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Calpe, Alicante - In the shadow of the imposing Rock of Ifach
Calpe is located a 20 minute drive North of Benidorm, just over 1 hour from Alicante, along the N-332 (ca. 15 km).
From whichever direction you approach Calpe, the dominating view seawards is of the Peñon de Ifach, a 332 metre rock that is now a nature reserve but has been used since Phoenician times as a defensive standpoint against pirates and Barbary raiders.
The town itself has many contrasts, where the traditional fishing village and bustling port combine well with modern roads and architecture; it boasts a long Paseo Maritimo (seaside promenade) lined with bars and restaurants, and several kilometres of fine sandy beaches. The two main safe and sheltered beaches have excellent leisure facilities, including sailing, windsurfing and diving centres.
There’s always enough to provide an interesting day out in and around the town. The old town is brightly decorated in lots of streets with huge murals and there are plenty of chi-chi little shops to separate you from your holiday euros.
One benefit of the internationalism here is that there are some excellent restaurants so you can dine from around the world. If you want to try local food you’ll find plenty of good rice dishes which you could sample, as a traditional paella, al horno (oven-baked), or amb fessols i naps (with beans and turnips) or if you’re in a fish frame of mind try putxero de polp or borreta de melva (octopus or fish stew respectively).
Latter-day colonisers are firmly ensconced here, creating a spot by the sea where German bakeries rub shoulders with Scandinavian design stores and British bars where you can have a full fry-up breakfast (until late) or a pint of bitter.
Some of the many German residents have set up the Calpe Carnaval Club to promote the pleasures of the oompah band during their own carnival in February.
One of the town’s main industries is the fishing fleet and each morning at five the boats leave the harbour at the foot of the Peñon de Ifach. Twelve hours later they return, to a welcoming chorus of screeching seagulls, ducking and diving for scraps. As late as 1978 the catch was auctioned on the beach but now it goes under the hammer in the quayside auction house, where a public gallery allows visitors to try and make sense of the rapid-fire buying process. Having failed to do so, you can see the result of a hard days work laid out on display at the restaurants a few metres walk away.
Where lesser dineries try and tempt you with photos of the delights of their kitchens, here the real McCoy lies awaiting your selection. On display in cool cabinets you will see great slices of merluza, daintily dappled salmonete, long, succulent lubina, thick steaks of atun and fat silvery dorada. If you are on a budget a plate of deep-fried boquerones will only set you back seven euros, but if you feel like splashing out the super mariscada is a great floral crustacea display of brown lobster, pink gambas, rose cigalas and deep red carabinero. One hundred and ten euros all in, but enough to keep Mr Noah and family well pleased.
The Peñon de Ifach (Rock of Ifach) is the largest single rock in the Mediterranean called the Northern Rock by the Phoenicians to distinguish it from the Southern Rock at Gibraltar. It has been a Nature reserve since 1987 and provides a shelter for a number of rare plants and home to over 300 species of animals including colonies of sea birds that use it as a nesting ground.
The more lively visitor might choose to shin up the path to the peak, which is some 330 metres high, however you can also walk through the tunnel which leads to the top, from where you have breathtaking views of the surrounding villages and countryside - you can even see across to Ibiza on a clear day! The round walking trip takes about two hours and there is a nature school that provides information on the flora and fauna to be found. Expert climbers, who want the most direct route, can climb the southern face of the rock that drops sheer from summit to sea.
We have a wide selection of great value Calpe Apartments which can be booked online. All at direct prices.
Fiestas in Calpe
Fallas de San José - Feast of St. Joseph - 19th March
Big statues of wood and cardboard are burnt at Midnight on the 19th March on the feast of St. Joseph to celebrate the beginning of Spring. There is a procession through the streets of the old town, a giant paella in Constitution square, sardines and sangria for all present and a firework display at Midnight.
Moros y Cristianos - the Moors and Christians Festival - 21st to 24th October.
Caple celebrates its own Patron Saint 'Santisimo Cristo del Sudor' and the Moors and Christians festival at the same time. Legend has it that Santisimo Cristo del Sudor helped protect the village as the Moors tried to enter. Two battles are re-enacted along the beaches and in a mock castle, specially constructed for the occasion. There are musical acts, fireworks and plenty of food and drink for all.
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