The privileged and strategic location of the Javea valley has attracted the great Mediterranean peoples and cultures, all of whom have left their indelible mark on the town. From prehistory through to the Christian feudal conquest, various eras through the centuries have left a rich historic and cultural legacy.
Javea, or Xàbia as it is known in Valencian, contains evidence of human occupation since the dawn of history. The oldest remains
have been foundrin the cave of Cova Foradada and date from the Upper Palaeolithic period, some 30,000 years ago. These few traces are thought to be from small nomadic groups who used the cave on a seasonal basis, and who were hunters and gatherers.
Also from the Upper Palaeolithic are the earliest traces of occupation in the Cova del Montgó area, where fragments of pottery have also been found. Other remains include group burials in Neolithic caves and early metal utensils from the Bronze Age. In the Cova del Barranc de Migdíathere is a Neolithic site with group burials and an extremely important set of diagrammatic cave paintings thought to have religious or sacred meaning. Bronze Age remains have also been found in small villages on top of hills, such as in Sta. Llúcia, Cap Prim, Alt de Capsades and Els Tossalets.
The development of the Bronze Age settlements and the influence and trading contact with the Phoenicians and to a lesser extent with the Greeks, gave rise to the Iberian culture in the 5th century BC. Major finds from this period include the Iberian Treasure of Javea, found by chance in 1904 in the Lluca area and consisting of gold and silver items dating from the 4th to the 2nd century BC.
Major sites dating from the Roman occupation include the Muntanyar Necropolis, the salting factory at Punta del Arenal, known as Banys de la Reina, and Sèquia de la Nòria, also connected with the salting industry. The Moorish period has left a wealth of evidence in the local culture, not only in terms of archaeological remains but also in the very words still used to refer to many places in the municipal area.
The Christian conquest opened the medieval era, and Javea‘s architecture is a prime example of building styles during this period. In the Modern era, the town went through a period of great economic growth owing to the raisin export trade. This prosperity was reflected in major urban and infrastructure development projects, such as the port and others that have now disappeared, including the theatre, handball pitch and bullring.
Cap de San Antoni Marine Reserve
The lighthouse overlooking the bay from Cap de Sant Antoni was the successor to other defensive and religious buildings that made the most of this privileged site on the plain. The spot was chosen by hermits wanting to get away from worldly life and in the 16th century the Ermita, or chapel, of San Antonio was built in
their honour. This is where the headland gets its name. The headland was declared a Nature Reserve on 9 November 1993 and covers an area of 110 hectares facing the town of Javea.
On top of the headland, at the far end, is the lighthouse, which was first lit in 1855. There is a viewpoint here too, from where you can see the town ofDénia and the Gulf of Valencia to the north and the bay of Javea to the south.
This spot was also occupied at one time by the monastery of San Jerónimo and by watchtowers built to defend the town against pirate attacks. These were later replaced by the lighthouse. The viewpoint is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful settings on the Alicante province coastline.
The reserve protects an area of transition between the low-lying sandy coast containing detritus materials from the Gulf of Valencia and the cliffs, some of which are 150 metres high. Typical of the northern part of Alicante province, the cliffs are protected by the Macizo de Montgó Nature Park. These geographical features have also shaped a varied underwater relief that enables a number of ecosystems to exist side by side.
What else to see in Javea
From Cabo de la Nao headland to Cala Granadella, Javea offers visitors twenty kilometres of beaches and coves for enjoying sun, sea and water sports.
The most popular part of this Costa Blanca town with visitors is the port area. Alongside a wide range of tourist accommodation, restaurants, bars
and recreational facilities, the port is the ideal setting for practising all kinds of water sports, such as windsurfing and sailing. You can even take a boat trip along the coast to Dénia.
Arenal beach is one of the most famous on the coast around Javea. Here, next to the Canal de la Fontana, is the Parador Costa Blanca, set in a fantastic location only a few metres away from the beach.
One of the most beautiful stretches of coast lies between the islands of Portixol and El Descubridor. The transparent waters and amazing variety of life on the sea bed make this a perfect place for scuba diving, which you can also do at Cala Granadella, but this area is more popular because of its fine golden sand.
In Javea itself, apart from the wonderful historic quarter, you can visit the Archaeological and Ethnographic Museum and get a flavour of the town’s interesting past. In the port area, the church of Nuestra Señora de Loreto, which resembles the keel of a boat, is also worth a visit.