History of Ontinyent. Ontinyent History. Ontinyent Tourist Information
Ontinyent grew around the textile industry, which has been its main source of income since the Middle Ages, the industry developed due to the abundance of water which propelled the numerous water mills still found in the area. Other industries in Ontinyent include furniture, earthenware, paper, brandy and wine, there has been a rapid increase in population over the last 50 years and almost half of it is employed in the various textiles industries.
There are still some remains of the ancient ramparts which surrounded the town in the 13th century, at a time when Moors and Christians battled for mastery of the region and the gothic church of Santa Maria, which also dates from the 13th century, witnessed the arrival of Jaime I of Aragon who entered to hear mass after his forces had regained control of the town from the Arab invaders in 1244, the imposing tower of the church is the highest in Valencia at 71 metres. The towns history however goes back much further as there have been archaeological finds dating from Roman times and a Roman cemetery was found just 2 kilometres south of the old town, remains from the Visigothic occupation have also been found. Ontinyent was granted the title of ‘City’ in 1904.
The old town of Ontinyent is basically the area between the River Clariano and Dos de Maig. Many large townhouses are situated in this area with in the labyrinth of small streets. The museums and original state buildings can be found in the Plaza Mayor, including the town hall ( ayuntiamento) and the local/ national police stations. The main road from here to the Plaza de La Concepció is pedestrianised with easy access to the many shops and boutiques along the way. The children’s library can be found here along with the Centre de Cultura and Museu Fester. The latter displaying costumes from the various fiestas celebrated in this proud community. From the Plaza de La Concepció you can turn right and walk straight up Daniel Gil avenue through the new town centre.
La Vila is the oldest medieval part of town. The narrow winding streets are steeped in history with many religious architectural buildings still standing. These include the gothic Santa Maria Church and the Sant Roc Christian door dating 1256. During the Moors and Christians festival in August, a wonderful medieval market is found with in these streets. Smells of roasted peanuts and churros drift through the town. There is a school and nursery in La Vila and all other amenities in the town within walking distance.
Ontinyent has a parish church remarkable for its lofty square tower, and a palace of the dukes of Almodòver. There is a large modern suburb outside the old town, which was formerly a walled city; some vestiges of the ramparts still remain. Linen and woollen cloth, paper, brandy, furniture and earthenware are manufactured; and there is some trade in cereals, wine, almonds and olive oil.
San Rafael is just over the river from the old medieval part of Ontinyent. It has its own schools, medical centre, shops and pharmacy. There is a newly built Vidal supermarket, bakeries and greengrocers. A handful of bars and restaurants enjoyed by the local community, English and Spanish alike. A large park with new childrens play area and palm trees, where all generations come together in the summer evenings. All in all a self contained community but with easy walking distance to the town centre in Ontinyent.