If you hide an inner real estate tycoon, Monopoly is your board game of choice. If your right hand likes to rest inside your breast pocket and you find yourself staring intensely over imaginary battlefields, Stratego is your thing. But if you are crazy about titbits of information, and perhaps the occasional pub quiz or two, then you inevitably love Trivial Pursuit. But you are reading this, you are first and foremost a (future?)  lover of the Valencian Community. This article will provide you some little-known facts about your favourite part of Spain just in case that one question comes along only you want to be able to answer.

Geography Valencian Community

The highest mountain in the Valencian Community is the Alto de las Barracas, with an altitude of 1.839 metres. It is located in the municipality of Puebla de San Miguel, in the mountainside of the Rincón de Ademuz, Not to be easily outdone, the highest peak of the province of Castellón is the Peñagolosa, standing tall at 1.814m. It occupies no less than three different municipalities: Vistabella del Maestrazgo, Villahermosa del Río, and Chodos. The province of Alicante is crowned by the Aitana at 1.558 m.

Arts and history Valencian Community

As fans of the cult tv show Game of Thrones are well aware, the Castellon pearl of Peñíscola is an excellent filming location. But long before HBO ever set its eyes on it, in 1913 to be exact, it was already part of the backdrop of a fantasy realm on the screen. In Ana Kadova, the female character of the same name travelled through the imaginary nation of Balcania on a quest to avenge her father. And guess what? Contrary to what my description might suggest, it was an early spy movie!

The first film to be filmed in its entirety in Valencia (and which was set in rural Alicante) was also a tale of revenge: Doloretes. In this 1923 drama (based on a zarzuela theatre piece from 1901) Philippines war veteran Vicentico does not it take lightly when he discovers his girlfriend fell in love with the mayor’s son, Nelo, during his stay at the front.

Let us see if you know what kind of movies have been filmed in the province and city of Alicante, even though sometimes the images shown have been limited to showing its castle or the occasional inlet. Are you thinking about horror movies, crime thrillers, science fiction, traditional or romantic comedies, westerns, or documentaries? The correct answer would be: all of them! And I am probably missing out on a genre here and there…

Entertainment Valencian Community

Could you name at least five iconic festivities that are unique to the part of Spain here under consideration? Here we go: the Fallas in Valencia, the Fiestas de la Magdalena in Castellón, the fruit (yes, no mistake here) throwing fest of the Tomatina in Bunyol (Valencia), the religious devotion inspiring Misteri in the palm-filled city of Elche, and the never-ending battle between Moors and Christians in Alcoy. Interestingly, though, the oldest celebration of this kind is also the oldest popular festivity in the entire Community: the ones in Mutxamel, Alicante, date as far back as 1843!

Do you prefer a quiet afternoon enjoying the Mediterranean? I cannot blame you. You have surely heard of the Blue Flags, one of the world’s strictest and most coveted sustainability standards. Spain boasts 696 of them, and the Valencian Community represents nearly 19% of that total, including 14 Flags for its yachting harbours. 73 Blue Flags proudly ride the wind in Alicante and the remainder are nearly equally distributed between the two remaining provinces.

Sports Valencian Community

Or are you more into sports? This next year, three Valencian teams will compete in the top category of Spanish football: Levante U.D., Villareal C.F., and (of course!) Valencia C.F. But the oldest soccer club in the Community still in existence is neither of them, rather the far more modest Burjassot. It was founded in 1913, six years before the team from Mestalla, and unlike them, has never soared in the Primera División. Its stadium can house a maximum of two thousand fans, a thousand people standing and another thousand seated, and their players dress in yellow and purple stripes.

Historically, not football but pilota is the authentic national game of the Valencian people. The official Federation lists over 250 different clubs and the game has 8 different varieties, 6 of which belong to the so-called direct style and 2 to the indirect style. Only 2 of these varieties are played professionally. Four different types of balls are used, with different sizes and weights, depending on the variety and playing field. It can be played both on a one-to-one basis and, depending on the variety, in small teams of up to five people.

Simplifying the rules and modalities excessively, it is a back-and-forth game in which a tiny ball must be slammed and bounced onto a rival’s opposite side of the playing field. A specific line or cord must be surpassed to score. And all this slamming and bouncing using mere physical strength, just a flick of the wrist, and in the blink of an eye!

Science and nature Valencian Community

Did you know that the Polytechnic University in Valencia consistently ranks as one of the best Universities in the world? It is one of five public higher education establishments to fall under the auspices of the Generalitat and celebrated its fiftieth anniversary this year. The others are the University of Alicante (just as old as the former if you count from its beginnings as a Centre for Universitary Studies, 40 years old next year under its current name), the University of Valencia, the University Jaume I (of which yours truly is a graduate) and the Universidad Miguel Hernández.

Can you guess which one is a grand lady with over six centuries of history and which one is only 22 years old? No, I will not tell you. But I will tell you this: the former has approximately 48.725 students and the latter 19.000, including a considerable number of art students.

And if you thought that covered the whole range of higher education available in the Community, there are also several private institutions dedicated to this purpose. Three of them are business schools (ESIC, CEF and IMF Business School) and two adopt a Catholic orientation in their degree programmes: the Universidad Cardenal Herrera-CEU and the Universidad Católica San Vicente Mártir.

Last but not least, have you ever visited any of the local national parks? There are nine of them in Alicante, and six each for Valencia and Castellón. I already mentioned Elche earlier. Did you know its famous palm forest covers over 2 million square metres and more than 200.000 different trees? My favourite example of the natural beauty of our region is, however, the Albufera near Valencia. More than 21.000 acres with over 800 different species of plants, more than 350 species of birds, and home to such unique species of fish such as the fartet or the samarugo.

End of the game

How is this for helping you collect the colours you needed to claim victory? If these facts did not help you conquer the board, may they at least stimulate your interest in finding out more about a small, but marvellous, part of the world. Have you started looking for your flight yet?

By Alexander Van der Biest