The Chapel of Santa Llucia and Santa Barbara overlooking Javea
The Chapel of Santa Llucia and Santa Barbara in San Bartolome is easily the highest point of the surrounding area. It reaches 162 meters into the sky making the chapel the top of the skyline in the municipal area. The hermitage is named after two saints so the strongest is considered the first, but both names are still considered to mark the chapel.
The actual municipal property that the chapel is built on is laid out in a fashion that is called the hermitages of conquest. The conquest term comes from when the northern colonists came down into the area and moved the Muslim residents to the inland. The Christians then took over the land and built hermitages such as the Chapel of Santa Lucia and Santa Barbara.
According to documentary archives the Chapel of Santa Llucia and Santa Barbara was built during the 17th century but many people believe that the first actual construction took place much earlier sometime in the 14th or 15th century. This hypothesis is generally considered to be true because this would align with the point in time at which the Christians won the territory and with the adaptation and settlement of new Christians in the area. It would also historically match up with the boom of Edification when a great deal of chapels and temples were built throughout the region as worship was encouraged.
The architectural design of the Chapel of Santa Lucia and Santa Barbara is simple but still true to the hermitages that were built during its period. The shrine out front of the building is simple in fashion and is laid out across a rectangular nave that has been split into two different sections that measure five meters each. These two sections are split by pointed rough stone that runs between it. The roof encasing the shrine is gabled and near the north end of the chapel is the altar and to the south is the main entrance. The entrance is housed by a half point arch that sits on blocks.
This is the original structure, but over time it went through several modifications that were made which resulted in more rooms added to the chapel. There were more works carried out which added side rooms during the 18th century and during the modern era the main entrance was covered with a naya featuring chariots. During the last few years of the period the staircase was also added onto the main entrance. The stairs sit on a gradual incline and are long and slotted with stone block walls that follow them up both sides.
Also new on the structure is its bell, which is not the original. The bell is only used on December 13th each year, but it is a new bell that was installed in 2004. The original 15th century Gothic Bell that adorned the chapel was carefully removed and placed in the Soler Blasco Archaeological and Ethnographic Museum in Javea so that it could be preserved for future study.
One of the reasons that the Chapel of Santa Lucia and Santa Barbara is so novel is because it can only be reached by foot. You can get to the start of the path by vehicle but then you would need to walk. It is pointless to try to try to drive up as there is no parking and only two to three cars could park at the road before the road would become obstructed. Therefore, to see the chapel you have to be willing to walk to the path and then travel to the top. The end result is a unique experience of visiting a historical chapel that is not frequently visited. You will be rewarded with an uncrowded and relaxing experience for your efforts. Many people find simply sitting on the chapel steps and gazing out over the town below to be worth the effort.
Once you get to the path from the road you will need to walk for about ten minutes more. This pathway is steep and sloping so be prepared for an uphill and slightly challenging hike. As mentioned, it is not busy however so you can usually get somewhat close to the path by car and then finish the rest of the way on foot. Many people that don’t mind the hike or actually want to experience some of the landscape of the area along the way choose to park at the Plaza de la Constitucion and then follow the path the pilgrimage follows up to the Chapel of Santa Lucia and Santa Barbara.
The only day you would not want to visit the hermitage if you are worried about crowds is on December 13th which is when the modern religious pilgrimage takes place. On this day, the feast of the saint, a pilgrimage walk takes place to the chapel from the San Bartolome church. The pilgrimage covers ground from the IES Antoni Llido and then passes through the Cami de Santa until it ends at the summit. This journey is about building brotherhood in the church and generally takes about 45 minutes.
However, the upside of taking part in the pilgrimage is the fact that it is the only day that the hermitage is open. It is also unique because December 13th is the only day of the entire year during which the bell rings. During the holiday the Chapel opens its doors to neighbouring churches and also to those who participate in the pilgrimage so it is a special treat to be able to go inside of the Chapel of Santa Lucia and Santa Barbara instead of just viewing it from the outside.
It is also unique because on that day pictures of Santa Barbara and Santa Lucia are held in procession around the chapel making it a true event to see. The rest of the year the key to the hermitage is held by a local family that also takes care of maintenance of the chapel. They do not open it up to the public on any other day of the year.
While December 13th is the biggest day of the year for the Chapel of Santa Lucia and Santa Barbara, it is not considered a local holiday therefore the shops are still open in town and the local children are in school. It takes place on December 13th regardless of what day it falls on, so it could be over the weekend or on a weekday. Some teachers however do take their students up to the chapel to watch and take part in the festivities of the day at the chapel.
If you happen to be in town during this time period you may want to indulge in the Eucharist that takes place about a week before December 13th. The Eucharist takes place in San Bartolome and then following the honour on December 12th the Crida the Festa takes place on the streets of the Historic Centre. This includes a parade that passes through the area and announces that December 13th is nearing. All guests and passers-by are invited to have some sweet wine to celebrate the upcoming party. The end of the parade/tour concludes with a bouquet of flowers that are left in the niche on Santa Lucia Street.
On the actual day of December 13th the old town comes alive when rockets are shot off and sweets are available in abundance. At 10am sharp the clergy, municipal authorities, mayoralties of Santa Lucia, neighbours, brotherhood, and any other participants that have gathered in Old Town begin the official pilgrimage. They slowly walk to the Chapel of Santa Lucia and Santa Barbara from the Old Town together en masse. Once they reach the chapel the Eucharist takes place in honour of both saints. At the end of the pilgrimage those in attendance receive hot chocolate and pastries while rockets are fired off in a short celebratory firework display.
Due to the fact that the chapel is built up on the hill and is only accessible by hiking there are not immediately close by shops or restaurants. The closest shops or restaurants are found down in the Plaza de la Constitucion where it is recommended visitors park. They can also be found in adjoining streets to the Plaza.
The real treat of the location is that it offers panoramic views that are unmatchable by any other vantage point in the region. Since it is the highest point in the municipality the views are vast and there is a certain tranquillity that can be obtained while sitting at the chapel looking down over the town. From the square of the chapel you can see the Mediterranean Sea and to the east Cabo de San Antonio and Aduanas del Mar. On clear days you can sometimes even see Ibiza out over the sea.
When sitting at the main entrance of the Chapel Santa Lucia and Santa Barbara when you look out you can see the village and the nearby neighbourhoods of Calvary and St. Bartholomew. You can also see the Historic Centre and the rooftops of all the structures of the main area of Javea. If you look out farther into the distance you can see the Arenal area.