Tells the story of today’s Spanish provinces of Valencia, Castelló and Alacant (Alicante), with their profound Moorish legacy.

Sails & Winds

A Cultural History of Valencia

Michael Eaude

The towns of Valencia’s long coast and privileged climate, in particular Benidorm, southern Europe’s skyscraper capital, are famous beach tourism destinations. Country of fire, fireworks and long meals (often featuring the renowned paella), Valencia is a Mediterranean land where people know how to enjoy life.

This book tells the story of today’s Spanish provinces of Valencia, Castelló and Alacant (Alicante), with their profound Moorish legacy. The Moors designed the intricate system of irrigation that still nourishes Valencia’s prosperous horta (market garden). They brought, too, the silk, paper and orange industries.

The area is rich in monuments, many from its golden fifteenth century, when the capital became the wealthiest city on the Western Mediterranean. Sails & Winds discusses Sagunt’s Roman theatre and castle; Gandia, home to the ill-reputed Borja (or Borgia) family of popes; Elx, embraced by 200,000 palms; and Alcoi, anarchist stronghold.

Michael Eaude discusses Valencia’s art, literature and architecture: the painters Ribera and light-filled Sorolla; the great medieval poet of anguish Ausiàs March. Santiago Calatrava’s architecture, conjuring the sensation of soaring flight from steel, has given Valencia city its new trophy buildings.

Despite the continuing holiday boom, there are still deserted beaches, sinister and beautiful marshland, orange groves and a depopulated mountainous interior. Sails & Winds seeks to explain this contradictory and divided land, its identity pulled between the Spanish state and Catalonia.

Michael Eaude has lived between Barcelona and the hills of Valencia for thirty years. He has written books on the modern reinvention of Barcelona, the writers Arturo Barea and Manuel Vázquez Montalbán, and Catalonia: A Cultural History (Signal).

£14.99 pb

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388 pp
ISBN: 9781909930759
April 2019