Since moving to Denia, I don’t think I’ve actually talked about the town itself – how shocking of me! Well, not to worry because in this article I’ll be talking about the time that I went to the top of Denia Castle with a little bit of the town’s history thrown in!
Denia: A History
As you can imagine, Denia holds secrets to many of Spain’s histories (just like a number of towns and cities throughout the country). With the right knowledge and a little exploration, you can even find evidence dating back all the way to the 5th – 1st century B.C. Iberian Age. This prehistoric evidence was found in the caves of Montgo (that mountain peak that juts up out of the blue to the side of Denia town). Since those early years, Denia has been conquered by many civilisations including the Greek, Roman, Muslims, and the French.
After the Iberian period, Denia came under the Roman Empire. The Romans named the town Dianum after their goddess Diana. Diana was known as the Goddess of the hunt, the moon and of nature (so not a bad Goddess to be named after).
As we are all aware, the Roman Empire didn’t last forever and it was in the mid-700 A.D. that Denia was overthrown during the Muslim conquest of Iberia and the dissolution of Caliphate of Cordoba. To the Muslims, Denia was the capital of the Arabic Taifa (kingdom) that spanned across the Valencian coastline and Ibiza. Denia, which meant lowland in Arabic, remained under Muslim rule for a long period of time. It wasn’t until 1244 that the Muslims were unable to hold off against the oncoming Christians and was reconquered.
By 1455, the town joined many others in becoming part of the Kingdom of Aragon which spread through the most eastern parts of Spain, the Balearic islands and almost half of Italy. However, during the period of 1244 and early 1600s, there was a decline in the city which saw the expulsion of many Spanish Muslim’s who had lived and originated there from the years under Muslim rule. You can imagine that throughout these periods the town must have been rife with unrest and despair and it is no surprise that Denia declined.
Towards the end of this period, one of the known events that took place was the expulsion of the Morisco’s (Spanish Muslim’s who converted to Christianity by Royal decree) in 1609. As Denia was now under a predominantly Christian rule, the threat from Turkish invaders raiding the Spanish coast across the seas was at large. They couldn’t risk further upheaval and couldn’t trust the remaining Muslims that lived within walls of the town. Before long, they had evicted the Muslims that resided in Denia in that period.
The next notable events in history to take place in Denia, happened in the early 18th century when Denia was besieged by 19,000 French troops during the War of the Spanish Succession. In 1707, French troops had occupied the town and by 1713, in the Treaty of Utrecht, it recognised Louis XIV’s grandson Philip, Duke of Anjou, as King of Spain (as Philip V), therefore returning Dénia to Spanish rule. In 1803, Denia was reacquired by the Spanish crown and had returned its fame as an important trading port.
Since then, the last big historical event that Denia has seen was perhaps the Spanish Civil War from 1936 to 1939 where Nationalist fought and revolted against a Republican-governed Spain. War and gunfire ensued in those four years until the Republicans surrendered exhausted and defeated by the Nationalists and their leader, General Francisco Franco established himself as Dictator up until his death in 1975.
A Moorish Legend of the Castle
It was during the Andalusi rule in the 11th century that Denia castle was built. It’s hard to believe that, in actual fact, Denia was the capital of the Muslim community in the Valencian coastline during this long time.
They built the walls of the castle to fortify the city and protect Denia from any invaders. However, they couldn’t hold out forever and eventually their fortress wasn’t enough for the Christian invaders. Since that time, the fortress fell under ruin. It wasn’t until the occupation of the French in the 1800s (Peninsular War) that Denia Castle was rebuilt again. I wonder how magnificent it was originally?
Nowadays, the castle serves an escape for the locals and a wonderful tourist attraction for visitors who can see the birdseye view of the town and the fantastic backdrop of Montgo and the surrounding mountains.
A View of the Castle and Denia Town
Perched on the hilltop on Denia’s harbourside is Denia Castle. It is one of the main focal points of Denia itself and is a reminder of Denia long-standing past. Therefore, if you ever go to Denia, I truly recommend you check it out.
Anyone who is a proficient user of Google Maps will be able to find there way to Denia Castle. Tom and I made our journey to the old Moor castle by first heading towards the Town Hall in the centre of Denia.
(The town hall can be found if you head straight up Denia high street where we took our Sunday Market Walks and, once at the end taking a right).
When you get there, you will want to head straight ahead towards the town hall as if you want to enter. From there you’ll find a slope and steps taking you onto Carrer de l’Hospital. Turn left and, after a short walk, you will come to a dead end where you will have the choice of either taking a left or right turn. Take the right and you’ll find steps leading onto Carrer San Francesc. This is the road that leads you into the castle. It’s just another slight turn to your right and you will discover the archway which is the city’s main entrance to the castle, “Portal de la Vila”.
I say all this, however, for some unknown reason Tom and I somehow took an alternative route to the castle. Whilst it’s a little longer than the first, it does show how easy it is to get to even if you get lost!
Instead of going up the steps toward the town hall, once we got to that little square we could see a tunnel which directed to say that the castle was through there. We went under the castle instead!
Whilst we obviously took the wrong turning, it was still quite fun and adventurous to walk through on the way to the castle. You got a sense of walking through history as you did and it was strange to think we were directly under the castle. We became fascinated, then, and wanted to learn when the tunnel was built and for what reason. I couldn’t resist doing a little digging to find out that it was built between 1937-1938. You may be surprised to learn that this wasn’t just built for ease of access to the other side of the castle. No, in actual fact, it was built as an air raid shelter during the Spanish Civil War.
If you ended up getting lost like we did, then follow these directions…
Once you come out into the light on the other side of the tunnel you will find yourself in a small car park. Towards the entrance, slopes a little walkway, Carrer Santissima Trinitat, with a signpost to the castle. From there, we took the first left up the stairs upon which we were faced with the decision to go left or right when we reached the top. We took the left-hand hill, Carrer del Salt, which gradually got steeper and steeper the more we walked up the castle! At least we knew we were heading in the right direction.
If you take that road right to the end, you will find yourself on the Carrer San Francesc which, as I mentioned earlier, takes you to the arched entryway of the castle.
One of the nicest reasons to go our long way was to see all the quaint little, white-washed yet brightly coloured painted houses leading up toward the castle.
The Castle Itself:
The stone archway is the first sight into this Moorish past. Leaves and vines wind the old architecture creating a bloom of beauty upon arriving into the inside gate. It’s a short walk up until you’re met with the friendly concessions stall where you get your tickets and shown the route to travel.
It’s a simple route. The inside, I admit doesn’t have much to offer at first except different levels which I can only assume is used for farming or flowers. We took a little turn to our right and headed to one of the outer facing walls. This offered a wonderful view of the mountain range beyond Denia and the sea. Our game was to try and find our flat from this viewpoint but unfortunately with no luck!
From there, we continued to traverse up the slopes, taking the time to make the most of each vantage point.
Eventually, we made it all the way to the top. We went quite early in the morning so there was hardly anybody around. It was great for us as we could enjoy the walk around and the views in peace and quiet and not have to fight through any crowds.
At the top, Denia Castle offered amazing views of the whole town, its harbour, and of the unique mountain precipice of Montgo. It was a lovely place to just take in the sites and enjoy a little walk around. There was even a cafe at the top where you could relax with some refreshments and a view.
How Much to Get in?
It’s a shame that it’s not free to take the visit to Denia Castle, but then again nothing is free nowadays. However, at less than 5 € a pop, it’s definitely worth the spend. Below is the price list to enter the castle:
- Adults: 3 € per person
- Children (8 – 14-year olds): 1 € per person
- Pensioners: 2 € per person
- Students: 2 € per person
- Groups (min. 25 people): 2 € per person
Visit the official site for the castle and the archaeological museum to find out prices and opening times for both attractions.
At only 3 € a ticket, the little walk to the top of Denia castle is certainly worth the view. I have put a lot of information on this blog about the history of Denia and its famous fortress, however, upon trekking to the top of the castle, we didn’t see as much information as you would expect to find written down and, of course, it was all written in Spanish or Catalan (as a word of warning). This was a surprise as most other castles I’ve visited in the UK give you a whole wealth of information everytime you turn a corner. However, it doesn’t take anything away from the whole experience. In fact, it just made me do my own little research instead which I always enjoy anyway.
As with many castles, there’s a lot of trekking uphill (at moments this can be precariously steep). I’d recommend having a helping friend along the way if you struggle to work uphill, however, it is doable.
And lastly, a fun fact to share is that there is a family of cats living at the top behind the cafe! It was a nice little surprise to a have some furry guides along the way!