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Eleven municipalities sign up to create a new tourism route for the Marina Alta region

Saturday 18th January 2014

javeamigos.com | JAVEA - RUTA DELS RIURAUS

A new 'Ruta de Riuraus' - Route of the Riuraus - will be officially launched at the FITUR international tourism fair in Madrid next week, a tourism attraction which will promote the heritage, culture, landscape and gastronomy of several municipalities in the Marina Alta region, including Jávea. The riuraus, elongated buildings characteristic of the region and used in the production of raisins, provide a unique heritage that only exists in this part of Spain and  will create the backbone of the route to capitalise on the growth of industrial tourism.

The 'riuraus' were raisin-drying buildings which developed in the region as a consequence of the rise in the trade of raisins - dried grapes - throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, a prosperous age for the region. Their function was to protect the drying grapes from rain or dew as they lay on bamboo cane mats called 'cañizos' after the scalding process. Generally made of stone with a roof, one side was usually open generally facing south with a series of half-circle arches extending the whole length of the building. Sometimes they were attached to a farmhouse or cottage, others were built independently.

Although raisins had been produced in the area since the time of the Moors, Jávea's economic boom in its production began in the early 19th century, soon after the Peninsular War of 1807-1814, part of the Napoleonic Wars. The town was soon trading with countries as far away as the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada and the town grew as the exportation of raisins increased rapidly. The industry was controlled by a handful of families who relied on labourers and smallholders to produce the goods that would largely be sent overseas. Large storage warehouses were built close to the port, supplying steamers with merchandise which was transported to cities such as London, Liverpool and Bristol as well as other northern and central European countries and across the Atlantic to North America. The town changed dramatically during this period. The old walls were pulled down between 1869 and 1875 as new streets and building spread out from the centre, built by the wealthy merchants who were growing rich on the raisin industry. However, in the late 19th century, faced with foreign competition from the likes of Greece, Turkey and the western United States, the raisin industry began to decline in Jávea. The spread of grape phylloxera in the early 20th century, the Great Depression and the Spanish Civil War virtually put paid to the activity in the town, the industry only continued by a few private individuals.

The Riurau dels Catala d'Arnauda (pictured left) was recently restored after being transferred stone by stone to sit amongst the trees in Parque Montaner above Plaza de la Constitución. Originally built in the second half of the 19th century, it is 56 metres long and has thirty arches, one of the biggest in the Marina Alta region. It was originally located in the Roig area of Jávea between the old town and the port but was under threat from urban development after the land on which it was standing was subdivided into plots. However, despite its deteriorated state, it was deemed worth saving after the Riuraus Vuis heritage association warned that there were very few examples left of its size. With the support of the Català family who owned it and was once one of the major producers of raisins that were exported to England, the town hall arranged for its preservation with the help of 90,000 euros of investment from the 'Plan Zapatero' which was designed to boost economic activity and the building was moved piece by piece to its new location in Parque Montaner in 2009. At the time, mayor Eduardo Monfort said that the project "has saved an architectural piece that is a sign of identity for Jávea and the region".

The 'Ruta de Riuraus' will also include example of the traditional manor houses and rural architecture that was linked to the economy of moscatel grape and raisins as well the gastronomy of the area including mistelas from Teulada, Benissa, Parcent and Lliber,the seafood cuisine of the coast as well as viewpoints and ethnological exhibitions such as those at Teulada and Jávea.

The route includes the following riuraus:

Jávea - Ruirau dels Català d'Arnauda | Riurau de les Senioles | Riurau dels Benimeli
Jésus Pobre . Riurau del Senyor de Benissadeví
La Xara
- Ruirau de Eduardo Martí
 - Riuraus de la Partida la Solana, Capelletes and les Forques
- Riurau de Primo
- Riurau del Metge Peris | Casa Porticada dels Rosers | Riurau de la Torra
- Riurau Canor
Gata de Gorgos
- Riurau Ca' Paleres La Seranda | Riurau of the Family Cirera
- Riurau Vinya de Varques
- Centre Ecomuseogràfic Riurau
- Nucli de Riuraus de la partida de la Senijola

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