El Castell de Guadalest (Guadalest Valley)

Introduction

The Castell de Guadalest is one of the most visited municipalities, not only in the Marina Baixa, but also of Alicante.

All travelers passing through the Costa Blanca have a mandatory appointment with Guadalest.

Located in the privileged Valley of Guadalest, surrounded by the Mountains of Aitana, Xortà and Serrella, we find the small town of Guadalest, a municipality that, eminently agricultural, has become one of the most important tourist destinations in the province of Alicante and, of course, the Valencian Community.

Description

The Castell de Guadalest is a small town located in the northern part of the Marina Baixa region in Alicante. The municipality of El Castell de Guadalest is located in the valley of the same name and is bordered by the highest heights of the province of Alicante. The Sierra Xortà (1126 m) is north, Sierra de Aitana (1558 m) south and Sierra Serrella (1361 m) is west. The altitude is 595 m and its most representative heights are: El Parats (1147 m), Morro Blau (1124 m) and Morro Blanc (1084 m). The boundaries are as follows: To the north, Castell de Castells, to the east, Bolulla and Callosa d`En Sarrià, to the west, Benimantell, to the south, also Benimantell and Polop de la Marina. The extension of the municipal term is of 16'12 km ². The climate is Mediterranean, but it differs slightly from the coast, with cooler winters and milder and more pleasant summers.

History

El Castell de Guadalest already existed in the Muslim period, after the Christian conquest (18th centuray) and kept an important Islamic population under the lordship of different Catalan-Aragonesian nobles.

King James II donated the castle of Guadalest to Bernardo de Sarrià in 1293 and here it begins a 42 years period in which the castle and the whole region belonged to the Sarrià’s family.

In 1335, the Castle passes to the Crown, who sells it to the Infante D. Pedro and from this it passes to his son, the first Royal Duke of Gandía and after the death of the last Royal Duke of Gandía to the Cardona’s family. The Cardona’s became Admirals of Aragon and in 1543, the monarches D. Juana and Don Carlos, granted Sancho de Cardona the title of Marquis of Guadalest for himself and his successors perpetually.

The last Cardona, Marquis of Guadalest, died without any descendants in 1699 and this caused a series of problems that ended when the marquisate fell in the person of the Marquis of Ariza; The Marquisate continues and its power decays in the 19th century.

During the Cardona’s time, there is another family that acquires great relevance, the Orduña’s family. The link of the Orduña’s to the Castell de Guadalest dates back from the 16th century, they were perpetual governors from 1669 and reached nobility in 1756, when Pedro Antonio Buenaventura de Orduña y García entered the Order of Santiago.

In the 19th century, with the suppression of the manors, the Orduña’s acquire power and influence in the Navy and they even take part in the politics of the province of Alicante. In 1934 the last Orduña passed away, D. Carlos Torres de Orduña, without descendants, passing his possessions to collateral branches.

While these two families became part of the history of El Castell de Guadalest, other singular facts changed the physiognomy of the municipality.

In 1609 the Moriscos, major population of the valley, were expelled, creating a great demographic emptiness that was tried to be filled with the Letter Puebla of 1611.

On June 22, 1644, an earthquake struck and destroyed the Castle in El Castell de Guadalest and in December of the same year, another earthquake of great intensity was repeated.

In 1748 and 1752 new earthquakes occur, but less important than the previous ones.

During the War of Succession, in 1708, the Castle of San José suffers a blast that will seriously affect its west wing and the Orduña House is burned.

 

In the 20th century El Castell de Guadalest undergoes a series of important changes:

  • In 1953, the reservoir will be built and will be completed in 1971.
  • Tourism begins to discover the charm of El Castell de Guadalest.
  • In 1974, El Castell de Guadalest is declared a historical - artistic site.
  • The walled enclosure is subject to the decree of Generic Protection of the Spanish Castles of April 22, 1949.
  • In 1980, El Castell de Guadalest received the Bronze Plate for Tourist Merit and in 1981, the Third Prize of the National Tourism for the Beautification and Improvement of the towns of Spain.
  • In 1994, the municipal purchase of tje Orduña’s House was agreed and its rehabilitation proceeded to be transformed into the Municipal Museum.