El Castell de Guadalest or briefly Guadalest is a Valencian town and municipality located in a mountainous area of the comarca of Marina Baixa, in the province of Alicante, Spain.
Directions from the apartment
27 km 37 mins.
Surrounded by the Aitana, Serella & Xorta Mountains the village was a strategic military stronghold with fortifications. dating back to 715AD and the period of Moorish occupation of Spain. It has a long history. It saw action during the Moorish occupation, a strong earthquake in 1644 seriously damaged the fort and houses of the village, and during the War of the Spanish Succession, it again suffered serious damage from a mine explosion.
The town grew up around the fortress. Originally the population lived within the protection of the castle walls. The castle can only be entered by one small tunnel cut through the rock at the San Jose gate. The area inside the walls includes the ancient city dungeon, the bell tower, Saint Josep castle, the Orduña House, parish church and the Moorish fortified building called Alcozaiba.
The houses the Moors lived in then were built outside the San Jose gate. This part of the town, "el Arrabal", with its little streets and squares is where the majority of the shops, craft shops, museums and restaurants are today.
The river Guadalest flows through the area and has been dammed to form a spectacular a reservoir below the town.
Guadalest has been declared a 'Monument of Historical and Artistic Value' and is a major tourist attraction in Spain.
The Alcozaiba fortress is an 11th century fortress built by the Moors. It is located on the property of the Orduña House. Today all that is left is a restored tower.
Our Lady of the Assumption Church, Guadalest
The church is a Baroque style building ascribed to José Sierra. It is in the old walled part of the town, just beside the Orduña House.
The church was built between 1740 and 1753 on the plot of land where the temple dating from the Christian Conquest (XIII century) used to be.
The church was burnt and looted during the Spanish Civil War
It was altered in 1962 - its length shortened, ground floor changed, the cupola and the transept removed.
Between 1995 and 1996 renovation and interior decoration were carried out in order to preserve the building.
San Jose (Saint Joseph) Castle, Guadalest
Little of the castle of San Jose (Saint Joseph) remains. It can be seen at the highest point of the cliff towering over the old walled town. The castle was very important due to its strategic situation. It was originally constructed in the 12th century, was reformed in the 15th and in 16th centuries, was practically leveled by an earthquake in 1644.
The 1644 and 1748 earthquakes and the bomb attack in 1708 in the Succession War were responsible for its destruction.
El Castell de Guadalest was built during the Moors occupation of Spain in the 12th century. After the Christian re conquest in the 13th century Guadalest still had a very large muslim population and continued thus under the dominion of different Catalan-Aragonese noblemen.
King Jaime II gave the castle of Guadalest to Bernardo de Sarrià in 1293 and for the next 42 years the castle and the surrounding country belonged to the Sarrià family.
In 1335 the castle reverted to the Crown, who sold it to Prince Pedro of Aragon, and it was then inherited by his son the royal Duke of Gandía.
After the last Duke of Gandia died, the castle was owned by the Cardona family. The Cardona family became Admirals of Aragón, and in 1543 the king and queen (Carlos and Juana) gave Don Sancho de Cardona and his descendants the permanent title of Marquis of Guadalest. The majority of his estates remained uninhabited following the expulsion of the Moors in 1609.
On 22nd of July 1644 an earthquake destroyed the Castle, and in December 1644 r another earth tremor destroyed part of the town.
The last Cardona, Marquis of Guadalest, died in 1699 without any descendants, and the title of marquis went to the Marquis of Ariza. The marquisate continued, but power declined in the 19th century.
While the Cardona family owned Guadalest,the Orduña family gained in local prominence. The Orduñas were Mayors of Guadalest from 1669 and were ennobled in 1756 when Pedro Antonio Buenaventura de Orduña y García was elevated to The Santiago Order.
During the War of the Spanish Succession in 1708 the Castle of San José was bombarded and destroyed along its western wall, and the Orduña house was burnt down.
In 1748 and 1752 more earthquakes hit the town although these two was smaller than the 1644 quake.
The Orduña family steadily gained power and influence in La Marina county. In 1934 the last Orduña died without any heirs and his estates went to distant relatives.
The town walls came under the protection law of the 22nd of April 1949 for Spanish castles.
In 1974 El Castell de Guadalest was given the title of historcal-artistical town.
In 1994 the Orduña house was bought by the town hall in order to refurbish it and make it into a Municipal Museum.
Rock of Alcala, Guadalest
Peñon de la Alcalá is a rocky peak that rises straight up from the surrounding land. Access is difficult, so it could be defended.
Today only the lower half of the cylindrical castle tower may be seen. It could watch over the valley from this strategic point, and protected the north flank of Guadalest Castle.
Because of its striking appearance it has become one of the best known images of Guadalest.
Festivals in Guadalest
Festival of San Gregorio
Takes place in the first week of June. This is also called the "Youth Feasts" because the youngsters are in charge of organising the events. During these celebrations sporting activities and street parties take place all around the town.
Fiesta of Our Lady of the Assumption
Take place between the 14th and the 17th of August.
On the first night the festival queen is named. After this, the procession of La Virgen de la Asunción takes place from the Orduña house to the church. The town council offers everyone a drink and the street party begins.
On the second day there is an offering of flowers to the Virgin and a music parade.In the evening there are street parties.
On the third day there is another parade, a mass, and a funfair. At night there are street parties.
On the fourth day there is another parade and a mass in honour of our Virgin. During the afternoon the virgin is taken in procession to the Orduña House.More street parties and a firework display mark the end of the fiesta