by Igor Vragovic
Castle of Santa Barbara, Alicante
Alicante – Lucentum – this city of light in the southern part of the Valencia province is an ancient Mediterranean port with a long turbulent history. It was founded by Iberians. Later on invaded by Phoenicians and Romans.
During the medieval times, it was captured and developed by Arabs and finally taken by Christians in the Spanish Reconquista.
Today it has grown into a vibrant modern city, home of many festivals and other cultural events and one of the top summer destinations on the Spanish coast.
If you want to get in touch with its millennium past, you should visit Alicante museums and castles .The starting point of our journey is MARQ – Archeology Museum of Alicante.
Its permanent exhibition shows a huge collection of pieces found in local archaeological sites, combined with educational movies in each of the thematic rooms.
You can learn a lot about everyday life from the Stone Age, passing Iberian and Roman eras, to the medieval times. In addition, this renowned institution organizes special temporary exhibition in collaboration with other museums. This year, you can enjoy ancient aesthetics and see a collection of Greek sculptures, such as the famous Discobolus of Myron.
The largest part of archaeological treasure shown in MARQ was found in Lucentum. The remains of the Roman city are situated close to the Albufereta beach (where the Roman harbor was placed).
Lucentum was an important trading center, experiencing
the greatest development during the rule of Octavian Augustus, when it was given the status of municipality. Visiting this archaeological site, you can see large parts of its protective walls, two public baths, necropolis and private villas with mosaic floors.
Our next stop is the large Castle of Santa Barbara. It is the most distinguished landmark of the city, placed on the top of Mount Benacantil above the Old Town and Postiguet beach.
It was built by Muslims in the ninth century as an important strategic fort. Christians took it more than 400 years later, on December 4th 1248 (the feast day of Saint Barbara), by Castilian king Alfonso X.
Today, the castle of Santa Barbara is one of the largest medieval fortresses of Spain, offering you panoramic views of Alicante bay and its countryside. Within its strong walls, you can see cannons and old artifacts, visit its administrative and military complex or walk along its walls and towers.
Below the castle, on the sides of Mount Benacantil,
there is a beautiful Ereta park. Like a snake, its pathway gradually climbs up to the fort. Next to the park, you enter a picturesque suburb Barrio de Santa Cruz (Holy Cross).
It’s narrow streets full of flowers and small white houses make you feel like in El Albaicin of Granada or some small Andalusian villages. If you are curious, go down to the Postiguet beach and look up
to the castle. You will see that the left part of the Benacantil mountain below the tower looks like a human face in profile.
This is the famous Moor’s Face – the symbol of Alicante – which is also represented on the coat of arms.
When in the city center, take a walk to the north and climb up to the smaller Castle of San Fernando. It is placed close to the Plaza Luceros.
Built at the very beginning of the 19th century on Tossal hill, its purpose was to reinforce the defence of Alicante against the French invasion led by Napoleon Bonaparte. However, it turned out that a new castle did not help a lot.
Today, this is a place of rest and leisure and a sightseeing spot with beautiful views over the city.
Modern Alicante also have its unique charm and a lot of interesting places to visit: long sand beaches, large avenues, variety of shops and commercial centres, all kinds of restaurants and numerous bars and clubs with good music.
Furthermore, Alicante is a city of festivals which are organized all year round.
You can wear crazy costumes during the Carnival in February, feel the spirit of Eastern during Semana Santa (Holy Week) or participate colorful St John’s Bonfires in June – one of the best festivals in Spain.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Igor Vragovic has been living in Alicante since 2003, working as a lecturer and investigator at the University of Alicante.
More information about Alicante Spain can be found on
Holidays in Alicante Spain website.
This article is written as a part of the value exchange agreement between Holidays in Alicante Spain & Visit Chiang Mai Online .