A short history of Jávea

The first recorded mention of Jávea dates back over 700 years as Jamie II swept southwards to consolidate a launchpad from which to attack the Muslim-held lands of Andalucia.  The modest population of the village has already begun to build a simple watch-tower to protect themselves from maruding pirates but when North African pirates swept through the valley of Jávea, razing much of it to ground, the population was forced to find refuge in Denia and the settlement was abandoned.  A tower was eventually built at the beginning of the 14th century and a community began to grow on the southern flanks of the Montgo massif.  By the beginning of the 15th century, the village of Jávea had its own council and a century later the population approached 1,000.  The persistent danger from pirates resulted in a defensive wall built around the village in the late 15th century, following a perimeter that is still defined by the main roads and give the modern town its characteristic hexagonal shape.  These walls protected Jávea for some 400 years until they were demolished in the late 19th century.

Old picture of the Port of Jávea

During the War of Spanish Succession (1704-1714), whilst Denia supported the Austrian claim to the throne, Jávea remained faithful to the Boubon dynasty and was subject to sustained attacks from the Austrian-Habsburg forces.  For its support of the Bourbon faction, Jávea was rewarded with a concession to export fruit and merchandise. This made the port very busy and it became the main motor of the town’s economy, first through wheat imports and then through the sale of raisins.

Jávea Coat of Arms

For its loyalty to Felipe V, the town was awarded the privilege of using the heraldic iris and two crowned "L's" on its shield.

Fortified Church of San Bartolomé

A century later, during the Peninsular War, Jávea offered resistence to Napoleon's French forces stationed in Denia and one particular, Antonio Catalá, gained infamy for his succesful harassment of the French troops in the region.  During the 19th century, the production of raisins greatly enhanced Jávea's economic fortunes and many of the large palatial houses built throughout the historic quarter date back to an era when Jávea was exporting raisins to much of Europe and even North Africa.

 

Fortunes were already in decline when the devastating Spanish Civil War tore apart the whole country in the 1930s and Jávea didn't escape the horror of war.  Italian fascist bombers bombarded the area around the Arenal whilst the fortified church of San Bartolomé suffered great damage from persistent shelling and the great walls remain pockmarked as a reminder.

 

For many years, agriculture was the main activity in Jávea - wheat, almonds, vines, carob and olives were its major farming produce. Tourism in Jávea began in 1969 with the construction of the state-owned luxury hotel (‘parador nacional’), the only one of its kind on the Costa Blanca, located at the end of Arenal beach. It turned around the fortunes of the town in the 70s and 80s, most significantly in the popularity of European second home tourism, which has created expansion of the service sector, particularly the restaurant and catering trades.