Spain is packed with history, and I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of driving through the countryside and seeing castle after castle appear on the horizon. Especially in the inland areas of the country, the after-effects of Muslim and Catholic conflict in the country that spanned centuries are still entirely apparent. You will find it hard to drive through Spain for more than an hour or two without seeing the peak of a hill occupied by some unknown fortress or impressive stone construction. I spend most of my journeys in Spain wondering “What’s the name of that random castle on that hill” and immediately googling where I am to find the place. Often these places don’t even have names and are not known by many people. In this article I’ll show you one of the most impressive mountainside fortresses in Valencia, called Guadalest Castle.
Around an hour and a half drive to the south of Valencia, the small village of Guadalest sits on top of a high mountain plateau. To reach it you’ll need to drive through a lot of curving and steep mountain roads (which we did in a big coach as part of a group – not particularly advisable). I should say the journey is not the easiest, and if you aren’t a fan of roads with quite extreme drops to one side, then it could be one to avoid.
The castle itself sits above the town of Guadalest, which is surprisingly traditional and historical. Although many of the restaurants and shops in the town are very concentrated on catering for the tourists that come for a historical visit, they still manage to remain acceptably normally priced. There are plenty of historical locations that are so tourism-focused that it can take you away from enjoying the history and the location – but Guadalest Castle is not one of these. You can walk around the old exterior castle walls without having to pay anything, and you can also explore the town and do some shopping. If you want to enter the interior of the castle and look out from the interior walls and towers, then you’ll need to pay 4€, which I think is worth it, as you’ve come all this way to see the castle after all.
Due to the height of the castle, the views over the surrounding mountains, rivers and houses are remarkable. The castle is around 250 metres above the countryside, commanding a dominant position for those who used the castle as a lookout post, a source of protection and a home. The Guadalest River runs by the castle, and into the Embassament de Guadalest (a sort of lake), and the lake is a major part of these spectacular views (which are almost always present in the historical mountain castles of Spain).
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