Vall de Gallinera

Vall de Gallinera is a municipality formed by eight nuclei: Benirrama, Benialí, Benissivà, Benitaia, la Carroja, Alpatró, Llombai and Benissili. The settlement lies inside the county of Marina Alta in the north-east of Alacant province, bordering with Valencia’s province. The municipality extension has 53 km2, within a valley which, due to its peculiar orography among mountains, is symmetric and exact, with outstanding panoramic views. In addition, it is just twenty minutes away from the beach.

The environs are mostly rural, there you will be able to appreciate the harmony between mountains and fields of cherry, olive, almond, carob, and orange trees. Along the different seasons you will be able to see the little terraces, held on by kilometres and kilometres of loose-stoned walls, shaping one of the most important ethnological works in the rural environment.

Traditionally, the valley’s economic base had been agriculture, mostly cherry and —product with Protected Geographical Indication— olive farming, from which they extract great quality oil. However, nowadays, the tertiary sector has become more important and present due to the rise of rural tourism. This phenomenon has brought about the appearance of some rural houses, restaurants and traditional products’ manufacturing businesses.

The Vall de Gallinera offers such natural resources and scenic landscapes that they make it a place of captivating beauty. Among the attractions of the place it is worth mentioning, the numerous natural water springs distributed throughout the valley; some of them were converted into traditional lavoirs (wash-houses) with a high ethnological value. It is also worthy to visit the eight little nuclei, whose charm invites us to cross their narrow streets, where besides we will be able to see, personally, the authenticity of their people.

On the other hand, the valley is provided with a wide historical and cultural heritage: we can highlight rock art shelters declared World Heritage and the two castles that long ago guard the two valley entries: the Gallinera Castle, aka Benirrama Castle; and Alcalà Castle, aka Benissili Castle, that date back to between eleventh and thirteenth centuries, were residence place of Al-Azraq, famous Muslim prince, considered the resistance of standard bearer against King James I Christians

In addition, the valley is endowed with an extensive historical and cultural heritage highlighting the cave paintings declared World Heritage and the two castles that formerly guarded the entrances to the valley, the castle of Gallinera also called Benirrama and the Alcalà also called Benissili. Their origins dates back to the s.XI and XIII, place of residence of Al-Azraq, a famous Muslim prince considered the banner of resistance against the Christians of King James I.

The best-known and representative topographic element of the Vall de Gallinera is Penya Foradà, which in the months of March and October offers us an unprecedented spectacle. It is the famous solar alignment of the Foradà with the old site of the Franciscan monastery of Benitaia. The solar alignment goes back to 1611, when the Franciscan monks who erected a convent next to Benitaia under the patronage of the Duke of Gandia, wanted it to be located in the precise place where, coinciding with the day of its celebration patron Saint Francis of Assisi (October 4th), the sun rays crossed the Foradà and illuminated this construction and who knows if also a statue of the saint.

Cherry stands out as the valley typical product par excellence, and it is one of the earliest to be gathered throughout the peninsula. In June, the town council celebrates every year the end of the collection season with a traditional Cherry Festival, where visitors, in addition to buying cherries, can also delight themselves with a sample of the other products which are elaborated in the municipality: olive oil, jams, honey, confectionery, cold meats…

You can find routes and paths through which you can enjoy yourself the majesty of the environment, standing out the PR-V 167, that connects the villages of Benialí and Alpatró; the PR-V 43, that runs first through the neighbouring valleys of Laguar, Ebo, Alcalà and through the Penya Foradà, ending at the peak of La Safor (1,013m); the Route of the Eight Villages that, starting from the Font de la Mata at Benirrama, runs through all the villages in the valley along the rural roads that connect them to the homonymous Font de la Mata de Benissili; Benialí rock art trail; and the paths that reach the two castles.

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