Gandia - Costa del Azahar

Gandia is located on the Costa del Azahar (Orange Blossom Coast) in the autonomous region of Valencian and lies at the mouth of the River Serpis.

The city is approximately 65 km south of Valencia and 96 km north of Alicante, with excellent connections via train from Valencia and Madrid.

Many people from Madrid and the north of Spain have for years had second homes in Gandia and it is a popular day trip for locals from Valencia.

At the weekends (even in winter) the town comes to life and in the summer time, the town buzzes with a good nightlife.

Sheltered by the Safor mountains Gandia lies on a subterranean lake which gives the area its lush greenery and plentiful water supply which in turn irrigates the orange groves.

The beach at GandiaOnce a Greek and Moorish township, Gandia is now a city of over 70,000 people with two main zones. The main commercial area with its pedestrianised historic area and tree lined paseo and the other zone, the Playa de Gandia 4 km away, where there is a long, broad, sandy Blue Flag beach fringed with palm trees and a well-kept promenade.

There is a busy fishing port or Grau, popular with fishermen and a large modern marina.

The whole area is totally unspoilt: you probably won’t hear English spoken and as yet, no large tour operators venture to this part of Spain.

Eating out is cheap and we recommend you visit Viva Espana, a restaurant with a flamenco floor show between Oliva and Gandia – this is the place to try paella.Gandia was once home to the infamous Borja (or Borgia) family and the Ducal Palace is a magnificent building of major historical interest.

The palace dates from the 15C and contains an impressive collection of the Duc's belongings. One-hour guided tours in Spanish are offered with an accompanying leaflet in English. The tours are every half hour with a break for lunch between 1pm and 4pm in winter and 5pm in summer.

Fideua - a local variation on PaellaAlthough the area of Valencia is famous for its Paella, a noodle-based version of paella (fideua) was reputed to be invented by the fishermen of Gandia when its said that one of them forgot to bring rice and substituted noodles instead.

Every June Gandia hosts the Concurso Internacional de Fideua y Gastronomia .

With plenty of sophisticated shopping to be done, new shopping malls, a hypermarket, multi screen cinema and bowling alley, there’s plenty to do as well as building sandcastles and getting a tan.

Today, the city's cultural tradition is still kept alive through activities such as the annual literary awards celebrations, the Universitat d'Estiu (Summer University), the International Classical Music Festival, art exhibitions, etc.

Worth exploring are the Collegiate Church, the Convent of Santa Clara, the Hermitage of Santa Ana, the Town Hall building and the Archeological Museum.

Although the town has plenty of fiestas, from 16th to 19th March everyone celebrates St Joseph Day with la Fallas (www.falles.org) with a Fallas Queen being elected. Hundreds of papier mache caricatures are built during the year, displayed for just a week around the town and then set on fire to the sound of loud fireworks.

Boat trips run from Gandia along the coast to Denia, Javea, Calpe and Altea or you can visit Ibiza for the day from Denia.

For more information click onto the tourist information web site http://www.gandia.es/turisme/ang/home/turismo.htm - and see the Gandia Video and web cam.

For a day out you can visit Valencia by train: the journey takes you through the rice fields, olive and orange groves and is stress free. Or go for a drive in the mountains and visit the town of Xativa famous for the castle once being the home of Hannibal and where Alexander Borgia was born.

A 40 minute drive brings you to Terra Mittica and Terra Natura Theme Parks, Water and Safari Parks and Los Arcos, the Animal Sanctuary in Guadalest.

By Anne Barnett, http://www.valenciaholiday.iowners.net

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