Local Area

Local Towns & Villages

Close to the border of the Murcia and Valencia regions, La Zarza is nestled in the heart of rural Spain, surrounded by pine-covered mountains and farming land. The beautiful countryside is dotted with towns and villages, each of which has its own unique features to explore and atmosphere to experience:

El PinósPinoso

Reknowned for the production of fine wines, olives, rock salt and marble, the nearby town of Pinoso (also known as El Pinós) is named after the abundance of pine trees that cover the area’s mountain ranges. This beautiful town is approximately 45km inland from Alicante and the white beaches of the Costa Blanca. Pinoso provides a Spanish rural lifestyle, with barely any traffic - other than that behind tractors taking the grapes to Bogeda!

The tower clock at Pinoso was built in 1889, and has become somewhat of a symbol for the town. The clock mechanism, from Madrid, is wound up every 24 hours and the bell chimes every quarter of an hour. The town became independent from Monovar in 1826, and celebrates this every February with the ‘Dia del Villazgo’ gastronomic fiesta.

 Further information about the facilities and fiestas of Pinoso can be found on our Activites page.

clocktower

Top 10 reasons to visit Pinoso Spain, as listed by Linda Halbert, local artist:

 

1. It’s one of the richest areas in Spain, producing many world class wines, with many Bodegas (Wineries) to visit where you can taste the delicious varieties.

 

2. There are so many unusual flowers, plants and herbs growing wild in the nature reserves that the air is filled with lovely aromas.

 

3. There are many stunning and unique birds in the nature reserves, a must for bird watchers.

 

4. Its inspiring beauty is a photographers and artists dream.

 

5. Soak up the Mediterranean atmosphere; it’s the real deal here.

 

6. There are numerous interesting cultural events throughout the year. The processions are always very moving and powerful and year on year they become even more spectacular.

 

7. During the 3rd week of August, Jumilla celebrates the wine fiesta where the fountains will be flowing with wine, but be warned the locals enjoy splashing you with it, you may go dressed in white but you can guarantee to leave dressed in red!!

 

8. There are many stunning churches and castles with spectacular views to visit, you are welcome to join in with a service, and the times are usually posted on the outside.

 

9. There are miles of well surfaced and well-marked tracks in the mountains to walk or cycle through, with wonderful views, fresh clear air and profound quiet.

 

10. The green grassy fields full of poppies in the spring are stunning and if you are lucky you will see the sheep and goat herds slowing being led from field to field by their shepherds, you may even get to see the ancient stone huts called ‘Cucos’ where the shepherds used to shelter. Mediterranean cuisine is fresh and healthy and the local olive oil needs to be tasted to be believed, it’s so delicious.

 

Chinorlet

Situated 3000 feet up in the marble mountains, this tiny traditional Spanish hamlet sits amidst olive groves and vineyards, and is ideal for walking, cycling and wine tasting. Chinorlet holds an annual fiesta mid-late August, with music, dancing, fireworks and a bull running though the fields!

Hondón Valley

mountain trailThe tranquil Hondón Valley is mainly agricultural land surrounded by the pine-covered mountains. The summers here are very hot and the winters mild, and the area is known for its mountain trails which are popular with cyclists and walkers. Hondón de las Nieves has an array of local shops and small town amenities. Hondón de Los Frailes (‘of the Friars’) is very close by, on the historic site of a Roman city. The Virgen de la Salud Church was build in the late 18th century, with a beautiful carving of the Virgen de la Salud inside, more than 200 years old and created by the Dominicans Friars after whom the town is named. Wines are produced in the Bogeda Cooperativa Virgen de la Salud. Local fiestas are held mid-January (in honour of San Antonio), mid-May (San Isidro) and at the end of August (the Virgen de la Salud).

Abanilla

Abanilla enjoys spectacular views across the Sierra de la Pila National Park, and sits on the lower slopes of the mountain El Zulum. It is a picturesque town, with a labyrinth of steep, narrow streets connecting quaint squares with monuments and fountains. The surprisingly recent architecture is interspersed with a number of historic buildings, both old and new built in a traditional style.

Fortuna

The spa town of Fortuna is famous for its natural hot springs and Roman spa baths, and is fast becoming an important centre for hydrotherapy. Typically Spanish, the town has peaceful streets and a white church. To the south is a large lake surrounded by woodland, enclosed in a nature preservation area.

15La Romana

A charming village with tree lined streets and almost exclusively single storey buildings, La Romana is located in a valley at the foothills of Sierra del Algayat. The village boasts all the shops and local amenities necessary for day to day life, and there are riding stables and Alenda golf course not far away. La Romana and the surrounding areas are the sole producers of a particular variety of grape – ‘Uvas de Mesa Aledo’ – used for both eating and wine-making. The local wine is excellent and can be bought for as little as 80 cents per litre! The main dates on the calendar in La Romana are the Moors and Christians fiesta in August, and the village celebration of the grape harvest in September.

Monovar

This traditional and tranquil town, famous for the production of lace, has plenty of shops, bars and restaurants, and is virtually untouched by mass tourism despite the beautiful places to visit here. Monovar Castle, now in ruins, is built on one of the two hills overlooking the area. Archaeological digs have turned up finds from the Bronze age, Roman times and even the prehistoric era, very close to the location of the present town.

wine1Jumilla

The town of Jumilla is steeped in history and cultural heritage. The legacy of the Arab occupation is evident in the archaeology and place-names. The 15th century castle is situated on top of a hill, and the town is spread out around the base. The north of the municipality is mountainous, with flat fertile land at the bottom of the wide valleys ideal for growing vines and soft fruit. Jumilla is therefore a significant wine-growing region, with 50 registered wineries and endless vineyards.

Jumilla is also home to the world’s largest photovoltaic solar power farm, with a peak power capacity of 20megawatts and the total annual production equivalent to the energy use of 20,000 homes.

Salinas

The village of Salinas is situated in a fertile valley to the north east of Pinoso, and has a traditional square based around the Church of San Antonio Abad. A fiesta to celebrate the village patron, St.Anthony, is held in January; February hosts a carnival fiesta and in May are both the pilgrimage of San Isidro and the Moors and Christians fiesta.

Just over 250 years ago the village moved to its present location from a previous location, closer to the lake, which had been devastated by a huge flood. It is possible to visit the Laguna and hike in the Sierra de Salinas.

Sax

14Sax forms part of the historic Route of the Kings, and is based around a striking outcrop of rock (its name is derived from the Latin word ‘Saxum’, meaning ‘rocky place’). Towering above the town, the Castillo de Sax can be seen for miles and is an impressive landmark by day or by night, when it is lit up. To visit you need to obtain the key from the local police station (ID required), but it is well worth it with superb views from the more recently added Levante Tower (12th century). Also of interest in Sax are the Parish Church of Our Lady of the Assumption, the Ermita de San Blas, and the House of Inquisition.

Modern-day Sax has an array of shops and amenities, and a street market is held every Wednesday. The Alenda golf course is approximately 10 minutes drive away. Sax celebrates the week-long Moors and Christians fiesta at the beginning of February, which includes a march and battle through the narrow streets of its historic centre.

 

If you wish to travel a bit further afield, there is also the opportunity for trips to the larger cities of Murcia or Alicante, where there is plenty to do and see:

Murcia

The central city of Murcia is picturesque, with attractive squares and many fine mansions. Its main landmark is the Cathedral de Santa Maria, built between the 14th and 18th centuries and an exquisite example of Baroque and Gothic architecture. It is possible to climb the castle tower for impressive views, and there is also  Cathedral museum to look around. Murcia houses a number of other museums and galleries, including and archaeology museum, the Museo de Bellas Artes and the Museo de Salzillo and the Ramon Gaya Museum. Also worth a visit is the Episcopal Palace and gardens, built in the 18th century.

Murcia boasts a wide range of cafes, bars and restaurants to suit all tastes. The tapas bars are exceptional, and the nightlife offers an authentic Spanish experience  with ample choice of late night bars, pubs and clubs.

Alicante

There is so much to see and do in the vibrant coastal city of Alicante. One of the highlights is the beautiful marina, perfect for a sunny afternoon stroll past the expensive yachts and perhaps and evening meal in one of the many excellent seafood restaurants. On the harbour side of the marina, as short walk or ferry ride away, is the Panoramis Centre. This complex, with a view of Santa Barbara Castle through its curved glass roof, houses shops, bars and restaurants.

Santa Barbara Castle overlooks the city from its location on the summit of Benacantil mountain. There is much to see at the castle: dungeons, a moat, canons, a lookout tower and the ruins of a small church. It is a beautiful walk up through the pines, and the perfect place to enjoy the sea breeze on a hot summer’s day. The views of Alicante and beyond, and of course the bright blue sea, are stunning. A series of concerts are held in the castle courtyard during the summer – usually on Friday and Saturday evenings. The backdrop of a medieval castle while listening to beautiful music under the stars is a truly magical experience to be had!

12The beaches at Alicante can be enjoyed all year round, thanks to the area’s wonderfully mild climate. At the foot of Benacantil mountain and close to the marina is El Postiguet beach. To the south of the city is La Albufereta, and at the Cabo de las Huertas is a rocky area with coves boasting crystal clear waters. Watersports such as jet-skiing, wind-surfing and water-skiing are of course widely available here on the Mediterranean coast.

The Esplanada (Espana promenade) is a beautifully tri-coloured marble walkway, stretching right around the marina, lined on both sides by palm trees offering refreshing shade in the heat of summer. The Esplanada is perfect to meander along, taking in the various handicraft stalls, meeting friends, having a social drink or simply taking a seat on one of the many benches and listening to music drifting from the music pavilion (Sunday mornings, or free concerts held during fiestas).

For an insight into one of Spain’s most iconic traditional sports, there is the ‘Plaza de Toros’ Bullfighting Museum.

The highlight of the Alicante cultural calendar is without doubt the fiesta Les Fogueres de Sant Joan, held near on 24th June, which pays homage to Saint John and welcomes the summer with blazing bonfires and spectacular fireworks illuminating the sky.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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