Pego and inland valley
Our curiosity takes us to the interior, where landscapes change completely and small towns, customs and life acquire another charism.
How to go, we have several possibilities: Main road N-332 direction Valencia, passing by Ondara-Vergel and detour to Pego and about 10 kms bordering (CV-700) the Natural Park of "la Marjal Pego-Oliva" we arrive to Pego.
Suitable clothing: Comfortable clothing and footwear since it is planned to walk for a while during this excursion.
The "Pego-Oliva Marshes Natural Park" is irrigated by the rivers Bullent and Racons; a multitude of wild life species, such as the samaruc fish, amphibians, reptiles and birds, and plant life, such as bamboo, algae, etc., share the habitat with the rice fields. In summer you can take a relaxing boat trip and bathe in the crystal waters of the Salinar. This area extends for 1.290 hectares and is part of the region known as the Albufera coastal marshland, a protected nature reserve.
In Pego make sure you visit the Old Town, an interesting reminder of the town´s medieval past, the baroque Ecce-Homo Chapel, the Parish Church of the Assumption (XVI-XVII century), the Casa de Cultura – ancestral home of an 18th century nobleman now housing the Town Museum and the Museum of Modern Art; in the courtyard here you can see part of the original 18th century town wall- and the Sala Gate –the only one of the three original gateways in the town walls which is still standing. Crowning the town is the Castillo de Ambra, which was used as a refuge for the local farming population in times of danger in the XII-XIII centuries, and which you can visit on the way back to your car.
From Pego to l'Atzúbia. (CV-700), l'Atzúbia is 3.5 kms from Pego
The Muslim style old town here is well worth a visit, as is the Fuente Morisca, situated in the Plaza del Ayuntamiento. This fountain channels spring water from the nearby mountains.
From L'Atzúbia to Forna: pass the quarry and just before coming to Forna, on your right, on a gentle hilltop, you will see one of the best preserved examples of a Moorish castle in the Alicante mountains.
To visit Forna Castle (Check the opening times on Pego’s website).
Park in the car park and continue for about 5 minutes on foot along a path which leads to the castle gate.
Allow your imagination to soar and you can see the knights on horseback approaching the castle, the Arab population keeping watch from above for the arrival of the Christian soldiers, and the many battles and tales of adventure which took place in the very spot where you are now standing.
Continue towards Forna (about 2 kms from Atzúbia), and take a look at the old town here with its steep and narrow streets , white houses and fantastic views. In the main square you can go into a little cave where there is a Moorish spring water fountain, which was also used by the Romans.
This area boasts a variety of restaurants where you can sample the traditional cuisine.
VALL DE GALLINERA
Go back to the CV.700 crossroads, direction La Vall de Gallinera; this valley is made up of 8 little villages: Benirrama, Benialí, Benitaia, Benissivà, La Carroja, Alpatró, Llombai y Benissili.
The Gallinera Valley. Each little village in the valley has its own Old Town, its church, its fresh water fountain at the old village laundry, and its narrow white streets with flower-filled balconies and plant-covered doorways.
As you go from village to village, look up at the mountains on your left and fix your gaze on the Sierra Foradada or "Foradà", so called (foradà = pierced, in valenciano) because there is a vast ravine through the middle of the mountain here.
In the Gallinera Valley you should also pay a visit to the old oil press at Alpatró and the Montaña de Alicante Cherry Cooperative.
Typical Cuisine: The following typical local dishes are traditional here in this inland area: "Blat picat" (a kind of thick broth using ground wheat instead of rice, resembling Cous-cous), "coques escaldades" (little savoury cakes made of flour, salt and water, flavoured with river prawns, tuna fish, tomato, vegetables, etc), "minxos" (a kind of baked pizza prepared with garlic and olive oil), rabbit in garlic or rabbit stew, paella with meat balls, wild boar, "arroz con costra", (oven baked rice with an egg custard crust), locally produced cold meats and sausages, etc. For dessert do not miss the cherries, when in season, especially when they have been soaked in home made liqueur.
Continue on the main road and after a few kilometres you will come to the Vall d'Alcalà; go through the village of Alcalá de la Jovada and about 300 m further on you will see on your left the ruins of L'Atzuvieta, an abandoned Moorish village
Castles: there are 2 castles in this area: Benirrama Castle and Benissili Castle. Both castles are difficult to get to. Benirrama Castle protected the Pego entrance to the valley, while Benissili Castle protected the Planes entrance, which was left deserted following the expulsion of the Moors from this area in 1611. There is no signposting! Take the last turning on the left (up a little slope) and you will find it, just before you reach the Nevera de Baix.
La nevera de Baix is about 50 m away on your right and was used as a storage area for the vast amounts of snow which fell here in days of old. Blocks of ice then formed in this 'ice house' and were transported from here to Dénia and sold there for use in keeping fish fresh.
From the Vall d'Alcalà to the Vall d'Ebo. Continue for 8 kms in the direction of the Vall d'Ebo and you will come to the Cueva del Rull, which you can visit. You can buy entrance tickets at the door to the Cave. This small cave contains a large number of estalagtites and stalagmites, as well as a collection of different rock formations resembling animals, dwarves, etc.
Continue on your way, crossing the bridge, and then turn left into Ebo. When you enter the village, you will see the Town College, housing the Town Museum, with an interesting display showing the way of life of past generations of inhabitants of this area..
Try the typical local almond cakes called "ronyoses".
Homeward trip: routes. From Ebo to Pego (about 12 kms). When you get to Pego, you can see the ancient walls of the Castillo de Ambra from the road. Access to the castle is poorly signposted, but as soon as you pass the property called "Sant Joan" take the first turning on your left and leave the car in a clearing about 50 m from the roadway. Continue on foot for about 10 minutes, walking amongst pine trees, up to the castle.
Having enjoyed your day out in the beautiful countryside and feeling like you´ve travelled back in time, make your way home to Dénia (22 kms
Castle of Ambra. The views from the castle are lovely; you can make out the Pego-Oliva Marshland Natural Park, and the coastal area stretching from Oliva beach to the Montgó Natural Park.