Albaida is located at the foot of Albaida Pass and a short distance from the Sierra del Benicadell range. Its name comes from the Arabic “Al-Bayda”, which means “The White”, in all probably named for the colour of the land found throughout most of the administrative region. The city was named as such in 1906 by King Alfonso XIII and declared a tourist attraction in 2002, by virtue of its interesting historical, artistic and museum heritage.
Albaida’s cuisine offers a wide variety of dishes, with pride of place taken by rice. Mention may be made of baked rice, rice with rabbit, rice stew, rice with chards, “sartén de invierno” and “sartén de verano”, crusty rice with egg, etc.
There are a series of local seasonal dishes that are only prepared when the corresponding ingredients are available on the market. Coinciding with the October and Christmas festivities, there are numerous sweets made with almonds, egg, flour, sugar and olive oil (“carquinyols”, sweet potato cakes, “rollitos”, almond cakes, “polvorones”, almond nougat with egg yolk and walnut, coffee meringues, “pastel de espuma”, etc.). Some of these sweets are available in the village bakeries throughout the year, such as “Pastelería Soler” and “Pastelería Espí”.
The main ingredient in autumn are mushrooms, which are incorporated into a wide variety of dishes (baked cakes, fried with garlic, rice with broth, etc.).
Two popular summer dishes are snails in sauce and tomato and pepper cake (delicious when made with fresh, local tomatoes and peppers). Also popular in summer are the ice-creams and iced products available from the local bakeries.
In January and February it is popular to dine out on casseroles with friends and workmates, whilst in Lent it is traditional to eat swordfish meatballs that are prepared on Good Friday, as well as traditional “monas” and “hogazas”. Quince, a product that was highly-appreciated by the Greeks and Romans, is also produced in Albaida. It is said to be good for those suffering from stomach ailments.
Each July, during the festivities of St. James, sees the staging of a fair in Albaida dating from 1387. Formerly dedicated to livestock, today it hosts attractions and cultural events such as plays, concerts, live music and sporting events. E
In terms of tradition and folklore, mention may be made of the town’s main festivities, which are held on 7th October in honour of the patron saint, Our Lady of the Remedy. They are followed by the traditional Moors and Christians festivities, held on 9th October, the most significant acts of which are “L’Entrá”, a parade of the Moorish and Christian troops in their finery, and “Las Embajadas”, representations of the struggle between the troops for the keys of the town, held on 11th October.
Mention may also be made of the festivities held in honour of Saint Anthony the Abbott in January, and those in honour of Saint Dominic of L’Aljorf in August.
The square forms part of the 15th century walled enclosure, and is still accessed by the town’s gateway. In the square stands the church of Saint Mary of the Assumption, the rear of the Milà and Aragó Palace, the access to the José Segrelles house-museum, the Valcenada house (a 16th century house in which the Town Hall was installed in 1903), the nativity scene museum, the international puppet museum and the Abbey House (18th century).
Milà and Aragó Palace
Situated next to the church, this is without doubt Albaida’s most monumental and emblematic building. The original palace was built atop the Muslim walls dating from the 13th century, and included three of the ancient defence towers: “Poniente”, “Central” and “La Torre Palacial”.
Built at the end of the 15th century (1471-1477), it has the appearance of a nobiliary residence. The main entrance to the walled enclosure, the town’s gateway (built in 1460 from limestone, with a semicircular arch and an Arabic tile roof) is attached to the palace. The gateway’s central voussoir still conserves the remains of the shield with arms of the first count of Albaida.
In the late 16th and early 17th centuries, the old 13th church was demolished due to lack of space. The new church that was to be built required a great deal of land and it was necessary to demolish part of the Palace and some houses.
The following years saw works and reforms carried out and a break with the secular isolation. The last notable work, carried out in the 19th nineteenth century, resulted in the current main entrance from the square. With the extracted material, the base of the towers was reinforced. The palace’s façades bear heraldic shields from different periods.
In the interior the rooms are decorated with colourful Baroque paintings by the local painter Bertomeu Albert (late 17th century). Of particular relevance are the rooms known as “Trono”; “Música”, “Cristo”, “Blanca” and the Marquis’ bedroom and living room. Albaida’s International Puppet Museum has been installed in the renovated part of the palace, and is accessible from the interior.
The palace also houses a large-scale model (scale 1:100, 20 m2) of a detailed and well-documented reconstruction of the 15th century town of Albaida.
Archpriest Church of Saint Mary
A spectacular religious building in the Valencian gothic style, built between 1592 and 1621, and restored in 1830. Its most notable feature is its extremely tall, flamboyant square belltower, which was used as a watchtower until a capstone was added in the mid-19th century. The current church was built to replace the old church of Our Lady of the Assumption, constructed in the 13th century. It has a single nave with chapels between buttresses. There is a set of oil paintings by J. Segrelles in the 12th century high altar. This local painter was also responsible for the painting showing religious scenes that can be found between the arches of the chapels and the cornice of the nave, as well as the paintings located in the adjacent 19th century Royal Chapel of the Communion.
Jose Segrelles House-Museum
Located in a narrow street that overlooks Pintor Segrelles Square, in the surroundings of the palace and the archpriest church. The house was designed and built by the painter in 1943. The decoration within the house, with its Arabic motives, was created by the painter and remains the same as it was when the painter inhabited the house. The house reveals to the visitor the way of life and the character of the painter José Segrelles (1885-1969). We are drawn into his universe: how did he paint? What did he do in his daily life? What did he read? What music did he listen to? There are more than 150 of the painter’s original work in the house, including illustrations for novels written by Vicente Blasco Ibañez, for the tales of the Arabian Nights, for Don Quixote, and his posthumous work, “El Pentecostés”. The library, containing some 11,000 works, is also of extraordinary interest.
Otros lugares de interés de Albaida
Permanent Nativity Scene Museum
The museum houses an exhibition created by the Albaida Nativity Scene Association. It was opened in December 2002 and houses a large collection of dioramas depicting biblical passages in some of the most emblematic locations in Albaida: streets, houses, historical sites, etc.
Albaida International Puppet Museum: an interesting and extensive exhibition that shows puppets from different countries from throughout the world. The museum opened in December 1997 under the initiative of the Albadia group “Bambalina Títelles”, as a complement to the Vall de Albaida Puppet Fair that is organized annually in December. This group has provided most of the pieces in the collection. The museum has several exhibition halls, a small educational workshop so visitors can operate the puppets, a documentation centre and a projection room. It is located in the 15th century monumental Palace of the Marquises.
Museo Internacional de Títeres de Albaida: interesante y extensa exposición que muestra títeres de diferentes países de todo el mundo. El museo se inauguró en Diciembre de 1997 y la iniciativa nació del grupo ¨Bambalina Títelles¨, de origen albaidense, como complemento de la Muestra de Títeres de la Vall de Albaida que se organiza anualmente en Diciembre. Este grupo ha proporcionado la mayoría de las piezas que componen la colección. El museo tiene diversas salas de exposición, un pequeño taller didáctico para que los visitantes puedan manipular los títeres así como un centro de documentación y sala de proyecciones. Se encuentra situado dentro del conjunto monumental del Palacio de los Marqueses, edificio del siglo XV.
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