The Valencia coast as a name or term to describe a tourist area is not restricted to the fertile Mediterranean plain which to the visitor looks like an orchard of orange groves and rice fields. Nor is it on the whole the "rich, beautiful and flat land" as it is described by an anonymous minstrel in the romance of El Cid. The province has two areas which can be clearly distinguished as regards their scenery: the coast and the mountains. The former consists of soil from Quaternary flood sediments where the prosperous regions lie with their fabulous orchard lands, their irrigated crops which remain a green chequerboard all through the year, and where population density is high as well as the influx of tourist striving to reach the sea.
After passing through an area of gently sloping foothills where dry-farming and less intensively irrigated crops are the main feature, the other part is reached, the wild, almost unknown inland scenery, the semi-circle of the Valencia mountain ridges with their occasional precipices forming impressive river canyons, surrounded by open pine forests where caves and prehistoric shelters with many stone-age paintings lie hidden. It is an area full of rugged spurs with heights of over 1,500m, where the most important crops are obtained with dry-farming methods in vineyards, almond and olive groves. These lands are full of contrasts as regards their climate, their language, which is strongly coloured by Catalan or Castilian-Aragonese as a result of the resettlement after the Reconquest, and the remarkable differences between lati and minifundia, as well as in their customs and even in the art of cooking, while to some it will certainly come as a surprise that vines should be the most widely found crops in these parts.
With 10,763km, 263 towns and villages and 2,154,322 inhabitants, the Province of Valencia is the largest of the three which together with Castellon in the North and Alicante in the South used to belong to the former Kingdom of Valencia.
The Mediterranean is its natural boundary with which it shares
a coastline of almost 100km of fine sand beaches from Benavites
ravine north of Sagunto to the river Molinell south of Oliva,
while inland it borders on the Provinces of Teruel, Cuenca and
Albacete. The coast is low and sandy where the water is shallow,
and the only outstanding geographical feature is the cape of Cullera,
the one point where the mountains reach the sea. There is a barrier
of dunes behind the beaches and marshy ground or fresh-water lagoons
in some areas, such as the salt marshes of the Puig or Jaraco
(Xuquer) and Serpis. But busy and important are its ports of Sagunto,
Valencia and Gandia as well as its modern yacht clubs for all
sorts of pleasure craft and its tourist centres. From there it
is easy for the visitor to discover the high-lying areas, the
only game preserve of the region, its health resorts in the mountains,
the camping sites, Iberian and Roman settlements, houses with
coats of arms, castles and towers, rounding off ones holidays
without travelling any further. The coast thus becomes a delightful
point of departure for most interesting excursions inland.