Calpe History

Interesting article outlining Calpe history and monuments.

The History of Calpe

Calpe History:- Located some 67 kilometres north of the city of Alicante is the lovely coastal town of Calpe (Calp), dominated by one of the best known landmarks of the Costa Blanca region - the Peñon de Ifach, Calpe is a very busy seaside resort, with a resident population of approximately 26,000 (this of course rises considerably in the summer months), it is in the Community of Valencia.

With some excellent beaches, fine shopping and a great selection of bars and restaurants, Calpe is a superb location for a holiday, but is also a worthwhile spot for the day tripper, who will find some interesting places to visit, apart from the Peñon de Ifach, which is worth seeing on its own merit.

Calpe has a rich and interesting history and has been settled over the centuries by Iberians, Phoenicians, Romans and Arabs. The Romans constructed a fish salting factory in Calpe at Los Baños de Reina (the Queen’s Baths), close to the present day promenade, and the Moors built the Castle of Calpe, from where they controlled the area until defeated in around 1240 by the forces of the Christian king Jaime I.

A tiny town called ‘Ifach’ was built on the slopes of the Peñon in about 1290 by Roger de Lauria (an Aragon Admiral), and later the walls were fortified by Pedro II, to protect the town from attacks by morisco pirates. The town of Ifach was finally destroyed during the War of the Two Pedros (1359), and the town’s people fled to a farmhouse, overlooking the Bay of Calpe, it was around this farmhouse that modern day Calpe developed. This emerging town also built a defensive wall to ward off attacks, though it still suffered frequent incursions.

In 1659 Calpe suffered badly when the town was sacked, and almost 300 of its citizens were taken to Algiers, where they were held for 5 years, until returned in exchange for gold and the release of some pirate prisoners.

From about this time onward, Calpe began to grow considerably and buildings began to appear outside of the town walls as the threat of pirate attacks diminished. The main industry at this time was fishing, but almost as important was the production of salt, Calpe having its own area of salt flats.

During the 1930’s the vestiges of a tourism industry began to emerge in Calpe and some seafront hotels appeared to cater for the new middle-classes. This industry grew throughout the 1940’s and 1950’s and rocketed in the 1960’s, when cheaper and more efficient transport, brought visitors to the town from all over the world.

Calpe has continued to grow, along with the rest of the Costa Blanca, and today has something of the appearance of a ‘mini Benidorm’, with a number of high-rise apartment blocks and hotels, particularly at the northern end of the town. Apart from the Peñon de Ifach, most of the interesting places to visit are located in the old town and these include the Torreó de la Peca (dating from the 14th and 15th Centuries), the Iglesia Antigua (‘Old Church’, originally from the 15th Century), Placa dels Mariners (Mariners Square), and the Ermita de San Salvador (Hermitage of Saint Salvador - originally from the 18th Century but later re-built). There are many other interesting places to visit in and around Calpe, both old and new, and these are all described in a useful leaflet that can be obtained from the local Tourist Information Office. Calpe enjoys a fabulous climate and all year round Calpe weather is generally warm and sunny.

The amazing Peñon de Ifach will be the subject of another article, as it deserves more than just a passing mention here, but briefly it is made up of 50,000m2 of calcareous rock, which rises vertically from the sea, to a height of 332 metres, dominating the skyline of Calpe. It is now a protected Natural Park, although visitors are allowed to climb to the summit by way of a tunnel, carved into solid rock, to facilitate the journey. Visitors allowed onto the rock are limited in number and you should arrive early and obtain a free entrance ticket.

Calpe is located north of Benidorm and can be easily accessed from the N332 coast road and the A-7 motorway.

Calpe Links: Calpe Guide - Calpe Map - Calpe Weather - Calpe Properties - Penon de Ifach - Calpe Beaches - Calpe Spain - Calpe Alicante

Calpe Hotels: Diamante Calpe - Calpe Hotels

Nearby Places: Benidorm - Denia - Moraira - Altea - Albir - Javea - Guadalest - Callosa d'en Sarria - Finestrat - Benissa - Cumbre del Sol - Alfaz del Pi

Attractions: Terra Mitica - Aqualandia - Mundomar - Terra Natura - Penon de Ifach - Caves of Canelobre - Fuentes de Algar - Penyal D'Ifac

Golf Courses: Ifach Golf Club - Real Faula Golf - Spain Golf

Related: Alicante - Valencia - Alicante Weather - Alicante Transfers - Spain - Builders