Las Torres de la Huerta is a network of stone towers scattered seemingly at random across the landscape just a few kilometres to the north of Alicante city. They were put there in the 16th and 17th centuries. Clearly this was a massive project in its day. But who built them, and why?
For the answer, let’s rewind to the 1500s. Working on the land around Alicante was kind of risky back then. Bands of marauding Berber corsarios from north Africa attacked the coastal settlements at regular intervals, intent on kidnap, pillage and worse.
If you couldn’t run away fast enough, being captured and sold as a slave in the markets of Algiers was a frighteningly real possibility.
One account talks of an attack on the coast in 1550 by 27 ‘Turkish’ vessels. Thirteen farm workers didn’t make it to safety in time and were kidnapped.
Another attack took place almost a century later, in 1643. This time, the settlement of San Juan was the target. The raiders looted the church and made off with 108 women, 42 children and 83 ancianos (elderly people). For a list of attacks – and there were a lot – tap here It’s in Spanish, but Google Translate gives you a fair idea.
The answer was towers. Lots of them. Places to run to when the piratas berberiscos were on the rampage. The strategy clearly worked, as the raids became much less frequent in the second half of the 17th century. And plenty of las Torres de la Huerta survive to this day.
What was la Huerta de Alicante?
The ‘huerta de Alicante’ is loosely translated as the garden of Alicante. But why was it worth protecting?
Four hundred years ago, it was rich and fertile farmland, largely thanks to the recently-built Tibi Dam up in the mountains, which released huge quantities of river water for irrigation.
But none of this extra cultivation was much good if the workforce lived in constant fear of attack.
So over a 200 year period, around 30 towers were built. Some had houses attached where the landowner and his family lived, but they also doubled up as a place of refuge for the peasants who worked the surrounding land.
Some of the surviving towers are recently restored, plenty are private houses, one or two are restaurants, and more than a few look in serious need of some TLC.
You’ll find some marooned incongruously in a sea of modern houses, flats and shopping centres, generated by the tourism of Playa San Juan and Albufereta. Frankly, there’s not a lot of agriculture going on in the huerta de Alicante these days.
On the tower trail
It’s fun tracking them down – try doing it on a bicycle or an e-bike. There are around 20 surviving towers scattered across San Juan and Albufereta. I reckon doing the lot on a bike would take you 2-3 hours. The trail is about 12km long in total.
There are a couple of maps at the bottom of this post – jump to them here. They’re based on this guide, which we followed. It’s in Spanish, but the visuals are very clear, even if you aren’t a Spanish speaker.
You can walk easily between some of the towers too, although doing all of them on foot in one day might be hard work in the heat of summer!
Each tower has a plaque nearby explaining its history (in Spanish and Valenciano only). The plaque also helpfully tells you where the next tower on the trail is.
The hidden towers
You can see nearly all of the 20 towers on the guide. Just a few exceptions: Tower 12 (Torre Alameda) is part of a private estate and can’t be seen from the road. To see what it looks like, check out this post instead. Tower 14 (Torre Bosch) is an events place and you can’t see it from the road either – but check this link for a virtual tour.
Finally – and disappointingly – the last one (Torre Tres Olivos) is just a heap of rubble at the back of a housing estate. Not worth the detour!
To view the last five towers on our route, just click or tap on the images below.
Suggested tower route
This map will take you round the first ten towers up to Torre de la Santa Faz, assuming you’re travelling by bike (Google Maps only lets you put 10 locations on any map!) The rest of the towers, from Torre de la Santa Faz onwards, are on the second map below.
More places to visit around Alicante
Check out these posts:
- My top ten things to do in Alicante
- The spectacular skywalk at the Santa Pola lighthouse
- Take a trip to Tabarca, Alicante’s island
- The majestic Tibi Dam, source of irrigation water for la Huerta de Alicante
- Walk to the Cabo de la Huerta lighthouse
© Guy Pelham
6 thoughts on “Discovering las Torres de la Huerta, Alicante”
Hope this finds you in good health.
We usually visit Alicante City every February. Apart from Covid.
Found your viewfromlavila.com site so helpful. Thanks so much for all info.
We are staying in Villajoyosa In February 2023. So looking forward to it.
Hi Iain, thanks for reading my blog and your kind comments. Enjoy La Vila! It’s a beautiful part of the world. Regards – Guy
I’m enjoying reading your blogs.
For my sins I am the “tour leader” organiser (dogsbody!) for a forthcoming visit to Alicante for myself, my wife and 2 other couples. All of us are in our early 60’s.
We are staying in Alicante old town arriving late on Thursday 30th April & returning to the UK Monday 3rd April. So we have 3 full days to explore!
I am in the process of reading through your posts – trying to pick out the best bits that would suit our group.
Obviously this is a very short break so we wont be able to cover a huge amount – what are the “unmissable”?
Can you recommend any restaurants / bars? We certainly will be trying to avoid anything too commercial! In the UK we enjoy real ale pubs / craft beer bars – and “good medium priced restaurants” – so not Michelin starred! We like character, where the locals eat & drink?
I am also thinking of planning a day along the coast towards Benidorm on the tram – any advice? which are the most picturesque stops? start at Benidorm & work back?
We are not particularly interested in ruins / museums but don’t mind short-medium walks. Island boat trips may be of interest?
Any help / guidance / suggestions or “avoid” is most welcome!
Hi Stuart, thanks for reading my blog! Eating in Alicante – try El Tapenot (corner of Plaza Gabriel Miró) near the waterfront. Katana – great Asian fusion, in the basement of the Mercado Central (the market itself is worth a visit too). Booking recommended for both. Tapas – Cerverceria Sento. Calle San Pascual in the old town, or a standing-only place in Carrer Gerona. Plenty of bars and places to eat around Calle Castaños and also the old town (aka Barrio de Santa Cruz). Must sees in Alicante – the castle, wander through the old town, the Explanada on the waterfront. Check out my blog on top ten things to do in Alicante. If you’re taking the tram up the coast, I’d definitely recommend our town of Villajoyosa (aka La Vila Joiosa). Beautiful beach, lovely old town, great places to eat – take a look at my blog posts on things to do and places to eat and drink there. A little further up the coast is Altea – beautiful hilltop old town (change in Benidorm). Enjoy Alicante! Cheers – Guy
Thank you for your suggestions – now working on them some more!
We have 3 full days Fri 31st March, Sat 1st April & Sun 2nd
Plan so far ………..
DAY 1 – hire a private taxi to take the 6 of us for a day out?
To drive to El Castell de Guadalest (have a walk around / coffee) then onto Fonts de Lalgar – have a swim then onto Altea before returning home. Do you know anyone who may do this? Any recommendations? Is this feasible?
DAY 2 Another full day out but on tram this time – to Benidorm (Old Town) – then return via Villajoyosa…….any other stops on way back?
DAY 3 – Alicante – Castle, Old Town, Esplanade, harbour etc
This sounds a bit daft – but would you do the above in that order? or would there be any reason for doing one of the days on the Sunday (sometimes have different prices / openings etc?)
We would like to book El Tapenot – but Facebook page is all in Spanish so struggling! May just call in or ask our AirBnb host to ring them when we arrive!
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Hi Stuart. Like the plan! Can’t help you on private taxi to Guadalest though. Maybe hire a 6/7 seater car at the airport and drive yourselves? Try DoYouSpain.com…their prices are good. I wouldn’t bank on swimming at Fonts de L’Algar – the water will be cold. The stream comes from the mountains! Altea very picturesque. Day 2…definitely don’t miss Villajoyosa! For my money, it’s much nicer than Benidorm….but I’m biased. El Tapenot – just drop by and ask. Somebody will speak English! Think they may only take cash these days though. Hope it goes well. Guy