Torrevieja is a seaside town, located on the Mediterranean coast of Spain, on the east of the peninsula, and is a municipality in the province of Alicante, and the region of Valencia, also within the Vega Baja del Segura area.
As of the last data recorded, which is January 2021, the population of Torrevieja is 82,842, of which 40,721 are men and 42,121, the majority, are women. There are 4,743 registered residents in Torrevieja who are originally from the United Kingdom, these too can be broken down into 2,251 men and 2,492 women.
The overall population of Torrevieja has declined considerably over recent years, loosing “big city” status as a result, and the population from the UK has also seen a decline, dropping from over 12,000 in less than a decade. There has been an increase in the population numbers as Ukrainian refugees have settled in the town, making them the second largest foreign population group behind the British, although their stay is expected to be relatively short-term, until they can return to their country once it is safe.
The origin of the name of Torrevieja dates back to the time of la Reconquista (the Reconquest), the period of the history of the Iberian Peninsula of approximately 780 years between the Umayyad conquest of Hispania in 711 and the fall of the Nasrid kingdom of Granada in 1492 before the expanding Christian kingdoms.
The name, Torrevieja, comes from the descriptive adjectives composed of “torre” y “vigía”, alluding to the existence of observation towers against attacks from the Mediterranean coast. Torrevieja had two such towers, located specifically in the area of Cape Cervera, where the most important were the “Torrelamata” which gives its name to a district of Torrevieja and still stands today, and the “old-tower” that was found close to Cala Cornuda and from which the origin of the name of the city is derived. That tower was destroyed by a major earthquake in the town in 1829.
In the earliest days of the town, Torrevieja was nothing more than a set of watchtowers and houses where the workers of the salt mines lived. It was in 1803 when Carlos IV decided to transfer the administration of the Salinas Reales next to the “Old Tower”, located in the Eras de la Sal, an old salt pier, much of which still stands and is being revived to create an historic tourist attraction, and that is how the name of the municipality was born, from the old Torre Vigía, or Vieja.
Salt from Torrevieja
Salt is of huge importance to Torrevieja. The Salinas de Torrevieja date back to before the 13th century King Alfonso XIII giving Torrevieja city status in 1931.
In the mid-19th century, the extraction of salt was directed mainly through Swedish and Dutch ships. The national market for this product was mainly Galician and, to a lesser extent, Valencian. The importance of the foreign market for this product has been maintained during the 20th century: a quarter of the salt produced is consumed in Spain and the rest is exported, its salt mines being the most important in Europe.
Today, you can not only see the piles of salt ready for export by the factory, but you can also take a tour of the facility onboard a tourist train, although it doesn’t operate all year round.
Torrevieja occupies an area of 71 square kilometres, in which you will find the urban centre, and the two salt lakes, or lagoons. There are also a variety of beaches along the 20 kilometres of coastline, including La Mata, Los Locos, El Cura, El Acequión, and Los Náufragos.
The weather in Torrevieja can be humid at times, although mostly sunny, with a semi-arid Mediterranean climate, rainfall of around 260 mm per year, and an average temperature of 18 ºC.
The municipal area of Torrevieja borders with Guardamar del Segura to the north, with Orihuela to the south, and with Los Montesinos, Rojales and San Miguel de Salinas inland.
Sailing in Torrevieja
There are two ports in Torrevieja, both of which offer full facilities to sailors, but also a range of cafes, bars and restaurants for those looking to speak a pleasant couple of hours in the company of boats. There is also the salt loading facility, but this is not open to the public. The port areas are undergoing major redevelopment work in 2022.