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About city Gallery Where to stay

Of all the Spanish mainland provinces, Alicante is the one most affected by tourism – the main reasons for this being the nearby airport and the many resort areas. Thanks to its climate, excellent seashores, historic monuments, beautiful natural environments and tasty food, Alicante – the second largest city of the autonomous region of Valencia – attracts millions of tourists every year. To all of this, we may also add the wild night life, with many bars and clubs, where celebrations take place year-round.

Nonetheless, Alicante differs from most Mediterranean resorts in that it’s an ancient city with deep traditions – the first inhabitants of the city moved here 7,000 years ago. Around 1000 BCE, this coast of the Iberian Peninsula was already overrun by Greek and Phoenician merchants. Later, it became home to hordes of people from Cartagena and Rome. At some point, Alicante was also part of an Arab caliphate.

A panoramic view of Alicante
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  A panoramic view of Alicante

The main proof of the city’s historical significance is the impressive Santa Barbara Castle, looming over the city atop a 166-metre hill. Some think that the castle, built around 12th century CE during Moor rule, had been changing its masters for centuries. In 1248, the Castilians conquered this fortress from the Arabs, later to be re-conquered by the Aragonians. In 1691, the newly rebuilt castle was damaged by the French. For several years during the War of the Spanish Succession, the stronghold was ruled by the British.

During recent centuries, the Santa Barbara Castle lost its significance and became a prison. In 1963, this impressive building, with all of its underground prison cells, drawbridges, guest halls, kitchens and other quarters, was opened to the public.

Tourists will have no shortage of activities outside the castle, either. The colourful artists’ market, located in the city centre, will surprise you with its various art forms, from paintings to modern sculptures. It’s one of the best places for souvenir hunters. Those who want more art still can visit the Museu Colecci Art de Segle XX, where you can find pieces of famous artists such as Salvador Dalí and Pablo Picasso.

Just like the rest of Southern Spain, Alicante is still enamoured of bullfighting, which, every June, characterizes the celebration of St. John’s Day (the longest day of the summer, wildly celebrated both in Alicante and the whole of Spain). Near the bullfighting arena you can also find the bullfighting museum, displaying the significance of this tradition to the Spanish culture.

A beach in Alicante
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  A beach in Alicante

If you’re not too interested in culture and arts, we recommend you enjoy the sun on Alicante’s excellent beaches. The Postiguet Beach can easily be reached from the city centre, while the beach of San Juan, located a little further away, will surprise you with its dazzling white sand and coastal bars.

Another important accent of Alicante is the food. First of all, it’s the widely advertised Spanish Paella – a pilaf made of rice and seafood. Most of the city’s diners are dominated by shrimp and salty fish snacks, while most restaurants serve elaborate dishes made from freshly-caught fish. Those with a sweet tooth will get the chance to try the traditional nougat and the region’s traditional doughnuts. The best place to enjoy all of this is the pier, which fills with the hustle and bustle of people coming in and out of the local cafés, restaurants and bars every evening.

Alicante yacht dock and seaside restaurants
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  Alicante yacht dock and seaside restaurants

If you want to leave the city for a day, we recommend you visit the island of Tabarca – a small stretch of land around 10 km from Alicante. Coming here on a boat you’ll find a few small restaurants, shops, empty beaches and clear water – a real oasis of tranquillity away from the tourist crowd.

The Canelobre Caves, situated 23 km from Alicante, is another interesting object. According to experts, it’s the longest and largest stalactite- and stalagmite-filled cave system in Spain. Inside, visitors feel as if they’re in a cathedral. Just don’t forget to bring warm clothes – it’s very cool inside.

The city’s rapid economic growth, port development, and the building of hotels and high-rise structures arouse many discussions – it’s a region that has to attune to the interests of tourists and those of the market. The beaches of the White Coast, however, remain Alicante’s main treasure.

Where to stay

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