Guadalest - A Precious Place
Perched atop a granite mountain over a deep valley, with towers clinging to narrow rocky outcrops, the small village of Guadalest looks as if it could have been plucked from a Tolkien novel.
Around 60km from Alicante, Guadalest is located in the mountainous region of Marina Baix and has a population of just 189. The village has been built into the mountainside and offers some fantastic views over the surrounding mountains. The architecture is just as impressive; the most famous image of Guadalest is the old bell tower of Penon de la Alcala which sits precariously atop a rocky stack. In 1974 the village was named a ´Monument of Historical and Artistic Value’ and draws millions of tourists each year.
With its excellent vantage point and protecting mountains, Guadalest has been the site of a number of fortresses in its past. The occupying Moors fortified the village in the 11th century and more fortifications were built by subsequent conquerors. Despite suffering damage during the Spanish War of Succession, parts of these castles still remain.
Visitors to Guadalest must drive up some fairly twisty mountain roads but the stunning scenery is worth it. On the way to or from the village, you may want to stop at the Historic Vehicles Museum, which displays hundreds of classic cars and motorcycles from the 1920’s to 1970’s. You could also visit the river from which Guadalest takes its name, which carved out the valley you see today. The river has been damned to form a brilliant blue reservoir and solar-powered, glass-bottomed boats run trips out on the water.
The historic centre of the town is inside the old castle walls. To access this area, visitors pass through the San Jose gate, a 15 metre tunnel carved out of solid rock. Within the walls there are the remains of a number of castles. Saint Jose castle, built in the 11th century on a cliff-side, provides fantastic views of the village itself and the scenery. You will also find a Baroque church here, medieval dwellings and the old underground dungeons.
Outside San Jose gates are the buzzing narrow streets lined with bars, café’s and restaurants offering affordable food and drink. There are also several museums covering a range of topics from salt and pepper shakers to torture instruments.
Given the terrain of the village, a visit to Guadalest is not recommended for those that have difficulty walking. There is a large car park in the village that charges a small fee for all-day parking.
For further information visit the official Guadalest tourist office website. Guadalest is around one hour’s drive from Alicante Airport and Drivalia Car Rental.