On November 21st, eleven members of AMUX hiked in the Parque Forestal de la Granadella guided by Ximo Bolufer, Director of the Soler Blasco Museum of Xàbia.
We walked in two groups, leaving the Cala de la Granadella up the dry water course of the Barranc de Martorell. Ximo explained that three major water courses and several other smaller ones converged on the Granadella cove. After about 600m, we turned left to go up a footpath known as the “Gurugú”, since it passes close the top of the Gurugú peak. The name “Gurugú” has an origin in the Berber language and is found in several places in the region. The most famous is Monte Gurugú in Morocco, which was the site of an important battle between local insurgents and Spanish troops during the Rif war in July 1909; Monte Gurugú in Alcalá de Henares, Madrid is said to be where the Spanish cavalry who took part in the war were trained; However, Monte Gurugú in La Granadella does not have such a colourful history, and is just a modest hill some 151m above sea level.
We looked back to see the site of the “Les Teuleries de Baix” next to a private house. Here, they used to manufacture roof tiles and bricks for local use. Deposits of suitable clay were found in a nearby stream-bed and there was abundant wood in the area – a vital resource to keep the firing kilns burning. There is also evidence of some ochre mining (yellow and red iron-bearing rock) which was used as a pigment.
Looking around, we could see numerous abandoned agricultural terraces. Ximo explained that the soil in La Granadella was of poor quality, and therefore the area had never been densely settled nor farmed intensively. However, subsistence farming took place on these terraces until the 1960’s with crops such as carob, vines, legumes and cereals. Interestingly the farmers were from Benitatxell, not Xàbia. Most of the land now belonged to the Xàbia Town Hall. Although some plots are privately owned, no development is allowed, since the 750 hectare area is fully protected as a LIC (Lugar de Importancia Comunitario) known as the Penyassegats de la Marina.
We saw stands of esparto grass (Stima tenacissima) which was used to make rope, baskets and sandals (espadrilles) and a small agricultural hut (casup) with its attendant well. Looking down into the valley of the Barranc de Martorell we saw the ruins of an old farmhouse beneath the cliffs where they once made honey. Ximo pointed out other interesting features such as “check dams” – small dams of stones across water courses, designed to slow torrential flow during the rains as well as a hill overlooking the sea where remains of a look-out from Islamic times have been found.
There was also a small, isolated farmhouse in which a leper from Benitatxell had lived. Each day, someone would come to bring food to this unfortunate quarantined man (We felt a particular sympathy with him during these moderns days of Covid!). It is likely this leper would have gone to the leprosarium in Fontilles following its opening in 1909.
Finally, before returning to our cars, we enjoyed a panoramic view of the Cala de la Granadella, noting the Torre de Ambolo, the Illa del Decubridor and the Cova del Llop Marí.
We regret to announce the death of Michael Stephenson, whose donations of plans and photographs of the castles of La Marina Alta initiated the AMUX exhibition on Islamic Castles. He passed away on Friday, October 16. AMUX sends its condolences to his family and friends. We remain indebted to him for his donation and cooperation.
A unique collection of castle plans
On Saturday, October 3rd, 26 members and friends of AMUX strolled along Xàbia’s La Plana to visit the memorial built over the “avenc” (sink hole / pothole) on the Cape of San Antonio, and then to see the restored lime kilns of the Faroleres and la Plana. Our guide was Joaquim Bolufer Marqués – Director of the Museum of Xàbia.
We first followed a footpath for about 100m to reached the avenc which is located beside a gulley near the top of La Plana. It is topped by a concrete plinth and a cross. This is both a mausoleum and the location of a terrible crime which took place during the height of the Spanish civil war on the night of November 2nd 1936. This was a time when fear, suspicion, hatred and a debased rule of law contributed to the night known as “la nit de l’Avenc”.
Ximo explained that whole truth of what happened will never be known. It seems that a number of prisoners held in custody in Dénia were passed into the hands of an uncontrolled, left-wing extremist militia (reportedly consisting of 13 people). The prisoners were massacred (presumably shot) and their bodies thrown into the 67metre deep sinkhole. The number of people murdered is not clear, perhaps 21, or 17 or 15. One of them was said to have been badly wounded but alive when thrown into the hole.
Quite a few people were killed in Dénia during this period, though not all of them were known to be active supporters of the Nationalist side. However they had wealth, privileged professions and livelihoods - for example clergy, factory owners, judges, lawyers, students and land-owners - which would have made them targets for hatred.
The first monument was erected on the avenc in 1941. In 1953 the cavity was explored by cavers from Alcoi at the invitation of the town halls of Xàbia and Dénia. They found one almost complete body and large quantities of stone rubble. The bones were powdery and poorly preserved. In 1991 the mausoleum was modified to record the names of thirteen of the dead – a record of the last people to be murdered in the conflict. In 2013 the avenc was opened once more for the filming of a documentary promoted by the Xàbia museum. It is now an official “fossa” forming part of the inventory "fosa"s in the “Ley de Memoria Historica” Registry number Nº 2611/2015 ALIC. (Fosa: Place where human remains are buried, which for whatever reason, cannot be buried in their own grave)
Leaving this sad place, we then re-parked our cars near the Monasterio de Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles. Ximo described how this had once been the location of a 14th century Monastery of Saint Jeronimo. which was sacked by pirates in 1386. The monks subsequently abandoned the area and moved inland to establish the Monastery of Sant Jeroni de Cotalba (Alfauir) which stands to this day. The ruins of the original 14th century building on La Plana were destroyed during an “unfortunate” restoration in 1964.
Our walk took us past the ruined quarters of the Carabinieros.This corps was in charge of controlling the coast to prevent smuggling during the 19th and early 20th centuries and eventually became incorporated into the Guardia Civil. (The building was bought by Xàbia Town Hall in 2017.)
Finally we visited the restored lime kilns of the Faroleres and La Plana. Ximo described how the these had once been widespread and an integral part of rural life until the 1960s. The manufacture of quicklime involved baking small rocks of a particular type of limestone continuously at 800 – 1000 degrees C for almost three days. Workers called “calciners” had to keep the wood fire burning day and night, therefore a plentiful supply of firewood was needed. The final product, quicklime, was used to make lime mortar and whitewash, to waterproof water cisterns and as a disinfectant.
AMUX pays a visit to the Punta de Moraira: Torre de Cap d'Or and excavation of Iberian/Roman remains
On Thursday 17th September, eight members and friends of AMUX had an exclusive guided tour of recent excavations of the Iberian settlement and the Torre de Cap d’Or on the Punta de Moraira. Our guide was archaeologist, Rubén Vidal Bertomeu, leader of the study. The excavation is part of a programme by the Teulada Town Hall to improve the site as a cultural and tourism resource. As such, they are improving the access path and creating viewing platforms along the way as well as improving access to the Cova de Cendres which is an important prehistoric site.
The excavated area is but a small portion of the whole settlement which covers about 5000m2 of the top of the cape. Its location has wonderful views over the harbour of Moraira and Penyon de Ifach to the south, as well as the steep cliffs to the north. This made it an ideal place for maritime control through the ages.
The Torre de Cap d’Or is presently covered in scaffolding and undergoing renovation. Rubén explained that this watch tower, which dominates the cape, was badly renovated in 1991, and they are now working to restore it to how it would have looked when it was built at the end of the 16th Century. Interestingly there was another tower there before, built in the mid 16th Century, but this was demolished by the very pirates it was trying to defend against. A hole excavated in the bottom of the current tower has revealed the wall of the original tower nested inside like a Russian doll.
The excavated part of Iberian site surrounding the tower may date back to 400-500 BCE but the whole area has been very much disturbed by agriculture and the building of terraces. One of the structures found was a relatively modern stone building with a chimney. However, the remains of older structures can be seen and include Roman remains from the times of the Punic wars (264-146 BCE) and Sertorian civil war (75 BCE). Rubén pointed out Roman walls constructed on the top of pre-existing Iberian ones; an area which could have been a living area in Iberian times, with evidence of an earth floor and hearth, as well
as a well preserved water cistern (aljibe) from that time. All the excavated structures will be preserved for visitors to see.
The group from AMUX were then shown more defensive walls which had come to light outside the excavation area. These overlook the Portet beach towards the south. We also saw a vaulted 16th Century water cistern. There is much more still hidden, waiting for future archaeological campaigns.
Visit to excavations of the Iberian settlement and 16th-17th century tower - Punta de Moraira (Cap d'Or) 17/09/2020
Date and time: Thursday, September 17th at 18.00 (6 p.m).
Meeting point: The Beginning of the footpath at the end of Calle Puerto de Alcúdia (see map below).This is in the urbanisation on the slopes above the Portet de Moraira Beach. Parking is available in the roads nearby. The footpath (SL-CV51), is short (approximately 1 km), but steep, slippery and rocky in some places (93m ascent). Members will need to be in good physical shape, wear hiking boots and bring water. The walk to the Iberian site and the tower will take about 30 minutes, and we should be back to the road by 8pm.
Our guide will be Rubén Vidal Bertomeu, archaeologist and director of excavations.
This coming Tuesday the museum will open its doors once more. We hope that soon we will also be able to organise some kind of activity for our members again.
The building has adopted the mandatory health safety measures enabling it to reopen and thus join the municipality's two libraries as active cultural facilities.
The museum will be open to visitors during its regular hours, limiting access to a maximum quota and obliging users to wear masks. Also, some of its areas (on the second floor) will continue to be limited for the moment because their layout prevents minimum distances from being maintained.
Those of you who have paid for the visit to Valencia on March 21, the money is in the museum waiting to be collected.
Opening hours: Tuesday-Friday: 10.00am-1.00pm and 5.00pm-8.00pm
Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays: 10.00am-1.00pm (Mondays closed)
Our apologies for the inconvenience and thank you for your understanding,
Cancelled - Covid-19 Epidemic ! --- Visit to Valencia to visit Centro Arqueológico de l'Almoina and Prehistory Museum of Valencia. Exhibition - the Visigothic times in the lands of Valencia
Saturday 21st March
8,45: Bus leaves the bus station in Avda. Palmela
10,30: Arrival in Valencia , time for coffee
11,00: Guided tour Centro Arqueológico de l'Almoina Located near the Cathedral, it brings together the most relevant archaeological finds from excavations carried out in the historic centre of Valencia, following a route of more than 2000 years, from Roman times to the Middle Ages. https://www.lovevalencia.com/museo-de-la-almoina.html
Visit Prehistory Museum of Valencia. Exhibition - the Visigothic times in the lands of Valencia The exhibition opens a window to an underrated and undervalued historical period. A stage of miscegenation and transition reminiscent of Roman and Germanic elements and the eastern world. Without the Visigoths, we cannot understand the Muslim world or feudal times. http://www.museuprehistoriavalencia.es/web_mupreva/exposiciones/?q=es&id=71
14,00: Meal in restaurant.
17,00: Return to Jávea
Price: 35 euros for members of AMUX, 40 euros non members, all inclusive
(Without the meal in the restaurant €15 members, €20 non-members)
Please book before March 14th at the museum or online at e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and paying by bank on account number ES11 2100 2735 1501 0033 8307 (La Caixa).
You can also pay at the museum. Please add your name and member number and “VALENCIA”. The registration will be valid only after reception of the payment *Be aware that you take part in AMUX activities at your own risk.
The archaeologist Rubén Cebrian Miralles will offer us his own impressive summary of what we currently know about the prehistory of Xabia and its surroundings.
Wednesday, February 19, 19,30 h. Xàbia Museum
What we refer to as Prehistory is actually the most extensive period of time in the whole history of humankind. As we now know, this era began in Africa more than two million years ago. However, in Xabia the earliest traces of humanity date back only 30.000 years. This is a tale beginning with the hunter-gatherers of the Paleolithic period and continuing right up to the end of the Bronze Age, around 3.000 years ago.
The talk will be in castellano, with PowerPoint slides in valenciano and English.
The AGM of the Asociación Amigos del Museo de Xàbia will take place on Wednesday 29 January 2020, in the Auditorium of the Museum. The first call for the meeting will be at 18:30 and the second at 19:00.
20.00 - Auditorium, Museum of Xàbia - Friday 17th January
Presentation: Quaderns del Museu de Xàbia 3 (2019)
La prehistòria de Xàbia i el seu entorn
(The Prehistory of Xàbia and its surroundings)
A revision of prehistory centred on Xàbia and its surrounding areas from the early Palaeolithic until the Bronze age - Authors Rubén Cebrián, Josep Casabó, Ximo Bolufer, Marco Aurelio Esquembre and others