Alicante is a city of about 350,000 inhabitants, a provincial capital of the Comunidad Valenciana, located 70 km north-east of Murcia. The city is located in the center of a bay overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, and is a popular seaside and tourist resort on the Costa Blanca. The city has modern neighborhoods and vast gardens around the old part, dominated by the Santa Barbara castle. Alicante is an important port, in fact it is a maritime outlet for Madrid and central Spain. Ferries also depart from Alicante for the Balearic Islands (Ibiza).
The hill where the castle of Alicante is today was fortified by the Carthaginians in 237 BC. The Romans founded the municipality of Lucentum there. In the period of the barbarian invasions it became an important Visigothic city. It then passed to the Byzantines and, in the eighth century, to the Arabs, who built the castle there. The city was in Arab times known by the name of Lecant. Alicante passed into Christian hands in the thirteenth century and for its strategic importance was disputed between Castile and Aragon. It was incorporated into the latter kingdom in 1296.
WHAT TO SEE IN ALICANTE: THE MAIN ATTRACTIONS
In the past 50 years, Alicante has experienced a remarkable tourist development thanks above all to the mild and dry climate, its beaches, and its historical heritage. The beaches undoubtedly represent one of the major attractions of the city.
The nightlife is very lively. The most popular areas for nightlife are above all the many clubs in the historic center (Casco Antiguo) and those in the port area. The so-called Explanada de Espaňa (Paseo de la Explanada) is particularly popular. This is a beautiful palm-lined promenade that runs from the foot of the castle hill to the main harbor pier. It is considered one of the best seafront in Spain.
A WELL PRESERVED HISTORICAL CENTER
The historic center (Casco Antiguo), is very well preserved, with characteristic Andalusian-style houses and streets, with flowers on the balconies and many clubs and bars where you can spend time. The main historical buildings include: The imposing castle (Castillo de Santa Bárbara) which is located at the top of Mount Benacantil, 166 meters high, is of Arab origin. This building was rebuilt by Christian kings in the 14th, 16th and 18th centuries. To better defend it, it was crowned by three walls.
The 18th century Baroque town hall (Ayuntamiento de Alicante). The Casa de La Asegurada, one of the oldest civil buildings in the city, built in 1685 in Baroque style, today houses the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo in Alicante. The Palacio Gravina, built between 1748 and 1808 today houses the Museo de Bellas Artes Gravina, dedicated to regional painting and sculpture between the 16th and 20th centuries.
Among the religious buildings worth a visit: The Concatedral de San Nicolás de Bari, a 17th century Renaissance style building, which features a 15th century cloister. Also worth visiting is the Gothic-style Basílica de Santa María (14th-16th century), but largely remodeled in the 18th century. Inside you can see the high altar in rococo style, and the portal in baroque style, both of the eighteenth century. Finally, it is also worth visiting the Canónigas de San Agustín Convent which began in the 18th century, its construction was completed in the 19th century.
Among the museums worth mentioning: El Museo de Arte Contemporáneo (MACA), Museo de Bellas Artes Gravina (MUBAG), Museo Arqueológico Provincial (MARQ).
TO SEE IN THE SURROUNDINGS
5 km north of the city center is the Monasterio de la Santa Faz, a Baroque building dating back to the 15th century. In the Albufereta district there are the archaeological remains of the Roman city of Lucentum, dating back to the period between the 4th century BC. and the third century AD.
From a military-historical point of view, the Torres de Defensa de la Huerta de Alicante are interesting, defensive towers built between the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries in the Huerta de Alicante to defend the area from Barbary pirates. Today there are about 20 towers of this type scattered in the area surrounding Alicante, among the most interesting: the Torre de la Verónica, the Torre la de Reixes, and the Torre de les Paulines.
Just 20 km west of Alicante is the city of Elche, whose Palmeral (date palms planted in the 10th century by the Arabs) has been part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000. Continuing along the Costa Blanca towards the north-east, you reach the important tourist centers of Benidorm and Denia.
HOW TO GET TO ALICANTE: FLIGHTS
Air flights: Alicante-El Altet international airport (IATA: ALC) is located 9 km southwest of the city. The airport is connected with numerous European countries and with the main Spanish cities.