History and museums
Altea (Valencian: [aɫˈtea], Spanish: [alˈtea]) is a town and municipality located in the province of Alicante, Spain, north of Alicante on the section of Mediterranean coast called the Costa Blanca.
At present, the economy of Altea is based on tourism, which started to grow in the 1950s because of its good weather, beaches and the labyrinthine streets with whitewashed house-fronts that characterize the town. Altea is protected on the north by the bluffs of the Serra de Bèrnia, creating an especially mild microclimate. Its seafront esplanade is planted with palms.
The Iberian coastal settlements at the mouth of the Algar river in the wide Bay of Altea were later joined by a Greek marketplace, named Althaia.
During the Moorish domination the land around Altea belonged to the Taifa of Dénia until it was recaptured by the Christians in 1244 under James I of Aragon. The town was quickly fortified, and walls were erected to enclose what is now known as the "old town" from outsiders.
This maze of cobbled narrow and crooked streets with glimpses of the bay is one of the better features of the town. Other sights include the church of La Mare de Déu del Consol ("Our Lady of Solace"), easily identifiable by its picturesque blue and white domes, tiled with glazed ceramics. There are numerous quaint restaurants near the church, some with a view over the Mediterranean. Note that, if visiting by car, you will need to park several blocks away from the church area as the immediately surrounding area is either off limits to cars and/or the streets are so narrow and steep (or have stairs) that cars cannot pass.
Altea shares a campus of the University Miguel Hernández.
Altea is a founding member of the Douzelage, a unique town twinning association of 24 towns across the European Union. This active town twinning began in 1991 and there are regular events, such as a produce market from each of the other countries and festivals. Discussions regarding membership are also in hand with three further towns (Agros in Cyprus, Škofja Loka in Slovenia, and Tryavna in Bulgaria).