Lleida (in Catalan, the co-official language of Catalonia) is a city situated in the north-east of the Autonomous Community of Catalonia, and is the capital of the homonymous province.
The city of Lleida has a population of 139,834 inhabitants and its metropolitan area contains 363.900 inhabitants. It is, after Barcelona, the second Catalan city in importance in number of inhabitants, its municipal area has 211.7 square kilometers and it is one of the most extensive zones in Catalonia. Lleida is also the capital of the region known as Segriá.
There are evidences of settlements in the city of Lleida since at least the Bronze Age. Lleida became the principal city of the Ilergets -a group of Iberian individuals who called the city Iltirta- from the sixth century BC and until the Roman conquest. The Romans called it Ilerda and in Emperor Augustus’ time the village received the status of municipality. In 716-719 the city was invaded by the Muslims and re-conquered by the troops of Ramon Berenguer IV and Ermengol VI in 1149. In 1150 it received the Charter of City.
Under the Romans, the city was integrated into the province known as Hispania Tarraconensis, and became a place of considerable importance, not only historically but also geographically. It stood upon a height on the right (west) bank of the river Sicoris (the modern Segre), which is the main tributary of the Ebre and at some distance above its confluence with the Cinga (modern Cinca); This led to a commanding position of it over the region between those rivers, and the great road that had it origin in Tarraco, the modern Tarragona.
In 1297, James II founded the Estudio General de Lleida, which would be the first University of Catalonia and of the former Crown of Aragon, and the second of Spain behind the University of Salamanca (whose history background can be traced back to the University of Palencia). During the following centuries, the town was damaged by several wars, such as the Reapers’ War in the 17th century and the Spanish Civil War in the 20th century. Since then, the city has undergone a constant urban, commercial and demographic growth.
Among the cultural assets located in the municipality two cathedrals, La Seu Vella and La Seu Nova, the palace of La Paeria or the Antiguo Hospital de Santa María are worth to be mentioned. As to cultural facilities, the new Diocesan Museum of the region, the Municipal Auditorium, Enric Granados, the Theatre “del Escorxador”, and the future Museum of Science and Climate are also remarkable .
Lleida is a major hub of services and is the city of reference as to hospital care, educational and cultural activities, and entertainment, etc., as it covers a wide area that includes some of the administrative divisions of the province of Lleida, as well as some of the Aragon province. The area of commercial influence of Lleida has, according to an economic study, 497 678 inhabitants.
The city’s economy is mainly based on the service sector, which employs 71.4% of the population, and is followed by the industry sector (13.1%), construction and agriculture (4.2% ). The Fira de Lleida (an annual trade exhibition) is already the second in importance behind the Fira de Barcelona. The aim of the aforementioned “Fira de Lleida” is to promote the commercial activity of the area s market and contribute to the progress of the so-called “conference tourism.” In 2010, Lleida presented the Llotja of Lleida, a new building that functions as both a conference hall and theater.
The city is well connected by road, motorways and highways. The A-2 and AP-2 connect Lleida with Madrid and Barcelona) and the A-22 and A-14 with Huesca and Viella, respectively. As to public transport, Lleida has an important railway station from which high-speed, long-distance, regional and a future commuter train depart every single day. Various trunk lines connect Lleida with virtually all towns and cities around it. As to internal mobility, Lleida has a network of 23 city bus lines. Since January 2010, Lleida has an airport that is located at 15 km from the city.