Bocairent (Valencia)

  • Bocairent, province of Valencia / ALC
  • Ancient stone paths, hermitage in Bocairent, province of Valencia / ALC.
  • Barranc dels Tarongers (Orange trees ravine), in Bocairent, Valencia / ALC
  • Barranc dels Tarongers (Orange trees ravine), in Bocairent, Valencia / ALC
  • Limestone landscape in Barranc dels Tarongers, between Ontinyent and Bocairent / ALC.
  • Bocairent, Valencia / Timo Rokitta
  • Moors and Christians in Bocairent, province of Valencia. Festivity of National Tourist Interest.

 

What you can do and see in Bocairent

Bocairent is located in the Sierra de Mariola at an altitude of 660m. Much of the municipality belongs to the Natural Park of the same name, and therefore travellers know that they are approaching an environmental site of enormous interest. This park is a large limestone range with great natural and scenic diversity, abundant aquifers and a famed variety of plant species, especially medicinal and aromatic plants.

The location of Bocairent means that it is the ideal centre for different excursions along signposted trails and other activities connected with outdoor sports. The Rivers Clariano and Vinalopó rise in the municipality.

Above all, it’s a town that has been won from the rock, and therefore travellers on the Way of El Cid who come to the town will set out on one of the most unusual and surprising visits on the Way.

Bocairent is a historical-artistic centre. If you arrive on foot, you should enter across the Pont de Darrere la Vila, a 16th century bridge which was the original access to the town. The view will provide you with a unique and unforgettable panorama of the medieval district.

This impression is confirmed when you enter the narrow but well-preserved winding streets reminiscent of the Islamic period. Any path you take will lead to the Church of the Assumption, built on an earlier Gothic church, and the Islamic castle that preceded it. Bekirén Castle was possibly built in the 10th and 11th centuries. The present church is Baroque; the high altar has two altarpieces attributed to the Renaissance painter Juan de Juanes.

In the parish museum, travellers will find sacred paintings, but also other kinds, the result of donations, especially of Valencian artists, like Sorolla, and even a chalice attributed to the famous Renaissance sculptor and metalsmith Benvenuto Cellini. The church has a high and impressive Baroque bell-tower that overlooks the town. It can be visited at weekends and from the top you can see the best and most astonishing views of the medieval district and the Sierra de Mariola.  This sensation of height is increased when you go down to the Town Hall Square.

From there you can go to the Bullring, the oldest in the Community of Valencia (1843) and also the most unusual, because it is partly carved in the rock so that its curious appearance is reminiscent of old Roman amphitheatres. It is not the only unusual building in the town, the underground Augustine Monastery, dated in the 16th century, consists of a chapel and other rooms covering about 50 square metres, excavated out of the rock with surprising results.

From the square, it is worth going to Les Covetes dels Moros. On the way, you’ll come across the Cava de Sant Blai, a 16th century snow store that has recently been restored, located at the base of the wall that used to surround the town. It was a walled town in the Islamic period but the walls were modified after the Christian conquest. The town is known to have had four gates, of which only one has reached the present: the ‘Portal d’Agost’ or ‘Porxet’, with a semi-circular arch, of the 15th century.

Les Covetes dels Moros form a group of about fifty caves excavated in a limestone wall 50m high opposite the town and about 500m away, in the Fos Ravine. The wall has 53 rings fixed in it, probably to hold the ladders made of esparto grass that were used to reach the caves. The original use of these is still a mystery, perhaps they were mortuary niches or granaries, but we know they were used before and during the Islamic period. The caves can be visited but, because of the low height of the ceilings, it is necessary to crouch much of the time. In the same ravine but on the other side, easily viewable from the town, the Hermitage of the Holy Christ is a Gothic building built in the 16th century, reached by an impressive calvary. Also Gothic and outside the town walls is the Hermitage of Santa Jaume.

Castle-lovers can visit the two fortresses located in the fantastic setting of the Natural Park of the Sierra de Mariola. The first, Mariola Tower, is about 14km from Bocairent, along the CV-794, in the middle of the natural park. The tower is reached from the Mariola Spring; the climb is steep but the views make it worth the effort. The fortress was a Muslim defensive tower, probably dated in the 11th century; its walls and square floor plan can be seen but the upper part is missing.

The second castle, also in the natural park, is near the Font de la Coveta, on the way to Banyeres but inside the municipality of Bocairent. Its access is via the information centre and management office of the Natural Park of the Sierra de Mariola, in Mas d’Ull de Canals, following the CV-795 from Banyeres. The Font de la Coveta is a cave which is also the rising of the River Vinapoló, and can be easily reached along a lovely signposted footpath.

Vinapoló Castle, known as “Les Torretes” is near the rising. It is a small Islamic fortification which was used as a refuge for the inhabitants in the nearby villages in the case of an attack. It is dated in approximately the 11th to 13th centuries. The tower in ruins and some parts of the wall are all that are left of the castle.

 

You should not miss

  • If you like good food, try the dishes of this mountain area of Valencia, very different from the typical idea of Valencian gastronomy. The history of the sierra and its particular geography have created a gastronomy enriched by contributions from other cultures, such as the Muslims, and from other regions, like La Mancha. Vegetables are undoubtedly the most important ingredients and, together with gazpacho, stews and rice, you can find delicious products like pericana, which is also very common in the neighbouring Alicante. It is made with dried peppers that are later roasted, garlic, cod and lemon peel, which are macerated in olive oil. Dinner can be finished with Herbero, a herb liquor made with aromatic and medicinal plants from the Sierra de Mariola.
  • The most direct way to discover the character of Valencia is to participate in its popular, noisy and lively festivals. The Festival of Moors and Christians in Bocairent is designated as a Festival of Spanish Tourist Interest.

Rev.: JGG 21.09.21

Useful information

  • Postal Address of the City Council: Plaça de l'Ajuntament, 20 (46880)
  • Phone: 962 350 014
  • E-mail: bocairent@gva.es
  • Web: www.bocairent.org
  • Population: 4.018
  • Altitude: 680 m.

Rev. (JGG) 18.1.16