Vic is a small but magnificent city in the Barcelona province , in the comunidad autónoma (autonomous community) of Catalonia. The city is situated on the Vic Plain and lies along the Meder River, which is a tributary of the Ter River. Because it was first inhabited by the Ausetanos, an ancient Iberian tribe, it was called Ausa.
The city was Romanized in the 2nd century and took the name Vicus Ausonensis (Ausona) in the 5th century. In 826 it was destroyed by Arab invaders who rebuilt it as Vic in 885. A powerful self-governing city in the Middle Ages, it aided James I of Aragon in his conquest of Valencia (1235–38). The French, under Gen. Joseph Souham, defeated the Spanish at Vic in 1810.
The city has a restored Roman temple, and its Episcopal Museum houses an impressive collection of Catalan art from the Romanesque and Gothic periods. Vic Cathedral, was founded in 1040 and reconstructed in the period 1780–1803, and offers a virtual survey in architectural styles, from its original Romanesque bell tower to its Gothic altarpiece to its Neoclassical facade. It is also notable for the wall paintings of Josep Maria Sert, whose earlier series were destroyed in 1936 when the building was sacked during the Spanish Civil War. The city is a meat-processing and dairy centre that also produces cereals, textiles, leather, and dyes. Population is about 40,000 but serves a wide area beyond the city extending to about 160,000 inhabitants.
Vic can have a persistent fog in winter as a result of a thermal inversion, with temperatures getting as low as -10 °C, an absolute record of -24 °C and episodes of cold and severe snowstorms. For this reason the natural vegetation includes the pubescent oak typical of the sub-Mediterranean climates of eastern France, Northern Italy and the Balkans.
Vic is situated midway between the Pyrenees and the Mediterranean, just over seventy kilometres north of Barcelona. A thriving market town, which attracts people from far and wide. Its colourful past, still evident in the streets and squares of its historic centre, intertwines with its present-day diversity. Vic is rich in contrasts, blending the traditional with the modern, rural life with cutting-edge technologies, the tranquility of a small town with the gaiety of local festivals and markets. Its wealth of museums, universities, archives, historic monuments and associations bear witness to the city’s civic, cultural and artistic heritage. As the capital of Osona, Vic provides a wide range of administrative, health, educational and social services to a wider community of 150,000 inhabitants and has an economy based mainly on the arts, education, trade, industry and various specialist services.
Vic is of ancient origin. In past times it was called Ausa by the Romans. Iberian coins bearing this name have been found there. The Visigoths called it Ausona. Sewage caps on sidewalks around the city will also read “Vich”, an old form of the name, which was adopted during the Franco dictatorship and is disapproved of in modern times.
During the 8th and 9th centuries, Vic sat in the Spanish Marches that separated Frankish and Islamic forces. It was first destroyed in 788 during a Muslim incursion. Afterward, only one quarter was rebuilt, which was called Vicus Ausonensis (vicus is Latin for city borough), from which the name Vic was derived. It was repopulated by Wilfred the Hairy in 878 who gained control over the high part of the city and gave up the lowest part to the bishop to construct the episcopal see (ecclesiastical jurisdiction). From then on, the city was ruled by the count of Barcelona and by the bishop of Vic.
During the 14th century, several Jews flocked to the city and attained prominence, such as Salomo Abraham Taroç.
The introduction of Christianity was early. Martyrs of Ausa are recorded in the time of Emperor Decius, and in the earliest records of the Tarraconensian mention Bishop of Vic. None, however, is mentioned by name until 516 when Cinidius is named as assisting at the provincial Council of Tarragona and Girona. Aquilinus (589–99) attended the third Council of Toledo; Esteban, the fourth and one at Egara; Dominus, the sixth of Toledo; Guericus, the eighth; Wisefredus sent his vicar to the thirteenth, and attended in person the fifteenth and sixteenth. With this bishop ends the history of the Church of Ausona before the Saracen invasion.
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