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Alcalá del Júcar is a really lovely place to visit – lots of water, lots of old buildings, narrow picturesque streets, and the whole place hidden in the dreary flat plain that you cross when you drive from Alicante to Madrid. And now, for the Easter weekend (2 to 6 April) there’s also a craft fair.

A real craft fair, with real craft work to be seen on the stalls, made by the people on the stall. Nothing imported, nothing from small factories, all carefully and lovingly made by people who chose this way of life.

Amata, the craft association which created and registered the "Artesanía de Autor" label, will be setting up a fair in Alcalá for the second year running. Amata is a craft association dedicated to preserving and enhancing craft work in Spain. Amata inspects workshops, critically examines how goods are made and who makes them, checks that what is on the stall is made by the people on the stall – a guarantee that any visitor to the market will find goods that are original and of good quality.

There will be some forty stalls with ceramics, with wooden toys and leather handbags, with painted T-shirts, hand made shoes and sandals, design jewelry in silver, ceramics, wood, silk and recycled materials, puppets and soft toys, even mosaics. Plus there are stalls with food.

For younger visitors there are workshops where they can learn how to make their own work piece – a valuable introduction to the idea of doing things for one’s self. The workshops are run by people on the stalls, they charge a little money for materials. Then there is a merry-go-round for very young children, a young couple who make thousands of soap bubbles, and wooden table games for children of any age.

All is set up in the shade of some high trees at the foot of the hill on which Alcalá del Jucar is built, almost next to the river. What a lovely place to spend a day – there are plenty of restaurants nearby and the town itself is a delight to visit, with a Roman bridge, three large caves and its own impressive castle; visitors can also enjoy numerous activities such as horse riding, rafting, fishing, climbing and various guided walking tours.

One of Spain’s many "caminos de Santiago" (the pilgrim routes to Santiago de Compostella) passes through the village and for people who don’t want to follow a guide nor walk the odd 1,000 kms there are a number of sign-posted local walks.

The Market opens on Thursday afternoon at 6 pm; on Friday, Saturday and Sunday opening times are from 11 to 2 in the morning and from 5 till late in the afternoon and evening and on Monday only in the morning from 11 to 2. To get to Alcalá del Júcar follow the main autovia from Alicante to Madrid and turn off just past Almansa; Alcalá del Júcar lies half way between Almansa and Requena.

To find the market with your GPS: the address is Callejón La Virgen. More information on the market to be found on the Amata web page (www.amata.es, also in English) or you can ring Elvira (who speaks English) on 639 979 678.

Photographs of last year¡s event are at http://www.amata.es/Alcala14.html.

For accomodation or excursions you can ring the tourist office on 967 473 090.

Filed under: http://www.theleader.info/article/46779/

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