Some cities are automatically on our travel radar; Madrid, Barcelona, Seville. Some cities are added as we learn more about an area, and a small city like Pilar de la Horadada which might not otherwise have made it on our travel wish list we were drawn to visit after meeting a couple of fellow expats who call this city home. New friends Ruth and Mick came from the UK 12 years ago and settled on life here in Pilar.
Pilar is the southernmost city in the Valencia region of Spain. It was less than a two hour bus ride from our base here in Torrevieja.
During Roman times Pilar was called “Thiar’s Mansion” and was a trading post situated at the foot of the Via Augusta, one of the oldest and most important Roman roads in Hispania. It is believed that this was the main route between Illici (Elche) and Carthago Nova (Cartagena).
Pilar was settled by the Moors in the 8th Century and remained under Muslim control until the 13th Century. Between the 13th and the 17th Centuries this region saw many attacks by pirates. The Watchtower of the nearby village of Torre de la Horadada was built in the 15th Century to protect the inhabitants from pirate attacks.
The beach along this area of Spain stretch’s for over 4 kilometers and the crystal clear blue waters and the good visibility the sea offers provides a great location for scuba diving. For their added pleasure off the coast is a sunken wreck which can be explored by the most experienced of divers.
In the main town square stands the Our Lady of the Virgin of Pilar Roman Catholic Church. The present church stands on the site of a chapel built in 1616. That chapel was demolished in 1745 but rebuilt in 1752. That church stood until 1975 when it too needed to be demolished. The present church seen today was built in 1982. The bell tower was built in 1899 and stands at a height of 24 meters. The bell tower houses four large and several smaller bells.
Pilar is a very expat friendly city with the majority of expats coming from the UK, Germany, Norway and Canada and the population of the area is around 25,000. Most of the region is holiday housing so on the day we visited we were the only people in the complex where Ruth and Mick live.
Every Friday the city hosts a Farmer’s Market and we timed our visit to coincide with market day. There was a wonderful selection of fresh fruits, vegetables, dry goods, clothing, cooked meats, candies and baked goods. Mike loved the fresh cherries he bought and I love the new house dress I got.
Pilar is on the famous Camino de Santiago. Rough translation of the photo says, ‘from this point in the city of Pilar de la Horadada is the beginning of the southern route of the Camino de Santiago of the southeast. Its distance is 1240 kilometers (740 miles) to Santiago de Compostela’ (the location of St. James Church in Santiago, Spain).
Pilar has a laid back and quiet vibe, beautiful beaches, plenty of restaurants to choose from, easy to walk streets and good public transportation. They even have a senior center where seniors gather to get a hot noon day meal.
Our time spent with Ruth and Mick always seems to fly by and we never seem to run out of things to talk about, so when they suggested we come to Pilar so they could show us around their little town we jumped at the chance. On this day we spent 8 hours walking, talking, exploring, and taking pictures, lots and lots of pictures of this small coastal town. While Pilar does have tourist attractions and would make a worthwhile stop for other travelers what made our time in Pilar so special was the time we got to spend with new friends, and that is something that you won’t find in any guide book.