The trip starts in the municipality of Cocentaina, capital of El Comtat and famous for its Fira de Tots Sants, which attracts half a million visitors at the beginning of November every year thanks to a combination of rural shops and medieval leisure activities. Its historical neighbourhoods (Fraga, Villa Vieja and El Raval) breathe history, just like its emblematic monuments such as El Salvador church, the church of Santa Maria or the Palau Comtal. This latter Renaissance-Gothic architectural treasure owes its original appearance to the first feudal lord of the villa, the admiral of the Crown of Aragon Roger de Lauria, and the fresco paintings which decorate the spectacular Golden Room were put there by the Corella family. In the 17thcentury, the Corella family represented their lineage plans through wonderful oil paintings on the rib vault, containing scenes with the monarchs of Navarra.
An interesting local market takes place every Thursday in the square next to the palace, where you can buy seasonal products. It is also worth visiting to the Contestani Research Centre, an association comprised of 200 “friends” who research, publish and put the region’s heritage on display in their museum.
From Cocentaina we continue to the Muro de Alcoy, where you can visit the Plaza Palacio, El Castell, the chapel of San Antonio or one of its beautiful recreational areas, such as the Font del Baladre, located on the bank of the Algar river. Like most of the villages in the region, Muro de Alcoy is a land of musicians. There is nothing better than to listen to them during the Moors and Christians Festival or tasting an olleta de music (typical dish eaten during this festival) to the sound of the Moorish marches.
From Muro de Alcoy and Cocentaina you can access a stretch of valleys and mountain ranges which display their agricultural beauty through the banks and dry stone walls, producing a natural amphitheatre of terraces decorated with olive trees, almond trees and cherry trees. Stretching over 1,000 square kilometres, this territory offers some of the most beautiful places in the province. A bunch of municipalities filled with history and its essential natural mountain environment are located less than an hour’s drive from the Mediterranean coast.
The Baronía de Planes, with its charming districts of Margarida, Benialfaquí, Catamarruch, is definitely worth visiting. The Barranc de l’Encantà, a natural ravine with pools of water (also known as “tolls”), is located in its surrounding area, and legend has it that a beautiful lady provided a traveller with the choice between wealth andher love.
From Planes, you can make your way to Vall de Perputxent, on a road which surrounds the Beniarrés reservoir, where you can visit an interesting climate museum. From there, you can continue on to the municipality of Lorcha, a paradise for hikers and cyclists who use the old Xixarra train route every weekend and recharge their batteries in the Serpis hostel, where the BTT El Comtat centre is located. Gaianes is located a little before, which has one of the most remote and surprising wetlands in the province: la Albufera de Gaianes. Left dry for centuries, this lakeside area re-flourished in 2004 after some heavy rain and, since then, visitors can enjoy its birds and flora.