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Article by: Gary willicott gary@gbinspain.com Published: 18/02/2008


If you stand with your back to the Mediterranean anywhere 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 and up to date textile area, the centre of the textile trade for Spain.

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, the Parish Church of Santa Maria and Ayuntamiento were designed by the famous architect Santiago Calatrava. 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 kilometers 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.

Its bridges and its position as an industrial pioneer of the Valencian Community are the features that define Alcoy. Even though the Archaeological Museum displays an Iberian figure depicting a spinner, it was in the second half of the 18th century, at the onset of the Industrial Revolution, that the character of Alcoy was set. The town participated in worker emancipation movements such as the Ludite uprising and the anarchist movement during the 19th and 20th centuries, in common with Barcelona. Its well-to-do industrial bourgeoisie enriched the town's appearance with grandiose modernist buildings. The medieval village expanded as a result of the thriving industry and several bridges were built over the rivers that join together in Alcoy, giving rise to the distinctive suburbs of the city. María Cristina is the oldest suburb, and the first encountered when entering Alcoy from Alicante.

The Canalejeas viaduct over the Molinar River is a metallic structure that was a real innovation when it was built in 1907. The last bridge to be constructed was inaugurated in 1987 to re-route the traffic from the N-340, which used to pass through the modern district of Alcoy. The Plaza de España was the main historical hub of Alcoy - the Ayuntamiento, the Parish Church of Santa María and a multipurpose hall designed by the famous architect Santiago Calatrava are all located there. Various walks around the city start from this point. One of these walks takes you to the medieval neighbourhood where you can see the old Ayuntamiento - today the Municipal Archaeological Museum - and the Museum of the Fiesta, located nearby. The calle San Nicolás leads into the first of the new extensions to the city and several modernist buildings such as the Círculo Industrial and the Casa del Pavo can be seen here.

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 2000 English have settled here and live happily in a normal, peaceful, Spanish environment.


External Article Link: http://www.property-partnership.com/overseas-property-guides/overseas-property-guide.cfm?id=114

Article Link: http://www.property-partnership.com/overseas-property-guides/overseas-property-guide.cfm?id=114

Please contact the author at gary@gbinspain.com for more information.


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