The name probably originates from the Greek Althaia, which means “I cure”, or from the Arabic word aṭṭaláya that gives rise to the word Talaia in Valencian, with traces being found from Iberians and Roman times.
During the last phase of Muslim rule, Altea belonged to the Taifa of Denia. It was conquered in 1244 by Jaime I of Aragon obtaining town status in 1279.
The eighteenth century marked an agricultural, fishing, commercial and demographic boom, finishing the century with 5,000 inhabitants, and during the 19th century, official and commercial life moved towards the urban centre near the sea.
The town is located on a small hill near the mouth of the Algar River, north of Alicante. However, there is another town called Altea la Vella that still occupies the site of the old town, just three kilometres from the urban centre. Its origin dates back to the first millennium BC, with Roman and Muslim remains also being found. The different civilizations still show their mark in many corners where the orchards, the acequias, the terraces of olive trees and almond trees maintain this beautiful landscape.
The locality of Altea has an approximate extension of 32 square km with a great variety of altitude. From the beach to the 1129 meters of height of the Sierra de Bernia, the orchard and the ravines, the coves and cliffs, the hills and the large irrigated orchards, and in the middle of this canvas a mosaic of roads, bridges, houses, hermitages and two towns Altea and Altea La Vella, which in its growth are generating new tiles.
In addition, Altea has been creating different suburbs for 400 years.
With large parts of the walled city still intact the difference with the later established suburbs can be seen. Like “Les Costeres”, between Plaza de la Creu and Bellaguarda, structured around 1750. With the arrival of the Alicante to Valencia road and the inauguration of the railroad in the beginning of the 20th century see the strip parallel to the coast develop, nowadays the streets Conde de Altea and Calle la Mar form part of this development.
The beach from where the fishermen sailed their boats was already surrounded by the urban core. The construction of the port towards 1945 displaces the fishing activity that would give way to the Maritime Promenade, with the construction of urbanizations and chalets already beginning around the same time.
On the north bank of the Algar River the construction of chalets begun in the twenties of the last century, with a beautiful selection of these towers and houses having been preserved in the L´Olla and Cap Negret, some as sumptuous as Villa Gadea, but all with interesting elements decorative elements.
Away from the bay, Altea la Vella preserves the atmosphere of its old streets. From its highest point where the Castellet was, the streets wind down, creating a crowded appearance with the church on its summit. And just behind the town, the big fountain “Font Gran” , from where the original water drain of Altea la Vella begun.
In addition to the two urban centers, there are many small groups of houses with sanctuaries that form the so-called Partidas, some of which are over 250 years old. However, they have continued to build sanctuaries and the surrounding farm houses have become summer retreats, which coexist next to more modern urban residential developments.
Altea has lots to offer to her tourists and her residents. Many restaurants and bars are located at the boulevard and in the old town “el casco antiguo”, and let´s not forget the artist galeries and workshops as Altea has been loved since years by many artists. Browse through our event calender to find activities and events celebrated in Altea.