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In the central region of Spain's eastern Mediterranean coast lies the Costa Blanca or White Coast. These productive lands have been occupied for more than 50,000 years by Greeks, Phoenicians, Carthaginians and Romans before the Moors arrived. The provinces of Castellón, Valencia and Alicante which make up the Comunidad Valenciana were reconquered from the Moors by a Catalan army. The language left behind by these troops developed into valenciano which is widely spoken in the region and often seen on road signs.

View of the Orba Valley from the Sierra Segaria

The North Costa Blanca known as La Marina Alta (the High Shore) stretches from Denia, a busy fishing port and tourist town, south to Altea with its shingle beach and whitewashed old town on a hilltop behind.

There are many fine beaches along this part of the coast broken by high cliffs and coves.

From the high sierras inland from the coast magnificent mountains reach out toward the sea punctuated by rich fertile valleys abundant with orange groves, almond groves and vineyards.

 

 

 

 

During early spring the valleys are a visual delight with a profusion of delicate pink blossom on the thousands of almond trees.

 

Almond blossom in the Val de Pop

 

This is followed by the far less visually dramatic but far more aromatically impressive display of the orange blossom in full bloom. Stick your head out of the door and the scent is almost overwhelming.

 

          Orange blossom in the Orba valley

                                          

                                                                                                                                                 

There are five main towns along the coast of La Marina Alta starting with Denia on its northern edge. Founded by the Greeks its name actualy comes from the Roman goddess Diana. In the 11th century it became the capital of the Muslim kingdom. Denia has a large harbour and marina overlooked by a walled castle, originally an Arab fortress. From the port regular ferries sail to the Balearic islands.        

                                                                         

 

View across Denia harbour towards the castle    

                                                                                                       

 

Seperating the towns of Denia and Javea (Xabia in valenciano) is the magnificent Montgo mountain rising to a height of 758 metres. Seen from the south the mountain resembles the profile of an elephant.

 

The mountain has a significant effect on the weather in the area and contributes to it being an area rated by the World Health Organisation as having one of the best climates in the world.

Montgo viewed from the south

 

 

Pirate attacks forced early settlers in Javea to build the main town 2km back from the sea and today this is where the old town a collection of narrow street clustered around the 16th century church of San Bartolomé. During the summer the square is used as a venue for a number of free concerts.

 

  The Port area of Javea showing the Cap de San Antonio above the harbour

The port area is a working fishing harbour and yatch marina. There is also a pebble beach and pedestrian front dotted with bars and restaurants. To the southern side of Javea is the Arenal with a sandy man made beach and many bars and restaurants.

To the south of Javea the land rises to the Cumbre del Sol (summit of the sun) which is where the sun first hits mainland Spain. On the other side of the Cumbre lies Moraira, a cosmipolitan holiday resort in a wide sweeping bay with marina and a number of good beaches.

Moraira bay

 

Calpe and the Penyl d'Ilfach

Following the coast road south through an area of villas set amongst pines trees you come to the town of Calpe dominated by the magnificent limestone outcrop of rock Penyl d'Ilfach. Calpe with its long sandy beaches is a favourite holiday resort for families and during the winter retired couples.

 

                                                                              

 

Through tunnels in the rock where the mountain range of the Sierra Bernia reaches down to the sea, you pass the rapidly developing marina area of Mascarat before entering Altea, its labyrinth of streets with whitewashed townhouses of the old town topped by the blue domed Virgen de Consuelo church.

 

 Altea is one of the best preserved  towns on the Costa Blanca and well  worth a visit, its quaint streets  packed with art galleries, bars and  resaurants.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Virgen de Consuelo church Altea Old Town

 

 

 

                                                                             

                                                                                          Cobbled street in Altea Old Town       

 

                                                          

Leaving La Marina Alta to the south of Altea the land begins to flatten out past Benidorm with its skyscraper hotels, all day english breakfasts and football on widescreen television to the city of Alicante. South of Alicante the scenery is drier and more barren, becoming semi-desert in southern Murcia.A port and seaside town built around a large natural harbour Alicante has an elegant mediterranean air that befits the principle city of the Costa Blanca.

 

From La Marina Alta there are many varied places of interest to visit from the sophistication of Valencia, Spains third largest city to inland towns like Xativa with its once grand castle and the theme park of Terra Mitica on the hillside behind Benidorm.

 

Fiestas go one all through the summer with even the smallest of villages putting on their own show. So when visiting Spain a fiesta is bound to happening not too far away. One of the first of the year is the spectacular fallas fiesta centred in Valencia itself, but also celebrated in many valencian towns during March.

Huge papier-mâché figures are erected in the crossroads and squares around the 15th March and ceremonially set alight on the night of the 19th March, St Joseph's day.

 

During the days leading up to the 19th processions of thousands of Falleros pass through the streets carrying floral offerings. Infantil Falleras and infantil Falleros lead parades all resplendant in their traditional costumes.

 

 

 

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