Just a 40-minute drive from Valencia, the small city of Requena is renowned for its medieval old town and its excellent wine production. It's a wonderful place for a day trip and we're happy to offer you, as an Enforex student at our Spanish school, the chance to come along on our excursion to
Requena is a bustling little city with a great cultural and historical wealth, particularly in its impeccably-preserved old town, known as "La Villa". While this section of town goes all the way back to Roman times, it's principally Islamic in character, with a dose of Christian Spanish architecture mixed in. It was the main area in which people lived and worked and is considered a prototype of Islamic-Spanish cities.
Stone seems to be the material of choice, both in the beautiful centuries-old buildings and in the narrow alleys that run between them. The result? A picture-perfect medieval town that emanates history and charm from its every nook and cranny.
Sights in Requena, both in the La Villa neighborhood and others, include:
- Plaza de la Villa: This old plaza is at the center of the old town, with La Villa's narrow streets branching out around it. Underneath the plaza is yet another treasure in the form of a series of interlinked tunnels and cellars that were used as storerooms and, in turbulant times, hideouts.
- Iglesia de Santa María: Built in the 14th century, this chuch was constructed in the Isabelline Gothic style and boasts a spectacular main portal. It's the largest of La Villa's historic churches.
- Iglesia de San Salvador: Another Gothic church built in the 14th century. Like the Iglesia de Santa María, it was built in the ornamental Isabelline Gothic style, though Baroque additions - such as the 40-meter belltower - were added in the 18th century.
- Igelsia de San Nicolás: A church built in the 13th century.
- La Judería: Located outside of La Villa in the Arabal neighborhood, this was Requena's traditional Jewish quarter as well as the city's principal hub of trade and artisan production.
- Palacio El Cid: Considered a prime example of Gothic civil architecture, this noble mansion was reconstructed in the 15th century.
- Iglesia del Carmen: This was the church of the old Carmelite Convent and was built between the 13th and 18th century. The convent is now home to the Museo Municipal (City Museum), but the church remains a church.
- La Alcazaba: Situated at the highest point of La Villa is this 11th-century fortress constructed by the Muslim Almohads as a residence for their ruler. Of note are its two towers, its defensive walls and its access gateway.
As previous mentioned, another of Requena's highlights is its wine culture. Back in the day, Requena's wealth came from the city's silk production; in fact, it had some 800 active looms in the city and became Spain's 4th biggest producer. Nowadays silk production seems to have been replaced with wine production, as Requena is known for its hearty red and sparkling wines. In late summer or early autumn the city celebrates their famous grape harvest festival, which draws in wine lovers from near and far. To learn more about the history and production of Requena's wines, you can visit one of the numerous wineries in the area or head to the city's Wine Museum.