Poble Nou de Benitatxell
Poblenou de Benitatxell is in the Marina Alta region. The hill of Alto de Llorença divides the municipal area into two distinct areas: the town itself, set in a landscape of gently terraced promontories and the rugged coast with high, sheer-sided cliffs dotted with tiny coves.
Although the coast around Benitaxell has some beautiful coves, such as Llebeig, Moraig and the nudist beach of Los Tiestos, the terrain is steep and difficult. Up to fairly recently, fishermen would sit with their rods and lines on precarious reed platforms hanging from the cliffs and reached by climbing down a rope ladder.
The first known record of the area dates back around 18,000 years, from what is known of the remains found in the Cova del Moro cave. A number of prehistoric, Iberian, Roman and Moorish sites describe how the area was occupied throughout these periods until the Catalan-Aragón conquest in 1244.
As a result of the ups and downs of history, the Alquería de Benitatxell estate fell into disuse, but it was refounded in 1698, hence its name Poble Nou de Benitatxell, meaning ‘new town of Benitatxell’. Throughout this long period, Benitatxell was part of the Marquisate of Denia.
These days, the cultivated landscape looks much the same as it did in the past, with almond trees and muscatel grape vines dotted with riuraus, traditional farming sheds where grapes are dried to make raisins.
The town stands on a hillock some way from the coast. It still looks very much like a traditional village and much of its activity is centred on tourism and on providing services to people living in the.
Cala del Moraig
This isolated cove is 250 metres long and 40 metres wide, with a beach consisting of rocks and pebbles. The cove is accessible by road and has visitor facilities.
Cova dels Arcs is at the south end of Cala del Moraig and is one of the best examples of karst system drainage in a landscape that has changed from being continental to submarine. The action of the waves has carved holes in the cave walls, forming coastal arches.
Falla del Moraig, otherwise known as Falla del Riu Blanc, is an example of a normal fault line that runs parallel to Cala del Moraig, passes through Cova dels Arcs and into the sea. If you take the road down to Cala del Moraig, on the right is a path that goes to a sinkhole, from where you can see a fault surface consisting of a spectacular, almost vertical striated rock wall. Its polished appearance and the striations formed by the rock sections rubbing together show the direction in which they moved.
El Moraig subterranean river, the Riu Blanc, is an upwelling from under the sea of salinated fresh water that comes from the Benissa acquifer. This cavity consists of a large gallery with a main channel running from it that branches out deeper into the sea bed. Exploratory dives by underwater cavers have mapped 2 kilometres of completely submerged channels reaching a depth of 60 metres under the sea. The outlet lagoon is next to the vertical wall of the Moraig fault.
What else to see in Nou Cala del Moraig
The main part of town stands on a promontory and still preserves the character and layout of a traditional Mediterranean town. Its basic structure is typical of Moorish towns: steep narrow streets winding over small hills and spurs. Together with the Church, the rear walls of the first houses used to form a walled enclosure with two single gateways, one of which, El Portalet, still survives today.
At the top of town, behind a small square, is the 18th century Church of Santa María Magdalena. It is magnificent inside, decorated in the Neo-Baroque style with classic features. The rough finish on the façade was added in 1954 and on the outside it has a simple and well-balanced appearance.
The Oratorio Jaime Llobell is a building comprising a small chapel, courtyard and some classrooms. It was built by the priest Jaime Llobell, who donated it in the late 19th century for providing help and life skills to the townspeople.
The town has a Covered Market fitted with stalls and open every day. Benitaxell‘s open-air market is held every Wednesday morning and is set up in the same street as the covered market.
The entire coastline near Benitaxell is fascinating. It has some lovely beaches and secluded coves, but its most striking feature is the rugged landscape with its rich variety of native plants and wildlife.
The coastline is also full of interesting places to visit, such as the Cuevas, little dry stone huts attached to the rocky cliff walls that one served as shelters for fishermen and farmers who came here to till the small strips of land along the cliffs. The huts were also used by smugglers to hide in while they waited for dinghies or sailing boats to arrive.
The caves are known by their owners’ names, Cova de Les Morretes, Cova del ti Domingo l’Abiar, Cova de Pepet del Morret and Cova del ti Toni el Senyalat.
The Pesqueras are equally interesting. They are a series of ropes and steps used for descending the cliffs to reach rocky ledges from where people would fish at night, as well as woven reed platforms clinging to the cliff face and secured using four lengths of rope. They were first put there in the late 19th and early 20th century. A boat trip around the coast is all you need to appreciate how vertiginous these constructions really are.