Xàbia is a wonderful place to explore. Its beaches are renowned for their beauty, the waters for their snorkeling and diving opportunities. The headlands and natural parks offer stunning opportunities to walk through nature and enjoy superb views. And our mountain on Montgó, looming up above us to the north, providing a protective boom from the savage northern winds, is always worth a climb.
But there are many other places to visit, sights that might not necessarily be well-known or obvious to both the residents and the visitor. We call them ‘Hidden Xàbia’.
If Only Trees Could Talk
Sometime between 800 and 1,000 years ago, a tree was planted under the watching eye of the majestic mountain of Montgó, its steep southern cliffs providing protection against the savage northern winds. No-one knows exactly who planted it, although it was most probably a Moorish farmer who found the fertile soil and warm climate perfect for cultivating olives to make the much-loved and delicious oil from its fruit.
The Night of the Abyss
Once hidden amongst trees just a few hundred metres from the mountain road linking Xàbia and Dénia, a tall stone cross marks the location of a macabre tale in the modern history of the region: the story that became known as “The Night of the Abyss”.
Uncovering Ancient Industry
The fire of September 2014 devastated the plateau of La Plana, stripping it of much of the tree cover that provided welcome shade to visitors exploring this wide flat plain. However, two old stone structures were exposed, the remains of the lime kilns which were used to extract quicklime which would be then used in the construction of local buildings.
The Carved Cave
Cova Tallada – the ‘Carved Cave’ – is “hidden” on the other side of the great plateau of La Plana, a cavern hacked out of the steep walls of the headland by ancient hands to provide the building blocks to construct such iconic features such as the historic church of San Bartolomé in the heart of the historic centre of Xàbia as well as several towers which form the complex of the castle of Dénia.
The Holy Caves
On the very end of the headland of Cap de Sant Antoni, just below the lighthouse, lie several caves known as ‘Les Coves Santes’ – the Holy Caves. They can’t be seen from the beach area, only from the sea, and to reach them is a challenge to those who might suffer from a fear of heights since they are clinging to the walls above the sea and the path does the same with ropes placed to assist.
Taxing The People
El Fielato was located next to the Gata bridge which crossed a now-covered ravine at a point which is now the beginning of Calle Dr. Borrull. On the right, as you entered the village, it was effectively a tax office that charged merchants and producers on their wares before they entered.
The Conquest Chapels
Conquest chapels are so named because they were built during a time when Christian settlers moved down from the north after the conquest of the Valencian lands in the first half of the 13th century, pushing the existing Moorish population into the dark valleys and mountains inland and building their own places of worship.
When The Town Was Defended by Rocks
War arrived in Xàbia in 1812 when French troops swept south after the fall of the city of Valencia and occupied Dénia before driving on towards Alicante, taking Jávea, Teulada and Calp. Then surrounded by high walls, Jávea resisted for a while, assisted by the emergence of the ‘guerrilla fighter’, but couldn’t hold out for long before the French troops managed to force their way into the town to be faced by an unlikely last stand.
When Pirates Roamed the Sea
Every summer, the port of Xàbia is filled with vibrant colours and deafening noise as the town celebrates its annual ‘Moors & Christians’ fiesta. Whilst the fiesta essentially reminds us of the Muslim invasion of the Iberian peninsula, they are also a hint of a terrible danger that the people who lived so close to the sea had to endure in their daily lives: the threat of the pirates.
The Cinderella Castle
In the 1920s, one of Xàbia’s most striking architectural pieces was created, a neo-Gothic villa with pointed doors, windows, small round towers, battlements and a high round tower with arrow slits and pointed roof reaching high up into the blue sky.