Picture of the Week

10 June 2022

Week 21: a visit to Santa Faz, and cycling

Filed under: — Administrator @ 05:54

Lots of work during the week, so most of the photos in this week’s blog were made while out cycling and during the weekend.

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Sunday morning I cycled to Santa Pola, and stopped at the Urbanova beach for a short break. The sun had risen but was still pretty low, creating a somewhat weird contre-jour scene:
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The fishing harbour in Santa Pola, the source of some of the world’s best fish which we buy in our local supermarkets:
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Along the road from Santa Pola back towards Alicante there is a tiny chapel dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary. I sometimes stop there for a break, but often there is someone praying, so I try to be considerate and not disturb them. But this time there was nobody, so I could explore the place a bit:
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The plaque explains that the chapel was rebuilt by the locals in 1946. What is not stated is how it was destroyed, but one can only assume that it happened during the Civil War when many churches and monasteries were attacked by the Republican side due to their association with Franco:
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The sign asks people to not leave candles outside due to the danger of brush fires:
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Instead, a caretaker puts candles and flowers inside the chapel, which is not much bigger than the master bathroom in my house:
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Since the last time I was here, some German visitors had left this small commemoration for a deceased relative, presumably:
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On the way home, a couple of km north of my office, there was a small rally by people living the neighbourhood. They want the city to provide access to the beach across the railroad tracks that currently prevent it. This is very much the low-rent neighbourhood of central Alicante, and I have a lot of sympathy with their demands–we who live north of the city have great beaches, while those south of the centre have to drive or walk a long detour to access the sea:
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About 3 km from our place, there is a monastery called Santa Faz (“holy face” in Valenciano), which houses an important relic, a piece of cloth supposedly used to wipe Jesus’s face on the cross. It has been here for more than 500 years, and every year there is a huge procession from the centre of Alicante to the monastery. I missed it this year, when it was held for the first time since 2019 for reasons we all know, since I was in France on the day. But this week I went by to visit the place. This is the square in front of the monastery:
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There is a water source on the square, and while I was there, a man on a bicycle stopped by to fill several large bottles:
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Around the monastery there are lots of nice urban houses and murals:
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The people in the area get into the spirit (no pun intended):
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Commemorative tiles from several years’ pilgrimages:
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Most of the houses around the monastery are nicely renovated, with a couple of exceptions:
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As you enter the monastery, the first room is a small shrine which houses the relic. The cloth was brought here from Rome in the 15th century. As it was being carried towards Alicante, the priest carrying it suddenly felt a great weight and noticed a tear flowing from the eye of the face whose outline could be seen. This was the first miracle of Santa Faz, and the monastery bearing the same name was erected on this very spot. The relic is taken out once a year, for the outdoor mass celebrated on the square in front of the monastery at the end of the procession:
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This is a wooden cross commemorating another 15th century miracle. Two mortal enemies reconciled upon hearing of the miracle of Santa Faz:
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Collection box:
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The ceiling of the shrine:
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The main chapel, built in its current form in the 18th century:
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The altar:
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Here is something that really surprised me. A plaque in the main chapel lists the various heads of the Spanish state who have visited it, including the dictator Franco. In other countries such a name would be expunged, but not here–there was a strong connection between the Catholic church and the Franco regime, and there is still a right-wing, nationalist segment of the population that looks back to those days with a certain amount of veneration (fortunately, a small minority):
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Back to cycling. One of my standard weekend routes is to cycle north along the coast to Villajoyosa. Just before entering the town, there a wonderful secluded beach called Playa Bol Nou:
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Playa Bol Nou is separated from the main beach of Villajoyosa by a stretch of rock formations, and as a result, it is used mainly by the locals:
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The distance from my home to Playa Bol Nou is about 23 km, but in straight line across the bay it is much shorter, and El Campello and Alicante are clearly visible:
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And I finish on my own beach, Playa Muchavista, 500 meters from my house. I went down there to have a beer on the promenade Saturday afternoon, and noticed the role reversal on the play structure in the sand:
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