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Villena is a city in Alicante province of the Valencian Community, best known for its large Moorish castle and elaborate Moros i Cristians (Moors and Christians) festival.

Understand[edit]

  • 1 Tourist Information (Centro de Recepción de Visitantes), C/ General Prim, 2 (by the castle car park), +34 965 803 893, . Tu-Sa 10:00-14:00 16:00-18:00, Su and holidays 10:00-14:00. Has audiovisual guides with information about the history, castle, festivals, and cuisine. Also has toilets, lockers, and a vending machine.

Get in[edit]

By car[edit]

Villena is connected to Madrid, Murcia, and Alicante by the A-3 (Autovía del Este). The Valencian regional motorway CV-81 connects to the N-301 (Nacional 301, running between Murcia and Madrid) and to the N-430 (Nacional 430) coming from Valencia.

By train[edit]

Estación de Villena Alta Velocidad
  • 1 Estación de Villena (Central) (Villena Train Station), Ronda de la Estación, s/n, +34 912 432 343 (station info), +34 912 320 320 (tickets). M W 06:15-23:30, Tu Th-Su 08:05-13:30 15:30-17:50 (ticket window). The station serves medium- and long-distance trains from within the Valencian Community, Madrid, Barcelona, Murcia, Cartagena, Galicia, Cornisa del Norte, and Bilbao. From Alicante the journey takes about 40 minutes. There are a vending machine, toilets, and disabled access, and a taxi stand just outside the station. Train station of Villena (Q3329171) on Wikidata es:Estación de Villena on Wikipedia
  • 2 Estación de Villena Alta Velocidad (Villena High-speed Train Station), Partida de San Juán, 182 (6km S of Villena), +34 912 432 343 (station info). Daily 09:15-13:30 14:30-18:00 (ticket window), +34 912 320 320 (tickets). The station serves high-speed AVE trains from Madrid, Gijon, Santander, and Pontevedra. Facilities include luggage carts, toilets, and parking. Villena AV railway station (Q14623481) on Wikidata es:Estación de Villena Alta Velocidad on Wikipedia

By bus[edit]

Get around[edit]

It is easy to get around the historic centre by foot, due to its relatively small size.

By bus[edit]

On Monday through Friday Autobuses de Villena operates three lines traversing the city and its outskirts. A single journey costs €1, and a book of 10 tickets costs €7.60 (€5.85 for seniors/students). A route plan and schedule can be downloaded.

By taxi[edit]

By rental car[edit]

See[edit]

The historic centre, with narrow and winding streets and plazas, is dominated by the Castillo de la Atalaya. Most sights of interest are located in this area.

Monuments[edit]

Castillo de la Atalaya
Iglesia Arciprestal de Santiago
  • 1 Castillo de la Atalaya (Atalaya Castle), Cerro de San Cristóbal, s/n (on a hilltop in the city centre). Tu-Sa: 11:00, 12:00, 13:00, 16:00, 17:00; Su 11:00, 12:00, 13:00. Villena's iconic castle was built by the Moors in the 12th century, and has two concentric fortification walls. Especially noteworthy are the two Almohad vaulted ceilings which, along with a similar ceiling in the nearby castle of Biar, are the oldest of this type in Spain. The castle can be visited by guided tour only (Spanish/English), and tickets must be purchased at the tourist information office. €3 (adults), €1.50 (seniors/children/disabled). Atalaya Castle (Q2986978) on Wikidata Atalaya Castle (Spain) on Wikipedia
  • 2 Iglesia Arciprestal de Santiago (Church of Santiago), Plaza de Santiago, s/n. Tu-Th 12:00-14:00, F 13:00-14:00, Sa and holidays 11:00-14:00, Su 10:00-11:30. Begun in the 14th century and listed as a National Historic Monument, this is considered one of the most important Gothic-Renaissance buildings in the Valencian Community. Especially noteworthy are the interior spiral columns, similar to those in the Lonja in Valencia. It is possible to arrange a guided tour through the tourist office. €1.50 (adults), €1.15 (seniors/children 7-14), free (children under 7). Iglesia Arciprestal de Santiago (Q4882903) on Wikidata es:Iglesia Arciprestal de Santiago (Villena) on Wikipedia
  • 3 Iglesia de Santa María (Church of St Mary), Iglesia de Santa María (Villena). M-Sa 18:00-20:30, Su 09:00-14:30 18:00-20:30; or by prior arrangement with the tourist office. The 16th-century church was built on the site of an earlier mosque. It's worth climbing the bell tower for the good view of the historic centre and of the castle (restricted hours). Free. Iglesia de Santa María (Q4882109) on Wikidata es:Iglesia de Santa María (Villena) on Wikipedia
  • 4 Ermita de San Antón, C/ San Antón (near Plaza de Santiago). The hermitage dates back to at least 1586. In 2006 it was transformed into a venue for special exhibits. Ermita de San Antón (Q5836055) on Wikidata es:Ermita de San Antón (Villena) on Wikipedia
  • 5 Santuario de Nuestra Señora de las Virtudes, Av Santuario, 2 (Las Virtudes), +34 965 814 397. Summer: Tu-F 10:00-13:30 18:00-20:00, Sa Su 09:00-14:00 18:00-20:00; winter: Tu-F 17:00-19:00, Sa Su 17:00-19:00. The first hermitage on this site was built in the 15th century, when according to legend the inhabitants of Villena fled the town to the spring Fuente del Chopo during an epidemic of the plague, and declared the Virgen de las Virtudes (Virgin of the Virtues) their patron saint. The crypt from this structure still remains. The current structure dates from 1581, and houses the patron saint of the city. Santuario de las Virtudes (Q4966033) on Wikidata es:Santuario de Nuestra Señora de las Virtudes on Wikipedia

Museums[edit]

Tesoro de Villena in the José María Soler Archaeological Museum
  • 6 Museo Arqueológico José María Soler (José María Soler Archaeological Museum), Plaza de Santiago, 1 (Ayuntamiento), +34 965 801 150, . Tu-Su and holidays 10:00-14:00. Housed in the town hall, the museum collection showcases artifacts from the region, ranging from the Paleolithic era to the 19th century. Not to be missed is the Tesoro de Villena, a treasure trove of 59 Bronze Age pieces, totalling nearly 10kg of gold and 600g of silver. The smaller but still interesting Tesorillo de Cabezo Redondo is also worth a look. €2 (adults), €1 (seniors/disabled/children 7-14), free (children under 7). Museo Arqueológico Municipal de Villena (Q11694497) on Wikidata es:Museo Arqueológico Municipal de Villena on Wikipedia
  • 7 Museo Escultor Navarro Santafé (Navarro Santafé Sculpture Museum), C/ Escultor Navarro Santafé, 34, +34 966 150 236 (tourist office). Tu-F 12:00-14:00, Sa Su and holidays 11:00-14:00. The former house of Villena-born sculptor Antonio Navarro Santafé has a permanent exhibit of his works on the ground floor. Visit by guided tour only; arrangements must be made at the tourist office. €1.50 (adults), €1.15 (seniors/children 7-14), free (children under 7). Museo Escultor Navarro Santafé (Q6033319) on Wikidata es:Museo Escultor Navarro Santafé on Wikipedia
  • 8 Museo Festero (Casa de la Familia Selva), Plaza de Santiago, 3 (by the Ayuntamiento), +34 966 150 236. Tu-F 12:00-14:00, Sa Su and holidays 11:00-14:00. The museum is dedicated to the history of Villena's Moors and Christians Festival since the 19th century. Visit by guided tour only; arrangements must be made at the tourist office. €1.50 (adults), €1.15 (seniors/children 7-14), free (children under 7). Museo Festero (Q6033364) on Wikidata es:Museo Festero on Wikipedia

Other[edit]

  • 10 Cabezo Redondo, Ctra de Villena-Caudete (near the intersection with Camino de las Fuentes), +34 966 150 236, . Literally 'round hill', this 3,000-year-old town dates from the Bronze Age and is where the treasure trove Tesoro de Villena was discovered. The site can be visited by guided tour only, offered at 11:00 and 12:30 on one Sunday per month, prior booking required. €2 (adults), €1 (concessions). Cabezo Redondo (Q8254441) on Wikidata es:Cabezo Redondo on Wikipedia
  • 11 Hornos de Yesos. A set of gypsum kilns which can be accessed by a short footpath.

Do[edit]

Festivals[edit]

Archery demonstration at the Fiesta del Medievo
Moros y Cristianos
  • Fiesta del Medievo (Mercado Medieval / Medieval Festival) (Rabal barrio). Mid-March, weekend before Feast of San José. The highlight is a medieval market, with costumes, decorations, products, and demonstrations and performances. During the festival the bell tower of the Iglesia de Santa María is opened for visitors. (Q23662974) on Wikidata
  • Semana Santa (Holy Week) (Rabal). Week before Easter Sunday. Villena has seven fraternities. The processions of penitents begin on Good Friday, departing from the Iglesia Arciprestal de Santiago. The most significant procession is the Procesión del Encuentro, in which the effigies of the Virgin and of Jesus meet on the street.
  • Moros i Cristianos (Moors and Christians). 4-9 September. One of the oldest Moors and Christians festivals in Spain, it is designated by the Spanish government as a Festival of National Touristic Interest. It originated in 1474 when, according to legend, the Virgen de las Virtudes, who eradicated the plague, was established as the patroness of Villena. Fourteen 'brotherhoods' participate, seven Moorish and seven Christian. (Q9035210) on Wikidata es:Moros y Cristianos de Villena on Wikipedia
  • 1 Feria de Muestras (btw the Mercado Central and the train tracks), +34 965 806 498, . End of September / beginning of Octobeer. An annual trade fair showcasing agriculture, machinery, and tourism, and featuring cultural and musical events.

Performing arts and sporting events[edit]

  • 2 Teatro Chapí, C/ Luciano López Ferrer, 17, +34 965 814 750, fax: +34 965 805 473, . The theatre is dedicated to Villena-born composer Ruperto Chapí, and completed in 1925. Architecturally it combines a classical facade with modernist elements. Today it is one of the more active theatres in the Valencian Community. Guided tours are available by prior arrangement. Teatro Chapí (Q11704261) on Wikidata es:https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teatro_Chap%C3%AD on Wikipedia
  • 3 Casa de la Cultura (KAKV), Plaza de Santiago, 7, +34 965 801 150, . M-Sa 10:00-14:00. Hosts various cultural activities, including musical and theatrical performances, book readings, film screenings, etc.
  • 4 Plaza de Toros, Avenida de la Constitución, s/n. The bull ring was completed in 1924, and eventually fell into disuse. It was renovated and reopened in 2010, and hosts bullfights and other sporting events, as well as concerts. Bullring of Villena (Q6377328) on Wikidata es:Plaza de toros de Villena on Wikipedia

Hiking and outdoor activity[edit]

Sierra de la Villa

The mountains near Villena offer many opportunities for trekking, and have trail segments of longer routes including the Camino de Santiago, the Camino del Cid, and the Vía Verde del Chicharra. There are also opportunities for climbing and paragliding.

  • 5 Sierra de la Villa (La Villa Mountains). Sierra de la Villa (Q9077164) on Wikidata es:Sierra de la Villa on Wikipedia
    • 12 Castillo de Salvatierra (El Castillico / Salvatierra Castle) (foothills of the Sierra de la Villa). This ruined Moorish castle was built in the 10th century and abandoned in the 14th century. There are just a few walls and foundations remaining, but the view is worth the climb. Free. (Q8342528) on Wikidata es:Castillo de Salvatierra (Villena) on Wikipedia
  • 6 Sierra de Salinas. Sierra de Salinas (Q9077139) on Wikidata es:Sierra de Salinas on Wikipedia
  • 7 Peña Rubia. Peña Rubia (Q6073895) on Wikidata es:Peña Rubia on Wikipedia

Buy[edit]

Villena specializes in producing quality footwear, especially for children and teenagers.

  • 1 Mercado Municipal, Polígono Mercado Abastos, 31, +34 965 802 785. M-W 08:00-14:00, Th 07:00-14:00, F 08:00-14:00 17:00-20:30, Sa 07:00-14:00. The municipal market is a good place for local produce, fish, and meat.
  • 2 Mercadillo (street market), C/ Emilia Pardo Bazán. Th morning. A weekly street market for local produce and other goods.

Eat[edit]

A serving of gachamiga with gachamiguero wine, at the Fiesta del Medievo

Villenese cuisine is a blend of of that from Castile-La Mancha and the Mediterranean. Typical dishes include gachamiga (a type of porridge with olive oil, garlic, and sausage), gazpacho manchego (a warm soup with bread), paella valenciana, arroz y pata (rice with beef shank and chickpeas), trigo picao (cracked wheat with vegetables, saffron, and sweet paprika), zarangollo (scrambled egg with zucchini, onion, and sometimes potato), and pelotas de relleno (spiced meat dumplings).

Special desserts include sequillos (doughnuts), rollicos de vino (doughnuts with olive oil, wine and powdered sugar), and almendrados (almond pastries).

  • 1 Warynessy, Calle Isabel la Católica, 13A, +34 965 801 047. Tu-Sa 08:30-17:00 20:00-00:30, Su 08:30-17:00. Serves classic Villena dishes. Set menu €20.

Drink[edit]

The most common local wine is made from red Monastrell grapes. Fondillon is a local specialty, a sweet red made from oxidised overripe grapes that has been aged for at least ten years.

Villena and the surrounding area is well-known for its liqueurs made from aromatic and medicinal plants grown in the mountains of northern Alicante province. The most well-known of these is katakí, followed by anisete villena dulce, a sugary anise. Other liqueurs include cantueso, made from thyme, and herbero, used in a regional cocktail called mesclaet.

Sleep[edit]

  • 2 Hotel Salvadora, Avda de la Constitución, 102 (on the main rd), +34 965 800 950, fax: +34 965 813 466, . The city's only hotel has nonsmoking rooms and an onsite restaurant. Doubles €67, including breakfast.
  • 3 Camping Bola, A-31, s/n (Las Virtudes, 6km W of Villena), +34 659 596 867, . Check-in: 07:00-24:00, check-out: 09:00-12:00. Can accommodate motorhomes, caravans, and tents, and offers bungalows and trailers to rent, as well as unusual accommodation in a geodesic dome. Facilities include laundry, showers, pool, and garden. Free Wi-Fi, pets permitted on request for no extra charge.

Stay safe[edit]

Take care after dark in the barrio de los gitanos ('gypsy quarter'), in the historic centre, especially after dark.

Connect[edit]

Go next[edit]