Hi everyone! This time I´d like to share with you one of my recent trips for my Blog Series: Undiscovered Spain. Bocairent was supposed to be a quick stop on the way to Alicante and I ended up spending there all day.
Another hidden gem of Valencian Community, I´d say. Not only is it one of the most beautiful villages in Spain I´ve been to, but it also has lots of unique historical sites to explore, like the historic quarter, the moorish caves, the ice caves, the bullring, the fountains and bridges, the parish church… While you walk up&down the streets of Bocairent every corner is so beautiful that you end up taking thousands of pictures including the smallest details.
Shame on me here, cause before I arrived to Bocairent I didn´t even know there were caves near it. I´ve heard the city was charming, but my plan was to walk around for a while, no more than that. However, my short city tour ended up being so interesting, that I suggest you visit all the historical sites Bocairent has to offer. In this post I will only briefly show you what I liked the most along the way. Let´s start with the caves…
The Moorish Caves from the walls of Bocairent
The Moorish Caves
The Moorish Caves are a group of artificial caves with window-like openings. It is the most complex and numerous group of cave windows in the area. Comprising over 50 windows with access to equal number of chambers, distributed on 3-4 different levels.
“Les Covetes de los Moros”(the Moorish Caves) have various theories explaining their origins: burial chambers from ancient times, granaries, Visigoth monasteries. They are very difficult to date, although it is quite possible they were created during the Hispano-Arabic period. The interior of the caves may be visited (if you don´t mind a climb), which makes the whole experience even more interesting.
Similar examples of the cave-windows can be found in places populated by the tamazigth (Berber) tribes in the pre-Saharan area of the Maghreb. French historians have identified these caves as primitive forms of what later become collective granary buildings, called agadir (in Morocco) or gorfas (in Tunisia), and which were in use up until the turn of the 20th century.
The Colomer Caves in Bocairent
The Colomer Caves
There is also a small exposition at The Colomer Caves, where you could watch a documentary and get more historical data. Unlike the Moorish Caves, these are smaller and were reformed into so called interpretation centre.
Inside the Colomer Caves
Exposition at the Colomer Caves
Another cave outside the Interpretation Centre of the Colomer Caves
Like most of the caves located in the Medieval Quarter of Bocairent, this one was carved out of the rock manually. It used to be an obligatory stop when entering the town. On market days traders had to pay the corresponding tax to the collector, called “el consumer”, who would shelter from the inclement weather inside this cave.
Remains of the Ice Industry / Ice Caves
Inside the Sant Blai Ice Cave
Before the arrival of fridge-freezer technology, nature’s cold was harnessed through the development of the commerce in snow and ice, a business that reached its peak during the XVII and XIX centuries.
Collecting snow, conserving it, transporting it, selling it and consuming – it all formed part of a cycle of an activity now lost in time, involving labourers, mule drivers and merchants. Testimony to this once flourishing business are the remains of the enormous deposits used to store snow – called ice wells, ice caves, or ice cellars.
I´ve never been inside an Ice Cave before – despite all these years there was still cold inside and the Sant Blai Ice Cave could probably serve its initial purpose even nowadays. Constructions like this one often make me question the humanity´s progress. Last year I went to Cyprus and saw the impressive roman mosaics dating back to the 2nd century A.D which looked better than some of the floor tiles in modern buildings! And there are plenty of examples like these…
The streets of Bocairent
Bocairent’s peculiar geographical situation has favoured the development of different cultures throughout its long history: from the remains of Neolithic human settlements to the Romans, Arabs and finally, the Spanish.
The old town itself is an artistic-historical heritage site. A walk along the streets of Bocairent (using the appropriate footwear) will reveal hidden corners of great beauty. No more words needed here, see it for yourself…
The Parish Church
The house of Bocairent poet Abu Marc Muhamaj Ibn Ruhaim (1070-1121)
Another church spotted from the city walls of Bocairent
Hope you enjoyed the views of the charming Bocairent.