La Vall d’Uixó
In the valley of the Belcaire River, you can find evidence of human civilisation that dates back to the Paleolithic age, when groups of hunter-gatherers once inhabited the caves. These traces of life are particularly commonplace around the Coves de Sant Josep natural caves. While the Iberians and the Romans both settled in the town, it was not until the Al-Andalus period that the urban centre we know today was first constructed.
In the shadow of the Uixó Castle, which lends its name to the city, a string of farmhouses is distributed along the irrigation canal that once carried water from the Coves de Sant Josep, and which was almost certainly laid by the Romans. The town was consolidated following the conquest of James I of Aragón, with royal privilege being granted in 1310 for a market to be held every Friday.
From the 15th century onwards, the town became dependent on the first Duke of Segorbe, Enrique de Aragón y Pimentel (known as “Infante Fortuna”). He was the nephew of Alfonso V of Aragón (known as Alfonso the Magnanimous), who had a palace in what we now know as the Plaza del Ángel. From the 17th century onwards, these farmhouses were unified into two urban nuclei structured around the town’s two historical parishes of El Lloc de Dalt and El Lloc de Baix, and the parish churches of El Ángel and La Asunción, respectively. Following the culmination of the Carlist Wars in the 19th century, La Vall d’Uixó underwent a process of industrialisation that revolved around shoemaking, leading to the opening of the Segarra factory.
All of this makes the city an important service centre, which is bursting with culture and boasts an impressive festive calendar. It is a diverse and hospitable city.
Coves de Sant Josep
The Coves de Sant Josep is Europe’s longest navigable underground river. It is a unique natural jewel that allows you to explore the depths of the Serra d’Espadà, following a route that water has coursed through for millennia. In addition to a privileged underground landscape, the Coves de Sant Josep and their surrounding areas represent an important cultural landmark, with pre-historic paintings and engravings at the entrance to the cave which are unique in the region and have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well as the Iberian settlement of Sant Josep next to the Baroque Sagrada Familia chapel.
For many years, Sant Josep served as a settlement for the inhabitants of the valley. As such, we do not know the exact date on which the underground river was first discovered. The cave was inhabited more than 15,000 years ago during the Upper Palaeolithic period, as shown by the paintings and remains found inside it.
A visit to the caves, which enjoy a pleasant year-round temperature of 20ºC, lasts around 45 minutes. You can also try your hand at espeleokayaking, which is a unique way to explore an underwater river. The Singin’ In The Cave music festival is held in the summer, in association with Mediterranew Musix.
Sant Josep Settlement
This is an architectural site that was declared an Asset of Cultural Interest by Ministerial Order 07/04/81 (Official State Gazette [BOE] 14/04/81). The Sant Josep settlement is located at the top of the hill of the same name. It was built during the Bronze Age, although its golden years were during the Iberian period and at the end of the Roman Empire. This small walled enclosure was protected by quadrangular towers, three of which remain standing to this day.
The wall was built with masonry, using uneven stones that were tightly packed together. It is small in size and only a tiny part of it has been excavated. Sant Josep remains a fine example of Iberian urban planning, as a large part of its acropolis, a more-than-forty metre stretch of wall, two square towers, streets, stairways and other proof of human civilisation have been preserved. Guided tours of the settlement can be booked from the Tourist Information Office.
The XYZ Line and mountain trails
If you follow the trails of the Vall d’Uixó, you will be able to discover towers and castles of Moorish origin and observe evidence of the area’s agricultural past, such as its various drystone structures. All of this, while doing physical exercise in the great outdoors. This cultural resource, which has been declared a point of local interest (BRL) by the Valencian Regional Government and has been promoted as a tourist attraction by various local municipalities, dates back to the Spanish Civil War.
Try walking a small stretch of the path that we have laid through the remains of the XYZ Line fortification, built by the constitutional government of the Spanish Republic in an attempt to halt the advance of General Franco’s nationalist troops. This small section will give you an insight into the history and natural beauty of this fantastic trail.
Camí de l’Aigua urban route
Discover the town centre by following the course of the old irrigation channel, which once brought water from the Coves de Sant Josep. You’ll find various points of interest along the way: The Roman aqueducts and Medieval windmills of Aigualit; neighbourhoods of Moorish origin such as Alcudia and Zeneta; the Muslim tower of Benissahat; the El Ángel church, with José Vergara’s 18th century frescoes; the La Asunción church, built in an imposing neo-classical style with an impressive bell tower; stately homes such as the Palau de Vivel or the house of the Count of Ripalda; as well as cisterns and washing places, etc. The area also boasts an impressive industrial past.
La Vall d’Uixó has an extensive network of mountain trails. Two of these are officially recognised: the PR-V-164, which departs from the Coves de Sant Josep, and the PR-V-241. They represent a great opportunity to discover the area’s landscapes and natural features.
Birdwatching La Vall d'Uixó
In the upper part of the Belcaire River we find a great variety of landscapes. The union of steep rocky areas with high cliffs at the foot of which the river runs; the nearby forest masses of the Sierra de Espadán mountain range, as well as the large crop areas, make this municipality an ideal place to find birds of various families and characteristics, some of them of great interest. From here you can enter the Sierra de Espadán Nature Park, a mountainous area that stands out for its geological and floristic uniqueness, which houses nesting populations of 22 species of birds, and which is especially important for the conservation of raptors.