As much as we love Valencia and the things you can do there, see our 20 things to do in the long hot summer post here, we also think that it is an excellent option to get out for the day to enjoy the surrounding area. We have the interior part of Valencia itself where you can maybe take the option of a tour of the Utiel-Requena Vineyards, of which we will talk more in the next couple of months, you can take a trip down to the coastal areas of Alicante (Expatshire) to become less in touch with Spain or you can head north to Castellón where you have beach resorts such as Peñiscola, which we have written about before here, and Benicassim, famous for its music festivals, or even go inland to Morella, also featured in our article about the best day trips by car from Valencia.
Today though we are going to look at a route for a day which you may absolutely love. It’s a little bit different. The main destination is Fanzara, a small village in inland Castellón about fifteen minutes up into the mountains from Onda. You get there by taking the AP7 and A7 motorways towards Barcelona and turning off onto the Onda road. Once you get through Onda then it’s plain sailing along the CV20 to Fanzara.
Our route takes us through the industrial outskirts of Onda, where every factory produces tiles and ceramics it seems, but after that it gets interesting. Our destination Fanzara has an interesting story behind it. As is usual the story starts with a PP council trying to do something monumentally stupid, so stupid that they united most of the town against it, they wanted to import most of Europe’s toxic waste to make a toxic dump (Yes they really though this was a good idea in this beautiful part of the world!!)
The plan was defeated after the PP were thrown out in the 2011 local elections but the battle had left scars. Supporters of the toxic waste dump, (Really there were supporters) and those against it refused to talk or socialise with one group frequenting the upper bar of the village and the other the lower bar. The new government thought they needed to heal the divide so in 2014 they invited street artists to come to the town and create a giant mural with the idea of art acting as a healing balm between the two warring parts of the town. The project became known as the Unfinished Museum of Urban Art (MIAU) and it has now become a staple of a world circuit of street art events.
There are over 150 works of art in the streets now, everywhere you turn in this small village you find something that looks pretty impressive. The gable ends of whole buildings, the facades of individual houses, the tunnel under the main road and even the bins have something on them and with all of this artistic activity the village has not only come alive, it has helped to heal the divisions.
Rural tourism now brings in money and there are places to stay, a couple more bars and a few shops, I even saw one selling souvenirs. Street artists now battle to get an invite to the festival with over 200 applications each year of which only 15-18 will get an invite to create a new open air art installation. As the old murals fade new ones will take their place meaning if you go back every year the village will look different. It’s well worth a look and the festival is in July each year so this year’s murals are new and looking great.
Give yourself a couple of hours at least to stroll round the town and take in all the works of art. And make sure to spend some money in the bars and cafes and at the small shops as this is the new lifeblood of the town. Take a look at our little introduction to the town in the video below. The guy who parked his car in front of the mural of the orange pickers even offered to move it for me before chatting about the history of the town for ten minutes.
After Fanzara you carry on along the spectacular CV 20 past lovely little towns bordering the Mijares river such as Vallat, Espadilla and Toga before heading into Monteanejos. This town is one of our favourites in Castellón, not only for its river with its constant 25ºC temperature but also for the excellent cafes, restaurants, walking areas, its spa, hotels and views. One word of warning though, if you go in the summer and at the weekend be prepared to park out of town and walk quite a long way down to the river as the place is becoming more and more popular.
After maybe swimming a bit in the river and having lunch carry on along the road through Montán down to meet the Teruel to Valencia motorway but take a look into Xerica. Again it’s a lovely little town and you should stroll around, have a drink or coffee after all of that concentration on the Fanzara to Monteanejos road and get yourself ready to drive back into Valencia. You might also want to visit the Salto de la Novia in Navajas where again you can spend time walking along a river and place yourself under the Salto de la Novia waterfall for a picture. It’s a really nice place for picnics and spending time with friends.
Whatever you do it will have been a day well spent. And remember we have also given you more suggestions for things to do in Valencia in the past. Just click on the images below for more days out.