January 22, 2013 - St. Vincent's Day in Valencia, Spain

Ahh, Valencia! What can you say about a place that hosts a huge annual tomato fight? La Tomatina involves around 40,000 people hurling 150,000 tomatoes at each other for one hour! 

(The tomatoes are grown specially for the event and are of inferior taste. Also, participants wear goggles and crush the tomatoes before throwing them to maximize mess while minimizing injury!)

Valencia is also known for the delicious rice dish paella, fried sweet bunuelos, and Spanish omelets.

It is known for the Falles—a 10-day festival with parades and music, fireworks and amazing street lighting, floral offerings and burning large community- built papier-mache statues.

Valencia also has Roman ruins, medieval towers, and old forts along the edge of the sea. The city's cathedral displays what it claims is the Holy Grail (although several places make the same claim). 

Take a virtual tour of Valencia and check out this travel show video.

Are we talking Valencia, or Valencia?

Valencia: the old...
Spain is more decentralized than most nations, because a lot of governmental power rests, not at the central national level, but at the level of communities and cities. In Spain there are currently 17 autonomous communities and two autonomous cities called autonomies.

Autonomous means having the freedom to act independently and govern itself.

...and the new...
One of these autonomous communities is Valencia. The capital city of Valencia is named Valencia as well; it is the largest city in Valencia and the third largest city in all of Spain. The autonomous community of Valencia has a long coastline on the Mediterranean Sea, and the city of Valencia is the busiest European port on the Mediterranean.

To answer the question, “which Valencia?”:
  • the giant tomato fight is held annually in August in the town of Bunol, in the autonomous community of Valencia.
  • the Falles occurs in March in the city of Valencia.

Also on this date:

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