Guadalest is surrounded by the Aitana, Serella and Xorta mountains and has been declared a 'Monument of Historical and Artistic Value'. It was founded by the Moors in 715, and comprises a little village within a large castle on a rock It then became part of the domain of Teodomiro and Tarik. In 1238 the town was conquered by Jaime I , and the various counter attacks from the Moors were beaten off. The Moors rose up again in 1248 under the command of Alazraq but were defeated and expelled from the kingdom of Valencia. In 1275 a ruling was passed that any Moor wishing to change his place of abode must have prior permission from the Christians.
Two large earthshakes shook Guadalest, one in 1644 and the other in 1748. In addition at the beginning of the 18th century, during the Wars of the Spanish Succession the powder reserves at Guadalest blew up causing enormous damage. Eventually Guadalest was abandoned as a castle in 1848.
The road winds up through the valley of Guadalest and you can to see the castle of Guadalest from afar on its rock pinnacle. Every year around 2 million visitors came to this town making it the second most visited place in Spain. At 590 meters above sea level you can see the two castles and the wall that surrounds the church and houses of the town. The most famous image must be that of the Bell Tower perched on top of a rocky outcrop. The view over the reservoir from such a high vantage point is quite astounding.
The Castle is accessed via a tunnel hewn out of the rock that takes you to the the town, ramparts and a church next to Orduna palace where there are scrolls dating from 1555.
The Arrabel (modern) quarter extends around the skirts of the mountain. Guadalest is an ancient town and the tiny network of streets are fascinating with plenty of souvenir shops selling leather goods, paintings, ceramics and all the usual tourist ornaments plus there is also a Lladro outlet. Among the small museums there is "Micro-Gigantic Museum" where, if your eyes are keen enough, you can see a bullring constructed on the head of a pin, or an ant playing the violin. Also worth visiting is the Museo Antonio Marco which houses miniature models of churches and houses, built from real stone, bricks, concrete, iron, wood and the roof tiles of baked clay. The interiors are exact replicas of authentic houses.
Just below the town is the dam of Guadalest which was built between 1953 and 1964. It measures 73 feet high and 270 meters long and supplies water to a number of towns and villages in the area including Benidorm.
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