An amalgam of people and civilizations has provided Lleida with a rich and restless culture that can be found in the current modern city.
The Ilergetes was an Iberian community that appeared in the middle of the 6th century BC. They used to place their settlements on high places and thus, it is easy to imagine Iltrida on the top of the Sovereign Hill.
Their most relevant leaders were Indivil and Mandoni, who defended the Ilergetes against the Carthaginians and Romans. Once they were defeated, the city changed its name to Ilerda in the year 205 AD. Roman chronicles describe a walled city with a stone bridge that constituted a municipality (founded in the time of Emperor Augustus) with fertile orchards, which at the end of the 3rd century, were destroyed by barbarian Germanic tribes.
Around 716 - 719, Lleida was occupied by the Saracens and the following four centuries of coexistence marked the city character.
In October 1149, the city surrendered to the troops of Ramon Berenguer IV and Ermengol VI d'Urgell. In 1150 Carta Pobla was granted to the city.
In 1300 Jaume II founded the famous Estudi General, which was the only centre of advanced studies of the Crown of Aragon until the end of the 15th century.
Since 1382 the municipal government seat was in the ancient palace of the Sanaüjas, a significant example of civil Romanesque art. From that moment onwards, the building was called Palau de la Paeria. The name Paeria is due to the privilege that Jaume I granted in 1264 and that substituted the former Roman consulate with Paeria as a form of municipal government.
The 15th century meant a period full of great architectural works that have lasted till the present day. An example is Santa Maria Hospital, which has housed Institut d'Estudis Ilerdencs since its foundation in 1942.
The two following centuries were characterised by a recession, worsened by wars and diseases that ended up in Guerra dels Segadors (the uprising of the Catalan servile peasants between 1640 and 1652). The city was damaged and Felipe V found Lleida in ruins.
Finally, with the decree of Nueva Planta in 1714, Lleida lost its liberties, the municipal government regime of Paeria and its University. Seu Vella, closed to worship since 1797, became military barracks.
In the 18th century the city regained its image and dimension; in the reign of Carlos III Catedral Nova was built. The new ideas of Enlightenment gave rise to such remarkable figures as Blondel and Baró de Maials. They changed the appearance of the city according to its role as the capital city of the province and applied the new agricultural studies to crops. At the beginning of the 19th century Lleida endured a new setback, the Napoleonic invasion.
Once again the city had to recover from the disasters of wars and a new period started from the second half of the 19th century.
The railway line reached the city in 1860; in 1864 Camps Elisis Gardens were open and in 1865 architect Josep Fontseré began to design the first modern city plan.
The beginning of the 20th century meant the reassertion of the Catalan State with Mancomunitat of Catalonia. The Spanish Civil War (1936 -1939) destroyed the city again. Then, in 1940, with only 40,000 inhabitants, everybody's effort was needed to achieve urban, commercial and demographic growth.
Nowadays the city of Lleida, with about 115,000 inhabitants, has updated its infrastructures to link the different neighbourhoods to the city centre thanks to the building of Pont Nou (bridge) in 1973, Pont Universitat in 1993, Pont Pardinyes in 1995 and the new footbridge in 1997.
In 1999 the old slaughterhouse became Teatre de l'Escorxador. Moreover, in the year 2000 the inside night lighting of Seu Vella was installed and the restoration of Porta dels Fillols was finished, the Blondel footbridge and the recently open footbridge in Avinguda del Segre.
Urban expansion and the creation of new facilities have shaped the beginning of the 21st century. The opening of the Motoring Museum -Roda Roda-, the recovery of the Templar castle of Gardeny and the opening of the new fruit and vegetable market are some of the most notable events so far this new century, while the AVE high-speed train, the Arts Centre in the historic building of La Panera and the future construction of the Business and Convention Centre (B&CC) is the most important features of 2004.