THE ALCOY AREA
by Mike Whittock
If you stand with your back to the Mediterranean
any where on the Costa Blanca, and look inland you will see mountains, some
close, some distant. Some residents know what lies beyond, many don’t, and many
think there is a primitive world of donkey tracks and rocks. In actual fact it
is a very green world with varying types of terrain, modern cities and good
roads. Consider Alcoy, 300 years ago, it was a wealthy city of textile
manufacturers, while Benidorm was a poor fishing village. Alcoy still is a
modern an up to date textile area, the centre of the textile trade for Spain.
For me this is where Spain really starts, as
opposed to the cosmopolitan tourist zones of the Costas.
Alcoy, known as the city of bridges, is also a city
of contrasts, between the historic and the modern, known internationally as the
home of the ‘Moors and Christians Fiesta’. The Plaza España, the historical hub
of Alcoy is surrounded by classic architecture, including the Parish Church of Santa Maria
and Ayuntamiento. The plaza was designed by the famous architect Santiago Calatrava
(thanks, Nuria). There
are many walks around the narrow streets of grand old buildings. Details of
which can be found in the town hall.A short way along the main N340 is the town
of Cocentaina, another urban area built under Moorish influence. The old part is
centred around the originally Moorish Palace of the 13th. century which was
renovated and extended by Ximén Perez de Corrella in the 1440’s. He was made a
Count by king of Aragon Alfonso XIII for his services as a soldier. Adjacent to
the Palace is the church of the Clarisas Convent with it’s striking renaissance
interior. A walk around the narrow twisting streets of this Medieval quarter is
A few more kilometres further along the N340 you
come to Muro de Alcoy on the southern slopes of the Mariola mountain range
situated between the Agres and Serpis rivers. Again of Moorish origin with a
medieval quarter. As the rest of the towns in the area it is concerned with the
Alqueria de Asnar between Cocentaina and Muro takes
it’s name from the Islamic, meaning a place occupied by a clan or family. Asnar
was the family name of a Lord who drew up the village charter in 1662 when the
Moors were finally expelled. The village is now centred around a paper recycling
Mountains dominate this region, between which there
is much agriculture, cherries being an important crop, discovered to be viable
not long ago as they are ready approximately two weeks before the rest of the
There are several mountain ranges in this area, the
highest of which is the Aitana range with a peak of 1558m. Nearby is the
Serrella range with it’s unusual pinnacle rock formations. All these mountain
zones have now been designated nature reserves.
Dotted around this whole area are small villages
all with different characters but all with friendly inhabitants. The highest
being Alcolecha , which is closely linked with historically with the
neighbouring village of Penáguila, both of which have Moorish and historic
Just above these villages is the Aitana Safari Park
with lots of space for their collection of wild animals, the most impressive of
which I think are the Tigers.
This whole area which welcomes tourism is too large
and too busy to be spoiled by it.
Now over 500 English have settled here and live
happily in a normal, peaceful , Spanish environment.
Full Details of all the villages in the area, and
more can be found at: www.costablanca.org;
just click on the towns drop down list and surf through them, you will find a
lot of interesting information about this scenic area.