Arguably one of the more picturesque towns in the whole of Provincial Alicante, the town of Novelda is famous for being known as the Spanish capital of marble. Novelda is the centre of the Spanish marble industry, and it is easy to see why. There are many exquisitely decorated marble buildings. Marble is not the town’s only stock in trade, however, as Novelda is also known for its saffron fields and vineyards.
A lot of 17th-century architecture is dotted around city plazas. The church of San Pedro and the magnificent city hall are both perfect starting places for a nice walk around the streets of Novelda.
Of course there is plenty of ever so slightly modern, in comparison at least, architecture here. Which brings us quite nicely to a certain sanctuary.
The Sanctuary of Mary Magdalene, in Novelda of Alicante, was constructed as part of a larger project by one D. Jose Sala Sala, something of a modernist engineer and a resident of Novelda and disciple of the great Antonio Gaudí. Gaudí's influence is clearly visible in every detail of this sanctuary. Because of this influence, it is listed on the European Modernist tourist route. The shape and the materials used the construction (all of which come from the area) stand out the most.
Construction of the building started sometime in 1918. Construction of the structure was completed in three stages and everything was completed shortly after the Second World War in 1946.
At the front entrance to The Sanctuary of Mary Magdalene, there are a pair of 25-metre towers that are topped with prominent crosses. The towers are completed by the cupola and high arches. The decorative motifs that adorn the building can have their roots traced back to the baroque and mediaeval eras, as well as nature itself. These influences can be seen throughout the exterior of the structure.
The interior of the building is made up of a central chamber that is flanked by two rooms. Over in the apse, you will find the chapel of St Mary Magdalene, Patroness of Novelda. Behind the altar, waiting for you to discover it, is a stunning painting that has been attributed to Gastón Castelló (a well-known artist of the time, 1903 – 1986).
Maintenance and restoration work is an ongoing and almost constant enterprise. Possibly one of the most famous features of the whole area is the “marble organ”, which is made from 100% marble. The marble organ is the biggest of its kind in the whole world. In recent years, a great deal of effort has been put into making this truly amazing pipe organ fully operational again.
There is a lot to see in the region of Alicante as a whole, as well as in Novelda, so it could be well worth your time doing some wider exploration. After all, you will be experiencing one of the most beautiful locations in the whole world – you may as well make the most of it.