Alfauir is a very pretty village just 10 minutes drive to Gandia City with plenty of history and paces to visit and explore.
Alfauir is along the CV60 from Gandia to L'Olleria and one of the first villages opposite Rotova. It is suited to the country way of life with lovely walks through the orange groves or the more dramatic walks over the mountains.
With a few bars in the village and a few other amenities Alfauir is not isolated and being on a bus route means it is a great place for a family to rest and relax.
Once only accessible by crossing a bridge, the village that grew from an ancient Islamic farmstead draws visitors in from far and wide to enjoy its rich countryside and heritage. Quite an achievement for a municipality of just 444 inhabitants.
Alfauir’s name immediately gives away its Moorish past and its Mudéjar architecture bears witness to its pre-conquest history. Following the bloody battles between the Moors and the Christians, King Jaume I granted it town status. At just over six square kilometres it barely qualifies as a town, and retains the olde worlde rustic charm associated with remote rural settlements.
Standing at 80m above sea-level, Alfauir forms part of the Vernisa Valley that also encompasses Castellonet de la Conquesta, Llocnou de Sant Jeroni, Ròtova and Almiserà, a picturesque and unspoilt stretch of countryside inland from the coast of La Safor. An incredible 33 per cent of the municipality comprises pine forests, which enjoy official protection against building and commercial activity. Amongst this densely-wooded area are five mountain ranges where flora and fauna indigenous to the region can be found in abundance. On a journey through the Pla de Castell, El Tossal, La Serreta, La Lloma and La Costera, the visitor will come across Kermes oak, pine trees, wild thyme and rock violet, providing shelter and warmth for numerous wild animals – foxes, badgers, weasels and lizards amongst others. Ornithology fanatics will be in their element as Alfauir’s countryside is home to many species of birds of prey.
Alfauir looks out across a ravine and is crossed by the river Vernisa. Here, the ancient Islamic tribes left their stamp in the form of an irrigation system – one of the Moors’ many ingenious inventions – that continues to be in use today for supplying water from the river to agricultural land in the area. Also, close by, a visit to the Micalet de Mars cave is a must – the interesting and unusual rock formations are renowned locally for their staggering beauty.
Even the earliest settlers in Alfauir left their mark on the landscape. The Castell de Palma, also known as the Castell d’Alfauir, dates back to the Iberian period around the sixth century BC – long before the Romans took over and extended their empire into the peninsula. Archaeologists have recently discovered remains of ceramics in the grounds of the castle, ceramics whose high quality and sophisticated technique suggests that these, too, are evidence of the Iberian presence in the village. The castle is accessible by way of a footpath that winds uphill, from the summit of which is a breathtaking panoramic view of the entire Vall de Vernisa.
Alfauir’s principal attraction, however, is the Sant Jeroni de Cotalba monastery, whose reign once encompassed a number of settlements in the district. La Safor’s best-kept secret,, the monastery was under lock and key for seven centuries until the Generalitat invested 42,000 euros in restoring it and opening it up to the public. An untapped corner of the region’s heritage, locals flocked to see the monastery in the summer when its doors first reopened. The complex encompasses the bell tower, with 17th-century blue and white carvings covering the façade; a gothic church with Baroque elements acquired during a previous renovation in the 18th century; a cloister with red Mudéjar arches resembling the architecture of the Córdoba mosque; a garden and the sala capitular, where a tomb houses the remains of Prince Juan and Princess Blanca of Aragón, children of the mediaeval Duke Alfonso el Viejo.
It is accessed via a picturesque walkway flanked with banana trees that leads to the front door of the walled-in grounds, over which is a carved stone coat of arms dedicated to Alfonso of Aragón, and on entering, visitors will come across a small farmstead in ruins that was originally a Morisco settlement.
Sant Jeroni de Cotalba’s gardens are a tranquil, secluded Eden, sympathetically designed with a small man-made lake thickly flanked by willow trees and rushes. Water flows into the lake from the Batlamala spring some five kilometres away via an aqueduct constructed in the 14th century to combat problems with drought.
Guided tours of the monastery are held every second and fourth Thursday of the month, and every first, third and fifth Saturday. These should be booked in advance by contacting Alfauir Town Hall. The village of Alfauir lies approximately 10km from the main city of Gandia. The village itself has a church, bars, hairdressers, chemist, school, bakers and a supermarket.