Spain's Mediterranean coastline on the gulf of Valencia and inland is backed by medium-high mountains and rolling plains toward the lands of Aragon and Castile-la Manchathe. Valencia is 3rd to Barcelona and Madrid in population with about 800,000. Valencia also serves as the capitol of the Province of Valencia within the Spanish Autonomous Community of Valencia. Valencia is equidistant from Madrid and Barcelona.
East of Valencia, across the Balearic Sea, are the touristy Balearic Islands. Valencia airport, located 9 km (5.6 mi) from the city's center provides connections to about 15 European countries. Public transportation is provided by the Valencia Metro, rail, and bus services managed by FGA (Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat Valenciana).
A roman city was founded in 137 BC on an Iberian town site by the river Turia and named Valencia Edetanorum. After the fall of Rome, various barbarians overran the city, until invading Moors arrived in 714 and remained until 1238. In that year, King James I of Aragon led an army of Aragonese, Navarrese, Catalans, and European crusaders and laid siege to Valencia until the city's surrender.
The architectural legacy from this history appears in remains of the old walls, a bathhouse (Banos del Almirante), and even a church with the minaret of the original mosque without the inevitable cross on its peak added later.
In recent years, a major effort has been devoted to the restoration of medieval towers and monasteries in Valencia. Especially notable are:
• L'Oceanograficis is Europe's largest aquarium, with a variety of ocean species from the Mediterranean to inhabitants of Polar Regions (belugas, walruses, penguins).
• Llotja de la Seda districts (World Heritage Site Since 1996) where roman works lie beneath Moorish ruins under modern churches and palaces.
• Valencia's largest square is the Placa de l'Ajuntament with the town hall, shops, restaurants and bars.
• Plaça de la Verge with the Basilica of the Virgin together with the Turia Fountain serves as a place to congregate for locals and tourists.
• Cathedral of Valencia is in nearby Plaça de la Reina and has a fascinating history dating back to 1262.
Modern Valencia architecture began after a devastating flood in 1957 forced the city to divert the Turia. After much debate, the city turned old riverbed into green space with the Turia Gardens, a children's playground, a fountain, and sports fields.
Adjacent to the gardens is the Palau de la Musica. However, Valencia's modern landmark is the Ciutat (City) de les Arts i de les Ciencies, an avant-garde museum complex built at one end of the gardens including:
• Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia is an opera and music palace with a total area of 37,000 sq. m. comprised of four halls.
• El Museu de les Ciencies Principe Felipe, resembling the skeleton of a whale, is an interactive museum of science covering four floors.
Valencia, Spain experiences a semi-arid Mediterranean climate with sunny, hot-summers and an average annual temperature of 17.8 °C. August, the warmest month has 28-34°C (82-93°F) highs and the sea temperature averages 26°C (79°F) and beautiful beaches are on either side of the harbor. In winter, January highs usually range from 10-18°C (50-64°F).