Río Vinalopó is an eight-mile long river that passes through an area with Spain's largest density of medieval citizens. La Ruta de los Castillos del Vinalopó is a historical and cultural tour where you visit seven municipalities within a seven-mile area.
In this photo presentation we start with Castillo de Sax. It looks impressive on top of a small hill. Only parts of the outer defense wall are preserved and there is not much to see inside, but the view to the city below and the surrounding areas is great.
The town is not so special, but the church is nicely located at the foot of the hill the castle is on.
From Sax, the trip goes north to Castillo de Atalaya Villena. It is the largest and best kept castle in the area. Villena was an important hub for trade and contact between the cities around. Should you only visit only one castle, this is a good candidate.
The castle's architecture has elements from both Islamic and Christian culture. The castle and the city have in their time been the center of a princedom in the days Spain was a federal state.
You should also see the small roundabout and the ornated slope. Villena must have world records in the amount of decor per square meter roundabout.
A little way east you will find Castillo de Biar. Biar has an interesting story. It was captured by the Moors and Spaniards several times during the 800 years the Moors occupied Spain, and each time the new owners built a new floor on the castle tower to mark their supremacy.
On the outside there are walkways and benches that you can enjoy the view from. The town of Biar also has a cozy old town with well-preserved medieval buildings. (See posts about Biar.)
A half-hour drive northeast you will find Banyeres de Mariola. It is a beautiful city that extends right up to the castle on top of a hill. The castle is well preserved, and inside it's a museum where you can see how it was to live there in the Middle Ages.
The museum inside the castle has showcases with clothes suits and items of use from the time the castle was in use and a small cinema where you can watch movies about living conditions in the medieval castle and the castle's history.
From the top of the castle you have views as far as the eye can see to the surrounding areas.
Of course you can plan your trip as you please, but the traditional La Ruta de los Castillos del Vinalopó consists of: Villena, Biar, Bañeres, Castalla, Sax, Elda, Petrel and Novelda. The complete list of citizens and castles in this part of the Alicante region is:
Castlillo de Atalaya de Villena i Villena
Castillo de Bañeres i Bañeres de Mariola
Castillo de Biar i Biar
Castillo de la Mola i Novelda
Castille de Elda i Elda
Palacio de Altamira i Elche
Castillo de Castalla o Castalla
Castillo de Sax i Sax
Castillo de Petrel - Petrel
Castillo del Río i Aspe
More excursions: www.turideer.com
Excursion of the week: The castle route in Vinalopó
Duration: The itinerary from castle to castle is less than 10 miles depending on how you set it up.
Getting there: It's probably best to start in Villena. From there you choose which castles you want to visit. Villena, Biar and Bañeres are probably the best kept castles.
From Alicante follow the A-31 towards Madrid. You will then pass Novelda, Elda, Sax and Villena along this road. If you choose to start in Villena, take CV-799 to get to Biar. From Biar, take CV-804 to get to Bañeres. From there you can take CV-803 to get to Castalla. From Castalla you can drive the CV-817 through a conservation area back to Petrer, Elda and Sax, or you can drive A-7 to Moralet og El Rebolledo and then take A-31 to Novelda. The road through the nature conservation area is more interesting, but it also takes longer because it is narrower and in poorer condition.