Long stretches of sand burnished gold by the sun and shaped by the cool hand of the sea, rugged mountains harbouring priceless archaeologicat treasures, cultivated valleys, mythical mountain peaks and woodlands of cork oak, mastic and Aleppo pine: the scenery around Gandia is an incredible mosaic of landscapes. The spectacular architecture of the city’s old quarter stands in stunning contrast to the four beautiful city beaches others desert beaches and practically untouched. The joyful hustle and bustle of city life forms contrast with the peaceful coastline and the rugged natural beauty of the interior, with areas such as the Macizo del Montdúver massif and El Surar, where cork oaks cover almost a thousand hectares of land. At times dreamy haven of peace, at other times a bustling hub, the capital of the La Safor district is a city blessed with that somewhat elusive and typically Spanish spirit known as duende, inviting visitors to discover its many secrets.
Mountainous landscapes and beaches soothed by tranquil waters, history and natural beauty — Gandia encapsulates the very essence of the Mediterranean thanks to its thrilling diversity. It is a place that rises from the sea like a promised land, blessed with the perfect climate, ecological riches, a wealth of monuments and above all joyous light. The city’s six stunning kilometres of coastline embrace an array of different ambiences, from the modern and cosmopolitan to the strikingly natural, while its four sandy beaches — l’Ahuir, Playa Nord, Venecia and Rafalcaid — areall similar yet diverse. The most northerly of Gandia beaches is l’Ahuir, a sparkling gem of unspoilt sands that stretches for almost three kilometres, fringed by dunes and dense reed beds until it reaches the estuary of the River Vaca, which is home to many indigenous animals. It is a quiet and serene beach bathed by warm waters of the deepest blue and framed by sand dunes. L’Ahuir is a beach for admiring, for simply being and above all for enjoying. There is also a nudist section on this beach.
A pristine wooden boardwalk connects l’Ahuir beach with the Playa Nord or “north beach “. The boardwalk construction project also included recovery of the dunes, increased vegetation through the planting of palm trees, the creation of three shaded meeting points the installation of permanent sanitation facilities and the provision of street furniture and play areas on the sand.
Playa Nord is the most urban of Gandia’s beaches and is skirted by an esplanade that offers fantastic víews and separates the beach from a residential area which houses the cream of the city’s hotels and apartments. With its extraordinary golden sands, this beach is a beauty to behold and it too stretches for almost three kilometres. The sea here is calm, which lends extra magic to a setting that is much sought after precisely for the tranquillity of its waters, for its play areas and for its beach bars and recreational activities. A long breakwater made of rocks in the most unexpected of forms and colours marks the end of Playa Nord and offers views of the Club Náutico sailing club and the port. With berths for 400 boats, the Club Náutico is located to the north of the port and together these separate the city beach from the small stretch of sand known as Venecia.
Venecia beach is cosy and quiet, with golden sands fringed by a line of dunes anchored by vegetation and protected from the wind by a breakwater. After Venecia comes Rafalcaid, Gandia’s most southerly beach, which is bordered by a line of low dunes covered in sparse Mediterranean vegetation, like some kind of whim of Nature.
To stroll through the streets and squares of Gandia is to become part of the liveliest history in Europe. A ducal city since 1399, Gandia is a magnificent place in which to soak up some culture. A great route to take could start at the Palacio Ducal palace in the ancient walled precinct that usad to surround the mediaeval town, which is one of Gandia most emblematic monuments. The palace is built around a great central patio, with a remarkable double staircase. Inside the palace are the Salón de Corones (Hall of Crowns), the Sala dels Carrós i Centelles (Carrós and Centelles Family Hall) and the Sala Daurada (Golden Hall), plus 18th century cerarnics from Manises depicting the Four Elements and the cel-chapel of Sant Francesc de Borja.
Second stop along the trail is collegiate church, a prime example of Gothic Catalonian-Aragonese architecture from the 14th and 15th centuries. It ls notable for its sober and austere appearance, which is markedly horizontal, low-slung, solid and with few openings onto the outside. The temple, which was raised to the status of collegiate church in 1499, has two doors and was officially declared a monument of historical and artistic interest in 1931. The former University is a building that used to be house the University.
Chairs, which meant that Francesc de Borja was able to establish the University of Gandia in 1549. This centre of learning was run by the Society of Jesus for over two centuries until the decree for the expuision of the Jesuits in 1767. In 1806 the building was taken over by the Piarists, who also used it for educational purposes and who remain there to this very day. The City Hall was erected in 1778 and its facade, which is in the purest Neoclassical style and is the only feature to have been preserved following the refurbishment in 1982, is topped by an elegant balustrade upon which rest four stone busts representing the four virtues that must be observed by the city’s rulers.
The Palace of the Marqués González de Quirós is a severely defensive and palacial structure with a symmetrical floor plan and façade and was built in the late 19th century. It is notable for its carved wooden doors and its wrought-iron railings and balconies. The gardens of the Casa de la Marquesa (House of the Marchioness), which is how the palace is popularly known, are currently home to the Casa de Cultura cultural centre. These are the palace’s star feature and house many indigenous and ornamental species.
The Teatro Serrano theatre is one of Gandia’s modernist buildings. Opened in 1900 under the name of Teatro Circo or “Circus Theatre”, it was refurbished in 1912 and renamed the Teatro Serrano. It is now one of the city’s most embiematic buildings.
Importantly, Gandia was the birthplace of several major classical authors, including Ausias March, Joanot Martorell and Joan Roís de Corella, who are considered to be key figures of Spain’s Golden Age of literature in non-standard tongue. The city also witnessed the birth of several members of the Borgia family, who are arguably the most widely known Valencians. True to tradition, the Gandia of today still maintains a high level of cultural excellence which, from a literary perspective, is manifest in the city’s rather considerable number of writers and in the Premis Literaris de Gandia literary awards. Created in 1959 and organised by the City Council, these awards are presented on the 2oth November coinciding with the anniversary of the publication of the novel Tirant lo Blanc by Joanot Martorell.