Located only 50 km from Valencia town, you’ll find the pretty seaside town of Moncofa, which has Arabic roots. The population is a little under 6000, so in terms of a holiday destination it’s ideal for those who want to be somewhere that isn’t tiny, yet isn’t too large. Apart from its lovely beaches, Moncofa is also close to the natural Park of Sierra de Espadá. So if you appreciate nature like I do, it’s a nice relaxing spot to enjoy the Mediterranean on one hand, but also explore an area where you can see birds of prey, a wide range of tree species including cork, and other gifts from mother nature.
Moncofa has a number of marine parks on the shores of its sea, and it’s nice to notice that tourism has been developed, as much as possible in harmony with nature. You’ll find nice shady places to take a breather from the sun, plenty of green areas and recreation zones. Within the town centre, you also find greenery as well is orange groves, and of course pleasant spots where you can sit and watch the world go by.
Also the area encourages you to use a bicycle, between the actual layout and some of the routes can be done very pleasantly on a bike. For example you can cycle by the coast, on terrain that is quite flat, and in fact there’s a road the runs parallel to the Mediterranean, which connects around 30 km of coastline. Whether you decide to walk or use a bike, there is a diverse range of scenery to enjoy, which also includes the coastal area of l’Estanyol, which is a wildlife microreserve, since 2001. The area of 1.3 hectares contains some endemic endangered species of the Mediterranean coast.
Of course apart from enjoying the sun, sea, sand and other aspects of nature of this area, Moncofa also has some interesting monuments, as well as some delightful gastronomic offerings.
Moncofa has joined forces with five neighbouring towns – Vila-real, Burriana, Nules, La Vilavella, La Vall d’Uixó – each of them encouraging you to visit the other ones, and they pooled resources and produced some interesting tourism information, currently in Spanish.
Of course depending on how much time you have, and how active you wish to be during your holiday, the gorgeous city of Valencia is only 35 minutes drive away. Check out more about the city here – Valencia Travel Guide.
Moncofa has Arabic roots, and its town charter was granted in 1253 for 37 settlers to set up the town. A few centuries later, the seaside area of El Grau, was the scene of the Moors being expelled in 1609.
Today the town’s main activities are tourism, trade and agriculture, and ceramics and cardboard are also produced.
Things To Do
Murallas de Moncofa – Remains of the Town Walls of Moncofa
You can also see what remains of the town walls of Moncofa, which were built between 1330 and 1340, during the reign of Pere IV, to defend the town from bandits and pirates. There were two entrances one in the North, direction Nules, and the other to the South West – the Portal del Mar.
Vila Romana de l’Alquería – Roman Town of Alqueria
Located between orange trees, are the archaeological remains of a Roman farming town from the third century, along the via Augusta.
Playa Pedraroja – Red Pebble Beach
This is a blue flag beach, which is named after the smooth red pebbles that formed part of this coast, and is today enjoyed by holidaymakers. It is around 550 m long and 40 m wide. It has mostly fine sand but there are also pebbles.
Playa Grao – Grao Beach
Being closest to the town, this was the first beach which was urbanised and used to be inhabited mainly by families from the area, as well as fishing families, who would visit during the summer to enjoy the peaceful beaches, and some parties. During the height of the season, there are a range of sporting and cultural events, which take place in this beach area. It’s also a lovely place to watch romantic sunrise.
Playa Belcaire – Belcaire Beach
This beach is named after the River which flows into it, and these days it is well known because of its bars and activities, which attract plenty of young people during the summer nights. There is also a Marina where you can enjoy watersports.
Playa Masbó – Masbo Beach
Like an oasis on the seashore, this beach has pantries and tamarinds, and is named after the freshwater lake that occupies part of it inner channel. In the old days part of its area was the old camping of Moncofa, for tourists would visit during the 1970s. These days it’s a combination of sports fields, parkland and wide streets.
Torre Vigía de Beniesma – Beniesma Watchtower (Also called Torre Forçada o Caiguda)
This watchtower was built before the Moors were expelled, in 1609, but today you can only see its rooms. It was originally built as part of a system of watchtowers which were constructed along the coast to protect against pirates and various attacks.
Iglesia Parroquial de Santa Mª Magdalena – Parish Church of St. Mary of Magdalene
Built in 1698, on the site of where a small church which dated from 1329 lay, the parish church of Moncofa is dedicated to St Mary Magdalene. The facades shows a transition between the Valencia and styles of the Baroque and neo-Classical, although the old altarpiece was preserved. In 1796 the presbytery was renovated in neo-classical style.
Fuente Modernista – Modernist Fountain
Outside the church you can see this lovely modernist fountain, which was built in 1925 – it’s beauty is highlighted with dramatic lighting.
Ermita de Santa Mª Magdalena – Hermitage of Saint Mary of Magdalene
This Hermitage was built to commemorate the thanksgiving of the seafaring folk for the arrival by sea of an image of Mary of Magdalene.
Interesting Free Tourist Routes
In 2013, the tourist board started running some free routes which intertwine archaeology, architecture, nature and as mentioned previously… cycling, which really is highly encouraged in Moncofa. Due to their success, in 2014 they were being continued with 12 such tours scheduled for the months of July and August. These tours are directed by archaeologists, who belong to the only company which is dedicated to archaeological tourism in Valencia, Arqueocas. For those of us interested in these subjects, this innovative tourist initiative is extremely welcome.
On 5th July 2014, the season will start with The Medieval Historic Moncofa Cycling Route, which will be other routes, which even include an Orange Route as well as a Night Walk. If you are planning to visit the area in July or August, do check with the tourist office. You will need to contact them first, and they will give you a form to fill in for whichever route who wish to go on.