The Sant Josep Tower is the best conserved Roman funeral monument in theCommunity of Valencia. It used to be situated inside an important cemetery, which had tombs that were excavated in the 18th Century. The cemetery could be the necropolisof one of four Roman cities known to exist in the province of Alicante. It was probablypart of the city of Allon, which was mentioned by the writers of the age.
The name “Sant Josep” is not related to the origins of the tower, but to the name of an old owner who was called Jusep. It was quite common to put San or Sant in front of place names.
The tower was built in the middle of the 2nd Century, in the reign of Emperor Adriano. It must have belonged to an important person in the local aristocracy whose name we do not know. People of the lower classes had simpler graves sometimes marked by a single stone.
The top of the tower could have had a pyramid shape like other similar towers, but it was dismantled and the stones were used to build the Renaissance walls around La Vila Joiosa. The rest of the tower is still preserved today because of the technical difficultiesentailed in dismantling the vault. The addition that you can see was constructed in the 18th Century. It was an extension of an adjoining house. Right behind you, you can
still see part of the cornice and one of the capitals that crowned the four pilasters of the tower. The capital is of the Corinthian style and represents leaves and other plant motifs in a very schematic fashion. Above a fragment of the cornice rests a pedestal that has no inscription, which does not belong to the tower, and which could have supported a sculpture or a column.
The building is elevated on a base of four steps. The lowest step is not visible today because it has been buried by sediments that have built up with the passing of time. The whole structure could have been 12m high, double what you can see now.
The hole that you see in the middle of the wall and the same hole that is in the opposite wall are the only openings of the monument. They are inclined towards the interior of the tower for making libations, offerings typical of Roman rituals, which consist ofpouring wine over the tomb. These and other ceremonies were celebrated at least twice a year, on the anniversary of their death and on the Day of the Deceased.
If we could access the interior of the tower we would find a funeral chamber with a barrel vaulted ceiling (the shape of a cylinder split lengthways) more than 7 meters high.