Benijófar no es una ciudad española común. Es uno de los lugares más emblemáticos de la Vega Baja, en un enclave estratégico y comercial desde la antigüedad. Sus orígenes se remontan a su pasado árabe hace más de 500 años. Su nombre deriva del árabe para «Hijo de Jófar», que significa literalmente perla. En 1582, aparece por primera vez como un asentamiento que pertenecía a la jurisdicción de Orihuela, comprado por el Colegio de Predicadores.
Su influencia en la región se hizo evidente cuando a fines del siglo XVII, la ciudad lidera la recuperación de la región, tanto social como económica, cuando la tierra fértil en Benijófar y sus alrededores se ocupó como nunca antes.
En 1729 se reconoció oficialmente como una localidad bajo el «Decreto Alfonso» que permitió que la ciudad se convirtiera en un municipio independiente en el corazón de la provincia de Alicante.
El pueblo de Benijófar se encuentra en la costa sureste de España, a solo 10 minutos de las playas de arena blanca de Guardamar y cerca de la Sierra de Orihuela, un área que se conoce como el valle inferior del río Segura.
Los alrededores de esta región están formados por tierras agrícolas tradicionales, impresionantes escenarios naturales que resultan en una de las localidades representativas de la provincia, una joya, se podría decir, de la Costa Blanca. De hecho, el mismo nombre de Benijofar se origina del árabe «hijo de la perla», haciendo de Benijófar la perla real de la Costa Blanca.
Esta pequeña / gran localidad al sur de la provincia de Alicante está formada por 4.200 habitantes y está a solo 8 kms. de las playas de Guardamar. Sus habitantes, aunque muchos son del norte de Europa, son muy activos en las actividades diarias de la localidad, mezclándose en las calles estrechas de la parte más antigua de la ciudad y disfrutando de la relajada vida mediterránea.
¿Qué visitar en Benijófar?
• Los Huertos:
En las orillas del río Segura hay un área de aproximadamente 85 hectáreas de tierra fértil donde crecen verduras como alcachofas, papas y brócoli, regadas por el antiguo sistema de agua diseñado por las costumbres que se asentaron en la región hace siglos.
El agua que riega estos campos es movida por una rueda de agua recientemente renovada en las afueras del municipio.
• La rueda del agua:
La rueda de agua de Benijofar data del siglo XVII y es un símbolo de la agricultura local. La rueda de agua forma parte de un grupo de estructuras históricas de las que también forma parte el molino harinero de Formentera.
La rueda de agua original fue sustituida por una versión de hierro en el siglo XIX con una rueda de 7,7 m de diámetro que puede mover alrededor de 80 litros por segundo.
•The Green Trek:
There is an enchanting yet easy trekking route that starts in the area called “Path of the Rafaels” that has a distance of 4.5 km which runs along the Banks of the River Segura and passes through the recreational area “El Secano” and which ends in the central town square of the Constitution.
This green trek takes you past the water wheel and the luscious traditional orchards and fields of the town.
• El Secano:
This recreational area is the perfect place to relax within the confines of nature. It has a great picnic area, just the right place to spend those long summer afternoons. This area has tables and benches as well as BBQ for public use.
• The Church of Santiago Apóstol (St. James):
This is probably the most characteristic building of the town and is considered the most important remnant of the history and cultura of the town of Benijofar.
Although the construction of the church was relatively recent it conserves in its interior many, much older pieces dating back to the 17th and 18th century as well as pieces from the Barroque period. The church receives the name of the patron of Benijofar, Saint James.
• Cañada Marsá:
This is the largest green park area of the town which runs along the stretch that separates Benijofar from the newer area of Benimar, Rojales and Ciudad Quesada. It has an area of 125.000m2 full indigenous plants and flowers with many recreational areas for walking and playing sports.
In the lower part of the park, there is a large artificial lake with geese and ducks which sits next to the comercial ara of Benimar, an area where many of the expats enjoy their day to day.
• Plaza de la Constitución (Town Square):
The current square has a very modern and minimalist decore which contrasts with the rest of the more traditional town.
• Park April the 3rd:
A much smaller park, at the southern end of the town with plants and garden areas as well as Bio-healthy excercise apparatus so people can make use of them and keep in shape.
• Celebration Square:
Located next to the “Casa de la Cultura” (Social Centre) where the tradional “Patatá” celebration is held every year.
• Inmaculada Concepción Plaza:
This square is made up of flower beds and park benches. A perfect place to enjoy a good read in the shade of the trees of this square.
• Park of Joaquín Sánchez García:
A small but pretty children’s park within the Cañada Marsá.
Traditions & Fiestas
The most important fiestas of Benijofar occur during the Easter period and begin with the blessing of the Palms on Palm Sunday. Many are the processions during this Easter period that march through the main high street of Benijofar.
These processions end on the day of St. Vincent Ferrer and the Burial of the Anchovy (Boqueron) where it is bid farewell but the Spring is officially welcomed.
At Christmas, the most important event is the procession of the Kings that is especially important for the children of the town as this is the eve that they receive their presents, but this event is also enjoyed by adults.
The fiestas for the patron of Benijofar are held on the 25th of July (Día del Santiago Apóstol) and which begin with the crowing of the Queens of the Fiestas and followed by festivities, processions and floral offerings.
Benijófar is located just 8 km from the white sandy beaches of Guardamar that are over 15km long and bathed by cristal clear warm waters of the Mediterranean Sea.
Guardamar, much like Benijófar, is unique in itself as it is the only coastal towns with a protected sand dune system, unique to the Costa Blanca.
But not only is Benijófar close to the beaches of the Costa Blanca, Benijófar is also located between many, much larger towns so it is an economic hub for the surrounding region but also close to areas with a much broader comercial offer, such as Orihuela Costa, which is only 15 minutes drive away or Torrevieja, 10 minutes away by car.
Torrevieja can also offer services and amenities of a large city as it has 2 hospitals, several marinas and a large shopping centre with Carrefour hypermarket as you access the city from Benijófar.
As the access from Benijofar to the A7 motorway is little more than 5 minutes away from the town centre, travelling abroad is made easier as this allows you to be just 20-25 minutes from Alicante and Murcia airport or, if you are travelling within Spain, around 30 minutes to Alicante train station where the high speed AVE train makes several stops a day, to and from Madrid.
Amenities & Services
Benijófar has a huge offer as shops go with some of them being aimed for the expats that live in the vecinity, mainly British and Dutch. As you enter Benijofar from Ciudad Quesada, we have a large Mercadona with plenty of parking space. Mercadona is much like Sainsburys or Tescos in the UK and represents Spain’s biggest supermarket chain.
As you drive into the town itself of Benijófar, you will find different shops, ranging from butchers, grocers, hardware shop, bakeries as well as the local pharmacy. Add to this, the 2 banks (Caja Rural and Banco Sabadell), make Benijofar a very complete town even though it has no more than 4.000 inhabitants.
Also worth mentioning are several furniture stores, kitchen suppliers, tobacconist, gift shops, hair salons…etc, all offering a friendly service.
Many of the amenities at Benijofar are run by UK and Dutch nationals and offer an alternative for buying those home grown items you can’t get in the local supermarkets, although many are beginning to supply more and more international foods and beverages.
The weekly market (Tuesday mornings) is a great place to buy fresh fruit and veg at a cheaper price than many greengrocers, so that is definitely a place to be once a week.
As Benijófar is in the middle of many larger towns, its a great place to set up a business offering different types of services. In Benijófar, as in any large town you can find, medical clinics, dentist, solicitors, insurance services, beauty therapy, pool shops, hair salons and a huge list of different services that you would expect to find in any large town.
As it is close to Formentera and the larger Rojales, (less than 5 minutes away) the list of services is even longer as both towns offer a wider list, such as opticians, satellite tv fitters, physiotherapy clinics, golf accessories, vets with a 24 hours emergency call service, etc…all practically on your front door.
Let us not forget the sport amenities in the town with several gyms in the Benijofar area, one in Quesada and one in Rojales, sports centre of Benijofar (next to the townhall) and the Padel Tennis centre which offer a wide range of sporting activities although the green trek next to the River Segura, makes for an excellent route for a jog or a cycle ride, enjoying the surrounding countryside with no cars.
One of the best things about living in Benijofar is that…you don’t need a car to get to everything. Bars and restaurants line the main street and there are several excellent places to go within a 5 minute walk from Les Ortigues.
Places where you can enjoy local or international cuisine everyday of the week. At Spain Properties Invest we have a preference for Bar Cari and Hamiltons Bakery as they are just over the road from our offices. They are both great places and always have a welcoming smile as you walk in the door.
If you are looking for something different, you can try the chinese restaurants in and around the town, a curry house, mexican restaurant, dutch bakery, english bakery or the excellent “El Gusto”, dutch owned but with an great international menu and a friendly family atmosphere.
Benijófar also gives the opportunity to enjoy sports even on a rainy day. The sports centre next to the Townhall has a full size football pitch and a covered multi-sports court (basketball, five aside football, handball, 2 tennis courts…etc) as well as an open air pool for everyone in the town to enjoy.
And if sport is more a spectator event for you, there is a handy cantina for refreshments while you watch other people run around the pitch.
Next to the Townhall you can find the local surgery which is dependant of Torrevieja hospital. It is open Monday to Friday from 8am to 3pm although emergency treatment can be sort in the nearby Rojales surgery, just 5 minutes from Benijófar.
An 8.1 Km route that goes from Pilar Miró Park to the surrounding countryside is a well recommended route to try out. This area of Benijofar is know as the Balcony of the Lower Vega (Valley).
It takes you down the Gabriel García Márquez street that we get to from a country lane that comes from the direction of Torrevieja which takes us through a small pinetree covered area; although it is not a very big piece of land, it is has a wealth of local wildlife and plant life, such as the Chico owl, the Curruca Cabecinegra, Carbonero común, Pinzón común, Verdecillo, Mosquitero Papialbo, Cuco, Mito and the Chotacabras Pardo (all local birds and sort after by bird enthusiasts).
From this pine tree forest, we can go further and along and have a great view of the Salt lakes of Torrevieja and other regions of the lower Segura Valley, such as Callosa and the surrounding mountains of Orihuela.
Turning back, we will find ourselves on the old Torrevieja – Benijofar road, following this route, it takes us to a protected area known as the Pollera, an area that is not cultivated and nature and wildlife is in abundance.
During this route and as we continue, we can following the route along the river Segura and up to the Arab waterwheel, on the right hand side of the river, bordering with the town of Formentera.
Once we have taken the river route trail, we will reach the El Secano park. It’s a great place to relax and have a picnic as there are tables and benches and barbecue areas with shady points to unwind. The end of this great route is at the end of the path of the Rafaeles, where we reach the centre of
the town of Benijofar, next to the church, House of Culture, Townhall and different parks and plazas of a quaint little town in the south Costa Blanca.