Friday, July 18, 2008
Just thirty minutes by car from Valencia city lies the small town of Olocau. A fugitive from the stifling city heat, I parked the car by the small cemetery and took the path that leads up to 'Puntal dels Llops', where I'd heard an archaeological dig was going on. It was first excavated in 1988 but, it seems, there are new findings.
The walk to the top took less than an hour and, whilst quite steep initially, the gradient became easily manageable, even in the high temperature. Expecting a small pile of stones, I was delighted to see that the site comprises an atalaya (watchtower) and fortified town with seventeen dwellings over an area of 800m². Although much reduced, in some cases these buildings were three stories high. The surrounding muralla (defensive wall) dates back to the Bronze Age and is largely intact. The archaeologists, working hatless in the mid-day heat, told me that its history as a settlement went back to Palaeolithic times and apart from the Iberians, there was evidence of Celtic and Roman occupation.
At a height of about 380m, the views were superb. Llíria and the Monastery of San Miguel were clearly visible to the south. Look to the west and there is another stronghold, a similar ruin, and to the east, Sagunto. Beneath Llíria lie the ruins of what was once the most important Iberian city in Spain. Established in the 4th century BC, Edeta, as it was then known, was built where the monastery now stands. The town was rebuilt in its current location after the Romans destroyed it in 76 BC. I could go on but then it becomes a history lesson. On the other hand, if you want to know a little more about the region, go into Olocau itself. Apart from an interesting church, recently restored, there's a pleasant walk up to the font and a small amphitheatre where, in July and August, you can enjoy various concerts.
Out of interest, and by complete coincidence, if you are a cyclist the excellentbiciclubvalencia are riding to Olocau this Sunday 20 jul