Step back in time in Denia's charming town centre

Denia’s castle, historic streets, traditional squares, churches, museums and monuments in honour of its film-making past, townsfolk and fiestas pay tribute to its rich history throughout the centuries.

The Iberians, Romans, Muslims and Christians have all left their mark on the seaside resort on the north Costa Blanca coast. 

Denia stars in Hollywood movies

You can see the monuments throughout the centuries as you take a gentle wander through the town centre, fishermen’s quarter and up to the impressive castle.

Baix la Mar fishermen's quarter in Denia

A beautiful place to start is in the Baix La Mar, which shows off Denia at her finest with its colourful townhouses and little squares where you can sit outside a bar to take in the captivating atmosphere of this historic neighbourhood.

This was the bustling quarter where the fishermen traditionally lived as it is conveniently situated opposite the port where the fishing fleet sets sail at dawn to return laden with fish and shellfish to sell at auction.

You can start at the Hotel La Posada del Mar, opposite the port, and take the back roads to explore Baix La Mar before turning right on to the Ctra Las Marinas which is lined with restaurants serving lunchtime daily menus at reasonable prices.

Bous a la mar sculpture in Denia

Near the hotel is a sleek sculpture Bous a la Mar paying tribute to the annual fiesta in July when bulls run down the streets to a makeshift bullring in the port where young daredevils try to entice the animals into the sea.

These streets in the fishermen’s quarter  have charming brightly-coloured houses  with vivid flowers Captain Jones sculpture in Deniaoverflowing from the wrought-iron balconies. Turn a corner and you will find typical squares such as Plaza de Sant Antoni or Plaza de la Creu with noisy Spanish bars offering traditional food.

You will find interesting monuments such as stone crosses, busts of famous people or sculptures. Of particular interest in the Plaza de la Creu is a rather comical little character which looks like a Playmobil figure but actually commemorates the making of the Hollywood movie John Paul Jones in Denia in the 1950s.  

Not surprisingly, as well as providing a backdrop to Hollywood movies, Denia’s delights have also inspired dozens of writers.

If you walk from the fishermen’s quarter towards the main shopping street, Calle Marques de Campo, you will find a bust to Miguel de Cervantes, probably Spain’s best-known author for his intriguing work about Don Quixote.

The sculpture to Cervantes is close to a little children’s playground on the Explanada de Cervantes. 

It is a tribute to the time when the author landed in Denia in 1580 following his imprisonment in Algiers. 

This is a great spot for an evening meal in one of the many Mediterranean restaurants or for a stroll along the craft stalls during the summer months.

From here, head up Calle Calderon for a quick look at the toy museum with interesting wooden and tin toys including dolls houses, trains and cars made in Denia in the first half of the 20th century.

The museum is on the first floor of the old train station in Calle Calderon, Denia. Open 10am to 1pm and 4pm to 8pm. Entry is free.

 Calle Marques de Campo in Denia

It’s time now to visit the main shopping street, Calle Marques de Campo. The pretty tree-lined street has a good range of shops, restaurants and bars and is a delightful spot for window shopping.

Denia shops play second fiddle to its fiestas

The street plays a major part in many of Denia’s fiestas including carnival, Moors and Christians parades and the Festa Major fiesta in July when Calle Marques de Campo becomes the starting point for the bull-running, the carnival parades and the crazy correfocs, a theatrical performance of fireworks and fire held at midnight.

In February, the street is alive with the sound of horses hooves and barking dogs as they wait for the traditional blessing of the animals in the church of San Antonio.

The best place to stop for a coffee or meal is in the Glorieta square with its colourful blooms and water fountain providing a peaceful haven.

If you have a very sweet tooth, the Valor chocolate shop a few metres from the Glorieta serves thick hot chocolate with fried dough pastries called churros which are delicious dunked in your drink.

Denia town hall

From here, you can walk up Carrer Cop to the grand town hall and the 18th century Baroque-style Nuestra Senora de la Asuncion church housed in the Plaza del Constitucion.  These impressive buildings are a reminder of Denia’s past and present importance as the capital of the Marina Alta area.

Treasures housed in Denia museum

To find out more about Denia’s rich and varied history, you can visit the Museo Etnologico (ethnology museum) in Calle Cavallers in the historic heart of the town, just off the Plaza del Constitucion.

The museum is in a typical bourgeois house from the 19th century with exhibitions showing the important of the raisin trade in Denia and its subsequent demise. 

In the main rooms on the first floor is beautifully-crafted furniture from the reign of Isabel II in the 19th century along with luxurious clothes and jewellery.

The museum is open from 10.30am to 1pm and 4pm to 7pm. It is closed on Sunday afternoons and Monday. Entry is free.

Historic Calle Loreto in Denia

 Wander along this old street to the charming Chamarel boutique hotel and into the historic Calle Loreto. This is a popular spot for visiting the traditional little bars and trying tapas snacks.

One of the most outstanding buildings is Hostal Loreto, a former nunnery built by the Marques de Campo about 450 years ago. 

Hostal Loreto in Denia

Take a look at its charming courtyard or book a table in the restaurant with traditional wall tiles. You can get a good value lunchtime menu serving typical dishes of the region from old family recipes.

Take a look at the big old doors to the houses and the first-floor wrought-iron balconies of the homes of people living in the historic heart of Denia. Surrounded by these beautiful old buildings, it really feels as though you have stepped back in time to when raisin traders and toymakers ruled in a prosperous seaside town.

Calle Loreto and surrounding streets provide a magnificent setting for the annual Medieval market with stalls selling crafts, food and drink while jesters and acrobats entertain the crowds.

View from Denia castle

Head up the hill to Denia castle

Do make sure you leave plenty of time to visit Denia’s castle with Roman ruins and architectural styles dating from the Muslim era of the 11th century through to the rebuilding of the Governor's Palace in the 16th and 17th centuries.

It’s a symbolic part of Denia’s heritage so is certainly worth visiting to wander around the castle walls where you can enjoy magnificent views over the marina, Mediterranean and the town centre.

Open 10am to 6pm from November to March, 10am to 7pm in April and May, 10am to 7.30pm in June and from 10am to 8.30pm from July to September 15. From September 1 to 30 it is open from 10am to 8pm and in October it is 10am to 6.30pm. Entry is €3 adults, €1 for children, and €2 for pensioners, students and groups.

You can get to the castle by walking up the steps alongside the town hall or jump on the tourist train at Calle Patricio Fernandez.

You can read more about Denia castle and other castles in Alicante province here.