You have probably heard a thousand times the expression “a picture-postcard village”, but surely there are few places where it fits as well as in El Castell de Guadalest.
The stunning appearance of this town, with its houses, huddled together with the remains of vertiginous fortifications, was created in medieval times. Because for the Muslims, these rocky peaks must have seemed a great place to build a fortress from which they could dominate the valley.
So the origin of the town is in the highlands: in the ruins of the Castle of San José, who was first Moor and then Christian, and in the tower that belonged to the Alcozaiba Castle. Both, next to the beautiful bell tower perched on the rocks, make up the scenery that tourists anxiously seek to turn into megapixels.
And there is a lot of history in that stone summit, indeed. After the Christian Reconquest, the castle was casually inhabited by kings, marquises, princes and dukes. And it would be the compelling saga of the Orduña whom, since the sixteenth century, would leave the more significant mark on the region. The noble stones of Castell, meanwhile, survived as they could to earthquakes, wars and similar misfortunes, and it was precisely after the great earthquake of 1644 when the Orduña family decided to build the manor house that bears their name.
The building attached to the Parish Church of the Assumption of the Virgin maintains a valuable library, and your visit will give you an idea of what the life of a wealthy rural clan was like until not so long ago. But the museum that houses the noble house is not the only one in Castell. There is one of historic vehicles, one of instruments of torture, one of salt and pepper shakers, an ethnological one and even a micro-giant museum. Tourists cannot say there is nothing to see in this place.
But to be truthful, the best thing to do is to take a walk around the old quarter which is grouped around the enormous granite rocks and which can be reached through a tunnel dug out of the rock. The Arrabal, a more recent area, was formed in the foothills of the mountains as the village grew and the castles were no longer needed. And we are delighted because medieval fortifications always symbolise terrible things. But … aren’t they beautiful?