Alcoy, The City of Bridges
Alcoy, ‘the city of bridges’, sits at the meeting point of five rivers 54 kilometres from Alicante. The town has a population of around 70,000 people and was founded in 1256 as a defensive post during the Reconquista. The rivers have been integral to industry in the town, once turning the watermills that powered the factories that still sit riverside today. The rivers Serpis, Uxola, Molinar, Benisaidó and Riquer all pass through the town and with many rivers come many bridges. As the city expanded from its medieval centre and new suburbs grew, more bridges were needed to service the population. One of the most famous bridges in Alcoy is San Jordi Bridge. 42 metres above the bed of the river Riquer and finished in 1931: it’s a fantastic example of the Art Deco style. Another iconic river crossing is the Canalejas Viaduct which spans the river Molinar. Built from 352 tonnes of steel, the viaduct is 162 metres long and links the town centre with Callosa d´En Sarrià road. At the time of its completion in 1907, the viaduct was considered one of the most outstanding pieces of Spanish engineering.
Near the San Jordi bridge lies the historic heart of the city, Plaza de España. The square was declared a Historical Artistic Site in 1982 and hosts a number of events throughout the year, including the annual Moors and Christians’ Festival at the end of April. A number of historic buildings surround the square including Santa Maria’s Church, an 18th century Baroque construction. Inside, the walls are adorned with gothic art depicting the Virgin of Grace, created by local artists.
A remnant of the more recent history of Alcoy is Cervantes’ Shelter, or the ‘Refugio de Cerventes’. This is one of over 25 air raid shelters that were used by the public during the Spanish Civil War. Cervantes’ Shelter extends over 100 metres underground and today hosts on exhibition on the air raids during this period, which includes aerial photographs of the city and videos of those that lived through the attacks giving firsthand accounts.
Alcoy is around 45 minutes from Alicante Airport and Drivalia Car Rental. For more information on the city of Alcoy, visit the Alcoy tourist office website.