The Port of Valencia is the largest seaport in Spain and in the Mediterranean Sea basin, with an annual traffic capacity of around 57 million tonnes of cargo (2009) and 4,210,000 TEU (2010). The port is also an important employer in the area, with more than 15,000 employees who provide services to more than 7,500 ships every year.
The three ports controlled by the Port Authority of Valencia are in Valencia, Sagunto and Gandía. They are located on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, along an 80 km stretch of Spain’s eastern coastline.
Port of Sagunto has an annual traffic capacity of 10% of the entire port – its main cargo is liquefied natural gas; three million tonnes of gas are shipped per year due to the regasification plant located nearby. Around 70% of the port’s current traffic consists of iron and steel products and the rest of fertilizers, construction materials, timber and perishable products.
Port of Gandía has an annual traffic capacity of 1.5 % of the entire port, and specializes in the export and import of forestry products like timber, reels, pulp, paper and furniture. Gandia is located on the Costa del Azahar, 65 km south of Valencia.
Port of Valencia is the center of economic activity in an area of influence encompassing a radius of 350 km, which generates 51 percent of Spain’s GDP and includes half the entire working population of the country. The port has a quay length of 12 km and a total storage area of 300 acres (1.2 km2). In 2007 the Port of Valencia handled 53,592,859 tonnes of cargo and 3,042,665 TEU making it the second busiest cargo port in Spain and the largest container port in the country. The Port of Valencia exports agricultural produce and manufactured goods that include ceramics and glazed tiles, furniture, automobiles, iron products, and textiles. The Port of Valencia is also home to ship-building and food processing industries, and tourism is important to the local economy.
The Port of Valencia is the capital of Valencia Province and the historic capital of the Kingdom of Valencia. Located on the Mediterranean coast in eastern Spain at the mouth of the Turia River, it is surrounded by rich orchards. It is Spain’s third largest city and is part of the Costa del Azahar industrial area. In 2007, almost 800 thousand people lived in the city proper, and over 1.7 million people called the metropolitan area home.
Until the mid-1990s, the Valencia was an industrial center. Since that time, it has undergone much development, focusing on its culture and tourism resources. Today, its old landmarks have been restored and the Port of Valencia’s beaches and cultural districts have been renovated. The Port of Valencia holds many convention centers and 5-star hotels to assure that guests are comfortable and satisfied with their stay in the Port of Valencia. In 2007, Valencia hosted the America’s Cup, and it was the site of the 2008 Formula I Grand Prix of Europe.
Roman historian Livy reported that the first Roman soldiers settled in the area of the Port of Valencia in 138 BC. It later became a prosperous Roman colony. It was destroyed by Pompey as punishment for its loyalty to Quintus Sertorius. The town was rebuilt and became one of the Roman province of Hispania Tarraconensis’ most important cities.
The Visigoths conquered the Port of Valencia in 413 AD, and the Moors took it in 714 AD. It became the capital of the new independent Kingdom of Valencia under the Moors in 1021. Under Moorish rule, the city (called Balansiya) had busy trade in silk, leather, paper, ceramics, silver, and glass.
Famous Spanish hero, El Cid, fought for the Port of Valencia from 1089 until 1094, eventually taking it from the Almoravid Moors. El Cid held the city until he died in 1099. He converted nine mosques into churches. When he died, his widow ruled the city for two years, although it was under siege from the Moorish Almoravids.
Spain’s king drove the Moors from the Port of Valencia for a time, but he could not hold it. In 1109, the Christians burned and abandoned the Port of Valencia before Almoravid Masdali took it. They held the Port of Valencia for over 100 years.
King James I of Aragon conquered Valencia in 1238, although the Kingdom of Valencia continued to be relatively independent. It was united with Castile under Ferdinand and Isabella in 1479, beginning an era of peace and prosperity for the Port of Valencia. Bankers from Valencia provided the funds for the 1492 voyage of Christopher Columbus.
During the 15th and 16th Centuries, the Port of Valencia was one of the most important cities on the Mediterranean. It is said that the first Spanish printing press was in the Port of Valencia. It also supported the Valencian school of painting for centuries.
English troops held the Port of Valencia for 16 months during the War of Spanish Succession and to Requena in their attempt to take Madrid. After the Bourbon victory, the city lost many civil rights. During the Peninsular War of the early 19th Century, the French assaulted the Port of Valencia on Christmas Day 1811, and it fell in early January 1812. In 1826, the Spanish Inquisition’s last victim was executed in Valencia.
The Port of Valencia was the loyalists’ capital during the Spanish Civil War (from 1936 to 1939). After the war, the citizens of Valencia suffered for their loyalty. Franco prohibited speaking in Valencian. (Today, it is required for every Valencian student.)
Long called the “City of the 100 Bell Towers,” the Port of Valencia contains many historic churches reflecting a variety of architectural periods and styles. The most important cathedral, the 13th Century La Seo, is located in the center of the ancient city, and it contains two large paintings by Goya. The Port of Valencia was once a walled town, and two of those gates survive today. The Port of Valencia contains several 15th Century civic buildings and remains of several Moorish buildings from the 13th Century.
Even though the coastline in Valencia did not have natural shelter for a port, there is evidence of seaborne trade from the 6th Century BC. The first real port was opened in 1491 when King Ferdinand granted the privilege to nobleman Antoni Joan. The Valencians have worked hard to develop a busy trade port, and King Pedro III of Aragon granted the right of maritime and commercial jurisdiction to the Port of Valencia. By the late 15th Century, it was the biggest city in Iberia. Its port was very important to the Kingdom of Aragon, with trade relations with ports in Italy, Western Europe, and Northern Africa based in the Port of Valencia.
The modern Port of Valencia was born in 1884 when the first port installations were authorized by Royal Order. A British firm acquired the rights for the purpose of importing coal for textile factories and to export products from Spain to overseas markets. In 1902, a mining company was allowed to build docks on the Sagunto beach. In 1985, a Royal Decree integrated the ports of Sagunto and Gandia with the autonomous Port of Valencia to form today’s Valencia port.