Barrio del Carmen developed in the area around the current Plaza del Carmen, between the Muslim and the Christian walls of the city.
Here you have the details regarding the various historical stages of this neighbourhood, from its origins in the Roman era until the present day.
138 BC-8th century AD
Foundation and development
Valencia (then Valentia) was founded by Roman settlers on the bank of the Turia river. The centre of the city was roughly in the area currently occupied by Plaza de la Virgen and the Cathedral.
After the fall of Roman Valencia, the city saw the arrival of various Germanic populations, among which were the Visigoths.
Beginning of Moorish Rule
Valencia was peacefully conquered by the Muslim rulers and the city became part of the Caliphate of Damascus, and later on part of the Caliphate of Cordoba.
Establishment of the Taifa de Balansiya
An independent Moorish Kingdom of Valencia was established. This would become an era of splendour and development for the city. An orchard was established in what is now El Carmen.
Muslim city walls
Most of the city’s fortified perimeter dating back to the Muslim era was built in this period, still under the Taifa.
After the Christians conquered the city in 1238, the Muslim population that decided to stay in Valencia was confined to the eastern section of the current Carmen neighbourhood. This area would continue to exist until 1609, with the expulsion of the Moriscos from Spain.
The religious order of the Carmelites established themselves in Valencia and built the Convento del Carmen, which would later give its name to the whole neighbourhood.
El Carmen became Europe’s biggest and most notorious brothel. The western part of today’s Carmen was occupied until 1671 by hostels where prostitution was practised. Reportedly, it was a highly regulated, controlled, and well-kept area.
Christian city walls
A new set of walls was built by the Christian kings, surrounding and enclosing the Muslim walls. The northern edge of this new walled enclosure, between the Christian and the Muslim walls, developed as the Carmen neighbourhood at this time.
The neighbourhood is today officially recognised as such, and it is one of the most vibrant parts of the city, a place for atmospheric bars, history, and art.