Ontinyent (Valencian dialect), Onteniente (Spanish)
Onteniente / Ontinyent is located on the western side of the Albaida Valley 382 metres above sea level. It is surrounded by the Agullent-Benicadell mountains to the south and the Serra Grossa mountain to the north. The city Onteniente / Ontinyent was originally situated on the right-hand side of the river Clariano, but now spreads on both sides of the river due to the rapid increase in population over the past fifty years. (The total number of inhabitants in 2001 was 32.687).
Onteniente / Ontinyent is by far the most dynamic town in the whole area. It is considered to be the capital of the Valencian textile industry and employs over 50% of the population.
The town of Onteniente / Ontinyents is mid-way between Valencia and Alicante (about 85kms). If you are travelling from Valencia to Onteniente / Ontinyent, take the N430 (direction Albacete) and a few kilometres after passing the Xátiva slip road, you turn off onto the new motorway, which is just being finished and passes through the Ollería tunnel. If you are coming from Alicante to Onteniente / Ontinyent, take the Madrid-Villena motorway. Turn off at Villena and take the C3316 right into Ontinyent.
Coming from Gandía, you should take the C320 which takes you straight into Onteniente / Ontinyent.
Onteniente / Ontinyent, natural surroundings
– Pou Clar: This Nature Park is of great ecological and recreational value. There are a group of “windows” carved into the rock, called the Moors’ Windows.
– Gamellons: This is located 18kms from the town centre in the Ombria mountain. It boasts a natural spring and a camping area.
– Sant Esteve: The San Esteve hermitage is situated right in the middle of Grossa mountain, at a height of 780m and is only 6km from town.
The history of Onteniente / Ontinyent
Important archaeological finds have just been uncovered dating back to Roman times at Llombo, where the actual sports centre now stands. Other archaeological sites include an extensive late roman cemetery just 2kms south of the ancient city area. These are the Visigoth remains at the Bancal del Cel (Heaven’s field) located at Casa Calvo, where nearly a hundred graves have been found dating back to 6 A.D.
Another area of interest within the Onteniente / Ontinyent area is the group of artificial caves (coves-finestra de cingle) belonging to the Andalusina period. These are similar to the “windows” found at Pou Clar or Covetes dels Moros. The caves, located in the ravines between Ontinyent and Bocairent, were used as communal grain storage areas and secluded warehouses.
Ontenientes / Ontinyents old city centre, La Vila, is mentioned as far back as the 11th century. It was conquered by the Christians in 1244.
One of the outstanding events in the history of Onteniente / Ontinyent is the 1600 plague which resulted in a terrible number of deaths. This had a permanent affect on Onteniente / Ontinyent.
The city of Onteniente / Ontinyent also took an active part against the Moors who occupied Mola de Cortes until their expulsion at the beginning of the 17th century. A hundred years later Onteniente / Ontinyent was involved in the War of Succession which was lost at Almansa in 1707.
Onteniente / Ontinyent was granted the status of “City” in 1904.
Onteniente / Ontinyent today
Onteniente / Ontinyent is much more than just a modern and industrial city. One can stroll around the old part of the city which is a succession of closely built houses on steep narrow streets crowned by the walled Vila.
This layout contrasts strongly with new areas of urban expansion such as the Sant Josep or Sant Rafael districts, which are heavily populated.
The presence of the textile industry definitely affects the physiognomy of Onteniente / Ontinyent. The change from an agricultural society with a sprinkling of industry into a totally industrial society, took place in the 50’s. Some areas and districts still retain the imprint of the old agricultural era. One can still see boxes of fruit and vegetables on doorsteps, as improvised stalls specially in Poble Nou or on Sant Antoni street, which were built in the 18th century.
The abundance of water and the intelligent use of natural waterfalls as a source of energy explains the existence of the many water mills found in Ontinyent. These were key factors in the development of the wool industry and later on, in the 18th century, in the paper manufacturing industry.
Monuments of Onteniente / Ontinyent
Plaza Major (The Main square): This has been the centre of all pub????U?lic functions since the 16th century, hence the significant number of important historic buildings in this plaza. The old town hall, Casa del Consell, built in the middle of the 16th century, dominates the square, in front of the mediaeval fortifications.
The old 16th century Almodí which was converted into a prison the following century, stands on the eastern side of the square. It now houses several town hall departments.
Els Porxets (The Porticoes) are an example of what the plaza used to look like. At the beginning of the 16th century the whole plaza was enclosed by these porticoes. And just beside Els Porxets, one can see the Comtes de Torrefiel Palace (15th – 17th century) which today houses the town hall.
One of the symbols of Ontinyent is the Santa María belfry (17th – 19th century). Construction started in 1689 and slowly went on for some twenty years. The second and final stage, the actual bell tower, built towards 1745, suffered the effects of the 1748 earthquake.
The belfry, hit by lightning in 1859 was demolished and rebuilt towards 1880 and a forged iron crown was then added. The oldest bell in the whole of the Albaida valley, the Rauxa i Foc bell (1563), can still be seen in the bell tower.
Traditional fiestas of Onteniente / Ontinyent
– January: Sant Antoni fiestas in the Ermiteta district.
– February: Carnival in the Poble Nou district.
– March: Fallas.
– June: Corpus Christi; Cúgol fiesta and Sant Joan night.
– July: Romería (pilgrimage) and Sant Cristòfol.
– August: Moors and Christians fiesta. These are of National Tourism Interest.
– September: Camí dels Carros fiesta and the Sant Rafael district fiestas.
– November: Traditional Fiesta of Ontinyent.
– November and December: Purísima fiesta.
Onteniente / Ontinyent food and drink
Ontinyent’s cuisine is known for its use of basic items of the Mediterranean diet: rice, wheat, olive oil, vegetables, fruit, honey, wine, etc. Worthy of mention are various dishes made with lentils, garbanzos (chick peas) and beans. Lamb and pork are the most used meats. Coques (a type of round, flat bread, not unlike a small pizza, with various types of toppings) are eaten all throughout the year.