The Hondon Valley is a stunning and peaceful area, sparsely populated with typically rural Spanish villages. The main two, Hondon De Los Frailes and Hondon de las Nieves, are about 30 minutes drive from Alicante Airport on the Costa Blanca South, Spain.
Hondon is relatively unspoilt and beautiful, set in a tranquil mountainous region. This fertile valley is home to thousands of acres of vineyards, citrus fruits, almonds & olive groves. Typically the area gets over 310 days of glorious Spanish sunshine per year! Besides farming, the other dominant industry is construction quarries for servicing the Costa Blanca building and property trades.
The Local Villages
Hondón de los Frailes and Hondón de las Nieves are small villages, inland south of the Alicante Region. The nearest cities are Elche (City of Palms) to the south east and Crevillente (20 min’s drive). Both Hondon villages are typical Spanish rural, quaint, friendly and have not changed much over the years – look hard enough and you will see they are steeped in religious and agricultural history.
The local economy relies heavily on farming (it is a very fertile valley) and quarrying, including marble. You will not fail to notice the acres of Grapes (table and wine varieties), oranges, lemons, almonds and dates in this region. Many other root crops and fruits are also grown here. The extensive vegetation and 360 degree mountain views add to the valley’s beauty and appeal to foreign migrants, tourists, walkers and cyclists.
Hondón de los Frailes
The local village “Frailes” has changed little over the ages despite the push of modern progress and foreign investment to the area. In the summer months the local Tapas bars will sit you outside in the cool evening air to enjoy their wares under the stars. ‘Frailes’ also has a small but beautiful church, a large open-air municipal pool with play area, a gym and a cultural centre. There are many small shops including a daily baker, Tabac, a tea room, chemist, grocer, butcher, hardware and Spanish/English supermarket. The village has quite a few bars too: Caramels for live music & court yard, an Irish Bar, Pepins Bar, a steak-house, Tapas Bar and an Indian restaurant as well as typical Spanish restaurants. The main a la carte restaurants are VienteOcho and La Buena Vida in the Plaza.
Hondón de las Nieves
Nearby Hondón de las Nieves, a short drive away, is known for it’s grape / wine heritage. The back-drop to the village is the magnificent Crevillent mountain range standing 800+ metres high. Thick pine tree plantations frame the rural landscape of grapes, almonds, olive trees and vineyards. It is often referred to as the “Valley of the Vines”.
On arriving in Hondón de las Nieves you will notice the magnificent Bodegas Cerda, a local wine merchant and visitor museum. This stone church like building is the pride of the area and only about 5 years old. It is a must-see inside, where you can taste the local wines, view the history of the local vineyards and buy gifts.
Next you find the village square, typically Mediterranean, lined with palm trees and full of the colour given by the facade of some of its oldest houses. The Town Hall (Ayuntamiento) still has its original bell tower built in 1900 – you will not fail to hear and chuckle at it’s ‘clanking’ bell every 15 minutes! The Plaza is the venue for most every social or community event, including numerous outdoor concerts, parades, ceremonies and fiestas.
The urban setting changes into narrow alleys and houses without gardens. Up the plaza slope past the fountain we get to the recently refurbished baroque Parish Church, dating from the 18th century. The church offers a pleasant view of the surrounding mountain landscapes. Nearby, the facade of the old Franciscan Monastery School and the Public Library “Casa del Pueblo” are also worth seeing. Harder to spot are Hondón de las Nieves cave-houses on the outskirts. Some of them have been magnificently conserved and restored.
Faith and Culture
The church is at the heart of village life here. The locals in Hondon are generally very religious, friendly and family orientated. Sundays are still regarded as an important family day when churches are well attended. It is delightful to see all generations enjoying family life in the parks, picnic areas and al-fresco bars. Holidays and Fiestas are well attended and regarded as major social events for the village families.
There seems to be an abundance of fiestas in the summer months in and around Hondon. Most of the locals get involved and they welcome visitors with open arms. The cultural events, street music, traditional costumes, fancy dress and dance are not to be missed in our opinion!
Hondon has an abundant of references that date from the Muslim period. Hondón de las Nieves belonged to the barony of Aspe in the 17th century, and Aspe was part of the Elche Marques estate. In 1685 a chapel devoted to the Virgen de las Nieves was built in here. This chapel was modelled on a previous one devoted to San Pedro. The bishop of Orihuela turned the chapel into a parish church in 1746 owing to the growth of the village. In 1839 the regent Maria Cristina de Borbon declared Hondón to be independent of Aspe. The two two still have close connections and enjoy Santa Semana (Easter) as a joint religious festival.
Food, Drink and Entertainment
In general it’s the quiet life in the Hondon area where you will find the typical Mediterranean square to wile away the hours… After all it’s too hot to be rushing around!
So it is popular to “watch the world go by” in the summer months. The local Tapas and snack bars do a steady trade during breakfast and lunch. But are best under the stars in the height of summer when it is cooler but can still be mid-twenties. Frailes village has over ten bars and restaurants to choose from including Spanish, British, Italian and International flavours. British tastes are catered for well, including Sunday roasts and fish & chips and English breakfast.
Hobby and Pastimes: Popular activities include walking, a gym, Zumba keep-fit, horse riding, trout fishing, cycling, wine tasting and various ball sports. There is a municipal swimming pool in the summer and the an incredible variety Fiestas, fireworks, sports events and open-air concerts.
Other groups and classes include: Art, drawing, Spanish language, book clubs, sculpture, line dancing, belly dancing and coffee mornings. Evenings in the bars might include Flamenco, quizzes, Karaoke, darts, pool, live groups and singers. For the more discerning both main villages now host concerts and theatre in their newly built Cultural Centres (mostly in Spanish however).