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Hermitages and churches

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La Vall de Gallinera

Església de Sant Miquel Arcàngel. Benissivà

The 18th century is of great importance since most churches were built at the beginning of this century, when the crisis derived from the expulsion of the Moorish population and the adaptation period of the new settlers were a thing of the past. During the 20th century, two new parishes were created in La Vall de Gallinera: the parish of Benialí in 1961 and the parish of La Carroja in 1972.

During the Spanish Civil War, a large amount of artwork, images and altarpieces were lost. The bells also disappeared, probably melted down to make ammunition. The current ones are of recent origin.

The most common typology of churches in La Vall de Gallinera is that of a rectangular single-nave layout, with side chapels between buttresses, usually covered with a barrel vault or a ribbed vault (Benirrama, La Carroja, Alpatró and Benissili, the latter one being very small). In some cases, slightly more complex designs were created, such as that of Benissivà, which is marked by a Latin cross floor plan with two domes; or unique ornamental features appear, such as the Neo-Gothic elements of Benialí.

The current church of Sant Miquel Arcàngel in Benissivà, built on the site of the old temple, began to be constructed around 1725 and was completed in 1744.

The square-shaped tower with three sections is located on one side of the main façade of the church. The first section is built with ashlars and some parts of masonry. The side facing the main façade has the inscription "AÑO 1898" (Year 1898) at the top. A prominent cornice separates the first section from the second, which has four windows with semi-circular arches (one on each side), framed on the outside by Tuscan pilasters and located on a base that occupies the edge. Another notable cornice separates this section from the third. The third section has two levels. The first has windows with semi-circular arches, framed by mouldings from the height of the impost. It also has diagonal arches with similar windows and Tuscan pilasters. The pinnacle has a circular shape and windows similar to the ones described. It is topped by a tiled roof with a central cross and finial.

The bell tower has a staircase that runs along the interior perimeter until reaching the bell chamber. This space is covered with a semi-spherical vault that has a central oculus.

There is a set of two bells. The smaller one was made in 1925 and is dedicated to La Mare de Déu dels Desemparats (the Virgin of the Helpless), and the larger one is from 1941.

Thanks to restorations done in recent years, some original paintings that covered the walls of the altar and chapels have been recovered. It is also worth noting the presence, on the walls, of 18th-century tiles, which is the period of construction of the current parish church. As for the images, it is necessary to highlight a Madonna attributed, according to tradition, to the convent of Benitaia, which has great artistic value despite its lack of polychromy and wood deterioration. There is also a great devotion to La Mare de Déu dels Desemparats, whose original image disappeared during the Civil War. However, the image of the infant Jesus is the original one from before the war. (1)

(1) Torro i Abad, J. (1986) Església i moriscos a la Vall de Gallinera (1578-1583). Aspectes econòmics de l'enfrontament. 1er congrés d'estudis de la Marina Alta.

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