After seeing the popular Netflix series Squid Game and finding out that the somewhat strange colored stairwell in this series was inspired by a building in Spain, my interest was piqued. I wanted to admire this architectural icon with my own eyes. To my great surprise, this impressive apartment complex is located in Calpe, a coastal city on the Spanish Costa Blanca. And even better, you can rent a holiday apartment in the building itself. That, you didn’t have to tell me twice. Within a minute I had booked a stay at La Muralla Roja in Calpe. Here I’ll share my experiences about my stay and tell you whether renting a holiday apartment in La Muralla Roja is worth it or not.
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La Muralla Roja
The building may look rather simple and minimalistic, but the design has definitely been thought through. Bofill integrated many courtyards and terraces not only because they look nice or are fun to sit, but they ensure that sufficient natural light enters each apartment.
Also each color also has a function and underlying meaning. The blue color is used for the central courtyard, pink for the secondary courtyards and violet for the stairs, corridors and bridges. Where the red and pink tones contrast more with the landscape, the blue tones blend together with the blue of the sky and sea.
The first impressions of La Muralla Roja in Calpe
After a short night’s sleep, an early morning flight and a car ride from Alicante to Calpe, we approached a maze of streets filled with holiday homes and apartments. My first feeling told me we weren’t in the right area. Just when I thought, how the hell would a building like Muralla Roja be located here in this neighborhood, we turned a corner and I saw the pink peaks of the building appear behind a hill.
Jan and I were silent for a moment. The shape, the colors, the size,… it made a huge impression on us. On one hand this iconic building contrasts to the countless other holiday accommodations in different sizes and styles, but strangely enough it also fits perfectly into this environment.
Once we checked into our holiday apartment, we immediately went out to explore the building. It was already a miracle that we found our apartment quite quickly, because honestly La Muralla Roja is really a maze. The many recurring shapes and elements such as stairs, halls, floors and terraces are so overwhelming that you literally get lost. But if you stay there for a while, you get to know the building and the different routes well. The colors form a point of recognition. By the end of the trip I was finally able to find my way to the pool and back without any issues.
The nice thing is that each color has its own identity and vibe. The dark red part where we stayed was rather dark and mysterious. In combination with the green of the plants it felt very Mediterranean. The indigo blue part reminded us a bit of Morocco. While the light pink looks very fresh and new. That in combination with the pastel violet and blue brought us back to the art deco district in Miami.
Also the light also plays a major role. Depending on how the light falls on the different parts of the building, it will not only look different, but you’ll also experience it differently.
The facilities at La Muralla Roja
Security, privacy and parking
La Muralla Roja is a popular attraction in Calpe. Everyone wants to admire this famous building. Fortunately, La Muralla Roja is private property that you can only enter if you live there or rent a holiday home. The domain is protected by a fence and an electric gate. There is also always a night guard present to keep an eye on things.
A big bonus is that there is also a parking lot on the domain. Ideal if you rent a car like us to discover more of the Costa Blanca. You can park your car nearby and, above all, park safely.
And then we’ve come to my favorite spot in Muralla Roja, the swimming pool. The location of the swimming pool on the roof is the biggest asset. You are completely enclosed and can enjoy the beautiful, colorful architecture in peace. But you also have a very good view of the surrounding landscape and the Mediterranean Sea.
The pool itself is rather small. It is also not the kind of swimming pool where you can swim laps, but rather to cool off at the hottest time of the day. When we were there in October, outside the high season, it was always very quiet and we had the pool to ourselves. I loved sitting here.
It goes without saying that such a unique and vibrant apartment complex also needed a beach club. So the Manzanera Social club was built by Ricardo Bofill in the 1970s. This leisure facility with restaurant, swimming pool and jetty was located on the beach at La Muralla Roja, and could be reached by a stone staircase.
Now you can still use the stone stairs to go to the beach, but those who are looking for the Manzanera Social club will be disappointed. What was once a trendy, vibrant beach bar is now nothing more than a dilapidated pile of stones with here and there a colorful touch of graffiti.
The accompanying rocky beach is public, so everyone can come here to enjoy the sun and the sea. Many tourists come to take a look, but do not go beyond the remains of the club. This means that this rock-covered beach, in contrast to the vibrant sandy beaches in Calpe, remains fairly quiet. And that is why this is my favorite beach in Calpe. It was also just nice and close to our stay. This secluded beach was the perfect place to relax after a busy day of sightseeing and take a refreshing dip.
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Taking pictures at La Muralla Roja
La Muralla Roja is a popular sight in Calpe. Unfortunately, you cannot just enter this beautiful building if you are not staying there. Which is ultimately quite normal, because people actually live in La Muralla Roja.
If you would like to view the building, you can walk around it via Partida Manzanera. Using drones to photograph the building from the air is also forbidden. For professional photo shoots in the building you must also submit an official application.
There are also strict rules for the tourists who stay there to respect the privacy of the permanent residents. You are only allowed to take photos between 10-14 am and 4-8 pm
The beach with the ruins of the Manzanera Social club can be reached via the stone steps that lead you to the beach from the street.
How to book your stay at La Muralla Roja?
La Muralla Roja is partly inhabited by permanent residents bur some apartments are also rented to tourists. You can often book these apartments via booking.com or airbnb. Since the photogenic building is very popular with tourists, prices can be high. This is certainly the case during the high season.
We rented an apartment for 4 people with 2 rooms through booking.com. You can also opt for a studio or an apartment with 3 rooms. We booked a stay for 9 nights in October. The price was very good because our vacation was during the low season.
The communication went through a rental company in Calpe via booking app. We received a quick response to our messages and checking in earlier was no problem either. During our trip we followed all the instructions on the reservation form. It said we could collect the keys from reception. However, when we arrived at La Muralla Roja there was no one to be seen. We could not enter the site either, because it was closed with a fence and an electric gate. We tried to reach the office via the phone number provided to no avail. Then I contacted booking.com‘s customer service, which also failed to get hold of the rental company.
After a bit of searching on the booking app somewhere hidden away, I found an address where we could pick up the keys to the apartment. It is a pity that this was not stated at all on the reservation form, which I had printed so neatly.
We took the car and a few minutes later we arrived at the PlusHolidays office. You guessed it! The office was closed because it was Sunday. Fortunately, there was a note in the display case with a telephone number. Again a different number than the one mentioned on the reservation form. Fortunately, I was able to reach the contact person via this route and he quickly arrived to provide us with the keys and necessary information.
All this took a good hour, so we didn’t lose that much time. But if you book a holiday apartment in La Muralla Roja with an intermediary, keep in mind that you will probably have to collect your key from a different place. Also when you check out you must return the key to the office or deposit it in the mailbox when the office is closed.
How does an apartment look in La Muralla Roja?
A little dazzled by the fantastic and colorful architecture of La Muralla Roja, I euphorically walked into the apartment. When I came in I was a little shocked. The decor of the holiday home we stayed in was completely the opposite of the minimalistic and colorful design of the building.
The interior of the apartment was quite simple and somewhat outdated. So you should certainly not expect the great luxury here. The space is divided into several small rooms. We had two very small bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen, bathroom and balcony. What immediately struck me were the much too large and ungainly furniture for these small spaces and the multitude of cupboards. Those cupboards are of course useful if you stay here for a longer period with a family of 4.
I immediately saw potential. As an owner of my own holiday home this is perhaps occupational hazard, but with a little refurbishment and some more appropriate interior styling this place would look much better. That is of course a decision of the owners.
I didn’t have much problems with the interior of the apartment. We had everything we needed for a successful holiday. We weren’t even there that much since we went on a daily discovery of the most beautiful sights in the Costa Blanca.
My favorite spot in the apartment was definitely the balcony from which we had a beautiful view of the azure blue Mediterranean Sea.
Things to do in the neighborhood of La Muralla Roja
From La Muralla Roja you can walk along the coast via Partida Manzanerato the center of Calpe. It will take you about fifteen minutes. Not only do you get there quickly, but you also enjoy beautiful views of Calpe, Ifac and the Mediterranean Sea.
One of my favorite activities in Calpe was strolling through the old Moorish quarter of El Arrabal. Here you can get lost in the narrow, winding alleys in search of the most beautiful murals, street decorations and colorful mosaics. On Sundays you will also find many local artists who like to immortalize the picturesque streetscape of this charming neighborhood on canvas. You will also find some nice restaurants such as El Arco restaurant and Lapsus Bistro.
Something that should not be missing during your holiday in Calpe is enjoying a sunset from the large limestone rock Ifac. The Penyal d’Ifac National Park is freely accessible. You make your way up via the landscaped walking paths. At a certain point you come to a tunnel after which the route becomes a bit more adventurous. By that I mean scrambling over the rocks along the steep mountain sides. Fortunately, there are many ropes and chains that you can hold on to. Good footwear is definitely a must here. At the top you have a great view over the Mediterranean Sea from Benidorm to Moraira.
Are you not that adventurous? Then you can also enjoy beautiful panoramas over Calpe and the coast from the walking path before you reach the tunnel.
Of course there are still many nice sights in Calpe worth discovering.
Wanna discover more of the Costa Blanca?
Since Calpe is located very centrally in the Costa Blanca, it is the ideal base for exploring this region. The free, secure parking on the domain of La Muralla Roja is therefore a big bonus if you plan to rent a car and go out exploring often. Discover the most beautiful sights of the Costa Blanca, but also visit the inland of the Costa Blanca. You will find real gems there. And definitely don’t forget to visit the beautiful town of Valencia.
Would you like to stay in La Muralla Roja in Calpe? Let me know in the comments below.
Do you want to know more about this region in Spain? Read the following blogs:
- Best things to do in Costa Blanca
- Mini road trip trough the inland of Costa Blanca
- Best things to do in Calpe
- How to plan a perfect weekend in Valencia
Thank you for reading.
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