Many of you will have seen the small catholic church on the west edge of our village (at Av de Castilla). This is the Ermita San Anton, Hondón de los Frailes and is without a bell but has an iron cross. It only measures 5.38 by 2.00 metres. It has two windows on each side and an altarpiece with the image of San Antonio. If you are passing have a look through the door “spy hole”… often there are candles lit, an altar and crucifix with nice decor and a few chairs for prayer or worship. GOOGLE MAP.
You can see these mini-churches all over Spain, most towns and villages have one or more. Usually they are ornate and pristine inside but tucked away off the beaten track or in very rural areas. Many are not so little though!
The Ermita has a long history being founded around the late 16th century in Ermita, Manila. Its name was taken from La Hermita, the Spanish word for “hermitage”, after the fact that a Mexican hermit resided in the area where he built a hermitage which housed an image of the Virgin Mary known as the Nuestra Señora de Guia (Our Lady of Guidance). He had his own place to practise his religion. It was Spanish soldiers that found this place, which ultimately spread the word and idea further afield.
Early on the Ermita Churches were very rustic and made of bamboo and wood. being made by hermits, farmers and the poor. As time passed the local community would want to ensure these places reflected their importance and local authorities and the church would fund much more elaborate buildings.
There are also stories and legends that speak of 12 Franciscan priests led by Friar Martin de Valencia, who when settled in new territories (as part of the Spanish Conquest) and decided to build the first churches for the travellers who entrusted their soul to God.
Spain, Valencian Community, Hondón de los Frailes, village, GPS: 38.2714,-0.9319
Well, well, well... the local Hondón Townhall have ben a bit more forth coming with their plans for the summer fiestas in Hondon de las Nieves this year. Normally P.R. is limited, late or sketchy but they recently published the itinerary of events for July and August, not only locally but with the Información online news channel! We’ll also put it on our “Hondón What’s On” Facebook page. See the day-by-day list below.
With summer great days arrive to enjoy in Hondón de las Nieves The Fiestas of Hondón de las Nieves, have been declared by the Regional Tourist Office and begin very soon. They have a program of events full of activities for all audiences across the community. See the day-by-day list below.
Thursday, August 1st. From this day a series of acts of tradition and popular roots will follow. Unique, unrepeatable, and highly anticipated moments, because Hondón de las Nieves, unlike the rest of the towns or cities, celebrates its festivities every two years, the odd years to honour the patron lady, the Virgin of the Snows who is peculiarly the Patron of two villages and a hallmark of both peoples of Aspe and Hondón de las Nieves.
The Correfocs – Crazy Fireworks!
These festivals take place over two weeks. With events and activities for all ages, where both neighbours and visitors will have a place to enjoy the celebrations.
Last Saturday, July 20, the presentation of the major and minor Fondoneres took place. But, next Thursday 1 August, from 6:30 p.m. The evaluation of the decorated Hondón streets will be carried out and the party will officially begin with the proclame a winner. This year the announcement will be carried out by Pepe Sirvent Sirvent.
The following days the streets of the town will be full of colour as the residents paint and hang trimmings and lights in their own street. Our people will also be the offering of flowers to Our Patron (August 3) and there will be a procession of August 5 in honour of the Virgin of the Snows.
As a novelty this year the “cannon shot” will be held, next Saturday, August 3, which includes a parade that will tour the town and then the “cannon shot” of confetti will take place, with music and tapas that will last until 7:00 p.m., becoming an afternoon for everyone.
Children Welcome! The children can also be part of the party with activities such as the giant slide (Tuesday, August 6), the playground (Thursday 8) mechanical bull, cars, football, inflatables all in New Street. The activities are completed with the family workshop (Saturday 10th).
TAPAS: In addition, as of August 9, everyone can enjoy the tapas route in different restaurants in the town. Tapa and drink for only 2.50 euros.
But, one of the acts that nobody can miss is the great retreat with brass bands with music and costumes that dress the municipality with colour. The retreat is the act of greatest claim for young people, who participate parading through the streets in costumes.
Fireworks late on Saturday 10th August! And one of the most anticipated is the correfocs, a fireworks show in which young and not so young people walk the streets with a peculiar music ending in the Plaza de la Villa where the act ends with a spectacular exhibition
Thursday, August 1 6:30 p.m. Evaluation of decked streets. 9:30 p.m. Proclamation
Friday 2nd of August. 10:30 AM Giants and Big Heads. 9:30 p.m. Soup of Cabasset
Saturday, August 3. 11:30 am Parade 7:00 p.m. Wreath. 9:00 p.m. Regional dances. 00:30 hours Great retreat
Sunday, August 4. 6:30 p.m. Tour of the town’s decorated streets. 00:00 hours Serenade.
Monday, August 5. 11:00 hours Parade 12:00 hours Mass greater. 9:00 p.m. Procession. 00:00 hours Verbena.
We often get asked about restaurants and bars available in the Hondon Valley areas. There are plenty to choose from in Nieves, Frailes, La Romana, Abanilla, Fortuna and the surrounding areas. Here we list bars and restaurants for Hondón de los Frailes.
There are Hondon restaurants and bars to suit all pockets / budgets. They do change opening times and menus on a regular basis so we advise you ask locals or call the restaurants direct if you have any questions or need a booking.
Or you can check out Tripadvisor (or similar) for more up-to-date reviews. As we all have different tastes and expectations we shy from full reviews, ask around or better still go and make your own mind up…. But is is important to show support for local trade after all. Use ’em or lose ’em.
The most established is Restaurante Veintiocho 28 in the main Frailes plaza, opposite the Town Hall). At the time of writing, 28 is owned and run by Simone and Marcus and boasts plenty of outside sunny seating, a shady canopy (from the sun and the odd rain shower), a small inside bar and larger a-la-carte restaurant.
The menu is varied British / international. Open most days for breakfasts, drinks, lunch and dinner with many specials, “Sunday Roast”, snacks and full 3 course dining “menu-del-noche” . It is well regarded as a clean and friendly catering establishment with food to match. It attracts all nationalities of the area (British, Dutch, Spanish, etc …). They have a 28 Facebook page. They also cater for special occasions and parties.
Infinity: The new kid on the block. Formerly a tea shop, this one is on the main road CV-845 through Frailes and currently run by local residents Jay and Natalie. You can dine inside in pleasant clean surroundings. At time of writing they are open selected evenings and Sunday lunches. Call 622956544 for full details and menus.
La Buena Vida: (2019 this now has limited opening or special event catering). This opened about 8 years ago as an Italian themed restaurants but is now more international cuisine now with full a-la-carte dinner menu, “menu-del-noche”, early birds, “Sunday Roast” and chef’ specials. This is located just off the main plaza in Frailes and has an ornate decor and plenty of inside seating with a greetings lounge. The atmosphere is relaxed dining and smart casual dress code. They also cater for special occasions and parties.
The same owners of La Beauna Vida also run “The Irish Bar”. El Nuevo Valle: This popular plaza bar and snack restaurant is in the main plaza opposite the church. They serve drinks, inside and out, with a fast-food snack menu all week and specials for steaks, pizza, Chinese and the Brit classic “Fish n Chips”. They also offer a large screens sports area which doubles as a meeting / party room and live music venue.
Caramels: This Spanish run and recently refurbished bar is popular with all nationalities. It is mainly a bar with some outside area at the back for music / food if pre booked. They are predominantly a drinking establishment with sports TV, bandit machines and a pool table. This is on the main through road in Frailes, near the garden centre CV-845.
Pepins: Another well established Spanish owned bar and occasional restaurant. they also do Tapas and snacks. This is often used by local social groups as a meeting place, bingo, quizzes, etc. A friendly and welcome bar and popular with Spanish workers at breakfast and lunch. This is on the main through CV-845 road in Frailes, near the grocer’s shop / lottery shop. Tipsy Terrace: The new kid on the Frailes block… built from an old house at the end of the main street it has a varied menu and personality of its own. Breakfast, snacks and dinner menus available. They also do private functions.
Tipsy Terrace: The new kid on the catering block. Situated near the garden centre end of the main street. This is the largest bar, restaurant and events establishment in the village with a sunny courtyard and outdoor bar. Well placed for families or large parties. They offer a very varied menu from tapas, snacks and meals from breakfast to dinner. Open most days all-year-round. Website: www.tipsyterrace.com
El Fogon del Friars: The largest venue, Spanish run and just out of the village as you head out towards Barbarroja / Macisvenda on the CV-845. This has a large car park, shaded terrace and large restaurant inside. There is a large courtyard to the back that is used for larger events / music. It is popular for breakfast and lunchtime “menu-del-dia” but evening menus and events are only occasional. The food is typical local Spanish / tapas.
Punjabi Virsa: The locals have been wanting an Indian restaurant for a while and now we have one. It is at the quieter garden centre end of the village plaza, near Tipsy Terrace. It’s already proved popular with mixed reviews in the early days but is now well established and offers a wide variety of spicy dishes. The also offer a menu del dia as lower prices than the evening meals.
La Finca Restaurant, Hondon Valley. They offer about 100 typical Indian dishes in clean surroundings. The large dining area is inside with the kitchen and bar to the back. They also offer an early bird priced menu of three courses with poppadoms and drinks included. A magnificent façade, garden and terrazzo is in the middle of a new build development. Converted into a B&B, bars and restaurant this has the look of an old Spanish hall but with all the mod-cons. It has had a chequered history with many owners trying to make a go of it. As we write it is run by Dutch & Spaniards and seems to found its niche in Spanish food and culture with live music and value menus. Being so large it can cater for large parties, events and fiestas. The opening times and days vary and they tend to have limited opening days in the winter so please check before you go.
Hondon Villas suggest you join us for the Good Life!
Having lived and worked in the Hondon Valley for years we know the area quite well and the best bit of being in Real Estate you get to see more of the geography than most! Here is a short video that might just give you an idea of it’s beauty and tranquillity.
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Here we can only give you a glimpse of the local Hondón countryside and towns but we hope you understand why we love the outdoor lifestyle here.
So, yes the Hondon Valley has become one of our offices (well the best one really!) as we value, list or sell homes for our vendors. As you can see there are some excellent vistas that are a delight in all seasons!
Please we suggest you make time for a country walk or drive through the old “camino” roads. You will just marvel at the changing light, shadows, rural settings and picturesque skies.
The Hondon Valley is well known for its mild climate and pleasant summer breezes, which is very welcoming in those hot summer months when temperatures rarely fall below 30 degrees.
The region enjoys sunshine in excess of 310 days per year, where the air is very clean and the pace of life slow. Hondon offers a very peaceful and stress free life. Come take a look at the Valley of the Vines, drink the local wine under the bluest of skies and feel the warmth of the Spanish sun on your face … and you’re hooked! We were! We love it!
The Sanctuary of Santa María Magdalena is a beautiful ornate Catholic Church located in just outside Novelda Town (near Alicante), Valencia, Spain.
Coordinates Map: https://goo.gl/maps/hQijtfcSrzM2 Usage: Worship Catholic Church Diocese: Orihuela-Alicante Construction: 1918-1946, Valencian Modernism architectural style (Gaudi) Architect: José Sala
“The most beautiful things I have seen in a very long time. Absolutely lovely. So worth the visit with friends and family. All enjoyed the experience. “
It was built from a project designed by the novel engineer José Sala Sala, 1 2 with a certain inspiration in the modernist style of Antonio Gaudí. Later the construction was executed by the masters of works Noveldenses Ceferí Escolano and Antoni Amorós. It is a very unique and outstanding work within Valencian modernism.
The building bears a distant resemblance to the Sagrada Familia of Barcelona by Antonio Gaudí. It has a jug shape, symbolizing the jug that the Saint brought as a balm to Jesus. This original form is also unique in the world.
Its construction, begun in 1918, required three phases (one of them paralysis), to terminate the work in 1946. Different resources were used to finance the works, such as the Zarzuela lyrical galas in which the director intervened orchestral Asterio Mira, the Nortenden baritone Eduardo Mateo-Quirant and his wife, Josefina Landete (both parents of Paloma Mairant), among others.3
On the main façade there are two 25 m lateral towers. of height culminated by a stony cross, which is also found in the dome and on the upper arches of the façade. Decorative motifs have antecedents in the medieval, baroque styles and in nature itself. These influences led the author to combine pebbles from the Vinalopó River, polychrome tiles, red bricks, masonry, etc., which are reflected throughout the exterior of the building.
The interior of the sanctuary is composed of a rectangular central nave with two attached side spaces; At the end, in the apse, is the dressing room of Santa María Magdalena, patron saint of Novelda, and behind the altar you can admire a beautiful painting attributed to Gastón Castelló. Since the late twentieth century is planned and is proceeding slowly to the incorporation of an organ built entirely in marble, work of the innovative organ maker and artist Ivan Larrea, who will become the only one in the world with these characteristics.
The Sanctuary of Santa María Magdalena of Novelda is the place that many couples choose to get married and baptize their children. It is a place with a lot of history for the Noveldens since here the election of grapes that will accompany Santa María Magdalena in the procession of July 22, day of the patron saint is also celebrated. It is also interesting to note that, for several years, they lived in a building next to the Sanctuary, the Dominican Sisters. Three years ago they went to another region of Spain. In the place where they lived, a hostel and a thematic centre are being set up.
Novelda is about 25 minutes from the Hondon Valley and 20 minutess from Alicante airport. It is often overlooked by foreign visitors which is a shame as it has a long history and significance for the local community and culture. Particularly for industry (agriculture and building), the local economy and historic architecture. Watch the video or visit The Novelda Tourist site for up-to-date information.
So, in the Middle Ages, Novelda had two population centres, one on the hill of La Mola (there’s a castle & triangular Keep there) which was eventually abandoned to make way for the current location of the city we know today.
Novelda’s geographical location is in the Vinalopó corridor. This, has made it an important industrial and exporting town in the area. Its main economic activities are focused on: A) the manufacture and processing of marble and natural stone which is extracted from the quarries of the district. It’s common as you drive in the area to see the marble factories and lorries with huge blocks of marble. And B) the packaging and commercialisation of spices (especially saffron), condiments and infusions. C) the cultivation of grapes, the uva embolsada for wine and eating. The Novelda grape farmers use an innovative “paper bag” technique to delay the grape harvest until winter, being these the typical grapes that people consume around Christmas and the New Year’s Eve celebrations.
Sanctuary of Santa María Magdalena.
Undoubtedly, any travvler to Novelda should make a visit to the premier building in the area: The Sanctuary of Santa María Magdalena.
This religious building was built from a project drawn up by the novel engineer Don José Sala Sala who imbued his project with the Catalan modernist style. Its construction, begun in 1918, required three phases, to complete the work in 1946.
In the main façade there are two 25m high lateral towers, culminated by a stone cross, which is also found in the dome and on the upper arches of the façade.
The decorative reasons would have antecedents in the medieval styles, baroque and in the own nature; influences that led the author to combine pebbles from the Vinalopó river, polychrome tiles, bricks, reddish colors, masonry, etc., which are reflected throughout the exterior of the building.
The interior is composed of a rectangular central nave with two attached side spaces, that is, an original base with the shape of a glass of ointment, a container with which, according to the Christian tradition, Mary Magdalene anointed the feet of Jesus Christ. In the background, in the apse, is the dressing room of Santa María Magdalena, copatrona de Novelda, and behind the altar we can admire a beautiful painting attributed to Gastón Castelló.
Novelda architecture is know for it’s Modernism design history, being an embellishment of arty and excessive shapes and curves with soft and delicate waves, where flower and vegetable elements are found. The Casa-Museo Modernista is a good example of this and well worth a visit. Here and around the town you will see this in sculpture, painting, printing, literature, music and other artistic spheres.
The local society developed towards a landowner upper class with their riches, political and social levels, the benefits obtained via the local agriculture, commerce and financial activities. With that wealth came ever more fancy building and decoration.
Curiously, in this town we find three of the best examples of the Modernist style in the Valencian areas: The Casa-Museo Modernista (24, Mayor St. – website here), the Centro Cultural Gómez- Tortosa (6, Mayor St.) and the Casa Mira (San Vicente St.), being the last one a private house and not open to visitors.
A local Dutch man called Jan has diligently been recording lots of local festivals and events for years to help the community and promote the area … like this one from the 2013 CorreFocs Firework Fiesta in Hondon de las Nieves.
His excellent work can be seen on YouTube but he now has his own video website “Hondon Home TV”. It is very good indeed and shows many a fiesta and social event for the area and well worth a look.
So well done to Jan and thank you for your excellent community spirit.
Almost without fail many Spanish cycle clubs visit the Hondón area each weekend. The local mountains are ideal for cycling, mountain bikes or walking enthusiasts. And Hondón has been part of the country’s major tour “Vuelta España” tour.
These are serious “peddle pushers”, all geared up, with bikes that probably cost a few months wages. They most often come over the very long and steep Albatera mountain ranges into the About the Hondón Valley. That’s one hell of a climb (even for a car) so it requires a very good level of fitness. They then stop off at the local bars and restaurants in Frailes & Nieves for refreshment and a rest. It gives the villages a real buzz on weekend mornings.
Now on to the coast ... Do you fancy a relaxing cycle ride overlooking the Mediterranean sea? This 26-km (16-mile) route from San Juan beach through El Campello village is ideal for bikers of all ages. Get to the finish line and cool down at Coveta Fuma cove before taking the tram back to the city center.
The Hondón Valley is to have a bumper grape harvest despite the reported activities of high numbers of wild rabbits! Harvest time does seem to vary a lot across the valley and Costa Blanca. Near Nieves it seems to be anywhere between September and New Year. The late grapes are used for the New Year Celebrations with ’12 grapes and champagne’.
The grape harvest creates about 10,000 temporary jobs across the Costa Blanca and local growers have had a good year, despite a new “plague” of wild rabbits which have threatened the harvest in some areas.
In the main they grow table grapes in the areas of Novelda, Aspe, Hondón de los Frailes, Hondón de las Nieves, La Montanosa Urb, La Romana, Monforte del Cid and Agost. (most wine grapes are grown further north in the Jumilla area).
You will see millions & millions of grapes wrapped in paper bags to protect the grapes until they are picked from September onwards.
Last year production in the Hondón region was more than 40,000 tons.
The Hondón Valley… A refuge! This quiet sanctuary is away from the pace, hassle and bustle of the world. The Hondon Valley is a beautiful Spanish neighbourhood nestling in between the mountains and less than one hour’s drive from the golden beaches of the Costa Blanca beaches.
It is a region which can trace it’s roots back to Roman Times, the stone terracing still surviving, although unused and overgrown on the mountain side give presence to that period. The small stone huts dotted around the landscape shows evidence of a later period, when men toiled the fields and these stone constructions were places to rest from their labour, or they were for the shepherd to shelter and to take a break whilst looking after the flock.
Most of this has now disappeared as the community has engaged on a different more relaxed way of life from its previous one of farming and horticulture, morphing into a holiday paradise. This has taken place since the turn of the century, when in the year two thousand, development started with the construction of detached houses on parcels of the urban area.
It was in 1840 that self independence of the valley began to develop when the controlling authority, at that time the Dominican Friars of Orihuela, granted self governing powers to the two Hondon villages of Frailes and further to the north Nieves, with the latter being the controlling one of the pair. This changed in 1926 when the two parted company and the smaller of the two with 12.6 square kilometres of land obtained self autonomy, and the two villages developed in their own way. Today the valley is a quaint mixture of farming, residential and holiday makers living side by side.
In January the blossom on the almond trees will extend across the valley spreading a vista of various colours of pink proliferating around the fertile land between the Spanish style detached properties, giving the general feeling of Spring, although it has not quite arrived, it gives the impression it is on the way.
Hondon in Bloom! As the early months of the year progress then other plants will follow suit when the early buds that have formed will turn into a blanket of foliage hiding the developing fruit of the vines which will be harvested, starting in September and on to the end of the year. In between this period, the fields of olive trees their crop will have matured and would have been gathered.
This valley, this refuge from the madness of the outside world, it is where the quiet relaxed pace of time is paramount to everyday living. The mixture of different people mainly north Europeans who have found the delights of this place in the clean air of the mountains making it their home, mixing in as one, creating a contented community with its self governing bodies controlling the smooth running of events. The street parties and the fiesta in July and August… not to be missed as people come from far and wide to see the spectacles and to enjoy the cuisine offered by its restaurants.
From their humble beginnings the two communities of the valley with their grand old Churches to the centre of each built and named by the Dominican Friars all that time ago. As the bells of these structures mark each hour the surroundings progress into the new age well equipped to welcome all who wish to live or holiday in its peaceful environment.