In terms of population Benferri is one of the smallest municipalities in the Vega Baja del Segura area of the province of Alicante, with only 1,899 residents according to the 2015 Padrón, but the recent construction of a pleasant residential area named Benfis Park in the northern outskirts of the town has led to there being a sizeable expat community, consisting mainly of around 200 UK nationals and Germans.
The place where these northern Europeans have chosen to take up residence is a largely agricultural community on a flat plain which is hemmed in on the north and south by the municipality of Orihuela and also touches on the boundary of the Region of Murcia. The town grew up around a small tower which was inherited by the Rocamora family (see Granja de Rocamora) in the 17th century, and the coat of arms of Benferri features a representation of this tower and a sprig of mulberry, in reference to the trees in which silkworms were cultivated in centuries gone by.
Prior to the arrival of the Rocamoras in this part of Alicante there were no urban settlements to speak of, but the countryside is known to have witnessed skirmishes between the Carthaginians and the Romans in the third century BC and a battle between the Visigoths and the invading Moors in the eighth century AD. Throughout the following centuries olive groves and vineyards proved productive as a result of the Moors’ irrigation networks, and even after the Reconquista of the area by the Christians in the 13th century some resistance was put up by the remaining Moors in this area.
Nowadays the main sights to see for visitors to Benferri are the central Plaza de la Constitución, the light and open central square which is home to the Town Hall and also features an impressive fountain, and the parish church dedicated to San Jerónimo, which was built in the Renaissance style and dates from 1622. The town centre is especially busy on Tuesdays, when the popular weekly market is held.
San Jerónimo is also the central figure in the annual Fiestas Patronales which are celebrated in late August and at the end of September, and in addition there is a Romería on 3rd May to celebrate the Day of the Holy Cross, and on 7th October the feast day of the Virgen del Rosario is marked by the “auroros” singers performing in the streets and squares of the town as they accompany the procession of the figure of the Virgin.
Despite these attractions, though, Benferri is only a small town, and many will see it as a place to stop off while exploring the local countryside. This part of the Vega Baja is popular among walkers and cyclists, and in Benferri a maze of rural paths allows explorers to discover the orange and lemon groves which now prosper, as well as the old dams, water wheels and irrigation ditches, some of which still date back to the time of the Moorish occupation.
Other areas which attract both visitors and locals are the Paraje del Cabezo, a wooded hill outside the town, and the Rambla de Abanilla, the dry river-bed which fills up only in times of heavy rain.