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La Vall de Gallinera

Castell d'Alcalà o de Benissili

The Castle of Alcalà, also known as the Castle of Benissili, is located at the entrance of the natural valley in the west, at an altitude of 784.7 metres above sea level. Its historical name is “Castell d’Alcalà” and as such it appears in the documents of its era. However, it is popularly known as “Castell de Benissili”, Benissili being the village closest to the bastion.

The historical function of the castle was to guard and defend the entrance to the valley from the inland area. This structure follows the typical patterns of a muslim fortress with a big internal courtyard and a citadel. However, its large extension, the structural complexity and its natural protection stand out.

It is possible to distinguish three structures, closed and interconnected, at ground level: the citadel and the two big internal courtyards.The two courtyards are bigger than the citadel. The citadel is situated at the highest point and is formed by a semicircular tower at the southeast end and, at the opposite end, some rather destroyed remains which could have been another tower. This last precinct has a bent entrance gate located in the west and defended by another tower with a rectangular floor plan. The walls are made of rammed earth of different sizes. Masonry work, opus incertum, is also found in the foundations of the walls. The big internal courtyard extends towards the east and is lined by walls of rammed earth with a bent gateway. The third precinct, or middle one, has the same characteristics as the previous one, although it also has a cistern.

It was the residence of Al-Azraq during his first uprising (1247-1258).

Nevertheless, the most interesting thing, according to Josep Torró and based on the remains of rooms found in the courtyard, is the possible existence of a settlement within the precinct of the castle. In fact, the donation of Alcalà by Alfonso III in 1288 to B. de Vilafranca is referred to as a donation of castrum et villam, i.e. of the castle and the town of “Alcalà de Gallinera”. Near the castle there is a spring and a pool where its water is collected.

As an interesting fact, we can highlight that in one of the constructions outside the walls of the castle, the so-called “German from Llombai” built a refuge for himself, which was later adjusted and turned into a mountain shelter.(1)

(1) Torró Abad, J. (1985): "Torres i castells de l'Alcoià-Comtat", Congrés d'Estudis de l'Alcoià-Comtat: Catàleg exposició, Alcoi.

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