Drylands and mountains

El Secà i la Muntanya. Museu Valencià d'Etnologia
Permanent exhibition

As is common throughout the Mediterranean area, from the narrow coastal strips occupied by huertas and marshlands, the Valencian territory begins to rise and turns into mountains and drylands.

We first find the drylands, with their gentle slopes, but where water does not arrive as regularly as it does in the huerta, a decisive factor that determines a change in crops, in population density and in the ways of living. Then, we see the mountains, the extensive areas of steep rugged terrain of the interior that make up a good part of the territory and test the ability of their inhabitants to make them productive.

In the case of Valencia, drylands and, more especially, mountains represent a true “counterweight” or, if you wish, a "duality", to huertas and marshlands. Thus, despite the existence of some population centres of historical and even industrial importance such as Alcoi or Morella, the Valencian drylands and mountains have been much less populated than the densely urbanised coastal plains. On the other hand, in comparison with the extensive huerta areas of the coastal plain, the difficulties of the terrain have, in most instances, forced people to make the most of the slopes, by creating a landscape of terrace cultivation. All this with a skilful use of the ever-present stone that is available in drylands and mountainous areas.

 
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Drylands and mountains have participated little, however, in shaping the most popular and recognisable Valencian imaginary. Elements such as the traditional Spanish farmhouse, oil, wine or textile industry, essential in many of these areas, have historically had little relevance in what is understood to be "typically Valencian".