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.
It’s OPEN! The “NEW” but late Corvera Airport (Murcia International) is about a 1 hour drive from the Hondon Valley. This now gives Hondón residents and local visitors more options for flights (see below), travel and indeed promises to open up the Spanish property and work market. (Note in April 2019 there is a proposed name change to Juan de la Cierva Airport – [ link ])
WEBSITE: https://www.corveraairporttravel.com/ GOOGLE MAPS: https://goo.gl/maps/YaswKLAnxHPN8v3R6
The village of Corvera is 25 minutes inland between the cities of Murcia, Costa Calida and Cartagena so tourists and homeowners on the coast like the Mar Menor and in Orihuela Costa will have a longer transfer time than they did from old airport atSan Javier. However, the increased choice of airlines and the frequency of flights should more than make up for this.
Of course it is still early days as to how this airport will impact on both tourism and the regional property market, but we are hopeful and excited as Hondón Villas have noticed over the last year or so, more property enquiries and listings towards that way.
Sadly, it has meant the small (military) San Javier airport has now ceased all commercial operations. And the promised Paramount theme park will not be built near-by, due to the long delays. Alicante Airport remains more convenient to our local area (about 35 minutes). However, Corvera airport still promises to become a major gateway to south east Spain (Murcia and Alicante regions). However the early signs are that Air services are slowly taking shape, as is the on-site facilities.
Having lived in Spain for about 15 years now we know Corvera was on the radar back then. But, sadly, Corvera has had a chequered history. Many businesses invested in the area on the strength of this important infrastructure and the proposed economic boost, particularly for the golf resorts, hospitality & entertainment industries. The airport started construction about 10 years ago and took 4 years to build. So sadly, it stood idle for 6 years despite many commercial and political attempts to get the airport up and running mush sooner.
The good news: in January 2019, the Murcia International Airport in Corvera was opened by King Felipe of Spain. The occasion was marked by the touch-down of its first commercial flight – a Ryanair service from the East Midlands.
It would seem for the immediate future the airport will cater for northern Europeans coming to Spain, their key market. Like Ryanair, EasyJet has also launched UK flights to Murcia International and other airlines due to start routes include TUI, Norwegian Air and Jet2. The frequency will be ramped up in time for the summer 2019. There are plans and capacity to take flights from other international links and further afield. Also the airport can take larger aircraft than San Javier which should mean more visitors to the area.
As for Corvera airport facilities, these are sparse at the time of writing but will increase as traffic improves. Covering 37,000 square metres, there are 24 check-in counters, 9 boarding gates, a few shops, cash machines, wi-fi, parking, taxis, bus services, car hire and hotel possibilities. [ Visit the Corvera website for up-to-date details of facilities and flights ] If you use the airport let us now what you think?
Airlines & Destinations (as of May 2019)
Airlines Operating From Corvera (RMU) Air Nostrum : Easyjet : Norwegian Air : Ryanair : Jet2 : TUI : Volotea : Smartwings
2019 Destinations (check with your airline): EasyJet: London Gatwick & London Southend & Bristol Ryanair: London Stansted & London Luton Manchester & East Midlands & Birmingham Leeds Bradford & Bournemouth Dublin & Glasgow Prestwick Jet2: Leeds Bradford & Manchester Norwegian Air: Oslo & Stavanger & Bergen & Trondheim Tui: Antwerp & Charleroi Volotea: Asturias Smartwings: Prague
As real estate agents for the area we like to know the general trends and demographics of the Hondon Valley area. Well, the Spanish Institute of National Statistics (INE) and the Alicante government publishes annual figures on the population (births, deaths, marriages, migration, etc) of it’s towns and cities. E.G. this page is for Hondon de las Nieves published 29 Jan 2019.
http://documentacion.diputacionalicante.es/4hogares.asp?codigo=03077 or you can do your own reports on the www.ine.es website <
Figures here are based* on the Padron registrations, however experience suggests that the figures will not be wholly accurate (lower) as many of the foreign influx do not register or forget to re-register on the Padron, particularly when changing address.
So using the Hondón de las Nieves figures (rounded up/down for ease) as an example for 2018 we can see that Nieves village had nearly 2,500 people on their Padron. The Padron register suggests that the overall population has decreased a few % over the last 3 years but again is that due to inertia of signing the Padron, deaths or some migration away or maybe less influx of foreigners / Brexit? There are some clues in the figures but no reasons given.
Age Span: It may come as no surprise that over 50% of these Hondon residents are over 50 years of age. Nieves has 5 people over 95 but less that 200 are under age 19.
Sex Span: The spilt of male (1,256) and female (1,218) is slightly in favour of men for this Hondon village.
Nationality and Birth: Nearly 1,600 people were born in Spain. Nieves has a 98% European population with about 900 as Extranjeros (foreigners). That number is down on other years. Why?
The figures of country split I looked at seem to omit the Dutch and Belguique. However, some working out would suggest that the Brits, Dutch and Belguique make up most of the foreign population in Nieves. But there are also a few German, French, Italians from the EU but about 40 Russian, Asian and South Americans amongst the population.
So Hondon de las Nieves is about 36% foreigners according to these recent stats. Which seems lower than most people would guess. What do you think?
Historically, the European influx was strongest after the 2008 crash! 2012/2013 shows the highest EU populas to number about 1,420. However that is a total but per year. e.g. in 2007 235 foreigners arrived but 2017 (ten years later) that was down to 79. It would appear we lost about 500 foreigners between then and 2018? From a real estate view point that would suggest there is lees of the property pie to serve which contrasts with our sales records over the last 5 years! We’ll try to puzzle that one out later.
Well now we know at least some basic population facts for Hondon de las Nieves… we’ll look at the Frailes figures soon. It’ll be interesting to compare Frailes with Nieves. Thank you for reading.
*NOTES: Any figures here are interpreted from the official INE stat’s and only for general interest, rounded up and not for re-publication or official in any way. it’s also worth noting that most of us regard the area as the Hondon Valley which includes many small towns and villages as a population so the Nieves stats cannot reflect the true picture of the valley or does it?
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.
Well at least the Noel Edmonds TV quiz of the same name was entertaining and understandable! As for Brexit? Well we are still nervously waiting to fully know how Brexit will affect us Expats in Spain. Although a lot of positive bulletins have been confirmed, all we can do now is watch the news and keep as up-to-date as possible.
Yesterday Jan 31st 2019 they broadcast live via Facebook on the latest Brexit news and answered many questions from concerned people. it was very informative and well presented, albeit an hour long. Well worth a watch as it should answer common concerns or point you on to further information. Login to Facebook to see this here: https://www.facebook.com/BritsInSpain/
Living In Spain Information
The British Embassy are also making a lot of information available to Expats in Spain via their “Living In Spain” series of articles on the UK Gov website: www.gov.uk/guidance/living-in-spain . This includes useful information about residency, driving, healthcare, tax and working and so much more. You really should read and bookmark this site if you are already or wanting to be an Expat in Spain.
So check out the official information British people moving to and living in Spain need to know.
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.