Ibi is the destination of choice for visitors who want to venture inland as an alternative to Mediterranean beaches.
The town stands at the base of the Teixereta mountain, between the hills of Santa Lucía and San Miguel, both with their hilltop chapels. Set in the countryside around the Hoya de Castalla trough, the town is surrounded to the north by the Sierra de Onil and Sierra Biscoy mountain ranges, to the south by the Sierra del Maigmó, to the east by the Sierra del Cuartel and Sierra Peñarroya and to the west by the Sierra de la Argueña and the Sierra del Reconco.
The local climate is Mediterranean but with a noticeable continental influence, with harsher winters than on the coast and not much rain.
Up to the 19th century the town’s main source of income was from farming, the craft industry of spinning and the sale of ice. This last activity gave rise to the ice-cream industry, which grew rapidly across the entire country, even spreading abroad.
Since the early 20th century, when the Payá brothers made the first toy, specialist factories and workshops have sprung up, both in Ibi and the surrounding area, earning it the name of Toy Valley.
When you explore its streets, you notice the different architectural styles and the unmistakable atmosphere of a Mediterranean town. As you walk around, you come across a varied collection of shops tempting you to treat your taste buds to new sensations.
The arrival of advanced technology and a move towards diversification have meant that the town also produces a wide range of plastic and metal items to supply other manufacturing industries.
The ethnographic attraction of Ibi’s industrial tradition is enhanced by its beautiful countryside, a perfect example of the ecosystems typically seen in the interior of the province of Alicante and an ideal place for a variety of mountain pursuits, such as hiking.
Ibi is also immensely proud of its traditions, sporting and cultural events, entertainment and festivals. There are some great festivals in Ibi, with amazing events taking place at various times of year.
Valencia Toy Museum
The Valencia Toy Museum is currently housed in Casa Gran during refurbishment work at the old Hermanos Payá factory, which will eventually be its definitive home. The factory still preserves the original machinery, equipment and tools used to make toys since 1902.
The museum displays an impressive collection of toys made in Ibi from the early 20th century, along with many items from other countries working in the same field.
Its appealing collection and its child-centred focus make it one of the most successful museums in the Community of Valencia, with visitor numbers in excess of 22,000 every year.
What els to see in Ibi
After visiting the museum, why not take a stroll around the town’s old quarter, known as Les Costeretes, where steep streets lined with traditional Mediterranean style houses lead to Plaça L’Esglesia.
The old part of town is a twisting series of steep narrow streets clinging to the side of Santa Lucía hill, at the top of which is the chapel in honour of the saint. From here you get some fantastic views over the town and it is one of Ibi‘s most iconic settings.
The Church of La Transfiguración del Señor, which you can reach easily wandering around Les Costeretes, stands on the site of an earlier building and was not completed until the 17th century. On either side of the main façade are two symmetrical towers and over the transept is a large dome covered with blue glazed roof tiles.
Inside, there are frescoes by Joaquín Oliet (1828) and wood carvings of the patron saints of Ibi, El Salvador and the Virgen de los Desamparados.
Also worth a visit is the chapel of Ermita de San Vicente, where you can admire some 16th century frescoes depicting the coronation of the Virgin and a beautiful carved and polychrome wood altarpiece.
A few metres away from Plaça L’Esglesia is the Municipal Archive, based in what was once a 17th century La Lonja marketplace.
In Plaça dels Geladors, on the edge of the old quarter, you can see Monument to Handmade Ice-Cream by the Galician sculptor Magín Picallo. It was placed here in 1991 to honour the profession and the early ice-cream making pioneers.
The toy making town of Ibi also has the only monument in the country to the Three Kings, in the square named after them.
Any of the streets bordering the old part of town lead to the popular Plaça la Palla, which used to be where all the town’s horses, stables and barns were concentrated, all seeking shade under the huge trees.
Nowadays, two large banana trees still stand as silent witnesses of the work and recreation of people in the town. This square also gives you the chance to try the handmade ice-cream sold here and see for yourself why it has been so popular for generations, both here in Spain and abroad.