Callosa de Segura is one of the towns and municipalities which cluster around the Sierra de Callosa, one of the mountainous outcrops which punctuate the otherwise flat plain of the Vega Baja del Segura area in the south of the province of Alicante. It is not one of those areas which until now have attracted large numbers of residential tourists, but nonetheless offers various attractions to the short-stay visitor to this part of the Costa Blanca province.
As is the case with so many other places in the province of Alicante, the history and identity of Callosa are defined by the geography of its location, and in particular by the Segura flood plain and the mountains with which the town shares its name. The fertile soil of the flood plain has led to agriculture being the basis of the local economy, all the more so since the arrival of the Tajo-Segura water supply canal in the 20th century, although at the same time important shoemaking and other businesses have thrived here. For this reason, despite occupying an area of only 27 square kilometres it is one of the largest towns in terms of population in the Vega Baja.
In the past the agricultural riches gave Callosa great importance, as is reflected in the impressive church dedicated to Saint Martin of Tours (declared a National Monument in 1980), and the mountains behind the town have provided protection to the local population throughout the Moorish occupation of Spain and right back to the Bronze Age. The remains of a medieval castle still perch on an outcrop above the town, and the town centre, which contains three museums, provides plenty of opportunities to appreciate the historical heritage of the area.
Also standing on the mountainside is the attractive sanctuary of San Roque, which was built between the 16th and 18th centuries and plays a crucial role in the celebrations of the patron saint’s Feast Day in mid-August every year. These celebrations are combined with those of the “Moros y Cristianos”, which, as in many other nearby localities commemorate the Reconquista of the south-east of Spain from the Moors in the 13th century.
Other smaller churches in and around the town include those dedicated to the Virgen del Rosario, the Virgen del Pilar, the Virgen de los Dolores and the order of San Francisco, the number of places of worship reflecting the fact that Callosa was a town of some significance and importance in centuries past.
Both the mountains and the flat plain of the Segura also attract plenty of walkers and climbers, and while the Sierra de Callosa may not be the highest in the area, reaching a maximum altitude of 578 metres above sea level, over 1,500 hectares are protected as a municipal nature reserve. In 2017 the area is one of the starting points for pilgrims on their way to the Holy Jubilee Year in Caravaca de la Cruz, and the towns of Callosa, Cox and Granja de Rocamora are also featured on the Camino del Cid, which retraces the movements of the legendary historical figure of Rodrigo Díaz “El Cid” in the eleventh century.
Culture is also an important draw in Callosa, especially the local fiestas, and of course the locals are especially proud of their gastronomic traditions as well. In an area so close to the fish and seafood of the Mediterranean and in the middle of such a vast area of productive farmland, there are few better places to sample the typical specialities of the south of the province of Alicante, and the tourist office even suggests a typical dish to accompany each of the fiestas and celebrations which take place throughout the year!