Coat of arms

Location in Spain

Coordinates: 39°7′20″N 0°26′56″W / 39.12222°N 0.44889°W / 39.12222; -0.44889Coordinates: 39°7′20″N 0°26′56″W / 39.12222°N 0.44889°W / 39.12222; -0.44889
Country  Spain
Autonomous community  Valencian Community
Province Valencia
Comarca Ribera Alta
Judicial district Alzira
  Alcaldesa Francesc Salom Salom (2015) (Compromis)
  Total 59.3 km2 (22.9 sq mi)
Elevation 21 m (69 ft)
Population (2008)
  Total 21,973
  Density 370/km2 (960/sq mi)
Demonym(s) Carcaixentí, carcaixentina
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
  Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 46740
Official language(s) Valencian
Website Official website

Carcaixent (Valencian pronunciation: [kaɾkajˈʃent], Spanish: Carcagente) is a town and municipality in the province of Valencia, eastern Spain, with c. 20,000 inhabitants. Its origins go back to prehistoric Iberian and Roman times, with some remainders in its area. It is located in the Ribera Alta comarca, 40 km south of the provincial capital Valencia. It is the birthplace of the orange growth and its flourishing commerce in the 19th and 20th centuries. Currently, its inhabitants live basically on agriculture and the service sector.

Carcaixent, in the heart of the Ribera Alta

Remains of Neolithic, Iberian and Roman settlements have been found in the area of Carcaixent, although the municipality actually originated from a Muslim farmhouse. King Philip II awarded Carcaixent the title of University in 1576. After upgrading it to Villa Real, the king issued Royal Privileges granting it the right to vote in the Courts of Valencia. Economy and population boomed in Carcaixent in the 18th century thanks to the sound production of silk, although crops were replaced by orange trees in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Carcaixent was awarded the title of city in 1916.

Main sights

Birthplace of the orange

The Garden of the Hesperides by Frederick, Lord Leighton, 1892.

The orange is the fruit made from Spain, through Valencia, and spreading throughout the rest of the world. In Greek mythology the The Garden of the Hesperides is a mythological grove where apples grew tended to by nymphs and a dragon. Hercules, the hero of classical literature, killed the guardian, entered the garden and plucked those golden apples –In later years it was thought that the "golden apples" might have actually been oranges, a fruit unknown to Europe before the Middle Ages. Several scholars defend that the etymology of the word comes from the Sanskrit term narang and the Persian word narensh. When Arabs brought orange farming to the Iberian Peninsula, they called the fruits naranjah. The Region of Valencia maintained the orange-farming tradition after the Arabic period, with references to orange trees in the city of Valencia dating back to the 14th century. In fact, there is an Orange Courtyard inside Valencia’s 15th-century Silk Exchange market (La Llotja de la Seda), a UNESCO World Heritage Site.[2] The first references to commercial orange plantations date back to the 18th century.[3]

According to the historical records, in 1781 parish priest Vicente Monzó and two acquaintances, notary and scribe Carlo Maseres and pharmacist Jacinto Bodí, planted the first fields of orange trees in the municipal area of Carcaixent known as Les Basses del Rey. The trees thrived in the land, favoured by the benign Mediterranean climate, and adapted perfectly to Valencian soil both on rain-fed farmland and irrigated land fed by river Júcar, whose extensive irrigation channel distributed fertile water around the whole of the Ribera Alta. In the early 19th century, orange trees gradually started to replace other crops, such as rice, cereal and mulberries, taking over as the main local crop. Wholesale exports of oranges commenced in this century, fuelled by the arrival of the railway that connected Valencia, Xàtiva, Algemesí, La Pobla Llarga, Alzira and Carcaixent (1853). The rail line from Carcaixent to Gandía and Dénia that opened in 1864 continued to operate until the early 1970s. The Carcaixent-Dénia line was one of the oldest narrow rail tracks in mainland Spain.

The Orange route

Carcaixent has developed the Orange route to introduce national and foreign visitors to this interesting and celebrated agricultural, commercial and cultural legacy. The project analyses the history of the fruit, providing information on its origins and on the municipality of Carcaixent’s standing as the birthplace of oranges. Visitors will also learn about parish priest Monzó’s pioneer action, and the different architectural styles used in the construction of orange warehouses from antiquity to present times. The itinerary analyses how oranges have been handled and marketed from the late 18th century to the present.[4]

See also

External links

Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Carcagénte.


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