At the mouth of the River Sella, right one the coast a little north of Alicante on the Costa Blanca is where you will find Villajoyosa. This is a wonderful town that has a rich history and magnificent views. For the curious, the name “Villajoyosa” translates to “happy or joyful town”. The name is extremely apt, especially when you discover the amazing chocolate that is produced here.
Although Villajoyosa is close to Benidorm, the town has a history that goes back much further. The locals have been said the locals think sometimes that “it is close enough to Benidorm whilst being far enough away”.
Around Villajoyosa, you will be able to discover almond, carob and olive trees. There are prickly pears, pines and palms too. The area around Villajoyosa used to have a large number of vineyards too but today these have been largely replaced by tomato plantations. Just like a lot of the towns on the east coast of Spain, Villajoyosa was no stranger to the attacks of the infamous Barbary Coast Pirates.
The legends will tell you that in 1538, on the 29th of July to be exact, there were 36 boats. These boats had been carrying Algerians that were bent on ransacking the town of Villajoyosa. Thanks to the help of Saint Martha, the townsfolk were able to fight the pirates off and save the town. Ever since that fateful day, Saint Martha had been the Patron Saint of Villajoyosa. There is, in point of fact, a regular re-enactment of the Moors landing.
While tourism is huge in Villajoyosa it is not the only source of income for the picturesque coastal town. They are also master chocolatiers and fishermen. These two things may not seem logical partners but the two of them are rooted very deeply in the history of the town.
The original area of Villajoyosa, the original part, has been marked as a historic monument and it still has bridges from Roman times. The town's Gothic church has renaissance era doorways but these have been altered considerably by the neo-classical 'amendments' of the 18th century.
If architecture is not exactly to your tastes, then maybe chocolate is? You can visit the chocolate factories (not Wonka's, sadly) here. Not your cup of tea, or wondering what to do after all that chocolate? The white sandy beaches that are typical of the region are sure to be able to tickle your fancy.
How something a little different? Each day at roughly 5 pm, Villajoyosa’s fish market opens up and it is very much worth a visit – especially during the summertime.
For something a little more conventional, or perhaps after the sometimes crowded fish market, the town centre of Villajoyosa offers time to relax in style. Here you will be able to find a promenade lined with restaurants that openly and warmly invite the traveller to relax and enjoy a glass of wine, maybe a coffee and of course a hearty meal.
Visiting Alicante, any part of it, is a joy in of itself, but Villajoyosa is something special – you need to be sure to take the time to visit.