Vila-real.com: el portal de Vila-real (Villarreal) en Internet - History
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martes, 28 de noviembre de 2006

It is quite frequent to find remains from the Eneolitic, Iberian and Roman cultures in Vila-real' surroundings. The long period of Moslem occupation in the region left a rich legacy of names for the different rural areas which still remain in use, as well as small old farms ("alqueries") spread all over the countryside.

Vila-real was founded as a result of a segregation from the near village Borriana by Jaime I -King of Aragon- in year 1274, being its foundational book dated in Valencia, the 20th of February. This is one of the few villages founded by the King. In year 1329 the village changed its Laws from the original Aragon's to the Valencia kingdom ones.

Since its foundation, Vila-real was given representation in the Kingdom Courts and Deputies Chambers and had a privilege for using as its badge the Jaime I King flag -four vertical red bars on a yellow background-.
 

hipodamic shapeThe city was build in an "hipodamic" shape, this is, a rectangle surrounded by defence walls crossed by two main streets. In the intersection of those, a main square with archs (Plaça de la Vila). Reinforcing the city walls, a surrounding ditch, armored gates and towers in the corners. The southeast tower is still there (Torre Motxa).

During the 14th Century, the poblational increase forced to start building out of the city walls, beginning to form the neigbourhoods of "Valencia" (Raval del Carme) and "Castellon" (Raval de Sant Pasqual). Also during the 14th Century, the city privileges were concurred and increased, remaining under the Kingdom protection thanks to expensive contributions to the Royal Enterprises.

The typical economical and demographical unstabilities during the 15th Century led, at the beginning of the 16ths, to continuous conflicts with the neighbour Moslem counties and made the city join briefly but intensively the Christian alliance "Germanias".

The 16th was a Century with a high demographical and economical impulse, allowing between 1556 and 1675 to expand the traditional countryside fields irrigated by the channels or "Sequias" "Major", "Sequiols", "Sobirana" and "Jussana"; and work on stony, dry grounds to convert them in cultiveable fields (Madrigal, Pinella and Pla Redo). Also during that period, the humanist Juan Francisco Mas published several of the Erasmus editions; the City Council contracted the Renancentist painter Paolo de San Leocadio, as well as payed very generously the architect Rafael Marti de Viciana in order to draw the City maps and write its Cronica. During the 17ths, Vila-real will have a very active presence in the Valencia Chambers and will start to evolve from a subsistence agriculture to commercial explotations. Between 1682 and 1703 the Church Tower was constructed based on a design by Agustin Maiquez.

On 12th of January 1706, the Borbon army commanded by the Count "de las Torres" assaulted and burned up Vila-real during the Spanish Succession War. The Aragon Kingdoms (so Valencia as well) had joined the opositors alliance "Carlista" that supported archiduke Charles of Austria as successor for the recently dead Carlos II King of Spain, instead of his nepheu Felipe V -duke of Anjou-, nominated in the King's heritage. After the victory, in 1707 Felipe V derogated the Valencia Laws cancelling autonomy to the Valencia Kingdom.

Between 1740 and 1780, one of the most brilliant and expansionist periods of the City History happened. A very important textile fibre industry (mainly silk) led to an intensive commercial activity, allowing changes in our society reflected in the construction of a new main Church "Sant Jaume" (1753-1779, 1785), and in Valencian Ilustration movement writers as Enmanuel Montesinos, who compiled the City Laws "Ordinacions i Estatuts"; Geronimo Vives, erudite and key element for the build-up of the "Mare de Deu de Gracia" Hermitage, and Joaquin Llorens i Chiva, very active person, member of the Royal Economical Country Friendship Society, open to Europe and main supporter for the Elementary Schools in our town.

However, the 18th Century was plenty of contradictions, lights and shadows. Since 1786, and mostly during the first half of the following Century, Vila-real fluctuated between the unclear trends of a society sometimes Liberal sometimes Conservative. All contradictions from the previous Century appeared strongly as popular revolts (1799, 1801), war and revolution against the French Napoleon invassion (1808-1814), Liberal or Royal conspiracies (1820-1823), Royal Absolutist repression, first "Carlist" War for the Spanish Crown. The actions of Pedro Aparici as Deputy in the Spanish Chamber in Cadiz; the political and literature activities of the romantic Deputy and Senator Manuel Benedito, as well as the "Carlist" fighty fanatism led by brigadier Joaquin Llorens i Bayer labelled a convulsive and active period in Vila-real's History.

Polo de BernabeFrom 1839 to 1843, the first orange trees fields plantations for commercial explotation were done by Manuel Cubedo and Manuel Uso. The growth of oranges would completely change the countryside landscape. Mr. Polo de Bernabe introduced the mandarin orange variety, recently imported from China, and became the main personality for this economical reconversion.

These changes required a strong joint effort (blow-up stone blocks, search for very deep underground natural water reservoirs, build pump stations, develop a dense irrigation channel and road networks). A very important role was played by the farmer's co-operationism and asociationism; to be pointed out the establishment, in 1919, of the Catholic Farmers Savings Bank (Caja Rural Catolico Agraria).

Those were years for a capitalist behaviour to start settleing down in our countryside, appearing a new social range of traders, interested in introducing new commercial tecniques for funding exportations towards European markets and in building auxiliary industries focused into the orange trading and other activities.

In 1905 Vila-real is not a town anymore, as it receives the title of City.

All this process empowered important activities regarding road & urbanistic infrastructures and social resources. Along the second half of 19th Cetury, new enhancements arrived: the A.V.T. national railways network, the complementary regional "narrow-axe" trains ("La Panderola"), and the electric power. The first quarter of 20th Century brought basic services for the development of the City: Banks, Urbanistic Plan, a new Road Network, Marketplace building, and a Public Drinkable Water Network.

However, the incremental growth provided by the agriculture trading was weaken versus difficult market demand periods or due to bad weather seasons. The snows -very rare in the Mediterranean area- during 1946 and 1956 and the strong rain and frost storms during the 60s made people become conscious on the absoulte and dangerous dependence on a single produce, and therefore on the need to diverse and enhance our productive structure.

Traditional tile designIn these moments is when, without leaving the citriculture, new ceramic tile industries based on the traditional tile handcraft of the region are started. This industry, closely related to the building and tourism promotion policy during the Spanish "development" period in the 60s, brought a considerable amount of workers from allover Spain. This focus on the tile industry, well noticaeable by the fact that most of our active population does work in the secondary sector, has not been any inconvenience for the tile sector itself and others to continue investing in citriculture. Some of these ceramic tile companies have already got Internet web servers: Azuvi, Decocer, Porcelanosa, Zirconio ...
 

The big economical expansion during the 60s has build up a dense industrial network that has inducted national and international companies to install here subsidiaries, mainly from automation/mechanics and paper/cardboard activities.

The shops and other businesses distribution allover the city has also contributed to a positive urbanistic evolution, apperaring new shopping areas, specially in the "Calvario"street and "Francisco Tarrega" Avenue. This last and vital axis, with direct connection to the national road N340, is today the area with the most atraction for business and shop establishments.


Vila-real, with a population of 40,124 (1999 data) and a balanced economical structure, is the second city of the Castellon province, and the tenth of the Valencian Community, ranked by population, and has become a centre for public and private business activities in its area of influence.

 
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