In the region of La Hoya de Castalla in Alicante, an extensive fortress stands on a hill 780 metres high that has controlled all accesses to the valley for thousands of years. In times lost in the memory of time, villages were settled here that took advantage of the proximity to hydrological resources and cultivated fields. And it is that the crops (almonds, olives and vines, mainly) continue to be, today, an important part of the economy of Castalla, along with the toy sector, construction materials and trade.
I visited Castalla Castle on an excursion in which I visited some of the main fortresses of the Alicante region of Vinalopó.
How to get to Castalla Castle
Castalla Castle is located just over 37 kilometres from the city of Alicante. It can be reached in just over half an hour by driving along the A-7.
If you don’t have your own vehicle, you can always take the Vectalia bus that runs between Alicante and Alcoy, with a stop in Castalla. The journey usually takes about 45 minutes.
In my case, as my route had already taken me to the castles of Biar and Villena, I only had to drive about 20 minutes between the latter and Castalla.
History of Castalla Castle
Remains of Bronze Age utensils indicate that on the hill on which Castalla Castle stands there were already human settlements a couple of millennia ago.
Then came the turn of the Iberians and the Romans, who would settle in the same place between the 5th and 4th centuries B.C. of our era.
After a break of about 600 years, of which little is known, there is archaeological evidence of the existence of a Muslim population, which, in the eleventh century, would build a military fortress at the top of the hill. From this first construction, the cistern of the parade ground, the remains of an albacara (a fortification typical of the Late Middle Ages), a necropolis, and parts of a walled town on the southern and eastern slopes are preserved.
The original construction underwent a number of modifications. First, the Almohads (12th and 13th centuries) added the eastern wall and reorganised the castle’s internal military structure. Later, after the Reconquest of the Christians, led by James I the Conqueror, the castle was annexed to the Crown of Aragon.
During the 15th and 16th centuries, the remodelling of the fortress brought with it the incorporation of the impressive Torre Grossa (1529) and other minor reforms.
And then came abandonment. In the 17th century, Castalla Castle ceased to have military use and it is believed that part of the population began to use materials from the fortress for the construction of their own houses.
However, in the 19th century it had its last moments of glory. First, the French used it as a defensive watchtower in a first battle that confronted the Spaniards in the framework of the War of Independence. It was July 1812, and the Spaniards were terribly defeated.
Almost a year later, in April 1813, the Spaniards regrouped, allied to the English, and won the battle, taking the castle, which was kept by the English as a guard post.
From that moment on, silence and peace fell on the millenary stones of a castle that is the pride of the inhabitants of Castalla.
Visit to the castle of Castalla
The current structure of Castalla Castle is the one we have inherited after the reforms of the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries. After them, the military function was relegated to a second level, prevailing the functions of residence of the feudal lords.
When you approach it from a distance, you see a large landscape castle that occupies practically the entire hill. Inside, which can be accessed by going through the masonry gate in the eastern wall, we can see the palace – built during the 14th and 15th centuries, located in the widest part -, the parade ground with its cistern and the imposing Torre Grossa, which occupies the central part.
The Torre Grossa has a circular floor plan and has two heights, topped by a roof with loopholes. It can be accessed through a half-point arched ashlar door.
Inside, it presents some elements of artistic intention, such as a window illuminating the staircase, and a gargoyle, along with defensive elements that seem to be sticky, as they barely have visibility on a hypothetical battlefield, as is the case with the four firearm loopholes on the ground floor. Both floors are covered by a semi-spherical vault.
Practical information for guided tours in Castalla Castle
Information about Biar Castle
Price of the guided tour:
Reduced price (retired people, youth card, groups of more than 15 pax, unemployed):2€. children under 7 years old enter free.tickets saleCastalla Tourist Office: 96 6561018. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org