The province of Alicante is a must-see sun and beach destination in Spain. On the Costa Blanca we can enjoy municipalities such as the capital of Alicante, Villajoyosa, Santa Pola, Benidorm, Denia, Javea and Torrevieja. However, inland there are also some municipalities that are worth visiting. One of them is Villena, do you know what to see in Villena?
Villena is located in the northwest of the province of Alicante, very close to the provinces of Murcia, Albacete and Valencia. In fact, in less than half an hour you can access municipalities in these provinces.
To visit the villages of the Costa Blanca, you can stay in our camping in Benidorm Arena Blanca.
The Castillo de Villena, or Atalaya Castle, is surprising for its particular design in the shape of a lying lion. The defensive construction dominates the entire city. It is of Almohad origin and was built during the 12th century. Throughout history it has undergone modifications and reforms, such as the keep, which is of Christian construction and was built in the fourteenth century.
Villena was reconquered in 1240 by the Aragonese, but passed to Castilian control shortly thereafter. The Lordship of Villena prompted Don Juan Manuel to refurbish the castle and reinforce its defenses in order to to lodge in it Doña Constanza de Aragón y Anjou, daughter of King Jaime II. In the Castillo de la Atalaya stands out mainly this keep and its four floors, two of Muslim origin and the other two Christian.
Inside there are decorative treasures such as Almohad vaults, a hand of Fatima engraved in one of the rooms and mural engravings made by prisoners of the War of the Spanish Succession (century XVIII) and Independence (XVIII century) and XIX). The castle can be visited with the presence of a guide. Tickets can be purchased at the Visitor Reception Center.
Santa Barbara viewpoint
Without leaving the vicinity of the castle, down the stairs next to the esplanade where this defensive monument sits, we find the Mirador de Santa Barbara. This place offers one of the best panoramic views of the entire castle.
At the same time, on the way to the village you can see one of the few remains of the fortified wall that surrounded the entire city in the Middle Ages.
The access to this curious place, also called Santa Barbara, is very simple, just go down from the viewpoint by stairs that lead to the Plaza Mayor. The arch is located there. After descending the stairs, you can turn right onto Calle Mayor to go to Plaza Santiago, where the archaeological museum is located. Well, actually it used to be, as it is now located in Madrid Street.
Villena is the second largest municipality in Alicante, after Orihuela. Its particular geographical location, in a quasi-border territory, explains that until 1833 it belonged to the Kingdom of Murcia. From then on it became part of the Kingdom of Valencia, although it had also been part of the province of Albacete. In 1836 it was definitively incorporated to Alicante.
José María Soler Archaeological Museum of Villena
José María Soler was a local archaeologist, researcher and historian, to whom we owe the discovery of the treasures of Villena and Cabezo Redondo. In the first one, almost 60 objects of gold, silver, iron and amber weighing almost 10 kilos belonging to the Bronze Age were found.
This is the most important treasure of golden ware in Spain and the second most important in Europe. The Archaeological Museum, founded by José María Soler, exhibits all the findings of this period and many others such as the Arracada de la Condomina, from the 6th century BC, or the Dama de Caudete, an Iberian bust from the 4th century BC.
The Archdeaconry Church of Santiago is one of the most beautiful religious temples in the Valencian Community. Of Gothic Renaissance style, its construction dates back to the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. The most surprising thing in its interior is the set of helicoidal columns that are only repeated in the Lonjas of Valencia and Mallorca.
The temple has been declared a national artistic monument since 1931, like the Castillo de la Atalaya. It is also an Asset of Cultural Interest. The church can be visited every day except Mondays. The entrance fee is very cheap, only one euro. Attached to the building is the Chapel of Communion, which is a little more modern and adds a tower that overlooks the entire city.
Santa Maria Church
A second must-see religious temple is the Church of Santa María, built in the 16th century on the outskirts of Villena’s walled enclosure. The construction of this temple was based on the old main mosque of the suburb of the town, today the neighborhood of El Rabal.
The church stands out for its high tower and for being the emblem of this neighborhood. During the Civil War the temple was badly damaged and lost its roof, but fortunately it has been restored to restore Santa Maria to its splendor. The most notable loss is the historical archive, which has disappeared almost in its entirety.
And from religion we go to culture. To the question of Villena, what to see in the city, a clear answer is the Chapí Theater, which is one of the cultural buildings with more activity throughout the Valencian Community.
It is named after Ruperto Chapí, a local composer of zarzuelas who had a prolific career during the second half of the 19th century. The theater was inaugurated in 1925. Between the 80s and 90s of the last century it was closed, but a restoration allowed its reopening in 1999. Since then, it has been a cultural space with a wide range of activities.
You know what to see in Villena. Hopefully this small selection will help you discover a city that has many more architectural, historical and cultural attractions and where hiking and adventure sports are another reason to visit. Don’t forget to include some more Costa Blanca towns in your plans.