Ermita de Santa Llúcia
The Ermita de Santa Llúcia sits atop the conical hill of Tossal de Santa Llucía, a 164 meter summit affording spectacular views in almost every direction. This look-out point offers one of the best locations to photograph the nearby mountain of Montgó, rising dramatically to the north-west, whilst on clear days the island of Ibiza, over 90 kilometres distant, can be made out as a dark but obvious smudge on the horizon to the east. Such a field of view has made it a valuable, easily defensible site for centuries.
History of La Ermita de Santa Llúcia
The chapel of Santa Llúcia was built in the 15th century in the style of the ‘conquest chapel’ which was typical of the time as Christian invaders migrated from the north, pushing out the Moorish population to settle upon the newly vacated lands of southern Spain. It is one of the oldest chapels in the area, built upon a hill that was used for thousands of years for defence as well as religious worship.
Evidence has been found to suggest that people were already living on the hill more than 4,000 years ago. During the Roman occupation of these lands, it was utilised as a perfect look-out point due to its superb command over the bay of Jávea and the long valley of San Bartolomé.
This hermitage crowns the highest point of one of the highest rocks in the municipality. At 163 meters high from the foot of the Montgó, this small chapel is municipal property. The bell only resonates once a year December 13th. The current bell was installed in 2004, replacing the original 15th century bell, considered one of the oldest in the region. This old bell is now displayed on the ground floor of the Soler Blasco museum.
Inside La Ermita de Santa Llúcia
It consists of a single rectangular nave with a gabled roof and a central arch of Tosca stone. The building would receive several additions since its original construction, including the adjacent rooms which were added in the 18th century, the latest addition to this historic site.
Once you get there, the building is entered through an arched doorway of Tosca sandstone and the interior is divided into two sections separated by a tall Tosca sandstone arch with the altar and the images of Santa Llúcia and Santa Barbara at the far end. Above the gabled roof there is a single bell but it’s not original. The 15th century Gothic bell was replaced in 2004 and now resides in the Soler Blasco Municipal Museum in the heart of the historic centre. The bell rings once a year on December 13th, the feast day of Santa Llúcia when the faithful make a symbolic pilgrimage up to the chapel for a special mass and a procession of the images around the outside of the chapel.
Climb To La Ermita de Santa Llúcia
There are two routes to climb up to the chapel. The main route is a winding narrow path up the eastern slope, about 500 meters in length, which affords some great views as it climbs up to the top of the hill. A longer route winds through the Barranco de Santa Llúcia to the urbanisation Nova Xàbia, where an easier but longer route takes the visitor to the top.
The hermitage remains closed all year except the day of its holiday, but that will not keep you from visiting it. It is a unique moment because its bell resonates across the valley and into the streets of the nearby town.
After a gentle ascent of just a few metres, the next few hundred metres require plenty of determination as the path winds steeply through the trees until it becomes a little gentler as it continues a broad zig-zag up the hill. Across the ravine is the blue-domed Ermita de Santo Cristo del Calvario which can be reached by a small path which climbs up the hillside and this is an option for the return journey. Soon the rough path reaches another set of signs and the white-walled Ermita can just be seen through the trees above. Turning left, there’s a final steep ascent along a concrete path to the top.
Views From La Ermita de Santa Llúcia
Of course, the greatest gift of the Ermita de Santa Llúcia is its views of the surrounding area, and on a clear day one can look out over the Mediterrean sea as far as Ibiza, and of course, the impressive Montgó mountain looming behind.
Perhaps the greatest attraction of the chapel is both its peace and tranquillity as well as its superb panoramic views in all directions. To the east, looking across the iconic blue-domed chapel of El Calvario, are the blue waters of the Mediterranean filling the wide bay of Jávea stretching between the Cabo de San Antonio to the left and the Cabo de San Martín in the distance. In between, the town of Jávea stretches along the coast.
To the west looking inland are the high mountains of the interior to where the Moors who once lived and worked in this land fled during the Christian reconquest. In the foreground is the wide valley of San Bartolomé, the garden of the Marina Alta. And then, walking around the perimeter path through the trees, an amazing view of Montgó reveals itself, an iconic image of Jávea.
The view over the valley of San Bartolemé is quite stunning Continuing around the chapel, the path emerges from the trees on the other side and rejoins the main path.
Routes To And From La Ermita de Santa Llúcia
There are two options for the return trip. The quickest is to retrace your steps and descend via the same path, but there is an option to complete a circular route by following the path which zig-zags down the northern flanks of the hill . At the bottom of the descent, a rough but wide track leads to a road before the tarmac ends abruptly in a cul-de-sac and the route meanders down the wooded ravine.
Eventually the path becomes a gentle stroll as the Ermita del Santo Cristo del Calvario church comes into view perched up on the hillside before you. Some 200 meters before the return to the start of the ascent, a narrow steep track leads up the hillside to the blue-domed church and this is an option to take as it affords a great view of the hill of Santa Llúcia. Otherwise, continue forward back to the big olive tree.