Benissa is a town founded by the Arabs, and there is no evidence of the existence of a population before the Arabs in Benissa. The name Benissa is of Arab origin, from the the family of Banu Issa ( the sons of Isa). And there are still many places carrying Arab names , for example La Alfama, la Rapita, el Rafalet. Arabs inhabited this area when James 1st conquered the city in 1248.
Benissa is 275 metres above sea level and is located on the windy coastal road between Valencia and Alicante, and has a particularly striking white church, the Iglesia de la Purissima Xiqueta, but popularly called the 'Cathedral of the Marina Alta' which was built in the 1920's by pious masons from Benissa who funded the building themselves. The church was consecrated during the 'Festival of St Peter the Apostle in 1929'.
The old part of the town has narrow cobbled streets, century-old walls, Moorish grills, heraldic shields. You can have an interesting walk if you start from the Ayuntamiento -the former Hospital for the Poor - where you can see the beginning of the track used by the ancient ribereros (the workers who emigrated from Benissa to harvest rice on the Valencia coast).
The Convent of the Franciscan Fathers, which dates from the 17th c., is built in a defensive mould to protect itself from the ravages of the Berber Pitates
On the Calle Purísima you will find the old iron grilles on the white houses hung with lots of flowers
Casa de la Cultura Torres Orduna, which is the old palace from the 18th century,
Lonja de Contratación (exchange building)- Benissa's oldest building. Commodities Exchange, of the 15th century. In olden times the top floor was home to the Municipal Council, while the lower part was used for commercial transactions. Currently this building houses the Ethnographic Museum, which displays the tools used in times past by the country people of Benissa.
Plaza Iglesia Vieja which was a mosque in former times,
Desamparados street, which is where the local nobility had their homes, you can see their elegant facades. heraldic coats of arms, wrought-iron balconies and gates.
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