Gudalest is a little mountain village in eastern Spain, with a rich history and unparalleled beauty. It looks from a distance as though it is impossibly perched upon a steep, slim column of rock at a dizzying height, and until you get up close it’s not even clear how you’re supposed to get up to it! The climb up through the village to the viewing points isn’t gentle, but it’s not really a hike either – and once you get to the top, the views of the mountains will make the climb absolutely worth it.
The History of Guadalest
Although often referred to as ‘el Castell de Guadalest’, the buildings we can see today did not grow up as one defined castle. The Alcozaiba fortress was built in the 11th century by the Moors who occupied the area. It was a military stronghold – when you see it, it’s easy to see why. Attacking it would be close to impossible as the high ground gives the fortress such a huge advantage. Today only a restored version of the tower remains.
The castle of San Jose was constructed in the 12th century and, again, was of vital military importance. in 1708, during the War of the Spanish Succession, the castle was bombarded and took heavy damage.
The remains of a stronghold on the Rock of Alcala can also be seen. This is another defensive structure that looks too precarious to have lasted the centuries, and is a very striking sight.
The Rock of Alcala
The castle changed hands many times over the centuries as families won and lost power in the region, notably the Orduña family, who’s house was restored in the 1990s and made into a museum. An earthquake in 1644 levelled many of the remaining walls of the older structures. Cracks in the rocks and foundations of Guadalest are a striking reminder of the strength of the earthquake.
Things To Do In Guadalest
Apart from taking in the views and visiting the ruins, there is a surprising amount of other things to do considering the place is so small. The Orduña residence now houses a mix of contemporary and older art. There is also a museum of miniature art (where you can see the Statue of Liberty in the eye of a needle, for example) and if you’re feeling a bit morbid there’s even a torture museum!
There are a few small bars and restaurants that have gorgeous views, as well as a lot of small shops. Bags, pottery, and the usual souvenirs can be found at good prices.
Getting to Guadalest
There is no train or regular public transport to Guadalest. Your best bet would be to book yourself onto a trip from a town or city in the region, or drive – visitors to Spain could consider hiring a car for the day. This would leave you the freedom to explore and take in the views at your own pace.