History of Requena

HomeAbout RequenaHistory of Requena

 

The results of archaeological digs made inside the Fortaleza (Fortress) and in the Plaza del Castillo (Castle Square) during their renovations dated the origins of the city of "La Villa" to the 7th century B.C., in the time of the Iron Age.

Iberian times (4th-3rd centuries B.C.) saw the appearance of a large room and a series of clay hearths, as well as of ceramic, clay jars and amphorae.

Three walled cisterns, circular shaped silos, an oven and various construction materials were found from Roman imperial times (2nd century A.D.). According to historical tradition, Requena goes back to the last caliphal period of the Arabic conquest, with the city's Arabic name, RAKKANA, meaning "The Strong, The Secure", already appearing in chronicles documenting the movements of the Caliphate of Córdoba's troops in the mid-10th century.

The exact date of the Christian reconquest is unknown, though it's assumed to have taken place peacefully after King Jaime I the Conqueror took Valencia in 1238. But Requena did not become part of Valencia; rather, a few years later, by agreement with Alfonso X the Wise, it went on to form part of the Kingdom of Castille.

Requena's status as a border city and customs post for Castille made it important both strategically and commercially. In 1257 Requena received its Municipal Charter from Alfonso X, and in 1264 it was named a dry port and an almojarifazgo (entitled to collect customs tariff).

It also held a September fair starting in the 13th century and a weekly livestock market starting in the 14th century, under a concession from King Enrique IV. Peace and prosperity came to Requena under the reign of the Catholic Monarchs and the unification of Aragón and Castille, with the city's defensive role losing prominence and its commercial activity increasing considerably.

In the 18th century, Requena had a thriving period of prosperity thanks to the growth of the silk industry, with the city having as many as 800 looms and becoming Spain's fourth largest silk centre. After the death of Fernando VII, the residents of the city joined the ranks of Isabel II's followers, and in recognition of its rejection of and defence of the square against the Carlists, Requena was awarded the title of Most Noble, Loyal and Faithful in 1836.

Requena became a part of Valencia in June 1851 for both financial and geographical reasons. Its integration into Valencia's ecclesiastical jurisdiction would be delayed until 1957. In the 19th century, Requena underwent a great transformation brought on by the rise in viticulture, the railroad and the opening of a road, which transformed it industrially, agriculturally and commercially.