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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 quite fascinating.

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 textile trade.

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 plant.

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 European crops.

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 buildings.

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. 




                                                                                          The Owl and the Sparrow


                                                      Revision 2012


 The Owl and the Sparrow is a book about a battle that takes place in a forest. The battle is between the birds on one side of the forest,  which they themselves  call the good side of the forest, and the birds (vultures) on the other side,  the dark side of the forest.

 Owl is the leader of the good forest and his adversary is the Condor, reputed as being the darkest force in the forest.  Into  the story enters an apparently naive sparrow who is seduced by Condor into the dark side of the forest against the rulings of Owl. Owl refuses to send help because he does not want to endanger the lives of more birds, but also because he is furious with the sparrow. He says that  sparrow was asking for trouble.

 Also on the good side of the forest are an incredibly silly group of finches who like to play games and torment the vultures. But their silliness  and game-playing skills are no match for the profound darkness of the vultures, and some are captured, and terrorised.

  Golden Eagle rules over the whole forest, but he gets little involved because he has left Owl a set of rules. Finally he gets angry with what he sees happening on both sides of the forest, and  realises that rules are not enough. So  out of his concern and love for the birds , he sends his  son, Silver Eagle, to the  forest.   The book covers the events that follow including  a bitter battle and the discovery that there is an unknown traitor within their camp.


Author Ruth Thomas

Editor Joan  Mitchell

First version typed up and suggestions made by Deborah van Welie



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