La Iglesia Fortaleza de San Bartolomé de Xàbia or The San Bartolomé Fortress Church is located at the center of the Javea old town. It has been classified a National Historic-Artistic Monument since 1931 and an Asset of Cultural Interest since 2018. Much of the church has been constructed using the typical rough stone seen in a large portion of the old structures in Javea, extracted from ‘La Cova Tallada’, from underneath Cap San Antonio. Historically, the church did not only serve as a house of worship, but also as a defensive fortress!
The oldest section of the church dates back to 1304! In 1513, Domingo Urtiaga, a famous architect of the times, began work on expanding the Church. The reasons for this were due the increase in population in the area as well as to fortify the building from would-be attackers, in this case the ‘Berber Pirates’. It was due to this that the church added ‘Fortaleza’ or fortress to its name! The watch tower of San Bartolomé, standing 30m high, also doubled as the bell tower for the church. Over the years housing up to 6 manually operated bells, all with different names that were later replaced in 1963 for their automatically mechanised counterparts, presumably to save a member of the clergy a job! This architectural treasure is a must see when visiting the Javea Old Town!
Also read: 16 Things to do in Javea
Video San Bartolomé Church
In the many years that San Bartolomé has stood, there have been a number of noteworthy occurrences related to the structure.
- The church grew a strong connection with the well renowned Spanish painter Joaquín Sorolla. Visiting the Town on multiple occasions around the late 1800s, ultimately creating a piece of art titled ‘Staircase of the Church of Javea’ which can now be found in his family’s personal collection.
- In the ground beneath the San Bartolomé Church, there are still a number of undiscovered crypts and funerary boxes. The dates of when they were put there are currently unknown.
- San Bartolomé has been subjected to looting on multiple occasions. Religious ornaments and items made from precious metals were stolen from the church during the War of Succesion back in 1707 and more recently by French soldiers in 1812 and 1936.
- The bell tower of the Church was struck by a bolt of lightning back in December 2019, causing some damage, presumably due to the altitude of the tower.
- Finally, back in January 2020, during the fierce rain storm that ravaged Javea, the bell clock was ripped from the building due to the high winds!
San Bartolomé Church can be visited between 10:30 to 12:30 and in the afternoons Monday to Friday. On Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays, the Church will be open for visitors 30 minutes before Mass. For more information and details on the specific times for Mass please see the bottom of the page.
How to get there to San Bartolomé Church?
San Bartolomé Church is located just under 4km NorthWest of the Arenal Beach. To get there from the Blanca Cars office one must…
Head southwest on the ‘Avenida Arenal’ and take the 1st exit on the roundabout joining ‘Ctra. del Cap de la Nau Pla’, then take the 2nd exit on the following roundabout and continue straight. At the next roundabout, you will once again take the 2nd exit and follow the road until you reach the next roundabout, where you will take the 2nd exit. Take the 2nd exit at the following 2 roundabouts, followed by the 1st exit on the next one.
Follow ‘Avinguda del Trenc d’Alba’ to the next roundabout, where you will take the 1st exit and follow the road as it turns right after just over 100m, becoming ‘Ronda Sud’. The road will bear left becoming ‘C. Trinquete’ and then left once again becoming ‘Calle Rda. Nte’. You should then take your 1st left followed by your second right, at which point any parking space available should do the job as you have arrived!
Javea old town area
Strolling through the streets of the charming old town of Jávea will transport you, back in time, to the Middle Ages. A walk along its defensive walls to meet its main historic buildings will not disappoint you. In the old town you will experience a beautiful place with a rich heritage. After the Arab rule in 1244, Jávea was handed to the Crown of Aragon, but it was not until the early fourteenth century when it began to repopulate the zone needed to strengthen the territory due to continued conflict. In 1397 it obtained the Villa title belonging to the Marquess of Denia.
One of the significant historical moments that marked the city of Jávea was the constant attacks by pirates and corsairs to coastal population in the sixteenth century. This fact caused people to vacate their homes on the coast and went 2 km inland, and in a raised position facilitating its defense, where they built walls to protect themselves that would last until 1877. View properties for sale in Javea old town
Contact San Bartolomé Church
Phone: +34 965 79 11 74
Address: Plaça de l’Església, 03730 Xàbia, Alicante