I had pretty low expectations of Albacete. Nobody I knew who had visited before spoke particularly highly of the place, and even the expression “Albacete – caga y vete” suggests it is little more than a toilet stop on the way to Madrid. Now that I have visited the city, I think it has had some bad press! Don’t believe me? Well, I’ve found another blogger who feels the same way!
As well as the aforementioned saying, Albacete is famous in Spain for its knives. There is even a museum dedicated to knives, scissors and cutlery. Unfortunately it is closed on Sunday afternoons and Mondays so I didn’t get to look inside, but from the website and leaflets it would appear to be more interesting than it may sound. I haven’t ruled out going back to explore further.
A few years ago there was a display of fibreglass knives around the city. Many other places have had similar trails with cows, sheep and even elephants. Two of these sculptures can be seen at the entrance to the railway station. Also in the station are huge posters covering almost every wall showing off the rich culture and diversity of the region. It’s worth taking a few minutes to walk around rather than dashing straight out into the street.
So, other than the knife museum, what is there to see? Well I was there to see a pop concert at the Palacio de Congresos. Morat were fantastic, but it is clear that nobody expects anyone to walk from the city centre to the venue. At times we were walking alongside the traffic on a very busy road as we tried to cross the motorway!
The city has a series of walking routes which are easy to follow depending on your interest in monuments, sculptures or museums. You can download the extensive leaflet here. It shows several projects as “under construction” but the conversion of the water tower into a tourist viewpoint looks to have stalled. The bullring area is quite picturesque but for me, wandering around looking at old trains and a sculpture of Don Quixote was enough to justify a visit to Albacete. Yes, there could be more information around to guide you, but it’s no different to so many places in Spain in that respect. The magnificent Hacienda building is worthy of a mention too, located in an old flour factory. And who knows, you might even come across a retired bullfighter reliving his younger days!!
There didn’t seem to be much of an old town in Albacete, so it lacks some of the atmosphere that many Spanish cities offer. The area around the cathedral and the town hall is nice to wander around though, and keep an eye out for the intriguing sculpture of a knife seller. Homage once again paid to the city’s history. These knife sellers were still seen on the streets until the early 1990s.