The traditional Spanish village of Albatera is another of the Vega Baja (Low Fertile Valley) villages of the province of Alicante. With its population of around 9,000, Albatera is surrounded by natural areas of wetlands, plains and mountains, the most impressive of these being the Parque de la Huerto (Park of the Orchards) which comprises 30,000 square metres, featuring a lake, a fountain, walking routes and garden areas. The park is also the location for a variety of musical events throughout the year. Albatera lies on the banks of the Segura river, a beautiful spot with impressive views of the nearby Sierra de Crevillent - although the town itself is mostly on the level.
Artefacts and implements found in the area provide evidence to its being settled during pre-historic times. The Romans arrived in the 3rd century BC and left their mark with a complex system of irrigation channels, which enabled the surrounding land to be cultivated. The Moors invaded during the 8th century and held sway until it was re-conquered for the Christians by Alfonso the Wise in around 1266. In 1296 Jaime II King of Aragon annexed Albatera together with Crevillente and Cox into the Kingdom of Aragon and granted the Moors of these three villages safe conduct to return to their former homes.
The agreement of Elche in 1305 laid out the boundaries of Aragon and Castilla as north and south of the River Segura - the southern area comprising Albatera and Crevillente going to Aragon and Cox to the north going to Castilla. In 1609 the Moors were finally expelled and the language of the area became entirely Castillan. In 1833 Albatera was incorporated into the province of Alicante.
During the ensuing centuries the economy of the region was dependant almost entirely on agriculture, the land being irrigated by the waters of the Segura, previously dry land was utilised by the irrigation channels originally built by the Romans and improved by the Arabs using techniques brought from the Middle East and North Africa. The main produce has been fruit (mainly dates and lemons) and vegetables. Pig rearing also made up a large part of the economy of the village, up until quite recent times, when commerce and industry became of equal significance to that of farming and agriculture.
Present day Albatera consists of wide, palm lined streets with pretty white-walled houses. At the heart of the village is the plaza with its beautiful parochial church, dedicated to the apostle Santiago and built in 1729. The church is renowned for its intricate baroque doorway, carved in stone. Also located in the plaza is the town hall built in 1975 and the casino.
Near to Albatera is the tiny village of San Isidro which was only established in 1959 after a law was passed to promote the settlement of previously unused marshy areas. Its white houses were constructed in a grid system of identical streets. To the east sits the agricultural town of Catral and also the Hondo Reservoir with its trails and walks through unspoilt and scenic countryside.
Albatera of course celebrates a number of fiestas and festivals throughout the year, one of best known being in July and honouring Saint James the Apostle – an entire week is given over to the celebrations which include novilladas in which novice bullfighters challenge young bulls. Other fiestas include the Moors and Christians festival and the Festival of the Nuestra Señora la Virgen del Carmen held in July.
Just six kilometres north of Albatera is the Albatera Golf and Country Club - one of the finest golf courses in the region. Apart from golf, a number of other activities are available including shooting, tennis and horse riding.
Albatera is located on the N-340 road and can be easily accessed from the A-7 (E15) motorway (exit 78). Albatera is a truly traditional Spanish town with good Spanish values.
By Steve Locke, for more information on the Costa Blanca visit: www.needahandspanishproperties.com
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