Valencia (València in Valencian) , pronounced /baˈlenθja/ (bahl-EHN-thee-ah) in Spanish, and /baˈlensia/ (val-ehn-see-ah) in Valencian, is a charming old city and the capital of the Old Kingdom of Valencia province of Spain that is well worth a visit. It is the third Spanish city in terms of importance and population, and the 15th in the European Union, with 810,064 inhabitants in the city proper and 1,832,270 in the Metropolitan Area (INE 2008). It is on the Mediterranean Sea approximately four hours to the south of Barcelona and three hours to the east of Madrid. Valencia is famous for its Fallas Festival in March, for being the birthplace of paella, for hosting the "2007 & 2010 America's Cup", and for the massive architectural project by Santiago Calatrava called The City of Arts and Sciences.
Valencia was host to the 2007 & 2010 America's Cup . This fact, along with the construction of the "City of Arts and Science" by renowned architect and Valencian Santiago Calatrava have made Valencia a city in transition. Massive construction and transformation over the last 10 years have turned a once little-considered medium city into a meatier and more interesting destination. Despite being on the Mediterranean Sea, even residents say that "Valencia has always lived with its back to the sea", meaning that the spirit and the core of the city is not necessarily integrated with its beach. The city center and the most visited neighborhoods are not particularly close to the beach. Valencia was founded by the Romans and was held by the Moors from the 8th to the 13th century (with a short interruption by El Cid). In 1609, the Moors who had converted to Catholicism were expelled from the city. During the Spanish civil war in the 1930s, Valencia was the capital of the Republic, which eventually lost to Franco's forces.