Algemesí is located 32km away from Valencia city and it is next to the mouth of the Magro river into the Júcar river. It belongs to the region of the Ribera Alta del Xùquer, and it is the second largest town of these lands, with an approxiamte population of 28,000 inhabitants.
Its origins is in an Arabic hamlet which gradually grew into a village due to agriculture, blackberry exports and silk spinning. The name of this town comes from the Arabic language, but experts don´t agree on what word it derives from. There are many theories, some of them are:
- It can come from the Arabic word al-jameshi that means piece of land or meadow.
- It can come from the Arabic word al-gama az-zi that means distrit of the barges.
- It can come from the Arabic word al-jabazzin that means bakers.
- It can come from the Arabic word xemesí that means sunny balcony or viewpoint.
The first written mention the name of Algemesí was in the Llibre del Repartiment (book of repartition) of November 23, 1243. After the Christian Conquest of Alzira, Algemesí was donated to Bernardo de Suilols by King James I of Aragon. This hamlet belonged to Alzira from 1249 until 1574, when the University title was given it by King Philip II, and in 1608 it was awarded the Villa Real title (Royal Town) by King Philip III. In adittion, it was granted the royal privilege of governing with the collaboration of Alzira the Royal ditch of the Júcar river. Finally, in 1945 it received the title of City.
Algemesi is well-known for its festivity of La Mare de Déu de la Salut (Virgin of Health) that it was declared Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in November 2011, because its cultural value continues from generation to generation. This celebration dates back to 1247, when an image of the Virgin Mary was found within a mulberry tree trunk. The most important days of this festivity are 7 and 8 September, approximately 1,400 people participate in theatrical and musical performances which are organized in the four historic districts : Valencia, La Muntanay, Santa Bárbara and La Capella. They wear traditional and handmade costumes.
These pictures were extracted from Wikipedia
Religious parades are held and they run from the Basilica Menor de San Jaime to the Capella de la Troballa. The festivities beging with bell-ring from the basilica and later a parade is celebrated. In the evening, the Schola Cantorum Choir and orchestra perfom vespers at the basilica, followed bell-ringing, Els Misteris (religious theatrical pieces perfomed of short duration by children), and human towers are formed by muixeranguers. La Muixeranga is the most tourist attraction of Algemesi, which was documented in Llibre de Comptes de la Vila (the Account Register Book of the City) in 1733. There are two theories about the origin its name:
- It can come from the Arabic word mochain that means masked.
- It can come from mojigangas that were groups of disguised people with ridiculous and mocking clothings which took part in popular parties in the Castilian lands. In addition, in the Valencian lands dancer groups combined acrobatics with dance, and these perfromances were well-known as ball de valencians ( dance of Valencians) during the 18th century.
Originally, the group of muixeranguers was composed of aprproximately 30 men who were poor people, and they were directed by a mestre (master). Nowadays, this group consists of many hundreds of people, both men and women. They make human towers in different way, while the dolçaina and the tabal sound (the dolçaina is a traditional Valencian instrument and the tabal is a drum).
Moreover, if you like history and art, you can discover beautiful monuments in Algemesí. Some of them are:
- Basilica de San Jaime Apóstol (Basilica Minor of the Apostle Saint James): it was made in the 16th century by Domenech Gamieta in cooperation with Juan de Alicante, and Joan Matalí. This last architect mentioned, participated in the construction of Cullera wall that is a coastal city of Valencia province. In the altarpiece of the main altar, different scenes in Saint James´s life are represented. These paintings were made by the great master painter Francisco Ribalta. This building is listed as Asset of Cultural Interest since 1980.
- Museo de la Fiesta (festivity Museum): it is located in the ancient convent of San Vicente of the 16th century, and nowadays you can find the tourist office. Moreover, here you can discover the oldest festivals od the Region of Valencia, and an exhibition of the bullfighting week festival in Algemsí. This festivity dates back to the 17th century and it is held on 9 September. The peculiarity of this festival is the bull ring has a rectangular shape.
- Ermita de los Santos Abdón y Senén (Hermitage of Saints Abdon and Senen): it is a small baroque temple. It is located in the center city. It occupies the place of one of the former town gates. According to local legend, the construction of this temple is due to the promise was made by a Carlist who hid out in this place when he was fleeing Elizabethans. So, he was saved from being captured, and later he built this temple. But that is only a popular story, because this building dates from the 19th century.
- El Casino Liberal is a mordenist building (1911). At present, you can find a restaurant and a showroom here.
- La casa de la Vila (the town hall): a 19th century building with an eclecticist façade from 1902, and it is intefrated into the new City hall building.
- La capilla del Hallazgo (the Discovery Chapel): this hermitages is a neo-Gothic building. It was built over the remains of the ancient Romanesque church, where the image of La Mare de Déu de la Salut (the Virgin of Health) was found, according to the popular lengend.
- Ermita de San Onofre (Hermitage of Onofre) : it was built between the 16th an the 18th centuries. According to the traditional story, Saint Onofre appeared here in 1571. In the summer of 1936, during the Spanish Civil War, the interior of the hermitage was destroyed to turn it into a tavern. In the 1960s, the interior was restored.
- Ermita de Borrilles (Hermitage of Borrilles): it is a neo-Gothic building. It was a private oratory or chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary. It belonged to a farmhouse that no longer exists, and currently it is not used for worship.
- Monumento al organista Cabanilles (The Organist Cabanilles Monument): he was the son of a Mallorcan blacksmith. He became one of the most important organists and composer of Baroque music in Spain. This monument is situated close to the Capilla del Hallazgo.
- Monumento Baile de los labradores (Dance of Famers Monument): it is represented a traditional Valencian dance, and it is in Plaza del Carbó (Coal Square) that is an old crossroads and it next to the place in which the ancient Muslim hamlet located.
In addition, Algemesí is the only town of Ribera Alta region that is within the Albufera Natural Park. So, if you love nataure, you can visit:
- The Llacuna del Samaruc Natural Reserve covers a surface area of 12,000m2 . Here, you can find a small lake, native vegetation and fauna. The most illustrious resident, which gives its name to the lagoon, is the Samaruc, an autochthonous small fish (size between 5 and 7 cm) that is only found in a few Valencian wetlands and it is at risk of extinction.
- La Xopera is located at the confluence of the rivers Magro and Júcar, so here you can practise canoeing, hiking, and enjoy the lush landscape. Also, you can find a picnic area and a bar.
These are some of the many attractions you can find in Algemesí. Do you feel like discovering them?