Leisure time

Halloween is a holiday that is celebrated on 31 October and today, although its origin is very different, is intended for young people, who, during the eve of this day, come to the doors of their neighbours with the famous trick or treating for sweets and candy. This festivity, of Anglo-Saxon origin, is celebrated in many parts of the world such as the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Spain, and in much of Latin America. But do you know the history of Halloween? We decided to investigate the origin of this day to tell you all you need to know about Halloween.

Halloween is a contraction of the English for All Hallows’ Eve and in Spanish means All Saints Eve. The origin of this feast we find in the Samhain, a former Irish festival which celebrated the end of the season, giving way to what they called the Celtic New Year.

During this time, there were many who thought that the Celts Samhain opened a door with another world that hosted the ghouls, some with good intentions and others with not so good… It was here where the tradition of trick or treating originated, through the expansion of an ancient Celtic legend. According to this, the spirits could roam freely, and among them all, there was one particularly evil that called at the doors of the villagers, offering two options: on the one hand, was the trick, by which the spirit would trigger a series of misfortunes against anyone who selected this Option. On the other hand, there was the possibility of choosing a treat, which consisted of a pact with the spirit, an agreement to not perform any evil.  At the same time, the legend also tells us that the villagers used pumpkins which they customized into horrific forms, to ward off evil spirits.

Today children choose between tricks, causing mischief, or treats, thus receiving a generous amount of candy. Pumpkins, known as Jack-o’-lantern, are very popular today.

And this is how a feast of many centuries has evolved with the passage of time up to what we understand today as Halloween.

How do you celebrate this feast?

See you in the next post of Quieroplaya.com!

The processions of Holy Week (Easter) are eagerly awaited by the Spanish because of the atmosphere during those days. Mystery, tradition, music and a familiar mood are present. The Holy Week festivities begin on Palm Sunday and continue with various processions.   However, do you really know its history?

A procession is a religious parade in which people take a walk on foot in honour to Jesus, the Virgin and the Saints. Its origin dates’ back to Athens and Rome where this kind of cult unto the Holy Gods was celebrated. Jews also did it. One of the main characters of this festivity is the so-called “thrones” showing the scenes of the New Testament. The scenes are related with the Passion of the Christ and devoted to Jesus Christ, the Virgin, the Saints or the Apostles. They are perfectly sculptured and each of the facial gestures are perfectly captured.

First processions were practised indoors due to the fear of persecution; it was from the XV and XVI centuries when mendicant orders started to incorporate the cult to the town through dramatic performances. Furthermore, the Council of Trent (represented by the senior positions who dealt with Catholic issues) made these processions to gain importance. Why? Mainly because religious authorities realised that it helped the evangelization of  Christianity and made the people feel like taking part in it. Nowadays, in order to free them from their sins as well as to show their repentance decide to hold the processions. Some others do it because of promises made to God.

Aside from that, in Spain there are certain areas like “Andalucia” where the Holy Week is celebrated with more emphasis. In Alicante, the ones from “Orihuela” are given special importance as well.  If we had to remake any of the processions, we would say that the Good Friday one is the biggest.

In Alicante, it is highlighted a procession for the Maundy Thursday, where one of the biggest thrones of Spain is shown. It is 11,5m tall, 5,5m wide and weighs 3.000kg. We are talking about “la Pontificia, Real, Ilustre, Venerable y Salesiana Hermandad Sacramental de la Santa Cena” that represents the Lord’s Dinner. In fact, there is real food donated by the Central Market of Alicante and once the procession is finished, food is given to people in need.  Secondly, it is also a must to see one of the oldest processions of the city “la Hermandad del Santo Sepulcro” that begins at 20.30h in the “Cathedral de San Nicolás”.

We hope you liked this, and of course, you learned something else about this festivity. From quieroplaya.com we encourage you to see one of the greatest representations of the Spanish Folklore.

See you soon!

Nice to see you all again! Today we visit one of the places which was awarded the Heritage of Humanity 17 years ago, located in Elche and considered  its most important place. El Palmeral.

El Palmeral contains around 200,000 palm trees and covers 500 hectares in the city centre.  It is the biggest palm tree park in Europe and is used for agricultural purposes.  It’s origin dates back to the Muslim occupation in the 7th century, when Elche was created.

It was loved from the very beginning, in fact, the first laws protecting it were created in the Medieval Age.  It was King Jaime 1 who avoided its destruction in 1265.  You may be asking why would anyone want to eliminate it?  Well…. It was associated with the Muslim empire and there were some who wanted it destroyed.

Nowadays, in order to get the most from the visit, we recommend you follow the 2.5km route, to enjoy the splendour of the park.  The route starts and ends in “Huerto de San Placido”, where there is a museum.  The museum offers, amongst many activities and pictures, interactive elements, such as videos that help us to discover the history of this place.

Among the plant species to be found here, we highlight the “Phoenix Dactylifera.  Thanks to this, we can enjoy a meal called “Las Delicias de Elche” made from the dates with bacon and almonds.

However, among the palm trees, the most remarkable is the “Imperial Palm Tree”, which owns its name to the Empress Isabel de Baviera (Sissi) and has the shape of a candelabra.  It is 165 years older than the 200 years which most palm trees live.

Regarding the plots of land, the most important is known as Huerto del Cura.  Its name is due to the owner: The Chaplain Jose Castano Sanchez.  This garden is approximately 13,000 m2 with not only 1,000 palm trees, but also pomegranate, lemon and fig trees.

Unfortunately, the landscape is at risk of the presence of larvae from the Red Weevil.  This specie is extremely harmful for the trees as it eats the stem of the plants.  Fortunately, an exhaustive disinfection process was carried out and this seems to be helping the plants, although there is still a lot to do.

We hope you found this article interesting.  Enjoy your day.

 

QUIEROPLAYA-CASTILLO SANTA BARBARA

Once again, we get immersed in one of the most important historic memorials in the province, the Santa Bárbara´s Castle. We can find this great fortress over the Benacantil mountain, which has an altitude of 181,54 metres. From there, we can see the whole Alicante’s harbour and its surroundings. It is considered an advantage as it gives, or used to give to the castle, a high strategic value.

This fort dates back to the XI Century, times where Alicante was under the Muslim domination. However, we can also find archeologic ruins from the Bronze Age, the Iberian Period, and Roman Period too, inside thes lopes of the so-called Benacantil mountain.

The fortress’ name is given by the King “Alfonso X El Sabio” due to the fact that very same day they took the castle, it was the Bárbara’s Saint day, on December the 4th, year 1248. Afterwards, it was in 1296 when King Jaime II seized the castle for his reign, for the “Corona de Aragón Reign”. A century later, Pedro IV “El Ceremonioso” ordered to rebuild the area, and at the beginning of the XVI Century, it was King Carlos I who ordered to build a fortress.

However, it was during the Felipe II reign when the significant reforms were made. That renovation took place at the end of the 16th c and was done by Juan Bautista Antonelli and Jorge Palearo.

In the year 1691, Alicante was bombed, which did affect the Castle Fortress. The attacks happened as a consequence of the war between France and Spain, since our country was involved in the so called “Liga de Augsburgo” where different countries were also involved: England, Austria, Holland, Bavaria, Germany and Savoy. At the moment of the attack, military tactics were weak in Alicante.

Santa Bárbara’s castle has witnessed many battles, such as War of Succession (1706-1709) and the frigate “Numancia”, where rebels from Cartagena assaulted the province and leaving it in very poor conditions.

In 1963, the castle opened its doors to the public, since it really was in an abandon situation. In addition, the two existent elevators allowed to gain access to the fortress in an easy and convenient way. They allow people to be raised to 142,70 metres of altitude. If we desire to go up the elevador, we need to go through a tunnel of 204,83 metres. It is just in front of the Postiguet beach.

From within the castle there are three different areas. Firstly, at the top we find “La Torreta” which is one of the ancient remains. Secondly, we can also find the “Sala Noble” that in its beginning was a hospital. Thirdly, there is a big esplanade named “Macho del Castillo” where the early citadel was placed.

We recommend you to visit the second mentioned area, since there, we can visit the most relevant buildings which were finished in 1580. In addition, we would have the privilege of seeing the ruins of the Santa Bárbara’s chapel, the “Cuerpo de guardia” and the “Baluarte de la Reina”

To finish, we shall include that it is the third area where we have the opportunity to know the “Revellín del Bon Repós” which is meant to be the parking, but where also, it is the militar monument of the General captain of Filipinas and New Mexico; Féliz Berenguer de Marquina.

Then, if we want to access to this castle we can both, take the elevator, placed in the Avenue Juan Bautista Lafora, 03002 or drive on the road. This last is for free and is located in Vázquez de Mella Street, 03013.

In order to use the elevator we have to pay, in exception of the pensioners who can do it for free as long as they have the pensioner’s accreditation.

Listed below we add the necessary contact as for visiting the castle, timetables and prices.

The prices and any other information we think relevant:

-Telephone number: 965 147 160

-Email: castillo.santabarbara@alicante.es

Thank you very much, we will continue informing you in future posts.

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Zenia Boulevard shopping center of Orihuela Costa has more than 150 establishments, characterized by their diversity, quality and price. Among them are Zara, Alcampo, Decathlon, Primark, Leroy Merlin, Conforama, Norauto, Media Markt, Lefties, H&M, C&A and Massimo Dutti, among others. In addition, we have at our disposal several exclusive stores like Guess, Geox, Vía di Milano (Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, Valentino…), Astoria (Meex, Hugo Boss, Calvin Klein) and Z&A (Tommy Hilfiger and Lacoste). And for children, we have Tutto Picolo, Mayoral, Zippy and Baby Center Pekes, among others. However, Zenia Boulevard is a lively shopping centre, constantly adapting to the trends of international consumption, which leads it to incorporate new establishments and services periodically.

 

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Spanish and international cuisine

As far as restaurants are concerned, Zenia Boulevard offers food and drink establishments such as Muerde la Pasta, Burger King, Lizarrán, 100 Montaditos, Wok Center, Foster’s Hollywood, Rice and Pizzas Good Rices, Tommy Mel’s , Subway, Ché! Argentino, Tagliattella or the Dos Hermanas tapas, Ché! Ristorante Italiano, among others.

No doubt, Zenia Boulevard shopping centre of Orihuela Costa is the perfect place to shop, walk and have fun with our loved ones.

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Do you live in Orihuela Costa, are you on holidays near the beaches of Orihuela or just live nearby? In this post we offer you an alternative to enjoy your free time in an open shopping centre located between the provinces of Alicante and Murcia. It is La Zenia Boulevard.
Designed as if it were a coastal and friendly town, Zenia Boulevard’s streets, squares and fountains celebrate daily events that enliven customers and visitors, while encouraging shopping, have breakfast, lunch or dinner.

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Its location and proximity to the La Zenia beach allows you to see from its terraces the horizon of the Mediterranean Sea in which all the range of blue so characteristic of this area of Spain are merged.
In addition, the shopping centre of Orihuela Costa offers a free activity park for exercise, children’s and relaxation areas, a giant screen to watch sporting events and interesting documentaries, as well as La Zenia Bowling, the Casinos of the Mediterranean and a stage destined to celebrate concerts and free performances.
The timetable is from 10:00a.m. to 10:00 p.m. in the winter and until 23:00 a.m. in summer. However, the area of bars and restaurants as well as the hypermarket and underground parking have specific schedules that you can consult here.
In the next post: Which shops and restaurants can we find at the Zenia Boulevard shopping Center?

Puerta de Tabarca

In our previous post, we realised that Tabarca Island is a treasure within reach of the many visitors to nearby cities such as Benidorm, Alicante, Santa Pola, La Marina, Guardamar, Torrevieja and Orihuela Costa. It is located in the Mediterranean Sea, just 8 kilometers from the port of Santa Pola and 22 kilometers from Alicante. These are two of the main cities from where daily, in summer, ships sail from their ports to reach the tabarca coast. But it is also accessible from the ports of Torrevieja and Guardamar.

While our boat is approaching to Tabarca, we begin to see small coves and beaches with clear waters, and the fishing port where we can dock our boat or speedboat.
Amongst the island’s tourist highlights are a wide range of restaurants, whose specialty is the traditional caldero (stew), the typical dish of the island. Undoubtedly, the local fish are the main ingredient in the tabarcan kitchen: All types of rice including black rice and noodles.

A visit to Tabarca invites you to walk through it’s ancient walls and enter the different ports of Levante or San Rafael; Trancada or San Gabriel; la da Tierra, Alicante or San Miguel. Other beautiful places that are well worth a visit is the Church of St. Pedro and St. Pablo, the Tower of San Jose and the Tabarca Lighthouse and the New Tabarca Museum, located in the Almadrava building.

The main celebrations of Tabarca held on 29th of June, coinciding with the day of San Pablo and San Pedro. However, especially July and August are the months with the highest number of visitors to this small Alicantian island which has less than 100 inhabitants.

And for those who enjoy diving, Tabarca Island offers a friendly and environmental marine reserve with more than 1.400 hectares of crystal clear waters surrounding the island. It was declared, on 14th April 1983, the first marina reserve in Spain. No doubt, this is a spectacular marine haven for flora and fauna both located in this privileged environment of the Mediterranean Sea. The flora that can be found in its waters is mainly composed of sea beds with green and red algae. And the marine life is given by numerous shoals of groupers, dots, chernes, dentones, gilt-head bream, snappers, salpas and obladas. And sometimes you can spot nacre lobsters, gornorias, sea urchins, starfish, sponges and loggerhead turtles. In the best case, even friendly dolphins.
Everyone wanting to dive should have included in their travel bag, diving goggles and snorkel.

Iglesia de Isla Tabarca

Only 30 hectares, 1.800 meters long and 450 wide, Tabarca Island, or also known as Isla Plana or New Tabarca. It is the largest island in Valencian Community, and in turn the only inhabited island of the Levantine autonomous community.

Locally known as Tabarca Island it is near La Cantera, La Galera and Neo islets, and together form the Tabarca archipelago, a spectacular ocean, scenic and historic settlement located in the Mediterranean Sea, very close to Santa Pola.

During the fifteenth century is was known as other names like Planesia, Planaria, Plana, Santa Pola Islet or San Pablo Island and was a refuge for Barbary pirates. In the eighteenth century, King Carlos III ordered its fortification, and the uprising of the people of Tabarca to accommodate large families of fishermen from Genoa who had been captivated in Tabarka, a Tunisian city.

Example of its architectural beauty, is the fact that its beautiful walls were declared a Historical and Cultural Interest Property last 27th of August of 1964.

More information about Tabarca Island here.

Many visitors from Finestrat and surrounding areas go to Calpe to visit one of the most lovely, tourist and natural landscape sites in Costa Blanca. Only a little more than 30 minutes from this beautiful seaside town is Mediterranean Garden Luxury Villas Residential by Mahersol located in Finestrat.

The Natural Park of Ifach Rock is undoubtedly the most representative icon of Calpe and one of the favourite spots for people who enjoy the pleasure of living in Costa Blanca. Something similar happens to tourists visiting our area, returning to their homes are also amazed and love the environment of nearby towns such as Altea, Alfàs del Pi and L´Albir, and the majestic views of the Mediterranean Sea and all its attractions.

The magnificence of Ifach Rock is given by its location at the foot of Mediterranean Sea and its altitude, it reaches 332 meters above the sea level. Therefore, on clear days we can see from its peak Formentera island and even the Cape of Santa Pola.

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Ifach Rock in Calpe

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Views from the Ifach Rock (Calpe)

Natural and environmental richness of Ifach Rock is immeasurable because there are more than eighty bird species living there, besides its rich and diverse flora and fauna. Of all the species the main highlight is the yellow-legged seagull, plus numerous specimens of gannets, kestrels, hawks, peregrine falcons and pallid swifts.

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Yellow-legged seagull nest on the seafront of access to Ifach Rock

In the excursion to Ifach Rock we must visit the city of Calpe, crossing its typical maritime streets as well as its most representative places like the Fish Market, its Iberian influence of Termas y Baños de la Reina, la Vila de Ifac y el Torreó de la Peça. Also it is a must to visit the beaches and coves with their clear water. And for nature lovers, it is essential to walk along the Prince of Asturias ecological promenade and the path that ascends to the summit of the Rock with numerous hiking trails and mountain biking also wetlands of Las Salinas de Calpe.

Ciudad Quesada market is celebrated on Sundays. It is especially interesting for people who, given their work and professional commitments, cannot do their shopping during the week, and is very convenient for all those who live in the area of Ciudad Quesada, Doña Pepa, Lo Marabú, Montebello, Monteazul, Lomas de la Juliana, Montemar Castle, Algorfa, Formentera and surrounding areas.

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Fresh quality produce at a substantially cheaper price are a large part of this market which is situated next to the AP7 motorway (exit Torrevieja North) and the CV-940 passing through the industrial sector VIII.

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Fresh fruit and vegetables, fresh bread, sweets and typical locally baked pastries, fresh cut flowers, cleaning products, clothing, accessories, decorative objects and furniture, antiques and traditional artefacts of the area including baskets and bags are also available in this fantastic market. As well as all the above products the market has many amenities which include, free parking, public toilets, and small bars where you can freshen up or enjoy typical dishes of the area.

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