Alcoy or Alcoi in the Valencian language is a small city in the province of Alicante part of the autonomous Comunidad Valenciana in south-eastern Spain.
Located inland 35 minutes by car from Alicante and an hour from Valencia, Alcoy sits in a valley surrounded by the Sierra de Mariola an area of outstanding beauty that was given National Park status in 2002.
Alcoy was first settled by Iberians between the 6th-1st centuries BC with prehistoric cave paintings dating back over 60,000 years suggesting the surrounding area was home to Neanderthal hunter-gathers.
After the Roman conquest of the Iberians, several rural villas were built in the area, as well as a necropolis. When the Moors invaded Spain in the 8th century the town was named Alcoyll after a city in Tunisia.
James I of Aragon constructed a castle on a strategic position over the Serpis River in 1256 to secure the southern frontier of the Kingdom of Valencia during the Reconquista.
In 1291 the town was donated by King James II of Aragon to the Sicilian admiral Roger of Lauria; it will not return a royal possession until 1430.
During the War of Spanish Succession, Alcoy sided for the cause of Archduke Charles and was therefore besieged and stripped of numerous privileges, which started a period of decline
During the First Spanish Republic (1873-1874), Alcoy was one of the few Spanish cities where the Industrial Revolution took root.
Paper, textile, and metallurgic industries flourished in Alcoy leading upswing in population and the implementation of a capitalist system of production, as well as introducing mechanisation as a substitute for much former manual labour.
This situation placed the city of Alcoy on the front lines of the social conflicts of the era and the Petroleum Revolution of 1873 when workers protesting against poor wages and working conditions went on strike.
Alcoy went on to become a rich industrial city littered with buildings built in the Modernist style and a superb Art Deco bridge that allowed the city to grow beyond its initial boundaries.
During the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) Alcoy was on the side of the Republic and was bombed seven times by Franco’s fascist Italian allies from their base on the occupied island of Mallorca.
Today Alcoy remains a vibrant city that serves as the main commercial centre for the surrounding area. The textile industry in Alcoy is not as strong as it once was but food, spirits and cosmetics companies have stepped in as Alcoy looks towards the future.