Geographically, it is located in the Catalan Central Depression. It is also the capital city of the Segrià comarca, as well as the largest city in the province. It had 137,387 inhabitants as of 2010, including the contiguous municipalities of Raimat and Sucs.
Lleida is one of the oldest towns in Catalonia, with recorded settlements dating back to the Bronze Age period. Until the Roman conquest of the Iberian Peninsula, the area served as a settlement for an Iberian people, the Ilergetes. The town became a municipality, named Ilerda, under the reign of Augustus. It was reconquered in 1149, after being ruled by the Moors for many centuries, who had conquered the town in the 8th century. In 1297, the University of Lleida was founded, becoming the third oldest in the whole of Spain. 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 been in a constant urban, commercial and demographic growth.
In ancient times the city, named Iltrida and Ilerda, was the chief city of the Ilergetes, an Iberian tribe. Indíbil, king of the Ilergetes, and Mandoni, king of the Ausetanes, defended it against the Carthaginian and Roman invasions.
Under the Romans, the city was incorporated into the Roman province of Hispania Tarraconensis, and was a place of considerable importance, historically as well as geographically. It stood upon an eminence, on the right (west) bank of the river Sicoris (the modern Segre), the principal tributary of the Ebre, and some distance above its confluence with the Cinga (modern Cinca); thus commanding the country between those rivers, as well as the great road from Tarraco (modern Tarragona), the provincial capital, to the northwest of Spain, which here crossed the Sicoris.
Its situation induced the legates of Pompey in Spain to make it the key of their defense against Caesar, in the first year of the Civil War (49 BCE). Afranius and Marcus Petreius threw themselves into the place with five legions; and their siege by Caesar himself (Battle of Ilerda), as narrated in his own words, forms one of the most interesting passages of military history. The resources exhibited by the great general, in a contest where the formation of the district and the very elements of nature seemed in league with his enemies, have been frequently extolled; but no epitome can do justice to the campaign. It ended by the capitulation of Afranius and Petreius, who were conquered as much by Caesar's generosity as by his strategy. In consequence of the battle, the Latin phrase Ilerdam videas is said to have been used by people who wanted to cast bad luck on someone else.
Under the Roman empire, Ilerda was a very flourishing city, and a municipium. It minted its own coins. It had a fine stone bridge over the Sicoris, (the bridge was so sturdy that its foundations support a bridge to this day). In the time of Ausonius the city had fallen into decay; but it rose again into importance in the Middle Ages.
It was part of Visigothic and Muslim Hispania until it was conquered from the Moors by Count Ramon Berenguer IV of Barcelona in 1149.
It used to be the seat of a major university, the oldest in the Crown of Aragon, until 1717, when it was moved by Philip V to the nearby town of Cervera. The University of Lleida is nowadays active again since 1991.
During the Reapers' War, Lleida was occupied by the French and rebel forces. In 1644 the city was conquered by the Spanish under D. Felipe da Silva.
Lleida served as a key defense point for Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War, and fell to the Insurgents, whose air forces bombed it extensively, in 1937 and 1938. The November 2, 1937 Legion Condor attacks against Lleida became especially infamous since they were aimed to the school known as Liceu Escolar de Lleida. 48 children and several teachers died in it that day, 300 people were killed on the November 2 bombings altogether, and the town would be bombed and sieged again in 1938, when it was conquered by Franco's forces.
After some decades without any kind of population growth, it met a massive migration of Andalusians who helped the town undergo a relative demographic growth. Nowadays it is home to immigrants of 146 different nationalities.
During 2007 Lleida was the year's Capital of Catalan Culture.
Lleida has a cold semi-arid climate (Köppen BSk). Winters are mild and foggy though cooler than places on the coast while summers are hot and dry. Frosts are common during winter although snowfall can occasionally fall, averaging 1 or 2 days. Precipitation is low, with an annual average of 369 millimetres (15 in) with a peak in April and May and another peak in September and October.
Lleida is divided in the following districts by the Observatori Socioeconòmic de Lleida:
Lleida is served by the RENFE, Spanish state railway's Madrid-Barcelona high-speed rail line, serving Barcelona, Zaragoza, Calatayud, Guadalajara, and Madrid. Lleida has a new airport opened in January 2010, and a minor airfield located in Alfès. Also, the town is the western terminus of the Eix Transversal Lleida-Girona, and a railway covering the same distance (Eix Transversal Ferroviari) is currently under planning.
Lleida's only passenger railway station is Lleida Pirineus. It is served by both Renfe and Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat de Catalunya train lines. In the future a Rodalies Lleida commuter network will connect the town with its adjacent area and the main towns of its province, improving the existing network with more train frequency and newly built infrastructure. A second railway station is Pla de la Vilanoveta in an industrial area, and only used by freight trains. A future railway museum will be located in its facilities. Since 2008 the bulk of public transport of the Lleida's surrounding area, mainly buses operated by several companies, is managed by Autoritat Territorial de la Mobilitat de l'Àrea de Lleida.
The urban buses, coloured yellow with blue stripes and owned by Autobusos de Lleida, include the following lines:L-1 Interior
L-4 Mariola – Parc cientific i tecnologic
L-17 Bordeta-Ciutat Jardí
L-18 Palau de Congressos- Rambla de la Mercé
L-N Wonder (Regular night service)
L-Bus Turístic (tourist bus)
In addition to these, there's a tourist bus and a regular night service to nearby clubs.
Lleida has depended long time on nearby airports and had no local air transit. Lleida-Alguaire airport opened in 2010.
A tram-train system is pending approval. Using an existing but outdated passenger line, it would link Balaguer and Lleida, crossing both towns in a much-needed move towards better public transportation, both inner-city and between localities.
Lleida is a traditionally Catalan-speaking city and province, with a characteristic dialect (known as Western or, more specifically, North-Western Catalan, or colloquially lleidatà). Most of the population is actively bilingual in Spanish.
Lleida was the Capital of Catalan Culture in 2007.
Enric Granados Auditorium is the city's concert hall and main music institution and conservatory. It is named after the composer Enric Granados, who was born in the city. CaixaForum Lleida (formerly known as Centre Cultural de la Fundació La Caixa) includes a concert hall. Teatre Municipal de l'Escorxador is the town's main theatre; it includes a concert venue, Cafè del Teatre. A theatre and congress centre, La Llotja de Lleida, opened in 2010.
There are two important music festivals in Lleida; MÚSIQUES DISPERSES Folk Festival in March, and the jazz festival JAZZ TARDOR in November. Concerts are also a regular fixture of the two local feasts, Sant Anastasi in May, and Sant Miquel in September.
CaixaForum Lleida is the usual venue for film-related events and screenings. A Latin-American film festival is held yearly in the town (Mostra de Cinema Llatinoamericà de Lleida), and an animation film festival called Animac is held every May.
The Lleida Museum opened in 2008 and displays historical artefacts and works of art from various periods. The Institut d'Estudis Ilerdencs, a historically relevant building, exhibits both ancient and contemporary art. The Centre d'Art La Panera is a contemporary art institution. The Museu d'Art Jaume Morera displays art from the 20th and 21st centuries (as well as artwork by its namesake).
The city has a number of small municipal galleries, such as the Sala Municipal d'Exposicions de Sant Joan and the Sala Manel Garcia Sarramona. There are also several institutions dedicated to local artists, such as the Sala Leandre Cristòfol, containing artwork by the sculptor and painter Leandre Cristòfol (1908–1998); and the Sala Coma Estadella, dedicated to the sculptor and painter Albert Coma Estadella (1933–1991).
Private art galleries include the Espai Cavallers. The private foundation CaixaForum Lleida and the Public Library of Lleida also offer regular exhibits. The now defunct Petite Galerie was an innovative and influential gallery in the 1970s.
The Escola Municipal de Belles Arts provides higher education in the arts.
Traditional celebrations include the main annual town festivity: Festa Major; Fira de Sant Miquel and L’Aplec del Caragol (escargot-eating festival, the biggest in the world of this sort, held at the Camps Elisis since 1980).
The latter is a gastronomical festivity focused on escargot cooking and is celebrated yearly at the end of May. "L'Aplec" gathers thousands of people around the table to taste the most traditional dishes from Lleida.
Due to its strong popularity, it was declared a traditional festivity of national interest in 2002 by the Generalitat of Catalonia and two years later it was also declared as such by the Spanish Government.
The main traditional celebrations in Lleida are chaired by the twelve emblematic "Gegants de la Paeria" (Giants of the Town Hall), the two oldest made in 1840.
Lleida's has a bar and clubbing area, informally known as Els Vins. The oldest part of the quarter, known as Els Vins Vells, has been largely replaced by Els Vins Nous, an architecturally newer and more upscale area. Most big clubs in Lleida are located outside the town and are not easily accessible without a car, though on Saturday nights there is a bus.Seu Vella, a cathedral built in a blend of Romanesque and Gothic styles over time, and made a military fortress in the 18th century. There is also an older, and mostly destroyed Palau de la Suda, built during Arab rule and later used as a royal residence by the counts of Barcelona and kings of Aragon. Both medieval buildings are situated over the so-called Turó de la Seu, a medium-sized hill that overlooks the town.
Seu Nova, the baroque cathedral, in use since Bourbon rule. It was burnt during the Spanish Civil War by the anarchists commanded by Durruti.
Institut d'Estudis Ilerdencs, used to be a hospital (Antic Hospital de Santa Maria) built in Gothic style, but today is a historical museum and research centre open to visitors, with historically significant artworks and artefacts from the Iberian, Roman, Arab, medieval and modern times, as well as an exhibit area usually showcasing contemporary local artists.
La Paeria, the city council and also a historical site with remains and artefacts from Roman times through to the Moorish rule, Mediaeval and Modern times, including old prison cells.
Gardeny is a hill hosting a fortress built between the 12th and 13th centuries. Used by the Knights Templar in the Middle Ages after the area (a fifth of the town) had been granted to them by King Ramon Berenguer IV.
The gardens known as Camps Elisis, already used by the Romans. The Mermaid Fountain is a nice piece.
La Mitjana, a park at the edge of town with wilderness areas adjacent to an old dam on the river Segre.
Les Basses d'Alpicat, a park. It is currently closed, awaiting reforms.
Church of Sant Llorenç, a 12th-century Romanesque church with 15th-century Gothic additions. The interior is well preserved.
The bishop of Lleida’s Palace on Rambla d'Aragó, which also serves as an art museum displaying pieces spanning from Romanesque to Baroque times.
El Roser, a 13th-century convent built by the Dominican Order. It hosted a fine arts academy of the same name and has recently been controversially reformed and turned into a parador (a luxury hotel using a historical location).
Lleida Public Library, on Rambla d'Aragó, in the building previously known as La Maternitat, a mid-19th century orphanage.
Museum of Lleida, opened in 2008, and owned by the Diocese of Lleida focusing on the town's history. Some of the artefacts it contains, which come from areas historically belonging to the diocese but not currently part of the province of Lleida's territory and jurisdiction, have been the object of contention with the neighbouring dioceses and the government of the autonomous community of Aragon.
Sala Cristòfol, a museum devoted to the works of the avant-garde sculptor Leandre Cristòfol.
Sala Mercat del Pla, an art gallery.
Museu d'Art Jaume Morera, an art museum displaying art from the 20th and 21st centuries in a modernist building.
Centre d'Art de la Panera, a small contemporary art institution.
Museu de l'Aigua, in the Parc de l'aigua.
Auditori Enric Granados, Lleida's foremost concert hall. Next to its basement and on public display are some ancient ruins.
La Llotja de Lleida, a concert hall, theatre, opera and congress hall opened in 2010.
Parc de l'aigua, urban park in the southern neighborhoods.
Lleida has been always a city with great sport tradition. Probably the most famous sport at the present time is basketball, because the club of basketball of the city a few years ago ascended to the ACB, being the revelation team in the league, this caused a lot of boys and girls to become fond of this little well-known sport.Unió Esportiva Lleida, based on the Camp d'Esports
CE Lleida Bàsquet, based on the Pavelló Barris Nord
Lleida Llista Blava
Lleida has sister relationships with many places worldwide: Ferrara, Italy