Xàbia

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Xàbia
Jávea
Municipality
View of Xàbia from Montgó massif
View of Xàbia from Montgó massif
Coat of arms of Xàbia
Coat of arms
Xàbia is located in Spain
Xàbia
Xàbia
Location in Spain
Coordinates: 38°47′21″N 0°9′47″E / 38.78917°N 0.16306°E / 38.78917; 0.16306
Country  Spain
Autonomous community  Valencian Community
Province Alicante
Comarca Marina Alta
Judicial district Dénia
Government
 • Mayor José F. Chulvi Español (2011) (Coalition: PSPV, XD, CpJ)
Area
 • Total 68.59 km2 (26.48 sq mi)
Elevation 12 m (39 ft)
Population (2011)
 • Total 32,469
 • Density 470/km2 (1,200/sq mi)
Demonym xabienc, xabienca (va)
javiense (es)
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 03730, 03738, 03739
Official language(s) Valencian and Spanish
Website Official website

Xàbia (Valencian: [ˈʃaβia]) or Jávea (Spanish: [ˈxaβea])[1] is a coastal town in the comarca of Marina Alta, in the province of Alicante, Valencia, Spain, by the Mediterranean Sea. Situated behind a wide bay and sheltered between two rocky headlands, the town has become a very popular small seaside resort and market town.

Geography[edit]

Xàbia/Jávea is situated in the north of the province, on the easternmost point of the Mediterranean coast. The island of Ibiza lies some 90 km to the east, and it can be seen on clear days. Flat, fertile agricultural land stretches for miles inland, criss-crossed by small streams and used primarily for growing citrus and olive trees. The coastline of Xàbia/Jávea features four capes; Cabo de San Antonio, Cap de la Nau (the largest), Cap Negre and Cap Martí.

The Montgó, which shelters Xàbia/Jávea, is the highest summit of the region standing at a height of over 750m. From the Xàbia/Jávea side, it is said to resemble an elephant. The Natural Park of Montgó was declared in 1987, stretching across the area of La Plana to the cape of Sant Antoni.

Climate[edit]

Xàbia/Jávea is protected from harsh winter winds of the north by the massif of Montgó (753 m / 2,471 ft) and it enjoys a unique microclimate that the World Health Organisation named as one of the healthiest in the world.[2] There are more recorded hours of sunshine per year in Xàbia/Jávea than in any other place in Spain, making it a popular winter destination for Northern Europeans.

  • Average maximum temperatures
    • Jan 16 °C
    • Feb 17 °C
    • Mar 22 °C
    • Apr 24 °C
    • May 26 °C
    • Jun 30 °C
    • Jul 32 °C
    • Aug 34 °C
    • Sep 30 °C
    • Oct 25 °C
    • Nov 22 °C
    • Dec 17 °C

Population[edit]

Since the 1970s Xàbia/Jávea has become a popular place for affluent Northern European expatriates to purchase retirement villas, and the town has an active property industry. Around 8,800 Britons,[3] 2,200 Germans,[3] and many other nationalities are registered as resident in the area. The town's permanent population was around 33,000 in 2013,[3] but increases temporarily to well over 100,000 by the annual influx of summer tourists, with Spanish tourists predominating at the height of August.

Infrastructure[edit]

Villas in Xàbia/Jávea

Since 2000 Xàbia/Jávea's infrastructure has been undergoing significant expansion and improvement work. The local government restricted the height and types of new buildings permitted, to retain much of the town's character. Many new estates of villas have been built in the wooded hills around the bay, whilst apartment complexes are being constructed along the coastal strip between the port and the Arenal. The plain remains largely untouched and the groves still produce crops of oranges.

Since 2004 the town has been running a local Agenda 21 programme, a UN-sponsored non-political initiative in which the inhabitants of Xàbia/Jávea can have a say in plans for the long-term sustainable development of the town.[4] As of 2008 the town was drawing up a general town plan for development over the next 15 years.

Tourism[edit]

Xàbia/Jávea has good road connections to regional capitals. Both Alicante and Valencia airports are just over an hour's drive away. There are regular and direct coach links to both Alicante and Valencia and a daily service to Madrid. The nearest rail station is at Gata de Gorgos, about 10 km inland, with a regular service to Alicante. There is a regular car ferry to Ibiza and the other Balearic Islands from Xàbia/Jávea's close by neighbouring town, Dénia.

The town can be considered as three distinct areas: the old town, the port and the Arenal.

Old Town[edit]

Church of Sant Bartomeu

The old town was once a walled town to protect the inhabitants from marauding pirates that once sailed this coast, and there is still evidence of these fortifications; stone crosses mark the original gates in three locations. In the centre of town is the fortified church of Sant Bartomeu, mostly built in local Tosca sandstone hewn from the rocky shore. It mostly dates back to the late 14th century with the construction of the current apse. But population growth and attacks by pirates and privateers in that period made it advisable to increase its fortifications, so that it could fulfill a dual purpose, both religious and defensive. Hence in 1513, work began under the supervision of the master builder from Navarra, Domingo Urteaga. Few decorative elements remain in its interior due to pillaging in successive wars, primarily the Spanish Civil War. Today, the church is a frequent setting for classical music concerts due to the perfect acoustics of its vaulted ceiling. [5] It was listed as a National Historic and Artistic Monument in 1931 and remains a centrepiece of Xàbia/Jávea's Old Town.

The modern municipal food market sits opposite on the northern side of the church and stands on the site of the 17th Century convent of the Discalced (barefoot) Augustinians. The orchard of the Convent housed a tower which was most likely the En Cairat Tower. Here rested the mortal remains of Sister María Gallard, founder of the religious community. During the Spanish Civil War (1936-39) the convent building was demolished by the Municipal Council to build a covered marketplace. The war hindered the completion of the project and it was not until 1946 that the current Municipal Market was inaugurated.[6] Its architectural style was designed to be compatible with the nearby Church. It has recently been refurbished.

The ethnographical museum, Museu Arqueològic i Etnogràfic "Soler Blasco", is not far away from the Church square in the Plaça dels Germans Segarra, housed in the Casa-Palacio (Palace-House) of Antoni Banyuls, a famous nobleman of his era who served as Butler to King Felipe III. It is considered to be the best example of the town’s civil architecture. This building was built in the first half of the 17th Century, and is noteworthy for its façade in local "tosca" sandstone and the upper "porxens" (roofed gallery). An antique ceramic floor of terracotta tiles and hand-painted green and white glazed tiles called “mocadorets” (handkerchiefs) is preserved in one of its rooms. The palace underwent major refurbishment in the 19th century. In 1975, thanks to initiatives by the former Mayor J.B. Soler Blasco, the Town Council acquired the Palace and in recognition of its major sponsor and first director, the museum bears his name. It has housed a permanent exhibition since 1977. Its rooms display artefacts from prehistoric times through Iberian, Roman and Middle Ages, as well as the recreation of a blacksmith’s workshop from the late 18th until the 20th century.

Despite the fact that Xàbia was not intensely affected by the frequent outbreaks of plague and other diseases the need arose in 1502 to build a hospital. Of the hospital only its chapel has been preserved - the “Capella de Santa Anna” in the street Carrer d´Avall. It is a small gothic building built in the region’s coarse sandstone or 'tosca' with a rectangular floor plan divided into three sections. The semi-circular arch in the entrance and the groined vault ceiling are worthy of note.

In the late Middle Ages, the counter-reformation stimulated religious interest which led to the creation of convents, such as the Convento de los Mínimos, built in the 17th century outside the town walls in the Placeta del Convento. Unfortunately it was destroyed during the Spanish Civil War (1936) but on its site in 1946 the Convento de las Agustinas Descalzas was built. Several important paintings by Soler Blasco are displayed there.

In addition to its main monuments, the old town centre of Xàbia is a network of narrow streets, full of whitewashed and sandstone houses, wrought iron lattices and "mobila” (aged pine wood). It is rich in examples of architectural styles from different periods adopted by the bourgeoisie who chose to build their houses in the area surrounding the church.

The gothic style is represented by houses of the 15th-17th centuries in the following streets: Sor Mª Gallart, Plaça de l’Església, Santa Marta, Sor Catalina Bas, Sant Pere Martir, Metge González, Major and Estret. A clear example of the civil gothic style is the 15th century Palau dels Sapena (Sapena Palace), located in Plaça de l’Església, with three-centred arches in the gallery and twin trefoil arch windows.

The seamen settled near the “Porta del Mar” (Sea Gate), the town entrance from the port. There, in 1515, the Iglesia del Loreto (Our Lady of Loreto Church) was built to serve the seafaring people. It was demolished in 1870. Today there remains only a small “tosca” sandstone building in neo-gothic style which previously served as the canopy for the “Cruz de los Caídos” (Cross of the Fallen) built in 1954. [7]

Port - Duanes del Mar[edit]

The port has a gravel beach and marina. Whilst the history of the harbour stretches back to the 15th century, the first jetty was built in 1871 and it became an important gateway for the export of raisins. The raisin trade collapsed at the end of the 19th century, and the settlement became only a fishing harbour. The modern harbour was built in the 1950s and 1960s. The nautical club has been in the central area of the harbour since 1963. The landmark is the church of Mare de Déu de Loreto, built in 1967 in the shape of an oval boat keel, to resemble a fishing vessel bursting through the waves.

Arenal[edit]

Platja de l'Arenal/Playa del Arenal

The sandy beach area is an arc of wide white sand flanked by a promenade. During the summer evenings there are market stalls. The Punta de l'Arenal behind the Parador Nacional Hotel was once an important Roman settlement where the fish sauce garum was produced. On the other end of the small bay once stood the Fontana Castle, built in 1424 and destroyed by the British during the Peninsular War in the early 19th century; the ruins of the castle now lie under modern apartment buildings, but some of the castle's surviving cannon sit outside the church of Sant Bartomeu in the old town.

The Montgó Natural Park[edit]

The 21.5 km² Montgó Natural Park, situated between Xàbia/Jávea and its neighbours Jesús Pobre and Dénia, was founded on 16 March 1987. Standing at 753 m high, the summit of Montgó is the second highest peak so close to the sea in the Mediterranean; on a clear day the island of Ibiza can be seen.

Montgó massif from Cap de Sant Antoni, Xàbia/Jàvea

Traces of the earliest humans in this area date back 30,000 years, from the upper Paleolithic. They were small nomadic hunter/gatherer groups which occupied the Foradada cave and ravines facing the sea at Cap de la Nau.

Around 5000 BC the first agriculture and livestock communities developed with the appearance of pottery and polished stone. Arrowheads, fragments of various vessels, carved stone and bone, remains of human burials, and cave paintings from this period have been found in the caves of Montgó and Barranc de Migdia. Later metal utensils dating from the Bronze Age (3000 BC) have also been found in these caves. The villages were situated on small hills, like the one where Xàbia/Jávea's chapel of Santa Llúcia is located.

The indigenous Iberian culture began to develop in the 8th century BC. At the top of Benimàquia, (westernmost tip of the Montgó) is an Iberian seventh century BC settlement. Here Phoenician amphorae have been found. Findings of pottery, coins, ornaments in the area of the Coll de Pous (Western end of the Montgó) and the Penya de l'Àguila with its defensive walls on top of the ridge, confirm the presence of the Iberians until 1st Century BC. The Romans continued to use the Montgó as a place for observation and surveillance to protect the increasingly important trading port of Dianum (Dénia), which was already a sizeable town in the first century AD. Remains from excavations can be seen in the Xàbia/Jávea archaeological museum.

A range of abandoned windmills crown La Plana, most of which date back to the 18th century.

Besides its archaeological importance, the park has flora which include a large number of Iberian endemic plants. The Moorish Caliph Abd-ar-Rahman III, who at the beginning of the 10th century made a special journey from Córdoba, collected over one hundred medicinal herbs from the slopes of Montgó.

History[edit]

Cap de Sant Antoni windmills
A typical masia in Xàbia/Jávea

The area was first inhabited in prehistoric times, 30,000 years ago by cave dwellers on Montgó. Subsequent residents have included Stone and Bronze-age peoples, Romans, Greeks, Phoenicians, Visigoths, Germanic, Carthaginians, and Moors.

Roman fishing boats used the port, and there is evidence that dates the Roman occupation of Xàbia/Jávea to the 2nd century BC, it makes Xàbia the oldest known Roman site on the coast with a commercial port for fish and minerals. In the 6th century AD. Christian Visigoth monks, came to Xàbia and founded the monastery of Sant Martí, now gone but which probably gave its name to the Cap San Martí. Hermenegild, son of the Visigoth king Leovigild of Toledo, sought refuge in the Monastery after angering his father by marrying a Christian girl. When his father's troops arrived to arrest him all but one monk fled to Portichol; Hermenegild and the old monk were killed.[citation needed] Several people with Visigoth names still live in the area.

There is little left of the Moors other than some inscribed gravestones and ceramics, although they were here from about 714AD until they were expelled in 1609.

Also alongside the Montgó is the 14th century hermitage of Popol, most likely on a very ancient sacred site, possibly built over an underground stream, as were many religious buildings.

The town's market day is on Thursdays, except when there is a local or national holiday. There are four main fiestas: the festivities of Jesús Natzaré (April / May) in honour of the perpetual mayor of the town, the Fogueres de Sant Joan (June) which are pagan in origin and commemorate Midsummer and are widespread throughout the Valencian Community, the Moros i cristians (July) parades, which take place in the port area and celebrate the defeat of the Moors by Christian forces in the 13th Century, and the Mare de Déu de Loreto (September) with bull-running on the harbour walls and a firework display.

The area is suitable for outdoor pursuits including cycling, diving, fishing, horse-riding, mountain-biking, sailing, and trekking.

Nightlife[edit]

The nightlife in Xàbia/Jávea is centred around the Arenal. During the summer, several chiringuitos (beach bars) spring up along the seafront between the Arenal and the port area. There are also night-time activities in the old town region.

Sport[edit]

CD Jávea play in the Valencia Regional Preferente, the equivalent level of the Football Conference in England.

Jávea Green Bowls Club play in the Costa Blanca Bowls Association Northern & Winter Leagues.

Club de Rugby Xàbia train and play at the polideportivo in the Old Town of Jávea.

World no. 3 tennis player David Ferrer was born in Xàbia.

Schools[edit]

Xàbia/Jávea has a number of junior and secondary schools. As many non-Spanish people live in the area, there is a requirement for international education, and there are several international schools, one in Jávea and others a few kilometres away.

References[edit]

External links[edit]