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Guadalest, Alicante

The tiny 16-square-kilometre village of Guadalest about 25 kilometres from Benidorm on the CV-70 has only 200 or so inhabitants. This Shangri-la in miniature is one of Spain’s most popular tourist attraction and one of its prettiest communities. There is a designated car park allowing coaches to turn and visitors to make their way to the local café for cool drinks and snacks – a chance to re-charge batteries before tackling Guadalest’s fascinating attractions. Guadalest Village Castle of San José Little of the 11th Century Moorish Castell de San José remains intact. It was all but destroyed by an earthquake in 1644 and subsequent bombings in the 1708 Succession War. A mysterious explosion of powder kegs did further damage in the 19th Century, but Guadalest Castle still dominates the highest reaches overlooking the old walled town. You may gain entry to the castle only through a small tunnel carved out of the rock. Inside is a different, medieval world with its ancient dungeon, bell tower, Orduña House, church and of course the Moorish fortified tower known as ‘Alcozaiba’. The Orduña House The Orduña House was the home of a Basque family in 1664 built from the ruins of the earthquake. The Orduñas were stewards to the Cardona family. The house was burned to the ground in the War of the Spanish Succession but the Town Hall purchased the house in 1994 to be renovated and made into a museum to show how life was lived in the 17th Century. The home is built into the rock and links with the adjoining Baroque Our Lady of the Assumption Church, affording the house a private gallery for services. There is a particularly fine library within Orduña House, with books mostly acquired by Don Francisco de Paula Orduña. Towers and Fortresses The Alcozaiba Fortress, built by the Moors, is a restored tower located on property owned by the Orduña House. The tower is all that remains of the original fortress. But it is the whitewashed bell tower of the Peñon de la Alcalá, perched on a seemingly impossible ‘eagle’s nest’ dominating Guadalest, that is the image sought by most postcard hunters. bell tower of the Peñon de la Alcalá Guadalest Museums There are no less than eight museums in this little village! The Dolls Houses Museum; The Ethnological Museum of the Valley of Guadalest; the Historical Vehicles Museum; Micro-Gigantic Museum; Miniatures of Manuel Ussa Museum; Ribera Girona Museum: the Torture Museum; the Town Museum and Orduña House. And if you can fit it in, the local 12th Century prison is worth a look! Book a ‘Town Tour’ for €15 and take a boat trip on the sparkling blue reservoir for an extra €5. Guadalest is Number 3 of the Costa Blanca’s Top Ten Best attractions and probably one of the world’s most photogenic villages. It is just over an hour´s drive from the Drivalia Car Rental depot at Alicante Airport. Don’t miss it! For further information visit the Guadalest Town Hall website.