Orihuela - Encyclopedia

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ORIHUELA, a town and episcopal see of eastern Spain, in the province of Alicante; 13 m. N.E. of Murcia and about 15 m. from the Mediterranean Sea, on the Murcia-Elche railway. Pop. (1900) 28,5 3 o. Orihuela is situated in a beautiful and exceedingly fertile huerta, or tract of highly cultivated land, at the foot of a limestone bridge, and on both sides of the river Segura, which divides the city into two parts, Roig and San Augusto, and is spanned by two bridges. There are remains of a Moorish fort on the hill commanding the town; and the north gateway - the Puerta del Colegio - is a fine lofty arch, surmounted by an emblematic statue and the city arms. The most prominent buildings are the episcopal palace (1733), with a frontage of a 600 ft.; the town house (1843), containing important archives; and the cathedral, a small Gothic structure built on the site of a former mosque in the 14th century, and enlarged and tastelessly restored in 1829. The university of Orihuela, founded in 1568 by the archbishop of Valencia, was closed in 1835, part of the revenue being applied to the support of a college affiliated to the university of Valencia. Besides numerous primary schools there are a theological seminary and a normal school. The trade in fruit, cereals, oil and wine is considerable. There are also tanneries, dye-works and manufactures of silk, linen and woollen fabrics, leather and starch.

Orihuela was captured by the Moors in 713, and retaken by James I. of Aragon, for his father-in-law Alphonso of Castile, in 1265. It was sacked during the disturbances at the beginning of the reign of Charles V. (1520), and again in the War of Succession (1706). Local annals specially mention the plague of 1648, the flood of 1651 and the earthquake of 1829.

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