THE MONASTERY ROUTE
The Monastery Route is an itinerary that links the monasteries of La Murta in Alzira, Aigües Vives in Carcaixent, Santa María de la Valldigna in Simat, Sant Jeroni de Cotalba in Alfauir and Corpus Christi in Llutxent; all of them are found in the central counties of the province of Valencia. The itinerary features two different tours: the first by road for those interested in visiting the monasteries by car, and the second by hiking on the GR-236 (over 90 km long). The hiking trail runs along historical paths of medieval origin such as the Paso del Pobre as well as livestock trails, mountain tracks, rural roads and ancient railways. It starts at Gandia railway station and ends at Alzira station, linking up with the public transport network.
MONASTERY OF SANT JERÓNIMO DE COTALBA (ALFAUIR)
The monastery was founded by the Duke of Gandia, Alfons the Old, in 1388 as a refuge for the monks from the Hiernymite order who were forced to flee the Monastery of Xàbia due to constant attacks by Berber pirates. Notable construction features include the bell-tower, which has an inscription, in Valencian, of the founder’s name and date; the two-storey Renaissance cloister, the Gothic spiral staircase in the chapterhouse, the church, the Romantic-style garden and the Gothic aqueduct.
We recommend a visit to the surrounding countryside: hiking in the mountains around the River Vernissa, the Circ de La Safor (a fantastic semicircle formed by cliffs with an altitude of over 1000 metres), and towns such as Ròtova, Villalonga and the largest town of Gandia with its rich historical heritage. Gandia enjoys a fantastic location between the sea and the mountains and boasts a rich historical heritage that imbues its monuments and the spirit of its people. This is one of the main attractions of a town whose many and varied tourist infrastructures are capable of satisfying the most demanding visitor.
Its beautiful, wide, sandy beaches have been recognized with the EU Blue Flags distinction as well as the Q for Quality mark.
Essential visits include the Ducal Palace (the birthplace of St. Francis of Borgia), the 14th century Collegiate Church of Santa María, the Modernist church of Sant Nicolau, the Convent of Santa Clara, the marina and fishing harbour, the old University, the Convent of Sant Roc and the Town Hall.
Tourist Info Ròtova
Plaça Major, 7
46725 – Ròtova
Tourist Info Gandia
Avenida Marqués de Campo, s/n
46700 – Gandia
THE MONASTERY OF CORPUS CHRISTI (LLUTXENT)
Construction began on the Monastery of Corpus Christi by the Dominicans in 1422 and housed the first University of Valencia, reflecting the Order’s concept of austere beauty and functionality, as you can see in the façade. The main building runs around a closed cloister. The oldest part is the Gothic refectory and the chapterhouse and the novices’ various rooms are also worthy of note. Next to the Monastery is the Church of Corpus Christi, in Gothic Mediterranean style, which was declared a National Monument in 1982.
In the town of Llutxent, be sure to visit the Medieval Castle/Palace which has some original battlements and coffered ceilings, and the Baroque Chapel of the Consolation, as well as the remains of the Muslim castle of Xiu. Close by is the town of Albaida, with a significant historic legacy and some important monuments worth visiting, especially the Puppet Museum and the Palace of the Lords of Albaida.
Tourist Info Llutxent
Tourist Info Albaida
Plza. Pintor Segrelles, 19
MONASTERY OF SANTA MARIA DE LA VALLDIGNA (SIMAT DE LA VALLDIGNA)
Mesmerized by the beauty of this valley, Jaume II the Just of Aragon granted these lands to the Abbott of Santas Cruces for a new Cistercian settlement on 15 March 1298. The monastery’s architecture ranges from the Gothic features of the 14th century to the Baroque facilities of the 17th and 18th centuries and the current temple and chapel of the Virgen de Gracia. In 1991, the Valencian government took over the monastery and work began on restoring it, finally opening to the public in 1998.
As well as taking an in-depth tour of the Monastery of Valldigna, it is well worth visiting the old mosque of La Xara (now the chapel of Santa Anna) which still features Moorish arches and other examples of Muslim architecture that are unique in the Valencian Community. Close to the Monastery is the Font Gran spring, whose waters irrigate a good part of the Valldigna market gardens, around which there is a recreational area to enjoy. Near Simat there are two places for spending the summer surrounded by nature: Pla de Corrals (on the road to Xàtiva) and Les Foies (on the same road as the one to Barx). Ascending this second road, you can visit the aqueduct of Les Arcades (18th century) which used to carry water from the Font del Cirer spring to the very gates of the Monastery.
Tourist Info Simat de la Valldigna
MONASTERY OF AIGÜES VIVES (CARCAIXENT)
The monastery was founded by Gonzalo García de la Masa and his son through donations to hermit friars of the Augustinian order of the community of Aigües Vives. The earliest work dates back to the 13th century but construction of the existing building started in the 15th century. It has a noteworthy cloister and Baroque-style interior decoration. The chapel is rectangular with a single nave, a half-barrel vault and side chapels.
Carcaixent is a tourist destination that boasts one of the few examples of the churches of the Reconquest, the Chapel of Sant Roc de Ternils (13th century) which has been declared a Monument of National Interest. The town was a very prestigious centre of silk production between the 16th and 19th centuries.
It is also regarded as the birthplace of orange growing as it was in this municipality that the first orange tree was planted for commercial purposes, thanks to the initiative of the parish priest Vicente Monzó in the late 19th century. This man’s vision of the future enabled the Valencian Community to develop an economic activity that has been absolutely fundamental for its wealth and development right through to the present day: orange-growing.
Tourist Info Alzira
Plaza del Reino
46600 – Alzira
MONASTERY OF SANTA MARIA DE LA MURTA (ALZIRA)
The monastery originated in the grouping of several chapels in the valley. The fact that it was founded under the Hieronymite Order indicates that it dates from between the 14th and 15th centuries. The structure puts an emphasis on the church, with the other facilities positioned around a central cloister. The dove tower is well worth noting, a sturdy construction of military architecture which gives it a defensive look, and the Renaissance portal presided over by the coat-of-arms of the Vich family. In 1989 the Alzira Town Council took it over and in 1995 work started on recovering this historic monastery, which has been declared an Asset of Cultural Interest (BIC).
In the town of Alzira you can also view the cross vault in the 16th century Town Hall, housed in a Civil Gothic palace typical of Valencian mansions in those days; the Archipriestal Church of Santa Catalina dating from the 13th century, built over the main mosque; and the edifices on the Bridge of San Bernardo, formerly the Bridge of San Agustín, from the 13th century. La Villa is the oldest neighbourhood and echoes the ancient town which was completely encircled by walls until the second half of the 20th century. Today it is still home to the Archipriestal Church of Santa Catalina, the Town Hall and several historic houses and palaces such as Casa del Empeño (the Town Museum).
Things to do: hiking along the Casella Valley on the PR-V303, a trail with a total length of 23 km which runs almost parallel to the La Casella gully. Points of interest include the artistic and historical complex of La Vila in Alzira, the defensive works against flooding from the River Xúquer, the orange groves and the beautiful views of the sierras of Les Agulles and El Cavall. Another trail, the Pic de la Ratlla (PR-V304) runs for 7 km, including its offshoots. The trail leaves from the Forestry House at La Casella, where it links up to the PR-V303. It runs over the summit of La Ratlla, the peak of the sierra, and ends at Puntal de Massalari; the best part of the trail is the stunning aerial view of the sierra and the Mediterranean Sea.
Tourist Info Alzira
Plaza del Reino
46600 – Alzira
The Pas del Pobre (Poor Men’s Pass) is the final stretch of the Monastery Route and one of the most iconic ones on the whole itinerary. Here you can enjoy stunning views of the valleys of Aguas Vivas, La Casella and La Murta before coming to the end of the route. The reason for its existence was the proximity of three monasteries; the Monastery of Valldigna, the Convent of Aguas Vivas, and the Monastery of La Murta. During the Middle Ages, people viewed their time on earth as a pilgrimage towards eternity, so the custom of visiting sacred places was very deeply ingrained. Monasteries were also excellent places to stop to eat or spend the night and travellers sought out the comfort of these hostelries which were so well looked-after by the monks. Consequently over the course of the year a multitude of poor people used to make their way along this trail to ask for alms and care from the blessed friars; hence the name of “Poor Men’s Pass”. This historic trail has now been recovered, further underlining the natural and cultural importance of the Monastery Route.
– Tourist Info Alzira – Regne, Plaça Regne s/n; Tel/fax: 962 419 551
Tuesday, 10:30 – 14:00
Wednesday to Saturday: 10:00 – 14:00
Sunday: 11:00 – 14:00
– Municipal Museum of Alzira – MUMA: Sant Roc, 16
Tel: 962 017 649 / 962 018 359 / 962 016 438, Fax 962 016 186
September, Tuesday to Sunday: 11:00 – 13:30
From October, Tuesday to Saturday: 11:00 – 13:00/17:00 – 20:00
Sunday: 11:00 – 13:30
- A comfortable, hard-wearing backpack that adapts well to your back.
- Walking boots (ideally with ankle supports to avoid sprains).
- Water (at least one litre).
- Comfortable clothing (long trousers are recommended).
- Spare warm clothing.
- Sun protection cream, sunglasses, hat or cap, etc.
- Rain protection: waterproofs or similar clothing.
- Energy-giving food such as chocolate, nuts, etc.
RECOMMENDED BEHAVIOUR ON THE ROUTE:
- Minors must always be accompanied by an adult.
- Always walk along the trails in single file unless they are wide enough for you to walk abreast.
- Follow the guides’ instructions; do not stop without telling them or move too far ahead.
- Have a good breakfast before setting off on an excursion.
TO BE AVOIDED:
- Do not take short cuts on any kind of unfamiliar path.
- Do not pick flowers or shrubs or remove animals or rocks.
- Do not drink from stagnant ponds or wells even if they look clean.
- Never leave any rubbish behind, not even fruit peel, and definitely not any cans, tins, paper or plastic.
- Do not throw away cigarette ends or matches even if you think they are completely extinguished.
- Do not start a fire under any circumstances.