SANTA BARBARA CASTLE
If the thing goes about height, Santa Barbara Castle is your place. Located in the Mount of Benicantil, at 166 meters above the sea level.From the top we will have a wonderful view of the city, the harbour, the beaches... the Mediterranean and the sky as one.
The “easy” access to the castle can be quite futuristic, in front of the beach of Postiguet a tunnel of about 200 meters takes us to the inside of the mountain, and to some elevators that climb a little more than 140 meters and gets us to the castle.
This castle and its location play a fundamental role in the history of Alicante and have three thousand years of history. To better understand it, we must not only understand its current reality, but also its past. The first inhabited nucleus was located in the foothills of Mount Benicantil, today occupied by the Castle of Santa Barbara, which enjoys insurmountable conditions for its proximity to the sea and altitude, although there are no traces, there was surely an Iberian settlement in this place.
Another point is the area of Benalúa, where the Roman city called Lucentum was built, is the most immediate figure of the city we know today. With the arrival of the Muslims, the present city began to grow under the protection of the castle. The one that later became Alfonso X the Wise conquered it for the Crown of Castile in 1246. It was in 1308 that Jaime I incorporated it into the Kingdom of Valencia. In 1490 Ferdinand the Catholic awarded the place the title of city. One hundred years later, it was the natural port of Castille, which promoted maritime trade, and as a result, it experienced great economic growth and a considerable demographic boom that made it the third most important commercial city in Spain.
It was no stranger to the warlike vicissitudes that have shaken our country throughout its history, and because of its coastal location, all the attacks reached it by sea.
03002 Alicante, Spain.
A CHEER TO THE SEA!
We are on the coast, therefore most of the specialties have to do with the marine flavours, although we can say that Alicante is at a confluence between several cities, therefore its gastronomy is influenced by Murcian, Valencian and even Castilian gastronomy. We must highlight the mixture of products from the sea with the products from the garden, always accompanied by a lot of olive oil, garlic, and dried peppers. All this magic gives us wonderful culinary creations.
Among the specialties we can highlight the “borreta alicantina” in all the traditional recipes the same thing happens, each house is a world, and these recipes so typical from grandmothers vary from province to province. It used to be the meal of the day and grandmothers used the ingredients they had by hand or in the orchard. In this case it is a dish composed of potatoes, salted cod, ñoras (dry pepper) and in some cases spinach. The dish is served with an egg at the top.
Many Alicante dishes are served accompanied by aioli, which means garlic and oil, its original writing is all i oli. It is a sauce in which the garlic and oil are mixed making them emulsify until it has a white consistency, the itching will depend on the amount of garlic.
And to cool down, let´s have an horchata! This drink awakens so many points of view and sometimes fights between its adepts and its adversaries... the drink in question is prepared with chufa, a small tuber (Cyperus esculentus), along with water and sugar. The first chufas were found in Egypt, inside the tombs of pharaohs, it is known that the Arabs also used this food and their cultivation reached the Iberian Peninsula, concentrating on the Mediterranean part. The chufa is said to be a superfood, as it has a high satiating power due to its high fibre content.
In the pedestrian street Explanada de España, there is a great gastronomic offer, and in many of them the horchata is also served.
TURRÓN AND MORE TURRÓN
According to what some historians say, in Greece there was a food with characteristics similar to nougat, consisting of honey, almonds and some nuts, apparently consumed by Hellenic athletes before participating in the Olympic Games. Almost all historians speak of the origin of the turrón on the Arabian Peninsula. This is based on the treatise "de medicinis et cibis splemicibus" of the 11th century, which was written by an Arab doctor and which speaks of "Turun". The Arabs took this dessert to the Mediterranean coast, especially Spain and Italy. The nougat as we know was born in the province of Alicante around the 15th century. During the reign of Charles V, it was already a famous sweet. Historical data show that in the 16th century the nougat already existed in Sexona (Jijona).
Other accounts place its creation on more contemporary dates, especially during the reign of Philip IV or Philip V, according to the version. In both cases, the nougat arose thanks to a contest in which a lasting food for long periods of time without being damaged was being looked for. It received the name of its author, a refuelling man of the surname Turrons. It appears that the first initiative took place during the siege of Barcelona in 1651 and the second in periods of epidemic.
We have different varieties of this delicacy.The hard turrón, the lifetime nougat of Alicante! A mixture of honey, sugar, almonds, and egg. Sometimes it may contain wafers.Soft nougat, Jijona´s. As the name indicates, it is milder, in this case it is made with a paste ground with the ingredients, honey, sugar, egg white and obviously almonds.
Other varieties would be chocolate nougat, truffle, yolemas’ nougat, or agramut nougat, which carries hazelnuts.But over the years we have more risky varieties of famous cookies, inflated rice, fruits...What would the old confectioners say about this?In the centre we have different shops where we can find these delicacies.
Another shopping option is Rambla Méndez Núñez, one of Alicante´s main arteries, linking the city centre with the beach and port.With its wide sidewalks it is ideal for shopping. We will find shops of souvenirs, clothes and especially shoes, one of the industries of the province: artisan shoes and of very good quality.
Rambla Méndez Núñez.
THE SEA MADE CITY
In this city the sea is its whole. Born in front of the sea, thanks to the sea and for the sea.The port of Alicante is located at the heart, a point of union with the historical centre, the modern part, the beaches, and the commerce, highlighting the marine soul of the city.
One of the best photos of the trip and perhaps the least portrayed is almost from the sea, as if we were on a boat, in this photo we will capture the city “from the bottom”. Almost anywhere on the Levante pier we will have a beautiful picture, every step we take in this pedestrian area, accompanied by palm trees, the sound of the sea and the sea birds, is fantastic.
But if we chase the best photograph, at the end of the pier is where we will appreciate the bay, the beach, the old town and at the bottom crowning the image, the castle of Santa Barbara.
We are located in a privileged and exclusive enclave, under the spectre of the castle, the zone of the Levante dock and the marina welcome different commercial premises, at the beginning and the closest to the sea, we have the stairs of the queen, which were built for Isabel II to access the city, And then they were used by Alfonso XIII and Queen Victoria Eugenia of Battenberg, right there, in front, in the sea the statue of Icarus with a surfboard, then the casino leading the entrance to the pier, area of restaurants and sports.
Both the beaches and the port have the highest recognition, the blue flag, meaning that their facilities, safety, services, environmental performance, and information are optimal for this award, presented by the European Foundation for Environmental Education.
Marina Deportiva, Muelle Levante, 03002 Alicante
GABRIEL MIRÓ SQUARE
The magnanimously of the beautiful centuries-old trees and monumental buildings takes our breath away.
This square, which at the time was practically at the end of the sea, was known as the square of boats. In fact, in the times of Philip II, there was what they called “house of the King” the place where they kept the goods that arrived on the ships.Thanks to the rubble of the old city wall, land was gained to the sea and the surrounding streets appear.
Another of the names that stood on this square was Isabel II, from Correos, and finally Gabriel Miró, a writer born in Alicante. On one side we have a statue in his memory.
Without a doubt it is the most romantic square in the city, but in it, the real protagonist is a ficus macrophylla included as a monument of local interest, which besides, according to the forest map of Spain, is one of the oldest, with about 120 years. Next to it are three other ficus of the same species, all are legally protected by having a trunk circumference of more than six meters and a cup diameter of more than 25 meters. They are really huge trees, they represent the passage of time, and they are witnesses to history.In the same square we have five elms, although they are not protected by law, and they do not have the category of monumental trees, their height is higher than that of many, they are really magnificent.
Another of the jewels of this square is the fantastic post and telegraph building, an impressive work of 1917 built on what was the salt warehouse in the 15th century.This building houses once more the post office, after being closed for 7 years.
The renovation of the façade, which is protected by the town hall and the integral renovation of the interior has brought this wonderful building to life again.We highlight its eclectic façade with three large arches, tiled decoration, and ornamentation on the windows.
Gabriel Miró Square
Post office building, Gabriel Miró Square, 7.
Park of the Ereta
In this case we propose a physical challenge for the most adventurous. From the Santa Cruz district, climb the 166 meters from the Benicantil Mountain to the Santa Barbara Castle. It is a way of climbing in harmony with nature, and the Mediterranean vegetation. On the way up, we also find remains of the wall, military zone, and several viewpoints over the city. The landscape changes as we advance, in one part a small forest with olive trees, in the square of the Ereta we have pines. The project of the park was very interesting, starting in 1994 is an urban park loaded with nature and in perfect harmony with the archaeological remains of the castle.
On a journey of just over a kilometre, the views will be breath-taking as we climb. Thanks to the Town Hall, there are marked roads, after passing the historical centre, linking with the street Remigio San Sebastià, one can see in the rock the face of a man, popularly called the face of the Moro.
This face has its own history and has to do with the name of the city. Although historians claim that the name of the city is of Greek origin, akraLeuké (meaning mountain), then we have the Roman Lucentum, the Arab al-laqant (Alacant, in Valencian). But in this case Ali and Cántara will be the protagonists that give rise to the name of the city.
It is said that there lived a Muslim noble with his family, they had a daughter who enjoyed extraordinary beauty, and two young people would face her love, Almanzor and Ali. So, the father entrusts a mission to the pretenders, gives them a year to return to him with the greatest riches they could get as a dowry, and thus grant him the hand of his daughter.
Almanzor quickly crossed the sea and tried to get all the riches possible. On the other hand, Ali who had fallen in love with Cántara had no courage to move away and Ali charmed her with poetry and songs. The lovers engaged in secret meetings and wanted the one-year deadline to pass, Almanzor never to return, and thus to be able to formalize their commitment. On the day the deadline was met, a ship appeared in the bay, Almanzor arrived loaded with jewels. His return would suppose that he should be the one to be married to the daughter. On the other hand, a desperate, broken hearted Ali is thrown into the vacuum, as well as Cántara, due to her sadness.
Such was the sadness of the Cántara´s father, that he died, and his face is reflected in the mount of Benicantil. And the name of the city was born from the lovers, Alicantara = Alicante.
This “house” is undoubtedly one of the most impressive buildings in the city, built at the beginning of the 20th century, and is of Valencian modernist style. The façade is divided symmetrically into three, and the materials used for its decoration, are of a marked French style, and clearly show the power of its owner. Even if it was conceived as a textile factory, today besides commercial premises, and offices, we have several houses for each floor, Almost all of them with three bedrooms and two entrances, that of the lords and the one of service.
Since we speak of houses for bourgeois, the service had its own entrance and almost all their dependencies are going to give to the back, booking for the lords the best views over the pedestrian street and the sea. Today some houses are used for holiday rental.
This spectacular and gigantic “house” has its own legend.It is said that the businessman Enrique Carbonell Antolí who was dedicated to the textile industry, intended to move definitively to the city because of its good climate. On the way he suffered an accident causing his clothes to remain totally dirty, giving him a beggar aspect. On arrival in Alicante he decided to stay at the Palace Hotel, where he was refused entry.
As a vendetta he decided to build a large ostentatious house that would overshadow the hotel. Another curiosity of this house, is marked by the disgrace, in 1925 recently inaugurated a seaplane of post that had left Algiers collided against one of the domes, causing the fall of a part of the structure, causing the death of two crew members.
Calle Explanada de España 2.
Santa Cruz Neighbourhood
Although the neighbourhood is practically the entire monumental centre of the city, the most striking and picturesque part is found at the foot of Santa Barbara Castle on the hillside of Mount Benicantil.The labyrinthine route with climbing and descending streets is due to the fact that it occupies what was the Arab nucleus (Al-Laqant), this route served to flee quickly, to take advantage of the heat between the houses in winter, and to take advantage of the shade and the shelter of the sun in summer. Many of the people who visit this neighbourhood feel identified with an Andalusian village.
In the narrow, steep streets of marine and Moorish air we find white cottages with colourful valances, tile frames, balconies that came out straight from a movie. In their streets, flowers abound and as curiosity, the name of the family is written in some houses.
During the neighbourhood festivities, the streets are decorated. In the month of May, the neighbourhood is adorned with striking colourful crosses made with carnations, and colourful garlands. The hermitage of Santa Cruz, of simple and modest air built in the 18th century, taking advantage of the remains of the wall, is noteworthy. During Easter, the procession of Holy Wednesday is one of the most spectacular and is followed with much fervour by the Alicante people.
A good route would be starting from the Town Hall Square and going up San Nicolás Street, to Plaza del Carmen and almost straight ahead, reaching San Rafael Street, where the brotherhood of Santa Cruz is located.During the tour and always climbing we will meet different viewpoints that give us an unforgettable postcard.
Santa Cruz district, San Rafael street.
Town Hall Square
In this square full of terraces is the perfect place to see how the city works, the mixture of tourists and alicantines in their day to day.
This square with arcades, curious for being in a city with a very pleasant climate with little rainfall, on Sundays hosts a flea market, from 9 in the morning until about 14 o’clock. In these arcades meet the sellers of antiquities. You can find old clocks of great value, exquisite jewellery, numismatic, philately, old vinyl, paintings, or chromes from 20 years ago... And much more.It is a spectacle to see the sellers and the collectors discussing the price, occasional buyers trying to catch a bargain and of course, curious to delight this scene.
The Town Hall Square is directly linked to the history of Alicante, practically it is the main square of the city, besides its grandeur, and its beauty, it is because it is located in front of the Town Hall and has witnessed the development of history.
The town hall, a monumental building of baroque style, was built in the 18th century by Lorenzo Chapuli. This building crowns the square, on the façade it is worth highlighting the two towers and the spectacular columns at its entrance which suggest the most redecorated element.
As a particularity, at the beginning of the main staircase of the Town Hall we have the zero dimension, from where the meters are measured above sea level of all the places of Spain. It does not mean that it is the exact zero point, but it rather is where that measure is levelled. It would be located at about three meters above sea level, really the zero point we found in the port, at the base of the sculpture of Icarus, in front of the Queen´s staircase.
On the sides of the town hall under two arches, we have a passage to the back of the building and with a very picturesque square, that of the Holy Face.
This building also houses the seat of the Alicante government.
Plaza del Ayuntamiento, 1.
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