With Michelin star restaurants, enriching history, national festivals, and historic sights, what more could you ask for a Costa Blanca trip?
Less than an hour’s drive from Alicante, a visit to the city of Alcoy allows us to go into the interior of the Costa Blanca to discover that not everything is beach in the Terreta and that, far from the clichés, the Alicante mountains are green and lush, dotted with beautiful villages, natural parks, traditional crops and places full of history and charm.
It’s impossible to mention Costa Blanca about the Moors and Christians festival. A festival, along with the Three Kings parade, which has put the name of Alcoy on the tourist map of Spain and around the world -they were declared a festival of international tourist interest in 1980.
Today, we propose a trip to Alcoy to discover its main natural and cultural attractions. A destination that is an excellent starting point to begin to familiarize yourself with the unknown interior of Alicante. Will you join us on this getaway? Read on!
To find the origin of the current Alcoi, we have to go back to the second half of the 13th century, a period in which Jaume I conquered these lands – not without difficulties – from the Muslims who inhabited them until then.
It was in 1256 when Alcoy obtained its town charter and, taking advantage of the natural defences provided by the rivers Barxell (or Riquer) and Molinar, a walled enclosure was built, of which a small part is still preserved today. Paradoxically, what in its day was a strategic defensive advantage, conditioned the development of Alcoy during the following years.
As a result, the people of Alcoy have been forced to overcome during its expansion the difficulties of the abrupt orography on which the city sits, giving rise to what is known as the “city of bridges”. The original enclave of Alcoy is well understood in the following map (extracted from the website of the Archaeological Museum of Alcoy).
The Tower of Na Valora and the set formed by the Tower-portal of Riquer and the Tower of N’Aiça, along with part of the canvases of the wall, is the little that remains of the old medieval walled enclosure of Alcoy.
It’s well worth visiting this monument, especially the Riquer-N’aiça, a visit that can be complemented with a walk through the river park and reach one of the hidden gems of Alcoy: the Pont de Buidaoli, dating from 1827, one of the oldest (and least known) of the city. We can extend the visit with a walk along other old bridges.
La Torre de Na Valora
The city of Alcoy was a pioneer in the Industrial Revolution in Spain. At that time, modernism was at its peak and the bourgeois Alcoyans decided that this would be the style in which they would build their houses, entrusting architects such as Vicente Pascual Pastor and Timoteo Briet Montagud with their design. After touring the art nouveau route of Brussels, it was time for the modernist Alcoy, also within the European route of modernism.
El Refugio de Cervantes / Cervantes’ Refuge
During the Spanish Civil War, Alcoy was bombed up to seven times as it was declared a military target because of the textile and metallurgical production that supplied the Republican army, in addition to having several military hospitals.
To protect themselves from the bombs of the Italian Savoia planes, based in Mallorca, the people of Alcoy built more than 25 shelters scattered throughout the city. The Cervantes Shelter, near the Maria Cristina Bridge, is a museum and can be visited for free, with an entrance fee of 1 €.
El Refugio de Cervantes
Try to Hit one of its Street Parties!
When conquering the Kingdom of Valencia, James I encountered fierce resistance in the rugged Alicante mountains. The vizier al-Azraq led the insurgency in these lands, taking refuge in the impregnable rocky castles that dominated the entrances to the valleys.
The last onslaught of al-Azraq at the gates of the newly founded town of Alcoy is the origin of the Moors and Christians Festival in honour of St. George, which has been declared a day of International Tourist Interest since 1980.
In addition, the Cavalcade of the Three Kings of Alcoy has been declared an Intangible Asset of Cultural Interest. It has been celebrated since 1885, being one of the oldest in Spain.
Of much more recent creation, the Modernist Fair is an event that recalls the glorious era of the early twentieth century and is gaining more and more followers every year.
Where to Eat in Alcoy
The Michelin Guide highlights three establishments in the Alcoy area, the best known being l’Escaleta Restaurant in neighbouring Cocentaina, which has 2 stars. Led by Alberto Redrado and chef Kiko Moya, its cuisine is based on an “emotional storytelling”, always highlighting the values of the land.
Also in Cocentaina, the restaurant run by Naxto Sellés -chef and owner- presents a traditional cuisine with an updated touch and offers two tasting menus: “Picaeta” and “El Laurel”. Rice dishes are the house speciality.
Last but not least, the popular guide highlights the Alcoy restaurant L’Amagatall de Tota (El Escondite de Tota), named after the mother of chef Jorge Sanus, which offers Mediterranean cuisine based on seasonal produce.