For centuries the Castillo de Santa Bárbara (Santa Bárbara Castle) has been the silent witness and trustworthy protector of the city which developed and thrived below. This seaside city, Alicante, has long been an attractive destination- prominent civilizations such as the Romans and the Moors fought for it, literary greats like Gabriel Miró and Juan Gil-Albert have immortalized it with their masterful words, and visitors from near and far have admired its sites.
Situated halfway up the appropriately named Costa Blanca (White Coast), Alicante is not only the capital of its own province but also plays a major role as the second most important city of the Autonomous Community of Valencia. It has all the advantages of a major city- shopping, delicious food, fascinating museums, a variety of hotels, a range of sports, a frenetic nightlife- and yet maintains the relaxed, easy-going feel of the close-knit port town it's always been.
As the cultural, financial, artistic, and social nucleus of the Costa Blanca and the Alicante province, its only natural that Alicante has an exciting and multifaceted cultural scene. From the balmy seaside promenade known as the Explanada to the colorful façades and winding streets of Alicante's historical district, El Barrio, you won't run out of things to do, see, and experience. Discover award-winning museums, savor a steaming café con leche in a terrace café, sample the local specialties in a wide range of restaurants, revel in the juxtaposition of Alicante's diverse medley of architecture styles, and be in town for fascinating festivals like Las Hogueras de San Juan.
Alicante has mastered how to impeccably balance its many characteristic roles. It's a city that celebrates its illustrious history- just read up on the Moors and Christians Festival- and yet isn't afraid to look forward to and welcome the future with open arms. Plus, unlike many of its tourist-laden and resort-packed Costa Blanca neighbors, Alicante is Spanish down to its musical, paella-eating and fiesta-loving core. A stylish Mediterranean flare adds a special something to Alicante's appeal, which you can see with a stroll down its wide avenues and palm-lined seafront promenades.
From its long-standing sea port tradition to its first-rate cuisine, Alicante's proximity to the lapping waters of the Mediterranean Sea always has and always will play into every facet of its unique character. Soak up the rays at one of Alicante's postcard-worthy beaches, all of which have received the European Blue Flag Award for excellence, or immerse yourself in the exciting water activites, both above and below the crystal clear surface. Savor fresh-from-the-sea shellfish or delight your palate with a genuine paella.
While great beaches and great food are- as you can imagine- great, Alicante's biggest draw is perhaps the atmosphere in which it thrives. There's just something about the sight, the sound, and the smell of the sea that evokes a general laid-back vibe, breeds good-natured people, and puts a smile on your face.
With the various civilizations who set roots upon Alicante's Mediterranean shores over the course of its history, Alicante has undergone quite the series of name changes. From Lucentum to Akra Leuka, Al-Laqant, and Alicante, each name translates loosely to "city of light." Bathed in warm sunshine all year round, Alicante itself beams with a radiance and liveliness reflected in its friendly people and embraced by delighted visitors.