Santuario de Santa María Magdalena

Santuario de Santa María Magdalena, Novelda – the Gaudi inspired church in Alicante

We recently discovered a new place in the Alicante province – well, new to us!

The Santuario de Santa María Magdalena cathedral in Novelda is reminiscent of a smaller version of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, which is one of our favourite buildings since we got engaged there many years ago!

To find out more about where to find this beautiful little cathedral and what else there is to do in Novelda, read on…

view of Santuario de Santa María Magdalena cathedral

Where is Novelda?

Novelda is a town in the Alicante Province, approximately 30km from Alicante city centre and the coast. To drive from Alicante to Novelda along the A31 takes 30 minutes, you can also take a bus from the Plaza de la Estrella in Alicante.

The Sanctuary of Santa María Magdalena is perched on top of a hill behind the town of Novelda, 360 meters above sea level.

How to get to the Santuario de Santa María Magdalena?

Pop Novelda into your Sat Nav or Google Maps, you’ll see the church on the top of a hill as you head towards the town.

Keep going straight ahead until you reach Novelda town center, turning right when you reach the N-325. Take the CV-832 which will take you straight to the top of the hill where the cathedral is located.

Keep following the road around the hill until you reach a large car park at the top.

Was the Santuario de Santa María Magdalena inspired by Gaudi?

The Santuario de Santa María Magdalena, a shrine to Mary of Magdalene, was designed by architect and engineer José Sala Sala, a student of Gaudi. Building of the Sanctuary was started in 1919 and completed in 1946.

Santuario de Santa María Magdalena novelda

While it was definitely inspired by Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, it also has some unique characteristics with both Medieval and Baroque elements.

What is the Sanctuary like?

From a distance this unique cathedral looks like a sand castle, and close up it definitely resembles a small Sagrada Familia.

Santuario de Santa María Magdalena cathedral

The brick and natural stone built Sanctuary has two 25m tall towers with crosses on top and is adorned with various sculptures of religious figures.

Santuario de Santa María Magdalena cathedral

Inside the cathedral you’ll find paintings, stained class windows and one of the most special elements, the marble organ.

Inside Santuario de Santa María Magdalena cathedral

Organ music plays throughout the day and it’s definitely worth sitting in the pews to listen to the music.

Is the Santuario de Santa María Magdalena in Novelda worth visiting?

If you find yourself in the area, the Santuario de Santa María Magdalena is definitely worth a visit. I wouldn’t say it’s worth a special trip if you’re a long way away from Novelda, as you’ll probably only spend an hour or two there.

As well as the cathedral itself, the views across the surrounding countryside and mountains are stunning, and you can sit on the terrace of the restaurant next door to take in the scenery.

View from door Santuario de Santa María Magdalena

What else is there to do in Novelda?

We didn’t find that much to do in Novelda, possibly because we went on a Saturday lunch time during siesta time.

If you want to combine a visit to the Santuario de Santa María Magdalena with some other things to do in Novelda, here are some things to consider…

Climb the medieval castle of Castillo de La Mola

Located next to the Santuario de Santa María Magdalena, Castillo de la Mola is the remains of a medieval castle built in the 13th century. Originally a Moorish fortress with 8 large elements, only four of them are preserved.

castillo mola novelda

You can climb to the top of the castle via the narrow staircase to take in the views of the cathedral and the surrounding area.

view of Santuario de Santa María Magdalena

The castle is free to get in, simply walk through the arch in the wall behind the cathedral.

Visit the Casa Museo Modernista

Built at the beginning of the 20th Century, the Modernist House Museum is one of the best preserved modernist houses in the region.

This two-storey building features carved wood, stained glass windows, period furniture, and graphic arts from the modernist era.

The museum is open Tuesday – Saturday, 10am to 3pm, and costs €3 to get in.

Visit the Museo Histórico Artístico

This museum in Novelda town centre showcases the historical evolution of the people who have occupied and lived in the Novelda valley from Prehistory to the Modern Age.

There are everyday objects from the Islamic and late medieval Christian periods during the 14th-16th centuries, as well as artefacts from the the modern period of the 17th-19th centuries.

The museum is open Monday – Saturday, 10am to 2pm.

Casino de Novelda

The casino in Novelda dates back to 1888 and is a beautiful building with gardens that include a small pavillion. You can sit and have a drink in the gardens or inside the casino, every day between 10am and 10pm.

casino de novelda

Parque Oeste

I’m including this park in the list even though we didn’t find it worth a visit, as from other people’s comments online I think we may have been unlucky.

This park just outside the town is normally full of palm trees, exotic plants, waterfalls, ponds, picnic area, kiosk bar and a play park. When we visited in March the whole park was very neglected and we left straight away.

If you find yourself nearby it might be worth a quick visit to see if now we’re in the summer months, the park has been tidies up because in some of the online photos it looks lovely!

Have you visited this unique cathedral in the Alicante province? If you are planning a visit to Novelda we hope you enjoy your trip!

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