La Foia de Castalla
This site is both a remarkable reminder of the town's mining history and a fantastic government blooper.
Situated on an ancient gypsum quarry, this preserved 19th-century industrial complex once held more than eight gypsum furnaces. The furnaces were used to dehydrate crystalline gypsum to produce plaster used for building construction and religious statues. Today, it is last remaining substantial evidence of an industry that was widespread in the area since antiquity.
The gypsum furnaces had fallen out of use and into disrepair well before the start of the 21st century, so the Valencian regional government decided to carry out a restoration project to create an educational and tourism resource. Eight of the old furnaces were partially restored, using what was left of their original building materials found on site. A complete replica of a gypsum furnace was constructed, along with a small visitor center.
Unfortunately, only after spending over €280,000 on the restoration, it was discovered that the site is actually privately owned. While the public is able to walk around the area, the regional government is not allowed to operate the site, including the provision of information, which, other than labels for the various furnaces, is distinctly absent.
Instead, the Castalla tourist office will provide you with a general brochure with a little information about the historical site. While they will be careful to tell you that while the grounds are private property, you will find no entry restrictions.
Know Before You Go
If the natural environment is also your thing you should visit in autumn when the quarry has some fascinating fungi. This is in addition to the great mineralogical interest in the quarry. Note that the bathrooms may be locked in the winter season.
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