The village of Turballos is a little over 50 minutes drive inland from Gran Alacant but is a step into a different world. Technically the small collection of houses and a church that make up the settlement are part of the Town of Muro de Alcoy in the Condado de Concentaina, in reality the village and its community has a recent history that places it apart from mainstream Spanish society. We visited Turballos having seen a photograph of its beautiful medieval church; what we discovered was a place and a story more fascinating than just the beautiful old church.
The village nestles into the hillside of the Alcoy mountains. It is a modest collection of houses centered around a charming little village square shaded by trees. The lovely old church with its romanesque style features faces onto the little square. The village is surrounded by fields and paths leading through green countryside. Some of these paths lead up the slopes of the hillside behind the village passing through the remains of cultivated terraces with fig and olive trees in abundance. Walking along these paths one has a strong sense of the everyday life of this village community as it tended its fields and orchards in past years and centuries; it is a place strongly embedded in its landscape.
Like many Spanish villages Turballos now has a quiet almost deserted atmosphere despite its very well kept buildings and neat little streets.
Turballos however holds a secret. It is home to a special community who have lived there since the 1970s. Established by a catholic priest called Pare Vincent (Father Vincent) this community lives communally according to principles derived from both christianity and the teachings of Mahatma Ghandi. The life of the community is committed to pacifism and self sufficiency and live in accordance with the principles of the circular economy. Other basic tenets of the community’s life are vegetarianism, ecological awareness and a particular opposition to nuclear energy technology. Pare Vincent died in 2018 at the age of 90 however the community he founded continues to live in the village. Much of the restoration of the village and its land is undoubtedly due to the presence of this modest group of hard working families brought together by Father Vincent almost 50 years ago. The church and its adjoining buildings are in fact the property of the community and the focus of their communal life.
The presence of this group for almost fifty years in the little hillside village is now itself part of the long history of this ancient place. The community is private and does not seek publicity but has made its distinctive mark on Turballos. One might go so far as to suggest that the principles upon which the community bases its life are themselves almost relics of a past age having been born out of the counterculture movements of the twentieth century. Although one can also see how much of what they espouse was perhaps ahead of its time and only now becoming more widely accepted.
The area around Turballos is beautiful and offers other interesting and rewarding things to see and experience. There are other towns and villages in the surrounding valleys that are also well worth visits. Of particular interest is the L’Albufera de Gaianes (The Albufera of Gayanes; “albufera” being the Valencian word for lagoon which is itself derived from the arabic term “al-buhayra” meaning small sea) a magnificent natural freshwater lagoon that attracts many species of birds and turtles.
We recommend a visit to Turballos for anyone wishing to escape the busy world for a few hours, especially at this present time.