Starting Anew in Torrevieja, Spain

There are two miles of beaches lining the coast of Torrevieja.  This beach is two blocks from our apartment.

There are two miles of beaches lining the coast of Torrevieja. This beach is two blocks from our apartment. Pedestrians can walk the entire waterfront with shops and restaurants lining the walkway.

We have walked the city streets, learned the bus routes, visited the central shopping mall, checked out the main cathedral and located the nearest supermarkets and the public library.  Now that we have our feet on the ground we are free to check out the interesting sights of the city.

The 'coralista monument' is a tribute to music and musicians.  It references the Habaneras singing style brought to Torrevieja by sailors who brought Cuban-style song and dance back from the Caribbean in the 18th century.

The ‘coralista monument’ is a tribute to music and musicians. It references the Habaneras music adopted from Cuba via shipping trade dating back to the 1700’s.

Torrevieja, or old tower, is a city of 100,000 people with double that number when you count the surrounding suburbs.  The original tower that gave the city its name was built as an overlook facing the sea.  The tower no longer exists except for some foundation stones that mark its origin.  The city has since erected a stone tower representing the city’s namesake.

The Torrevieja area had proximity to sub-sea level lowlands just a half-mile inland from the coast.  Some early settlers dug a ditch from the sea to these lowlands and flooded two areas to form shallow lakes that were used as dehydration ponds to make salt.  These two salt ponds are huge, combining to cover over 9,000 acres.  Salt production still takes place and now exceeds 800,000 tons/year exported mostly to Western European markets.  The shoreline areas of the salt lakes are protected parklands serving as habitat for birds and wildlife.  Wading birds are common as they prey upon fish in the shallow lagoons.

Torrevieja's main church viewed from Plaza Constitución.

The city’s central church was rebuilt in 1844 using stone blocks from the old tower that was left in ruins from this earthquake.

The city does not have a natural port, so the area was overlooked until the 17th century as far as a hub of commercial activity.  Early settlers were mostly fishermen from Genoa and Naples looking for less competitive fishing areas.  To this day Italian surnames are common among the local population.   Modern day Torrevieja features a water-break seawall that extends nearly a mile around the city’s main marina which moors over 300 boats.  People can stroll the entire length of the seawall on a beautiful boardwalk and get an outstanding view of the city waterfront from offshore. 

The elaborate altar inside the Church of the Immaculate Conception

The elaborate altar inside the Church of the Immaculate Conception

The main church in Torrevieja, the Church of the Immaculate Conception, was originally built in 1798.  A severe earthquake in 1829, which would have registered a 6.6 using the Richter scale, had its epicenter close to Torrevieja and devastated the city.  Surrounding towns were also nearly destroyed.  There was little history of seismic activity along the Mediterranean coast, so the local populations were caught completely by surprise. 

Picturesque parks are found throughout the city, like this one a few blocks from our home.

Picturesque parks are found throughout the city, like this one a few blocks from our home.

The current city of Torrevieja is a tourist and expat destination.  Nearly half of the population is made up of British expats who own a home or apartment somewhere around the city.  English is spoken in most shops, restaurants and businesses.  There is an English language weekly newspaper, an English cinema, and innumerable groups and clubs including golfing, cycling, acting, hiking and jogging.  Runners were drawn to the 31st annual Torrevieja Half-Marathon, which took place on February 23rd and draws over 2,000 runners. 

The Central Market of Torrevieja offers a variety of fresh fruits, deli items and goodies.

The Central Market of Torrevieja offers a variety of fresh fruits, deli items and goodies.

While we are not beach people per se, we enjoy strolling along the waterfront on a warm sunny day and feeling the cool breeze.  And now that we have our bearings, we look forward to getting to better know our new home town.


12 comments on “Starting Anew in Torrevieja, Spain

  1. Bienvenido! Hope you enjoy your time in your new home and enjoy getting to know your local area. Will need to look out my map to give your top places to visit 😉

    • Mike Lince says:

      Thank you – and your post about the Real Spain will play a part in our planning as we prepare to explore more of this beautiful country. Your insight is bound to prove useful. – Mike

      • It’s about not having unrealistic expectations or treating people/the country any differently to anywhere else. Right now, I have a Spanish plumber working on my block. I speak enough Spanish for him to understand, we get on well, and that’s how it goes. Spain is a beautiful country, I love it very much and I know some lovely Spaniards.

  2. Those beautiful blue skies Mike – no drab overcast for you two! The place looks fascinating, as does its history. It always feels good after you get your feet on the ground. Looking forward to more as you explore. ~Terri

    • Mike Lince says:

      Spain is so different than any country we have visited, and we are seeing dramatic differences between the big cities of Barcelona and Madrid and the coastal regions, which have been exploited by many European expats looking for warmer weather. When people learn we are from the U.S., they seem surprised. They typically remark, ‘We don’t get a lot of Americans here.’ I guess we are something of a novelty, and my Spanish is getting good enough that people cannot determine from my accent that I am American. And there are no ‘gringos’ here. That is strictly a New World term. – Mike

  3. I’ve just been listening to flamenco, and then here is your post from earlier! Wonderful!! This sounds like such a perfect place for you guys to land. The scenery, the weather, the culture… it all sounds incredible! Right now, digging out from snow still, and watching it turn to slush… it Torrevieja sounds divine! 😉 Great to read the update!

    • Mike Lince says:

      Hey Dawn, it is always great to hear from you. I saw your photos from Lummi Island. Sheesh! What a mess. Bear with me while I strive to get caught up with you. We do not have internet in our apartment. Right now we are making daily walks to the public library. It feels strange not to have internet on demand, but it does force us to be disciplined about using our time effectively. We will have more photos and stories coming soon.

      We can tell this area is made for warm weather. There is not any heater in our apartment. It gets chilly at night, but we just throw a blanket over our laps when we are sitting up reading. We have TV, but only four or five stations to choose from, so reading is our main pastime. Abrazos! – Mike

      • Wow! Like stepping back in time! A friend and I were just talking about how dependent we’ve become on wifi, instant gratification, certain standards… we shriek when things are not in place! God forbid, we’d have to… read!!

        Yes, the storm here was quite impressive! (for here) They are saying we may get more this weekend!! Really hard to imagine… that said, Baker has really been lacking snow this year, same with Whistler… so this was needed!! Baker got something like 10 feet in a few days!! Glad you guys are settling in. Can’t wait to see more! xo

  4. Two blocks from the beach – now that’s living!!! Celeste 🙂

    • Mike Lince says:

      We are definitely enjoying our new spot. There are few if any ‘extranjeros’ (the English-speaking expats) in our neighborhood, so we are immersed in the local lifestyle. For example, there is no heat or A/C in our apartment. We probably won’t need A/C since the building is brick and adobe. However, we are snuggling under blankets to stay warm in the evenings because it still cools off here at night.

      It is always good to hear from you, Celeste. Abrazos desde España! – Mike

  5. reocochran says:

    I like that you found a place that has a lot to offer, all within a few blocks of you! The market, beach, churches and history were all fascinating subjects. I would walk the beach daily, just for the feel of the terrain. Hope it will be warm enough to wriggle your toes in the sand… the sun could warm you up and make it so pleasant. I enjoyed the way you led us through the original tower’s history, saddened that it is just a ‘base’ now. A version of the tower to represent the original will have to ‘do.’ I like that they have natural preserves, would like to see the local birds and especially the ‘wading birds.’ All for now from your Ohio ‘bird,’ Robin

    • Mike Lince says:

      It takes awhile to feel like a new place is our own. We try to get out and meet local business people and see the major attractions as well as some out-of-the-way places. Since we were getting cold in Scotland, Croatia was a nice extension of Autumn. Once winter hit in earnest we found a great spot to avoid the cold and storms experienced by much of the rest of the Northern Hemisphere. Now it feels like spring is here and we are ready to spread our wings a bit more. Spain is a beautiful country! Thank you for your great comments, Robin. – Mike

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