Benassal

History of Benassal

The territory’s settlement is ancient, concealing sites dating from the Paleolithic age to the Islamic age, as depicted in the cave paintings at Rincón del Nando, the Iberian remains of Corbó Castle and Asens del Bovalar Castle, smelting furnaces at Forés farmhouse, small Islamic hamlets, etc. In fact, the intensity of Islamisation gave rise to the prevalence of many place names. The name Benassal (etymologically, it means “son of Alano”, although other interpretations assert that it means “the son of the melero”) is an example of this.

With the conquest of James I, Benassal was to be ceded to Blasc de Alagó, who on the 3rd of January 1239 granted the municipal charter to the Knight of Aitona, Berenguer de Carratalà.

The new Christian municipality, created from the Church and the Castle of La Muela, was to expand after the brief period of the Templars (1303 – 1319). Subsequently, in 1320, it was fortified under the dominion of the order of Montesa and was to remain that way until 1560, the year in which the town was incorporated into the royal crown.

The Tenencia de Culla, of which Benassal formed part of, became an independent and autonomous territory. At the beginning of the 16th century, Benassal received the title of a walled town and separated itself from Culla. Nevertheless, during this century, Benassal was to recover from the population decline of the 14th and 15th centuries and develop its livestock and wool manufacturing industries.

In the 18th century, the War of the Succession left long-term damage to both the Valencian Country and Benassal. The support given to the Bourbons in Benassal didn’t yield anything but plunder and disappointment.

However, throughout the 18th century, population growth and economic prosperity continued at the previous pace.

This increase (two million inhabitants at the beginning of the 19th century) was not to be stopped by the pillaging of French troops in 1811 in the French War, nor were the Carlist Wars a setback.

Growth was mainly based on agriculture, livestock, textile manufacturing, trade and incipient tourism. Farmhouses reached a total of 150 in 1877 and Benassal approached 3,000 inhabitants at the end of the 19th century, its largest population. What’s more, La Fuente en Segures became a landmark and a very important tourist centre.

During the 20th century, civil war and the wave of immigration were to be two important events. The latter, which occurred at a steady rate, reduced the population of Benassal by half. However, the consolidation of the Fuente en Segures as a tourist and health reference was to guarantee important tourist activity for the municipality’s economy.