El Castell de Guadalest as it was originally named, is a small but impressive town situated in the mountainous region of Marina Baixa. For a small town (16sq km although most of its populace concentrated around the fortified town) it packs in a huge amount of attractions, both natural and man-made and perhaps the most impressive aspect of all is the view as you approach from every direction.
Travelling along the CV-70 you can see Guadalest perched upon an almost knife-edge outcrop; its domineering keeps cutting an impressive vista against the backdrop of mountains and, generally, blue skies.
It is surrounded by the Aitana, Serella & Xorta Mountains and was originally a strategic military stronghold built around 715AD.
Although it has been the subject of invasions, wars and feuds down the centuries, including a Moorish occupation, its streets are now frequented by a friendlier invader, namely those with currency to spare and cameras to feed.
In its original state Guadalest was completely encased within the fortified walls and is accessible only through a tunnel in the rock face. This barrio is home to the Sant Josep Castle, Orduña House, the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption and an old Moorish stronghold called Alcozaiba.
All of these attractions are open to the public.
In 1644 the town suffered major damage because of a devastating earthquake. The buildings have been restored and now form the majority of the attractions. From the square in the walled area you can see the inviting waters of the reservoir which has been formed by the damming of the River Guadalest. Boat trips can be taken here too.
The village area outside the walls, named el Arrabal, is made up of Moorish houses and the majority of the town’s museums, shops, cafés and restaurants can be found here (read about La Patata Frita).
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.
With an orange and lemon grove at the base of the town, friendly locals and views of the surrounding mountains, Guadalest is a stunning stop off that should be included on any travel itinerary.