The picturesque Orba valley, with its stunning mountain backdrops, steep sloping sides and wide flat valley plateau, lies inland from the coastal resort of Denia, approximately an hour’s drive north of Alicante.
The history of Orba goes back to prehistoric times, as both Bronze and Neolithic artifacts have been uncovered in local caves. UR-OBIA, meaning the place where the water flows at the bottom of the mountain, is where the name of the valley and its main village is derived from.
In 1768, 12 skulls were found in La Cueva de las Calaveras (Cave of Skulls) in Benidoleig and are thought to be those of early Moors. Greeks, Carthaginians, Visigoths, Romans and of course Moors all settled and worked here and the evidence of the Moors’ presence can still be seen, as it was they who terraced the land for the first time, introducing citrus fruits and rice into Spain, as well as many farming techniques still used today.
After the defeat of the Moors, agriculture in the region went into decline in the 14th and 15th centuries and the Orba valley was almost completely depopulated by 1609. In 1611 the Letter of Population defined how land would be re-distributed. Migrants from surrounding villages and from Majorca were brought in to re-establish the population and this Mallorcan influence can still be seen today, especially in the architectural details of some of the houses.
This part of Spain is undoubtedly very wealthy and tourism now earns considerable returns for the locals. The weather probably has an influence as well, with the region’s main town, Denia, being said to have sunshine 320 days a year and the climate of the Costa Blanca is considered to be one of the most healthy in the world by the World Health Organisation.
The fertile Orba Valley, because of the citrus fruits, is remarkably green all year round and in the centre is the small flourishing village of Orba. Flanking the valley are many other small villages of 200 – 500 inhabitants with a slow pace of life and plenty of old world charm, where the economy is still firmly based on agriculture, as rice, citrus fruits, olives, and almonds are all grown in the valley. Life in these villages goes on the way it has for decades, with siestas religiously adhered to and local customs and culture still very much a part of everyday life.
Coastal towns as Javia, Moirara and Denia are but a short drive away and with the combination of sea and mountains, and with every modern requirement being close at hand, Orba provides a healthy and invigorating life style.