Los molinos de viento - The Windmills (J.Bolufer Marqués, Museu de Xàbia) Thursday, 26 may,. 19.30 pm. Auditorium Museu de Xàbia
Xàbia is the home to one of the most important groups of windmills in the Mediterranean. Eleven are lined up in a row running from east to west on the "Trencall de la Plana". Another, the Safranera windmill, is isolated and lies very close to the river, south of Xàbia Old town. These windmills have been documented in Xàbia since medieval times and they were in use until the end of the 19th century, when other forms of energy, new technologies and other factors, relegated them to oblivion and abandonment. The origins of these devices date back to antiquity, although the first known reference to windmills is found in an Arabic source from the 10th century. In Europe, windmills very different from those of oriental origin, are documented from the 12th century on-wards.
In this presentation, we will talk about the origins of various types of windmills, focusing on the history and description of those of Xàbia and the Marina Alta.
Xàbia : Facts and Anecdotes. Did you know… that the streets of Xàbia were totally dark at night until the mid 19th C. ?
Barcelona was the first city in Spain to get street lighting in 1841 and Madrid, Valencia and Cadiz not long after. Alicante followed in 1861. Not all streets, but the major ones were illuminated with lampposts - gas or kerosene - except on nights of full moon !
We do not know the exact year when Xàbia got its street lights, but it seems to have been one of the first in the region. We know for sure that the more important streets and squares were already lit in 1859 (with oil street lamps) because the Municipal Archives have a document in which the Ayuntamiento stipulates fines for parents of children who throw stones and break the glass of the street lamps….. apparently a new kiddies´ game !
We read in the Xàbia municipal ordinances of 1887 that by that year all streets were illuminated for five hours per night in the winter months and four hours on summer nights.
The 20th C. heralded a new form of lighting : electricity. In 1902 Xàbia signed a contract with the Count of Orgaz, owner of a company generating electricity from the waterfalls of the river Algar in Callosa d´en Sarrià, in which the company committed to provide daily energy „ from ten minutes before sundown until ten minutes before sunrise „ for public and private spaces. Private homes paid according to the number and strength of light bulbs : 1,75 pesetas a month for each five watts bulb ; 3,25 ptas a month for a 10 watts bulb, and 1 centimo per night and bulb that was over 10 watts. Later the luxury version of 40 watts arrived !!
Most houses contracted just one bulb, with sockets in 2 rooms ( which were invariably the kitchen and dining room ) so that the same bulb could be transferred between the rooms according to need. The rest of the house was in darkness and people still used candles or one of the many portable sources of light (paraffin or oil lamps). In addition, the oil hanging-lamp at the centre of the house was still very much in use, especially since there were frequent electricity cuts.
It only cost 0,50 centimos to contract electricity, so it became customary to unregister in the summer months so as not to pay the minimum fee. There was much poverty in Xàbia in those days. Joaquin Armell, owner of the 99-year old household and gifts shop in the Calle Mayor, tells us how his grandfather was employed by the company and was responsible for collecting the electricity fees from private clients every 15th of the month. Some needy families could not really always afford the 1,75 ptas, so he would advise them to pay any small amount so as not to have their electricity cut. Unfortunately, today the electricity companies do not give their clients that option …..
Only a few establishments could afford an electricity meter. The first buildings with a meter were the Ayuntamiento and Telegraph Office, Guardia Civil, agricultural Syndicate, five bakeries, two cinema houses and a few wealthy private homes.
Electricity came to the houses in the countryside only in the 1940s. Here oil and kerosene lamps were still the main source of light even into the 1950s.
For us in the 2020s a life without electricity is virtually unimaginable. For not only does it give us light, it makes for all kinds of amenities that promote an easier life. In fact every aspect of society today depends on it. Of course, whether that is a good thing or not is open to debate…..
Source : "La LLum Elèctrica a Xàbia" by Antoni Espinos
Xàbia : Facts and Anecdotes - Did you know ...that in 1960 the population of Xàbia was only around 6000 inhabitants ?
Precise statistics on demography are only available since 1857, so the earlier centuries´ population count is only approximate. In Moorish times there was no urban nucleus and Xàbia consisted of little „alquerias“ (clusters of houses) „in valle yxabee“ (in the valley of Xàbia - quotation from a document written in 1258 ). After the moors were subjugated in 1244 the Valencian coast was exposed for centuries to attacks by pirates and Berber corsairs coming from the Kingdom of Granada and the Maghreb. There was a great need for protection. So in the 14th century a tower with fortifications was built. This was extended over time to become the fortress-church of San Bartolomeu .These 14th C. fortifications were the beginning of a nucleus which grew over the centuries to become the town we know today. In the 16th and 17th centuries the population seems to have grown from approximately 1000 to 2000 inhabitants. The population continued growing so that by the end of the 18th century it was over 3000. By the 1860s, there were already around 6000 inhabitants and it remained in that range for a hundred years.
The population count started to rise more rapidly when tourism discovered Xàbia in the 1980s. From about 10.000 then, it rose every year until 2013 when the maximum count was 33.000. Since then it has gradually reduced. Today we are almost 28.000. What is interesting is that the population is almost equal in both sexes : there are only nine more women than men !! And by the way, we have six people a hundred years old and older, four women and two men !
The proportion of foreign residents living in Xàbia is an incredible 43% i.e. 12.000 inhabitants. The British make up the greatest group of 4.500 ( despite BREXIT !), followed by the Germans and the Moroccans.
Today, cosmopolitan Xàbia shows how open-minded and welcoming it can be, and is an example of how harmoniously the peoples of the world can live together.
Did you know……….that there are traces, even today, of a centuries-old rivalry between Xàbia and Denia?
This phenomenon is often seen all over the world between neighbouring towns - or even countries, for that matter. Nearer home, we also see it between Ondara and Pedreguer and between Gandia and Oliva.
In Roman times, the lands of Xàbia were part of the ager de Dianium, the only municipium that existed between Valentia (Valencia) and Alonis (La Vila Joiosa). Centuries later, in the Islamic era, it also formed part of the territory of the big city of Daniya. With the conquest of Jaume I, the Vall de Xabea, where there were several alquerìas, was included in the general municipality of the castle of Denia. The subsequent creation and rapid development of what we know as the old town of Xàbia (from the late thirteenth century), soon spurred its inhabitants to dissociate themselves from Dénia and to want their independance from it.
It was only in 1612 that King Felipe III conceded Xàbia the title of „Villa Real“, just months after Denia had been proffered the title of „ciudad“ by royal privilege. So now at last Xàbia achieved its independence from Denia. However, this only complicated the relationship between the two towns. In the ensuing 200 years lawsuits over several issues abounded between them, but especially over the delimitation of their respective territories. The bone of contention for centuries was the St. Bartolomé Valley, with the alqueria of Benissa de Vi, later called Jesús Pobre, and the delimitation line on the Plana del Montgo.
The rivalries between the two towns were not only due to territorial disputes. There were also ideological and political differences. A clear example of this is during the War of Succession. When King Carlos II died without an heir in 1700 there were two claimants to the throne : one was the Archduke Carlos (of the House of Habsburg, Austria), and the other was Felipe de Anjou (of the House of Bourbon, France). Denia sided with the Archduke, whereas Xàbia with Felipe. So when Felipe V ascended the throne in 1710, he gave Xàbia (1713) the dignity-title of „Villa Lealísima“ in appreciation of its loyalty to him.(That also gave it the privilege of using the fleur-de-lys in its coat of arms, which is still there to this day).
Today a healthy rivalry can be felt in more subtle ways. Although it can hardly be noticed by outsiders, the inhabitants of the two towns both know it is there.
Here are some examples :
Denia celebrates "fallas“ in March, as does Valencia. The Junta Central de Fiestas de Xàbia announced not long ago that the June fiestas shall be called "fogueres“ de Sant Joan. Xàbia does not celebrate "fallas“ (god forbid !), but "fogueres“ !!
And don´t the Javienses feel indignant when Denia talks of the "gamba de Denia“, referring to the high quality shrimps caught in the waters of Denia and Xàbia ?
Or : Javienses are convinced that after seeing the success of the Festival de Jazz de
Xàbia, its rival started competing with its own several years later…….
And anyway, who has the better beaches. And who the prettiest view of the Montgo ?!
Of course the list can go on and on…….
This half hour documentary, which aired on 24th February features the museum of Xàbia, an interview with Director Ximo Bolufer and footage of the underwater excavations carried out in Portitxol bay. It follows a talk given to AMUX by archaeologist Alejandro Peréz on February 9th in which he described the great importance of Portitxol as an ancient and unique anchorage.
Xàbia : Facts and Anecdotes - Did you know.. that Xàbia´s original Iberian gold treasure might have remained in Xàbia had there been a law for the protection of Spain´s patrimony when the treasure was found back in 1904 ?
The first law regulating Spanish historical heritage was the Law of Excavations and Antiquities of 1911. There were other subsequent regulations until the drafting and approval of the Spanish Historical Heritage Law of 1985, which is still in force. In 1998 the Generalitat Valenciana approved the Llei del Patrimoni Cultural Valencià, a specific law for the Valencian Comunidad. Both the 1985 law and the Generalitat's regulation specify that all objects "coming from excavations, earthworks or works of any kind, or by chance" that were found on or under the ground or water, and that has any historical heritage value, are of public domain, and will be integrated in the Generalitat's patrimony.
In 1904 a menial labourer working on land in La Lluca belonging to Benissa resident Torres Orduña, hacked into a clay jar, bringing gold and silver jewelry to light. This was quite a sensation and became known at once as the Treasure of Javea. The owner of the land recognized that it was of immense historical value and offered it to the authorities of Valencia for an astronomical price. In Valencia, the pieces were identifed as being Iberian, most probably from the Fourth century BC. However they were not willing to pay such an outrageous price. Orduña then offered it to the National Archaeological Museum in Madrid, who also rejected it for the same reason. The French Government, who had already bought the statue of Dama de Elx at an earlier date, was very interested in acquiring this treasure too, and contacted Roque Chabás Lloréns, historian of Denia and archivist of the Cathedral of Valencia. Chabás wanted to keep the treasure in Spain and falsely told them that Madrid had already bought it. After further negotiations, Madrid finally did buy the treasure. And it has been exhibited there ever since.
However, one necklace was missing from the collection : Orduña had donated this to the Purisima Chiqueta in Benissa, where it hung first in the Church of San Pere and was then transferred to the new church that we know today. In 1936, it disappeared from here during the Civil War, only to re-emerge in 1940 in Madrid. It had been offered and donated to the Museum to complete the collection.
The gold jewellery displayed in the museum of Xàbia is a fine gold-plated copper copy, made by a Sevillian goldsmith F. Marmolejo. It was acquired by the Ayuntamiento of Xàbia in 1984.
As you must already know, Xàbia now has two gold treasures to its name. Only last summer ( Aug. 2021 ) the second treasure - one of the largest sets of Roman gold coins found in Europe - was discovered in the Bay of Portitxol. This has good chances of finding its home in the Archaeological Museum of Xàbia……….but that´s a subject for another article, when more details have been released by the research team and the Conselleria……… !
Did you know... that in 1987-88 Xàbia averted a possible ecological disaster in the area of Els Pallers (Portitxol)
In 1987-88 Xàbia averted a possible ecological disaster in one of the last few virgin coastal strips in its municipality, and with that, steered away from a future of mass tourism ? Xàbia today would not be the town we know, had the massive project of the International Boy Scouts been realised. This foresaw a World Center in the Portitxol area of Els Pallers, between Cap Prim and La Barraca. There they wanted to make a port for water sport activities and housing for at least 3000 scouts (there was even talk of increasing it to 10.000 !), with hotels for parents and staff accommodation in the vicinity.
The Central Government, the Generalitat Valenciana, the Conselleria de Obras Publicas y Urbanismo and even Javea´s ruling party at the time (PSOE), were pushing for the realisation of this project. Their arguments : it would bring not only Javea, but also Spain onto the international tourist map, promoting Xàbia (read Spain) especially to the American tourists, which in turn would bring profits to Xàbia & its businesses, and create jobs. However this did not appeal to the majority of the people of Xàbia, who were aware of the contradictions of the authorities : on the one hand, they had already been trying to limit urban growth and protect the coast (PGOU, General Town Plan), saying there was not enough water for the expansion of Xàbia, yet on the other hand they promote a huge project such as this World Center ! Six months earlier, the town of Peñiscola had rejected it, after studies had been done on the environmental effects of such a project on the coast. And now Xàbia was willing to accept it without any studies being done on the effects on marine life. Not only that, the Bronze Age archeological remains of Cap Prim and perhaps those of the island of Portitxol could be adversely affected by this new project.
The PSOE (under mayor Enric Bas) found itself in opposition to the UPV Party (Unitat del Poble Valencià, led by Josep Sapena), various ecologists of the Marina Alta ( eg. Ecopacifistas and the Association for the Protection of Natural Patrimony), the AP (Alianza Popular, led by Eduard Monfort); and also the owner of the Portitxol island and that part of the mainland in question, Señor Guillermo Pons, who refused to sell the land for this project. Constructors and small businesses were also against the project. A petition signed by 2.600 Xàbeenses was handed in to the Ayuntamiento. During the final plenary sitting in January 1988, the decision was to reject the project, to the great relief of the population of Xàbia !
How admirable it is that the small town of Xàbia stood up to the pressure coming from the top to protect its beautiful natural environment ! Today Cap Prim and La Barraca are popular areas for walkers and nature lovers. Thank you, people of Javea !
Xàbia : Facts and Anecdotes - Did you know that almond trees were first brought here in approximately 800 BC?
The almond trees, which we are so familiar with in our region, were first brought here in approximately 800 BC. Originally from Central and Western Asia, it was the Phoenicians and later the Greeks who brought them to the Iberian peninsula. However it was only from the Arab period onwards (8th century ) that almond trees were properly cultivated. The Arabs brought with them their tradition of confectioneries made from almonds and honey or sugar, which later became the basis for several different sweetmeats such as turon, pastissets and almendrados.
Being robust and hardy, the almond tree was well suited to the poor soil of large parts of the coastal region. In fact the Comunitat Valenciana is the third largest almond-producing region in Spain - and Spain is the world´s second largest producer after the USA.
Traditionally most families in Xàbia had at least one small almond plantation for their own consumption, with the surplus being sold. The fruit was harvested in mid August and already everyone looked forward to Christmas time, when almonds were ground and made into delicious sweet treats. Here are a few traditional recipes that I got from the charming mother of a friend in Xàbia :
-Pastissets de almendra al viento : (these are not baked but air-dried) 2 eggs, 1/2 kg ground almonds,1/2 kg sugar. Mix ingredients and knead. Roll into balls and flatten them. Fill with sweetpotato jam and close to form the typical half-moon shape. Place on a tray and leave to dry in cool dry place for approximately 2 weeks.
-Pastissets de almendra (baked) : 2 eggs, 1/2 kg ground almonds, 250g sugar. Mix ingredients and continue as in the above recipe. Put the tray of half-moon shapes into low heat oven to bake slowly for approximately 30 minutes.
-Pelota dulce : 1/2 kg ground almonds, 50g lard or more if desired, sugar to taste, a little sweet potato jam, cinnamon, lemon zest, pine kernels, a little bread crumbs, 1 egg. Mix all ingredients and form into one oval mass to be put into the Christmas puchero in its last cooking phase.
-Casca : this is a Valencian speciality which is baked for the Epiphany or 3 Kings Day on 6th Jan. The Casca has the same ingredients as the baked almond pastissets, but has the form of a ring and is covered with sugar before baking. After baking the sugar makes a delicious crunchy coating. For those who have no time or inclination for baking, this speciality can be bought in one of Javea´s favorite bakeries : Diego´s.
Unfortunately, there is some bad news for the almond tree. In 2016 the highly infectious pathogenic bacterium Xylella fastidiosa, which is spread by insect vectors, started killing hundreds of almond trees in Mallorca. The disease is now on the mainland and since 2017 has been found in various places in the Comunitat Valenciana, with Javea being partially affected. Although so far there is no antidote, the authorities and scientists are working hard to find solutions as soon as possible.
Christmas just wouldn´t be the same without pastissets !
AMUX wishes everyone a happy and delicious festive season !
AMUX visits the MARQ (Etruscans - the dawn of Rome), Lucentum and has a meal near the Playa de San Juan - 11/13/21
31 members of AMUX and five of their friends visited Alicante on Sunday 14th November to take a guided tour of the special international exhibition “Etruscans – the dawn of Rome” at the MARQ museum. The tour, which was conducted in Castellano and English, was fascinating, although it was a bit rushed. Perhaps this was due to the Covid restrictions and the large number of visitors there who were keen to see the beautiful artefacts created by this mysterious and sophisticated Italian civilisation which thrived around the same time as the Iberians. Most of the exhibits had been provided by renowned Italian museums, but among them was a piece from our very own Soler Blasco Museu de Xàbia! This was an infundibulum found on the seafloor near Cap Prim.
Afterwards we went to visit the important archaeological site of the Iberio/Roman town of Lucentum situated on the Tossal de Manises. We were astonished to see this 5ha site hidden among the tower blocks of the city. Although we did not have a guided tour, there are many informative signs describing the streets, houses, towers, Roman baths and forum of this, the old Alicante.
We then went to eat at “Il Fornello” restaurant. We had an adventure on the way. Our bus got stuck in a narrow street due to a badly parked car causing quite a traffic jam much to everyone’s amusement. Finally our driver squeezed through with much applause and AMUX enjoyed a delayed but magnificent meal beside the beautiful Playa de San Juan.
See the slideshow below. Click on the right of the window to play each slide.
Xàbia : Facts and Anecdotes... Did you know… that there is a third entity dedicated to the promotion of Xabia´s cultural heritage and the preservation of its patrimony?
... A part from the Cultural Department of Xàbia and the Archaeological and Ethnological Museum, there is a third entity dedicated to the promotion of Xabia´s cultural heritage and the preservation of its patrimony ? This is the private Foundation of CIRNE, which was created in the early 2000s and is supervised by the culture-loving and generous Benimeli family, who are also its main donors. The foundation was initiated by Enric Martinez, who had married into the Benimeli family. He remains the driving force behind it. ( By the way, if you are wondering where the name CIRNE came from, it is Enric read backwards ! )
All in all, there are nine patrons of the CIRNE. Their aim is not only to preserve the heritage of Xabia´s past, but also to promote cultural, humanistic, scientific and environmental values. Hence they organise lectures, exhibitions and concerts of all kinds and regularly issue publications. They grant scholarships and provide funds for research and excavations. Furthermore, they have a library and an archive open to the public. Most notably this contains the historical documents of Antoni Llidó, a Xàbia-born priest who fought against social injustice and who met a tragic end in Chile during the Pinochet dictatorship. The historical documents of Soler Blasco, mayor and founder of the Museum, can also be found here. In fact, CIRNE´s next publication which is planned for the coming year, is a history of Xàbia´s Museum which was prepared by Soler Blasco himself but which he had never got round to publishing.
The Foundation´s headquarters and exhibition center is in 18, Avenida d´Alacant, property of the Benimeli family. This house is one in a row of beautiful patriarchal houses from the 19th century, which, incidentally, had been destined to be replaced by apartment blocks, but due to the joint efforts of this family, the Museum and the Ayuntamiento, they have been catalogued and put under protection.