1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Dénia
|←Denham, Sir John||1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 8
|See also Dénia on Wikipedia, and our 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica disclaimer.|
DÉNIA, a seaport of eastern Spain, in the province of Alicante; on the Mediterranean Sea, at the head of a railway from Carcagente. Pop. (1900) 12,431. Dénia occupies the seaward slopes of a hill surmounted by a ruined castle, and divided by a narrow valley on the south from the limestone ridge of Mongó (2500 ft.), which commands a magnificent view of the Balearic Islands and the Valencian coast. The older houses of Dénia are characterized by their flat Moorish roofs (azoteas) and view-turrets (miradores), while fragments of the Moorish ramparts are also visible near the harbour; owing, however, to the rapid extension of local commerce, many of the older quarters were modernized at the beginning of the 20th century. Nails, and woollen, linen and esparto grass fabrics are manufactured here; and there is a brisk export trade in grapes, raisins and onions, mostly consigned to Great Britain or the United States. Baltic timber and British coal are largely imported. The harbour bay, which is well lighted and sheltered by a breakwater, contains only a small space of deep water, shut in by deposits of sand on three sides. In 1904 it accommodated 402 vessels of 175,000 tons; about half of which were small fishing craft, and coasters carrying agricultural produce to Spanish and African ports.
Dénia was colonized by Greek merchants from Emporiae (Ampurias in Catalonia), or Massilia (Marseilles), at a very early date; but its Greek name of Hemeroskopeion was soon superseded by the Roman Dianium. In the 1st century B.C., Sertorius made it the naval headquarters of his resistance to Rome; and, as its name implies, it was already famous for its temple of Diana, built in imitation of that at Ephesus. The site of this temple can be traced at the foot of the castle hill. Dénia was captured by the Moors in 713, and from 1031 to 1253 belonged successively to the Moorish kingdoms of Murcia and Valencia. According to an ancient but questionable tradition, its population rose at this period to 50,000, and its commerce proportionately increased. After the city was retaken by the Christians in 1253, its prosperity dwindled away, and only began to revive in the 19th century. During the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-14), Dénia was thrice besieged; and in 1813 the citadel was held for five months by the French against the allied British and Spanish forces, until the garrison was reduced to 100 men, and compelled to surrender, on honourable terms.