Calpe or Calp is a coastal municipality located in the comarca of Marina Alta, in the province of Alicante, Valencian Community, Spain, by the Mediterranean Sea. It has an area of 23.5 km2 and a population density of 990 inhabitants per square kilometre. The city lies at the foot of the Penyal d’Ifac Natural Park.
The economy of Calpe is based mainly on tourism and fishing. Many Iberian, Roman and Arab archeological sites exist in the town because of its strategic coastal location.
The history of Calpe.
There are some remains that testify the presence of inhabitants in the region of Calpe in prehistoric times; some remains date back to the Bronze Age. The first buildings were introduced by the Iberians, constructed on the higher grounds.
The Penyal d’Ifac (in Spanish Peñón de Ifach) was the natural lookout for the inhabitants that lived in the surrounding areas. Another lookout was the Morro de Toix Mountain, from which the Mascarat Ravine, an essential passage along the coast, could be controlled. The area gained in importance during the Romanization of the Iberian Peninsula. The township’s proximity to the sea favoured marine trade and fish factories. Evidence is at the historical site Els Banys de la Reina (the Queen’s Baths).
After the Arabs conquered Iberia, they built a castle overlooking the Mascarat Ravine. When the area was conquered by the Crown of Aragon, the Muslim administration was maintained: small townships set apart and protected by a castle or fortress. Therefore, the inhabitants of the region were dependent upon the Castle of Calpe.
In 1290, Calpe came under the control of the Aragonese admiral Roger of Lauria, who ordered for a village named Ifach to be built in the proximity of the Rock of Ifach. In 1359, the battle between the then monarch Peter II of Aragon and Peter I of Castile in the War of the Two Peters caused the destruction of Ifach and a surge in the population of the Alqueria (from the Arabic Al-garya, meaning the «small town»). This rural building, generally constructed on mountainsides, is of an austere nature and simple design. It is made up of one or two floors at the most, with just the one gallery.
In 1386, the administrative unit of the Castle of Calpe was divided into the towns currently known as Benissa, Teulada, Calpe, and Senija. The town was plundered by Barbary pirates in 1687. 290 townsfolk were captured and taken to Algeria, where they were imprisoned for five years, until their liberation in exchange for gold and the release of pirate prisoners. Then, the town had 18 houses inside the castle walls and some 350 inhabitants. In the 17th century, there was an increase in the population, which gave rise to the consolidation of Calpe.
Places to see in Calpe.
What to see in Calpe?
Natural Park of Peñon D´lfach:
The Peñon de Ifach rock, also known as Calpe rock, is what dominates the landscape in Calpe, as this is the highest point in town, at 322 m altitude. This used to be a place of high importance in the towns defense stratergy in the past, as they used the rock as a lookout point to spot pirates or other enemies attacking from the sea.
Calpe old town (Casco antiguo):
The old town is one of the best places to see in Calpe and all you have to do to discover its charm is to let let yourslef get lost in its narrow cobblestone streets. The historical center is located 2km away from the coast. You’ll discover a wonderful mix of European and moorish archtecture, as a proof of the old town´s past and present, with colourful murals, tiles and balconies decorated with flowers.
Where you should go and see:
- Parc natural Del Penyal D’ifac
- Carr. del Peñon, 03710 Calp, Alicante
- Edificio La Muralla Roja
- Partida Manzanera, 3, 03710 Calp, Alicante
- Platja de Cantal Roig
- Mirador de Carabineros
- Centro de interpretación Parque Natural del Penyal d’Ifac, C/. Illa de Formentera, S/N, 03710 Calp, Alicante,
- Paseo Ecológico de Benissa,
- Avinguda de la Marina, 307, 03720 Benissa, Alicante,
- Calpe, Spaanse trappen,
- Carrer de Pedro García Ortiz, 34, 03710 Calp, Alicante,