This route will take us through the inland areas of the province of Alicante, just to end with a beautiful ascent to the very heart of the Font Roja Nature Reserve. This natural park is located in the region of L'Alcoià, right between the municipalities of Alcoy/Alcoi and Ibi, and it encloses one of the best preserved green areas in the whole of the Valencian Community. The boundaries to this 2,298-hectare area are the Alt de Sant Antoni, the holm oak forest of the Font Roja and the Teixereta. The top of the Menejador mountain range, with its 1,356 metres of altitude, is the highest point in the reserve.
We'll begin our ride at the capital of the region of L'Alcoià:
Alcoy/Alcoi. The best place to start is the Plaza de España, nerve centre of the town and witness to the two festivals that have made
Alcoy/Alcoi famous all over the world: the "Fiesta de Moros y Cristianos" (Moors and Christians festival) and the "Cabalgata de los Reyes Magos de Oriente" (the Three Wise Men's parade), the oldest ones of their kind in Spain.
The route starts with a descent to the neighbouring town of
Cocentaina that will lead us to
L´Alquería d´Asnar through the CV-703 road and then on to the CV-700 road, which we'll follow towards
Benàmer. This first section of the road goes up and down continuously (even though it does feature more descents) due to the peculiar topography of the area, made up of rivers and ravines. Once we reach this village, we'll start going uphill gradually without leaving the CV-700 road, until we get to the 29th kilometre of the route, at which point we'll have to turn right towards
Margarida. We'll turn right again at the 32nd kilometre onto the CV-713 road, which will take us to the Alto de
Tollos (Category 2) and to the village it's named after.
Even though we'll have already been going uphill for a while before arriving at
Beniaya, it's this village that marks the beginning of the classic climb to Alto de
Tollos. This climb covers a distance of 4 km, with an average gradient of about 6% and segments that get close to 13%, so we definitely should not use up all our strength on the way to
We'll then begin the descent and we'll turn onto the CV-720 road almost immediately. This road will take us through the municipalities of
Balones first, then through
Gorga and finally to
Benilloba, where we'll start the climb to La Serreta following the CV-70 road.
While going through this part of the route, don't forget to take a look at the castle of
Penella. The castle dates all the way back to the last decades of the 13th century and still preserves its 15 metre high main tower. This section of the road is surrounded by a stunning landscape and the descent to
Alcoy/Alcoi offers some astonishing views of the town, with the "Barranc del Cint" ravine in the distance.
Once we finish the descent from La Serreta, near
Alcoy/Alcoi, we'll turn left to start the hard, but extremely beautiful climb to the Font Roja Sanctuary (Category 2).
This is a 9 kilometre ascent, with an average gradient of 4.9% and some sections with gradients of over 10% that reach a maximum of 15% in some of the final slopes. However, our efforts will be rewarded by the unbelievable sights from the viewpoint at the Font Roja Sanctuary. This sanctuary is also known as the Church of Our Lady of Lilies and it was built back in 1663. The inside of the church has had some restoration work done since 1992, as a part of a comprehensive plan for the whole architectural complex, which is why it's in such a good condition nowadays.
After regaining our strengths and filling up our bottles with the really high quality water that comes out of the fountain we'll find there, we'll make one last effort to get to the area called El Salt before finishing our route. In order to do this, we'll descend for 3.5 km and then turn left onto a side road known as "Les Llacunes road" (the tar on this road is not in the best conditions, so we should really exercise caution here), which will take us to the CV-795 road. At this point we'll be able to say we've finished the last climb for the day, and we will only leave the CV-795 road to get into the architectural and industrial complex of "El Salt".
Alcoy/Alcoi became a relevant town in Spain after the Industrial Revolution, especially because of its prominent textile industry, but also thanks to the metallurgical and paper industries. It's also known as the "bridge town", since the main characteristic of its peculiar topography is the different gullies that have shaped the town planning. We'll be able to see both things from "El Salt". After getting to know
Alcoy`s / Alcoi's history first-hand, we'll take the CV-795 again to go back to the town and reach the end of the route.
Villajoyosa/Vila Joiosa (La)
Alfàs del Pi (L')
Alicante / Alacant
What to see
Even though Alcoy/Alcoi has a great artistic and architectural heritage, it's precisely its industrial heritage that stands out from the rest, since it has shaped both 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 Alcoy´s / 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 Alcoy/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 "Espardenye"s (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 Alcoy/Alcoi is the oldest one in Europe.
The Moors and Christians Festival of Alcoy/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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