Aras de los Olmos
The municipality of Aras is located in the most north-westerly point of the province of Valencia. It is located in the administrative region of Los Serranos at an altitude of 936 metres above sea level. It has a continental climate, with very cold winters and mild summers.
The municipality covers an area of 75 km2, of which 60% are dedicated forestry exploitation. The rest is dedicated to the production of grapes, almonds and cereals. It lies 98 km from the city of Valencia. The River Turia crosses the municipality from north to south through landscapes of great natural beauty.
In Aras de los Olmos we can enjoy authentic delicacies for our palate. The geographical situation of Aras means that the local cuisine is heavily-influenced by that of Castile and Aragon. Traditional local dishes include “gachas” (porridge), which is prepared during all the village’s festivities. They are made from flour, ham and sardines. “Puchero del pueblo” (stew) and “gazpacho del monte” (with game) are other typical, heavy dishes eaten to combat the cold. Further local delicacies include sausages and loin stored in “orzas”, trout, game stew.
All these dishes can be accompanied by the excellent wine from the Alto Turia area. Aras’ typical sweets include “mantecaos”, cakes, anise rolls and “harinosas”: Nor can we forget the excellent local honey.
Places of interest:
Church of Our Lady of the Angels
A 16th century building built atop another, previous construction and which, consequently, displays a mixture of styles. It has a single nave, built with gothic stonework and with chapels between the buttresses.
Torre del Cortijo
It is located in the interior of the block formed by Calle del Cortijo, Calle de la Sangre, Calle de la Iglesia, and Calle del Rey Don Jaime. Its height is approximately 10 metres. It is a Muslim building, and was probably constructed during the rule of Banu Qasim in the small taifa of Alpuente, which existed from 1030 to 1092.
Sanctuary of Saint Catherine
The sanctuary of Saint Catherine is located 5 km from the village, some 1100 metres above sea level in “La Muela de Santa Catalina”. We can reach the Sanctuary by car, by following a beautiful route on foot or by bicycle. The landscape is dominated by two buildings: the Hermitage of Saint Catherine and the Hostelry, and there is a mountain spring.
Aras de los Olmos is a place of great importance to the world of astronomy thanks to the quality of its sky, one of the cleanest in Spain and free of light pollution. This fact led the Valencia Astronomy Association, together with the Astronomical Observatory of the University of Valencia, to install Alto Turia Astronomy Centre (CAAT) in La Muela de Santa Catalina, thus converting Aras de los Olmos into an important meeting place for amateur and professional astronomers. For more information: Tel. 962102001 (Aras de los Olmos Council)
Cavalcade of the Magi: their Majesties the Kings of the East visit all of the houses in the village as part of the parade, leaving presents at each.
Saint Mark, celebrated on 25th April. It is traditional to eat porridge in the square. The festivities close with a procession to the Hermitage of Saint Catherine.
Summer Festivities: they take place in August. During the first week they are held in Losilla (hamlet of Aras), whilst during the last week they are held in Aras. During the festivities there are multiple acts, such as street dances, children’s attractions, open-air lunches, concerts, exhibitions, etc.
Main festivities: they are celebrated every seven years in honour of Saint Catherine and are extremely popular among the locals. The statue of the patron saint, Saint Catherine, is carried down in a procession. A representation of Moors and Christians called “El Entramoro” also takes place during this period. The event represents the battles between Moors and Christians: initially, the Moors defeat the Christians, but they are eventually defeated due to the intervention of Saint Catherine, who converts the Moorish troops to Christianity.
Saint Catherine: celebrated on 25th October, the festivities include the same acts as those organised for the festivity of Saint Mark: “gachas”, street dance and pilgrimage to the hermitage.