A Day Visiting Castles in Alicante Province – Featuring Villages Sax & Biar
One of the many things we love about Spain is all the castles there are to see here, and the castles in Alicante Province are no exception. It’s amazing the amount of small villages and tiny towns that are still centered around a Medieval castle. The castles in the province of Alicante are especially evidence of the progression of history in this Mediterranean area, from the Romans to the Moors and finally the Christians.
Best of all, it’s easy to see more than one castle in a day when you’re already in the Alicante province. You just need to know what castles to focus on. And trust me, there are a lot to choose from. To help you out, here are tips and a suggested itinerary for a day seeing two castles in Alicante Province, featuring the villages of Sax and Biar.
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How to Get Started Seeing Castles in Alicante Province
Above Image – The gated entrance to the Castle in Biar.
t’s good to know that Alicante is not only a province in Spain, but it is also a major city and the capital of the province. The city of Alicante is a port city located on the Mediterranean. It’s wonderful to visit as well and has its own massive castle, the Castle of Santa Barbara.
The Province of Alicante is located within the Valencia Region, also known as the Community of Valencia. The coastline here is called the Costa Blanca.
There are around 65 castles in Alicante province. A few of them are just Roman towers and many are castles and fortresses. Most of the castles charge a small entry fee, usually ranging anywhere between two to six Euros per person.
The most important thing to know is the opening days and times. The majority of castles in Alicante Province are closed on Mondays. We found out the hard way! Some of them can still be walked around and admired when closed, but otherwise cannot be entered and toured properly to see any interior spaces and learn more about the history.
We visited these castles in Alicante in early January so there were very few people, less traffic, and no difficulties finding parking.
Visiting the Village of Sax for Seeing Castles in Alicante Province
Above Image – The view of Sax village from the stairway entrance to the castle. One of two entrances.
To start our day of seeing castles in Alicante, we first drove with friends Abel and Ana to the small village of Sax. True to Spanish style, we did not leave our town of Denia until around 10am. The drive to Sax from Denia is about 1.5 hours long.
As we approached the village of Sax from the highway, we could see the rectangular towers and intimidating walls with battlements rising up on a rocky hill. It certainly looked impressive, even though it is not very large.
Keep in mind that in Castilian Spanish, the village name is spelled Sax (pronounced ‘Saks’ or locally ‘Sas’), while in Valencian (and Catalan) it is spelled as ‘Saix’.
The History of the Castle of Sax
The Castle of Sax was part of a series of defensive fortresses since Muslim times. It is believed that the base of one of the towers goes back as far as Roman times and the foundation of the castle overall dates back to the 10th century. The rest of the castle is Muslim from the 12th century.
This castle was fought over and sieged various times over the centuries, with the last battle there being fought in during the War of Succession in the early 18th century. Since then, it was in the ownership of Dukes and then in recent times became property of the municipality.
The castle is today wonderfully restored and maintained. It truly is a wonderful castle to visit in the Alicante Province.
Accessing the Castle of Sax
Above Image – The main entrance to the Castle of Sax.
There are two entrances to the castle, one from the town side which is a metal stairway that starts at the hermitage of San Blas. This small, 13th century church is right at the base of the hill on which the castle sits. It is built on the same site as an Islamic Mosque. At the top of these stairs are beautiful views of the village and valley below.
The entrance on the backside of the hill, allows for more parking along the street and a road for vehicles to drive up, for those with special needs. We parked at the large gate on the road and enjoyed the gradual walk up. This path walkway is a paved, single lane road and goes through a green, pine tree filled area on the sloping back side of the hill. There are small dirt trails to venture off on and some picnic tables.
As you go higher, you can see lovely views of the valley and nearby sierras. Arriving at the castle, you can admire how it is perched right along the hilltop ridge. The one tower and its walls on either side are built right into the craggy boulders of the hill. It looks like the castle was practically carved out of the rock.
Visiting the Village of Biar for Seeing Castles in Alicante Province
Above Image – Strolling the charming and pristine streets of Biar village.
Only a 20-minute drive from Sax is the village of Biar. We headed there next and were on the lookout for lunch. If you want to also spend time in the village, which we highly recommend, there is a convenient parking area in the town that is off the road Camí de la Fonsanta. This backs up to a small park.
From there, I suggest walking past the Plaza de España, from which you can already see a view of the castle. Then take the street Carrer Mayor (Major in Valencian) to the Plaza de la Constitución. Here you can see the beautiful main church of the town, called la Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción.
We highly recommend taking your time to stroll down the Carrer Mayor to admire the well-cared for, classic buildings. It seems to be primarily a pedestrian street. Various streets that extend from it go up towards the castle, providing picturesque scenes (photo opp anybody?). It’s a beautiful, easy walk and it’s clear to see that the village is very clean. We did not see one drop of dog poop anywhere (and that’s a lot to say for a Spanish village)!
Where to Eat Well in Biar Village
In the corner of the Plaza de la Constitución is the restaurant La Fasana (Facana in Valencian). It is part of the hotel there that has the same name. A local friend of our’s recommended that we eat here and we are so glad that we did.
There is a front terrace that gets the midday sun, which on this winter day was perfect. The interior is charming as well with some old world decor and a cozy environment. For us, it was ideal to sit on the terrace drinking a vermút casero (homemade vermouth). We really love Spanish artisan vermouth and this one was so delicious that we bought a bottle of it to take home. If you like this classic Spanish aperitif as well, we suggest you do the same. We were also impressed that they have local craft beers and Eric enjoyed a dark beer (cerveza negra) by La Sagra.
The weather was so nice that we ended up staying on the terrace for lunch as well. How could we not when it was so picturesque. We had an open view of the plaza with the romantic church and elegant tower rising up just across from us. The European picture was complete with the fountain of flowing water in the center of the plaza.
At Restaurante Fasana, we feasted on several tapas that we shared between the four of us. Everything was fresh and delicious, from the artichokes and salad to the croquetas and potato dish of chistorra, padrón, y patatas laminadas (one of their specialties). The service was friendly as well, with great suggestions made. I enjoyed a glass of their house red wine, which was also very nice.
Finally, Visiting the Biar Castle in Alicante Province
Don’t worry – we do make it to the castle in Biar. Remember, lunch is a very important time in Spain. Once we were done eating, we did not have far to go to reach the castle. From right beside the Hotel and Restaurant La Fasana, take the small street Carrer Capellá Reig and begin to walk up. You’ll start to see glimpses of the castle nearby on the hilltop and will not have far to go.
There is a nice parking area much closer to the castle but we really enjoyed the stroll up there, and you may want to do the same. The little narrow streets are lined with charming doorways set in old world stone homes. We even got to meet one of the lovely older couples taking an afternoon stroll who told us about being born and raised there.
Arriving at the base of the castle, you’ll get to enjoy a splendid view of the valley and the charming village below. The hillside here is covered with lavender bushes and flowers, making for a pleasant area to sit and pet the occasional local cat.
The History of the Castle of Biar
Above Image – One of the towers of Biar Castle with a view of the village below.
Walking up to the castle’s main gated entrance is an easy walk and gradually climbs the hill. At the top is where you can take in another fantastic view.
The Castle of Biar is built in two parts and shaped in a square with four towers on each corner. Inside this walled area is a semicircular building and then four cubic structures.
It also has a main tower which is referred to as the tower of homage. This is the architectural gem of the castle and dates back to the 12th century, with an Almohad dome which is considered to be one of the oldest in the Western Arab world.
Visiting Castles in Alicante Province
Above Image – A gorgeous sunset in the village of Biar.
While there are many neighboring castles in this area, we found it perfect to see two of them in one day. This allowed time to see some of the village of Biar and to enjoy a memorable, local lunch.
One last tip is to make sure and wear good footwear. This way you can truly explore the castles and take in more sites by strolling the charming village streets.
Have you visited any castles in Alicante Province? We’d love to hear your recommendations in the comments below!
Written by Amalia Maloney Del Riego
Certified Travel Consultant & Content Creator
I love living in Denia, Spain and traveling worldwide. My idea of a great time is ‘eating and drinking’ my way around a new place and meeting the people. As a certified Travel Consultant, I specialize in custom travel planning for trips throughout Europe, as well as scouting trips for moving to the Costa Blanca area of Spain. Here on MoveToTraveling.com you can enjoy our Europe travel resources to experience Europe and live in Spain.