Of course, this was not for commercial purposes nor was it for use by hobby pilots. Rather, it was for war planes!
In 1936 the democratically elected leftist Popular Front came into government, but later that same year a coup d´état against the Republic was led by fascist Franco and the Army. This was the start of the violent Civil War of 1936-1939. Jávea remained loyal to the Republicans and in 1937, to protect this part of the coast from the fascists, an airfield with 2 landing strips was prepared on farmland in the Pla area behind the Arenal. At the same time several bunkers and air raid shelters were built in the municipality for the protection of the civilians. Also, an anti-aircraft gun emplacement was built off the Cami Cabanes equipped with machine guns that could rotate 360° to defend the airfield and bunkers against enemy aviation attacks. However, the airstrip was little used.
On 23rd July 1938 three Savoia S79 planes of the fascist Italian Air Force, who were based in Palma de Mallorca, led a bombing raid on the Jávea airfield. In addition to aiding General Franco, they used such exercises to perfect their methods of terror bombing. However in this case their 36 bombs mostly missed their target and fell on the Arenal and the Pla. Fortunately only two people were hurt and the only mortality was a donkey. Eight months later, on 1st April 1939, Franco declared the end of the war, beginning 36 years of dictatorship and a period of extreme hardship for the population.
The airfield remained on standby - as such - till the end of 1939 and then the land was returned to its former owners who used it once again for planting vines. Today only a few traces of the buildings which supported the airfield remain and these have been much altered as to be unrecognisable. The landing strips have now disappeared under orange groves, houses and ironically, a go-kart track.
Amateur free divers find gold coins dating to the fall of the Roman Empire in the Bahia de Portitxol, Xàbia
Two amateur divers swimming along the Spanish coast have discovered a huge hoard of 1,500-year-old gold coins, one of the largest on record dating to the Roman Empire.
The divers, brothers-in-law Luis Lens Pardo and César Gimeno Alcalá, discovered the gold stash while vacationing with their families in Xàbia, a coastal Mediterranean town and tourist hotspot. The duo rented snorkeling equipment so they could go freediving with the goal of picking up trash to beautify the area, but they found something far richer when Lens Pardo noticed the glimmer of a coin at the bottom of Portitxol Bay on Aug. 23, El País reported.
When he went to investigate, he found that the coin "was in a small hole, like a bottleneck," Lens Pardo told El País in Spanish. After cleaning the coin, Lens Pardo saw that it had "an ancient image, like a Greek or Roman face." Intrigued, Lens Pardo and Gimeno Alcalá returned, freediving to the hole with a Swiss Army knife and using its corkscrew to unearth a total of eight coins.
For full story see:
The find was later excavated by official teams of divers and the 53 gold coins they found will eventually be on display at the Soler Blasco Museum
Xàbia : Facts and Anecdotes...Did you know that in the old town of Javea there are over 35 devotional "hornacinas" ?
These were niches in a house façade with a religious figure in form of a statuette, painting or ceramics. These symbolic representations, usually of a saint or a Virgin Mary, served as transcendental intermediaries to God and were invoked especially in moments of need or crisis and for protection against sickness and agricultural disaster. There was usually one in a street which would serve the needs of all the neighbours, so that when someone was ill, the figure would be taken to the bedside of the infirm for quicker recovery. It would also be taken to the funeral service when there was a death. Thus most of the representations were originally statuettes which could be removed easily. This custom, however, has long been abandoned.
Although there have probably been devotional "niches" in Javea since the 16th-18th centuries, it seems that all but one were destroyed by anti-clerical elements during the Civil War ( 1936-1939 ). Those we see today are from the 1940s and later….
Xabia : Facts and Anecdotes: Did you know ... that one of the best-known crimes committed in Jávea became notorious because of its connection with the famous Valencian artist Joaquin Sorolla ?
For several years Sorolla, his family and a few servants would come from Madrid to spend long summer holidays in Javea. In 1905 pretty 23 year-old Ramona had been working for Sorolla for a year and was undeniably his favorite. So of course, she was one of the party.
One day, Ramona and Asunción, another servant, went to a nearby waterwheel to wash clothes for the family when suddenly they were approached by a tall, well-built young man who started to talk with Ramona, then quarrel with her, while she continued to do the washing. He followed them back to the house once they were done washing, carrying on the dispute. Suddenly he pulled out a Smith revolver and shot at her. Shocked, Ramona dropped the linen and was just about to run away when he fired again, hitting her directly in the stomach and knocking her to the ground. Stunned by his own deed, the man put the gun to his temple and shot himself. Hearing the shots, Sorolla and the family ran out to find a man lying dead, Ramona wounded on the ground and a panicking Asunción. They called for a doctor immediately but Ramona died before she could be taken to hospital. Nevertheless she did have the time to tell them what it was all about : before leaving Madrid, she said, she had broken off her relationship with Bartolomé, a Guardia Civil officer. Heartbroken and angry, he had taken 2 weeks off from work to follow her down to Javea to try to make her change her mind.
This was a crime of jealousy and passion. Today we would call it gender violence.
Sorolla was completely devastated by what had happened and retired to his room. He was so withdrawn and silent over the next few days that the family decided to close the house and return to Madrid, never to return to Javea again !
… that the tall, straight trees with huge leaves and beautiful violet blossoms that we see beside the Gata road and in several other sites in Jávea are called “Paulownia” ?
This tree was named in honour of the 18th century Grand Duchess Anna Pavlovna of Russia, Queen consort of the Netherlands. Although it is native to China, Laos and Vietnam, Paulownia has long been commercially cultivated in Korea and Japan. It is known in English as the Empress tree, Princess Tree, Sapphire Princess, Sapphire Dragon and Foxglove tree.
Several species and hybrids of Paulownia have been introduced to Spain in recent years. It is said to be the fastest-growing hardwood tree, being harvested after 8 years. After harvesting, new trees sprout from the roots. It can be trained to grow tall and straight without knots and produces a wood known as “kiri”. This is fine-grained and very light, but also strong and ideal for the manufacture of many items such as lightweight furniture, guitars, surf boards, skis, boxes and even bee-hives. It is resistant to pests and is fire resistant up to 400ºC. Its foliage can be used for animal feed or biofuels and its flowers attract honey bees.
In short, it could become a very valuable crop. Xàbia’s agricultural landscape has changed many times over its long history and one day the fragrance of Paulownia flowers may replace the perfume of the orange blossom we smell today.
The Castle of Ocaive is located to the south-west of the town of Pedreguer, within its municipal area, on top of a crag at the foot of the "muntanya gran" a place with an important natural defence. It features an impressive vertical wall on the north and west faces. Although The site was occupied during the Bronze Age and Iberian period, the architectural structures found at its highest point date from Medieval times (13th-14th centuries). These consist of the remains of a quadrangular tower with a vaulted base and several rooms. On a lower level towards the east, there are the remains of a large rectangular cistern, built on the edge of the “albacar” (lower enclosure) from the Islamic period (12th-13th centuries).The views from the castle are impressive, showing its strategic location for the control of the territory. The castle of l´Ocaive (or Olocaiba in medieval documents) was the central element of a castral district that comprised approximately the current district of Pedreguer and part of that of Gata de Gorgos, in which there were several farmhouses that depended on the fortification for military and administrative purposes.
Archaeological excavations were carried out in 2018 and 2019. Subsequently some of the architectural structures were consolidated and restored. All These works have been possible thanks to investment by the Pedreguer Town Council and a grant from the ERDF Operational Programme 2014-2020 (2018/8193), of the European Union.
In the second half of the 19th century, economic activity in Xàbia and the Marina Alta centred mainly on the production and export of raisins. The situation changed with the advent of the 20th century. In the early years of the new century, the Phylloxera plague spread throughout the region and the raisin sector went into crisis. At that time, part of the local population was forced to emigrate to Algeria in order to find work. There, in that region of North Africa, the men from the Marina Alta worked mainly in the fields while the women were principally employed as wet nurses and child minders.
Economic reasons were not the only motivations for emigration to Algeria. As the Spanish Civil War neared its end, hundreds of people were forced to flee to the then French colony because of their political ideas. Despite political and racial tensions, Christians and Muslims, French, Valencians and Algerians lived side by side in Algeria. This ethnic mix gave rise to a peculiar language, the patuet. This language had words referring to food, clothing and work relating to the countryside. Some of these words such as "sicató" (pruning shears) have survived to the present day thanks to the people who returned to the Marina Alta following the independence of the North African country in 1962.
Most of the windmills in the Valencian region were built in the Marina Alta. There have been windmills in our region since medieval times, possibly even during the Andalusian period. The largest concentration of windmills is in the area around Montgó, Xàbia, with 12 mills, Gata with 3, Pedreguer with 2 and Dénia, with 5.
The three mills of Jesús Pobre, a district of Dénia (now designated with the curious name of an EATIM: (entidad de ámbito territorial inferior al municipio - Territorial entity inferior to the municipality) are on the top of a small hill, 155 metres high, one kilometre south-west of the village.
The three mills were in operation in the second half of the 18th century, which is when they were probably built. They maintain the characteristics of other mills in the Marina Alta. Two floors, with a single entrance door (open to the south-west), an upper floor supported by a rough tosca stone vault, (where the millstones and machinery were located) ventilated and illuminated by two opposing windows. Access to the grinding wheel room was via a staircase with stone steps attached to the inside wall of the building. There were also four sails and a mobile conical roof.
Time and neglect have led to the disappearance of many of these elements, leaving only the robust cylindrical structure of masonry, built with irregular limestone blocks and lime mortar.
AMUX visited these windmills on April 17th
... a centuries-old tradition in the Valencian and Catalan regions? It is possible that the name harks back to the Arabic word „muna“ in the 15th century, a provision or gift, that was paid in kind as a land tax. Here in Xabia, until not long ago, it was made in each household during the Easter Week. The ladies would knead and knead the dough until it had the right consistency and then it would be laid to rest under a multitude of covers and blankets in the matrimonial bed - for many hours, so that the fermented dough would double in size. Once ready, the monas would be taken to one of the 5 or 6 large ovens that were in Javea, since the oven at home was too small to hold all the monas.
The tradition is that this was always gifted - hence the name - by the godparents or the grandparents to the children. In Xabia, they always gave the children a pair of „zapatillas“ as well, flat rubber-soled shoes used for sports, that were usually bought at the La Rulla shoe shop.
Easter was celebrated for at least 3 days (Sunday, Monday and Tuesday ). Family and friends would celebrate it by spending the morning in their „ casita de campo“ and in the evening all would go to the beach for a picnic with the monas. They would carry these in a small basket that the grandparents gave them. These were handcrafted baskets made at home from esparto grass or palm leaves. At the beach the children would play games, hop with skipping ropes, toss spinning tops and light fireworks.
I remember that the most beautiful mona was always taken as a present to a family in mourning for the recent loss of a family member ( for it was frowned upon to make monas while in mourning). A gesture of solidarity towards family and friends !
Happy Easter to all!
We had intended to organise an excursion to the windmills at Jesus Pobre this month. However, the Covid 19 situation has rapidly worsened and the committee has regretfully decided to cancel all AMUX activities for the time being.
This means we cannot yet set a date for our Annual General Meeting. The Committee will meet virtually in February to assess the situation and decide on a course of action.
In the meantime, we will try to keep you updated with archaeological and museum news through Facebook and our blog.
AMUX is also on Twitter: @Amuxabia
We wish you all health, safety and a brighter tomorrow as we endure this difficult period of world history.