The population centre which we today know as Altea la Vella, situated in the municipal area of Altea, had its own identity in the medieval period until the 16th century. Before this, there had been important settlements located between the Algar river and the Sierra de Bernia mountain range, but these also suffered episodes of change, population movements and also abandonment.
The first evidence of occupation in the area of Altea la Vella, although scarce, is from the Neolithic period. During the 2nd Millennium the population level was higher, with people living in settlements which made use of the surrounding resources and which controlled the territory. The number of settlements increased during the Iberian period with a quite dense pattern of settlement, a situation which continued into the Imperial Roman 121 period, although the population was centred and organised around the Pila Roman Villa. From the 5th century
A.D. a demographic decrease occurred but the population level was revitalised during the Andalus period, when the Altâya “alquería” (Moorish hamlet) became the organising centre of the territory. The Christians changed its name to that of “Altea”, a settlement from which the feudal economic exploitation of the north of the Algar river was organised until the 16th century. In this century the houses of Altea were uninhabited until the 18th century when new settlers came to live on the site of the “vieja” (old site), and who named the hamlet “Altea la Vella”.
Text: Jaume Antoni Martínez García
Photo: Pere Teulaí