The route that we'll describe here starts at the town of Alcoy/Alcoi and it's a really beautiful one. We'll be rewarded by the stunning views it offers without needing either a high level of fitness or any advanced technical skills. Even though the lighting in the tunnels is well maintained, we recommend equipping our bikes with both front and rear lights for safety reasons (not just so we can see, should the lights stop working, but also in order to be seen by other bikers and pedestrians).
We'll start the route at the Batoi neighbourhood, more precisely at the crossing between the Els Canalons and Mondúber streets. We'll soon see a small rest area that marks the beginning of the route and has a water tap, a parking area for bicycles, tables, information boards and toilets (these are only open on market Sundays).
Right after we start the route, we'll have the chance to admire the amazing views of Els Canalons and El Salt on our right, from the bridge named after the latter (Pont del Salt), also known as Viaducto del Barxell. El Salt is a waterfall within the Barxell river that is very popular in Alcoy/Alcoi due to its proximity to town and its impressive nature. Unfortunately, most of the time it's inactive because of the low volume of flow, and it's only after the spring and autumn rains that it reappears. Despite that, the area itself is very beautiful from both an architectural and a geological point of view. The contrast between the abandoned industrial buildings and the residential houses in the area gives El Salt a very peculiar look. The water from the Barxell river, channeled through galleries and canals, made it possible for flour mills and, especially, for paper mills –used to manufacture tobacco rolling paper– to be built here during the second half of the 18th century.
Just one kilometre after we set off, we'll find the first tunnel (600 m) of the route. When we come out of it, we'll come across a huge and beautiful viaduct called "Pont de les Set Llunes" or "Puente de las Siete Lunas" (the seven moon bridge). This bridge was built to support the railway between Alcoy/Alcoi and Alicante/Alacant, but that train line never went into service. This impressive 260 metre long, 46 metre high viaduct over the Polop river, which provides an extraordinary view of Alcoy/Alcoi and the Font Roja and Sierra de Mariola nature reserves, is named after the number of arches that make it up, since semicircular arches have traditionally been called lunas (moons) in the area.
After 3.7 kilometres, we'll get to another rest area and to the Mas de la Font de l'Olivereta viewpoint. This is a great opportunity to admire the panoramic view of the area and its rural architecture. The route goes on through a few tunnels –some of them without any lighting– and different areas with heavy vegetation, until it reaches a diversion on the 4.8 kilometre point by the local sports centre. If we want to access this facility so we can rest for a while, we'll need to leave the route for a few metres, and then we'll have to climb a short slope to get back on track.
From this point on, the scenic route goes through the Sant Antoni mountain range and the Barranc de la Batalla. Both of them are especially beautiful areas which, unfortunately, we won't be able to see clearly, since this section of the road is where the three longest tunnels of the route are (324, 917 and 1,013 metres).
Between the second and the third tunnel, we'll come across a big bridge we know as Viaducto de Sant Antoni. It was built so the road could go across the valley that it's named after and which holds the Molinar river, tributary to the Serpis.
After we come out of the third and longest tunnel, we'll arrive at a place called "L´Estepar", where there is a rest area of the same name. This is a good spot to stop for a while, since it's also the end of our route, and the only thing left for us to do is to retrace our steps back to where we started. We won't keep going this way because the road is not in good conditions and this route is designed for families and for those bikers who are still getting started on this great sport.
However, if you want to take the route a bit further, you can follow the same road, which gets quite close to La Sarga, a small village that belongs to the municipality of Jijona/Xixona. There are some cave paintings not far from this village which have been declared as world heritage by UNESCO. There, we'll have the chance to admire some incredible views and we'll find a plaque marking the end of the scenic route.
If you still want to keep going, there is a charming and not very difficult path that runs parallel to the CV-800 road and that will lead us to the top of La Carrasqueta, at an impressive altitude of 1,020 m, with the stunning view of the Mediterranean Sea in the distance. However, we recommend finding out as much as possible about this section of the route before starting it, since there are multiple roads and paths that belong to different routes and could be very misleading.
Alicante / Alacant
Alfàs del Pi (L')
Villajoyosa/Vila Joiosa (La)
What to see
The town of Alcoy/Alcoi is renowned for its great artistic and architectural heritage. However, we believe it's precisely its industrial heritage that stands out from the rest, since it shapes the town's appearance and personality.
Actually, the bridges we'll find in this town are a consequence of its industrial development. It's not for nothing that Alcoy/Alcoi is also known as the "bridge town". These constructions are necessary to be able to move within the town, due to its peculiar topography, and Alcoi's inhabitants take a lot of pride on them. The main ones are Saint George's bridge, María Cristina's bridge and the Canalejas viaduct. The latter is a symbol of the town's level of modernity.
What to eat
Just like in the other towns and villages in the inland areas of the province of Alicante, the local gastronomy in Alcoi differs noticeably from what you would find along the Mediterranean coast. The cuisine in this town includes a wide variety of heavy dishes, as a consequence of the cold winters. Some of the most characteristic ones are the Borreta (fish, potato and vegetable stew), the Espardenyes (sardines in batter), the "Olleta Alcoyana" (beans, black pudding, offal and vegetables stew), the Pericana (cod and red pepper salad), the bajoques farcides (stuffed red peppers), the albóndigas de aladroc (anchovy meatballs) and, of course, the cured meat.
As for confectionery and pastries, we recommend trying the peladillas (sugar-coated almonds), the torrat, the meat pies or the pinyonets.
The traditional coffee liquor is usually drunk as an aperitif (by itself) or mixed with a cola drink (plis-play) or with lemon slush (mentireta).
Did you know?
The 125-year old Three Wise Men's parade in Alcoi is the oldest one in Europe.
The Moors and Christians Festival of Alcoi is also the first documented one of its kind. Even though the first celebrations honouring Sant Jordi (Saint George) date back to 1511, it's in the year 1672 that the historian Carbonell mentions the celebrations for the expulsion of the moriscos in his famous book Célebre centuria, and speaks about the founding of two "companies" (called filaes), one for the "Moros-Christianos" (Christian Moors) and one for "Cathólicos-Christianos" (Catholic Christians), which were the first of the 28 filaes that exist nowadays.
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