Explore cherry orchards and prehistoric cave paintings in Alicante

Vall de Gallinera, home to the sweetest, plump cherries, is beautiful, rural countryside surrounded by mountains with eight little towns to visit.

If you are seeking peace and quiet, this is the place to head for as the population of the Vall de Gallinera is about 580.

Like other Alicante towns, the Moors occupied the land for about 600 years bringing irrigation, fruits, vines and rice to eastern Spain.

Vall de Gallinera, Alicante

Mallorcans move in to Alicante when the Moors are banished

After they were expelled, the towns’ populations fell dramatically and so the Duke of Gandia invited families from the island of Mallorca to live there.

They brought their own traditions with them including the spicy sobrasada pork sausage and sweet ensaimada pastries.

It’s a beautiful, peaceful part of the world with green valleys surrounded by mountains. The highest peaks are Almiserà (757 m),  Penyol Gros (854.2 m) And Xarpolar (900.5 m).

The Gallinera river or ravine runs through the middle of the valley.

Vall de Gallinera, Alicante

Spring arrives in Alicante with scented cherry blossom

Spring is a good time to visit when the trees are in full blossom providing valleys of pink and white flowers.

These orchards are the main attraction – and main industry – providing cherries, oranges, almonds, olives and carob.

You’ll notice the ancient craft of dry-stone walling still exists in the Vall de Gallinera, near the Pego marshlands where Bomba rice is cultivated for making paellas.

Vall de Gallinera, Alicante

Tasting delicious Alicante dishes

A lovely way to spend the day is to stop at one or all of the towns, namely Benirrama, Benialí, Benissiva, Benitaia, La Carroja, Alpatro, Llombai and Benissil. They are close together and you can visit a bar or restaurant to try the local produce featuring fruits from the fields, rabbit, wild boar or rice dishes.

Another traditional dish is minxos, a winter meal of wheat pancakes with sardines, tuna and onions, prawns, or with honey for dessert.

Vall de Gallinera, Alicante

Surprisingly, for such small towns, each has an amazing church to visit with interesting bell towers and impressive altars. It’s certainly worth taking a look inside Alpatro, Benialia and Benissiva churches to see their ornate interiors.

At Benirrama, there are the traditional Stations of the Cross on the way to the old cemetery. Although most are in ruins, the final two are in a pretty decent state.

Next to Benitaia are the remains of a 17th century Franciscan convent.

Vall de Gallinera, Alicante

Summer means fiesta time in Vall de Gallinera

In the summer time it’s time to party with fiestas including dancing, music and food being held each weekend.

In Benirrama the fiesta is the last weekend in July.

In Benissiva-Benitaia it is the first weekend in August.

In Beniali it is the second weekend in August.

Alpatro celebrates on August 15, 16 and 17.

Carroja is next with its fiesta on the third weekend of August.

The last weekend of August is the turn of Benissili.

Almendro en flor

The beautiful cherry festival is held in June with each village taking it in turn to organise the party to celebrate the harvest. Activities include exhibitions and a medieval market.

If you want the best Vall de Gallinera cherries, look for those bearing the name Cireres Muntanya d'Alacant (Alicante mountain cherries).

While visiting the mountains, look out for examples of prehistoric rock paintings and engravings in the caves, particularly in the Solana ravines (Serra de l'Almirant).

 

How to get there

From the N332, take the Pego turn off and head through Pego town. Follow the CV 700 to the Vall de Gallinera.

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