Guide to Abanilla

Guide to the village of Abanilla, located in the Murcia region of Spain.

Abanilla - Murcia - Spain

Abanilla – A Stroll Through History: Taking a stroll through the village of Abanilla is like taking a walk through the middle ages. Situated just inside the Murcia province Abanilla is situated on the MU 413 and can be reached by following the signs after turning off towards Benferri.

Largely undeveloped Abanilla epitomises the idea of a Spanish village where any development seems to be kept to the outside of the village. Here the bars and restaurants serve mainly Spanish cuisine and if you are an ardent shopper then this is not the place for you.

However, for the person interested in history and architecture then the village is a delight. Also for visitors appreciating nature’s flora and fauna Abanilla will not be disappointing. To take a stroll through the village a good starting place is the Painted House; an eighteenth century building which is of architectural interest. Following the road will take you to the village’s most impressive Ayuntamiento and on to the Parish Church of San Jose built in 1712. It is of Baroque design, however although the exterior is impressive take the time to enter the church to have a look at the wonderful artistic displays and paying particular attention to the magnificent altar piece it is well worth the effort.

The only public laundry in the Region of Murcia is preserved in the Plaza Purest and leading from there are the charming side streets displaying the village’s medieval origins. During the walk through Abanilla you will discover that you have been steadily going uphill and when you reach what the local people call the High Place you will see the remains of a Muslim fortress and the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Also on offer are magnificent views of the area.

Due to the excessively dry nature of the area the flora tends to be typically Mediterranean but because of the ravines with their shady wet outcrops many different varieties of flowers can be found including oleanders, reed-grasses cane and rushes together with Esparto which provides the raw material and is of great importance for the manufacture of footwear, fabrics and of course baskets. Rockroses can be seen in abundance and the wooded areas are mainly pine copses.

As for the fauna you will see frogs, reptiles and the leprous tortoise together with water snakes seen in the ravines and lizards. There is also something for birdwatchers as there are many varieties to be seen including the red partridge, the ring dove and the turtle dove. Look out also for the bee-eater with its flamboyant colours, the hoopoe (Upupa Epops) and the charcoal burner (Parus Major).

Abanilla has a long history and interestingly in the fifth century it had as its capital ‘An Oriola’ better known nowadays as Orihuela. The lands then changed hands many times; the Iberians, the Romans and the Moors have all left remains to be seen as proof of the village’s history. Following The Reconquest of the area the village was owned by Alfonso X and in 1264 he granted Abanilla to an Aragonese nobleman, Guillen de Rocafull to show his gratitude for the latter’s help in the campaigns to overthrow the Spanish Muslims, although his gift did not become effective until 1304.

Over the next two centuries the Catholic Kings, raised the status of the village to a town although we would still refer to it as a village and the economy depended on agriculture together with the manufacture of products made from the esparto.

Baskets and mats usually made by women supported the economy of the village and this handcrafted industry dates back to the Moorish times but it continued play an important financial role until the second half of the twentieth century when new technology and the common use of plastic gradually made this industry redundant.

Lace making has been kept alive however thanks to the Association Abanillera of Crafts of the Lace-Bobbin which is conscious of the need to pass this craft down to future generations.

For a village that has a great feeling for its past and where a warm welcome awaits the visitor then a trip to Abanilla will introduce you to a slightly slower more relaxed world which is very pleasant for a day or two.

Article provided by kind permission of The Leader Newspaper

Abanilla Links: Abanilla Map

Related: Orihuela - Benferri - Santomera - Albatera - Cox - Fortuna

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