Alicante, city life under the Spanish sun
Every year, millions of tourists arrive at and depart from the airport. But only a small percentage of these also visit the city. That is a shame, because Alicante has rather a lot to offer! You will find an overview below.
Just like many other cities on the Costa Blanca, Alicante has a rich history. The city was originally founded in 230 BC. as Akra Leuka by the Carthaginian general, Hamilcar Barkas.
Subsequently the city fell into the hands of the Romans. The stamp of the Roman Empire was printed on the region and the name was changed to Lucentum (City of Light).
During the great Moorish invasion (+/- 711) the city fell into the hands of the Moors. At the end of the Moorish domination in the 13th century the name was changed again and that is how Alicante originated.
During the years under Moorish rule, the city developed further. On the hill “Benacantil” they built a fort to protect the city. Eventually the Christians managed to regain Alicante and they renamed the fortress to El Castillo de Santa Barbara.
Alicante has a lot to offer for everyone! The city has some 40+ urban districts, each with their own character and dynamics. This makes the city so popular with both young and old.
The historic centre of Alicante is a very quiet neighbourhood. It is a labyrinth of narrow cobbled streets and charming facades. Here you can enjoy a bite or drink in many places or stroll through the numerous shops. Therefore, it is certainly worthwhile to pay a visit to the old city centre.
The new city centre is much busier, but it is certainly just as pleasant to spend time in. This is the main place to visit for shopping! And that you can certainly do in the centre of Alicante!
Many shops show their wares here and it is also wonderful to stroll along the wide pedestrian paths.
In addition, Alicante has a very mild climate, is close to the sea and, despite its size, it is pleasant to walk to the different city districts. Would you prefer to take the bus? There is an extensive public transport network that allows you to go anywhere, day and night.
Explanada de España
This is the symbol of the city of Alicante, often called “Paseo de la Explanada“. This promenade runs parallel to the harbour, is about 600 meters long and is flanked by palm trees and stalls. It is a pleasant pedestrian boulevard, which consists of no less than 6,600,000 tricolour (red, white and blue) mosaic tiles in a wavy pattern.
In various places you can see the local people expansively discuss politics, the climate, etc … In the evening it is also a popular hotspot. Would you like a romantic walk followed by a sumptuous dinner in one of the many restaurants that Alicante has to offer? That is definitely recommended!
“La cara del moro”
The 166 m high hill, Benacantil, houses the castle of Santa Barbara. But what is also very striking is the piece of rock at the height of “Playa del Postiguet”. That is because you can see a face in this rock. One of the legends tells us that this is the face of a Moorish Caliph.
It is a moving story about the origin of the place name “Alicante”.
On land, at sea and in the air
Alicante has a very good infrastructure. Next to the airport “El Altet”, there is also a railway to Madrid. As a result, the port has grown into an export port and to this day it is a very important link for the export and import of goods.
The port also houses hundreds of boats, from small fishing boats to luxury yachts. You can also visit the nearby Tabarca from here using one of the ferryboats.
In cultural terms, there is much to discover in Alicante. Here too the expression “something for everyone” applies. In the culture centre, you can choose from a variety of performances.
But the city itself also has a rich cultural past and this can be found in the street scene. Below are some attractions:
Castillo de Santa Barbara
We have mentioned the castle of Santa Barbara (Castillo de Santa Barbara) already. The castle was built during the Moorish occupation. Then it was more of a military fortress that offered protection against the enemy.
The fortress was converted into a castle for the most part during the 16th century.
Plaza del Ayuntamiento
The architect Lorenzo Chápuli had a big impact on the contemporary look of this square. One of his creations, the town hall in Baroque style, is one of the most impressive buildings.
The square and the buildings are well maintained. There are also fountains that throw water skywards, great for the little ones to cool off during warm days.
MACA – museum
Of course, a city like Alicante also has museums and the MACA is definitely worth a visit! In full, the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Alicante. The museum was founded in 1976 by the Spanish artist Eusebio Sempero. He himself was best known for his abstract works. It is therefore that the museum places an emphasis on contemporary art. In addition, some of Sempero’s works can also be seen in the MACA.
A nice fact is that the museum is located in the recently renovated “Casa de la Asegurada”. This is also the oldest civilian building in the city.
Volvo Ocean Race
The Volvo Ocean Race, a race around the world, has a good collaboration with the port of Alicante. For the 2017-2018 edition, the race will again start in this beautiful city on the Costa Blanca.
As a tribute to this impressive journey, the city has also dedicated a museum to the Volvo Ocean Race. Here you can get a better picture of the obstacles that the participants have to overcome.
And we can use the term “picture” literally, because they are impressive photographs that give the visitors an idea of the hard labour involved.
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