Though Alicante probably has had it’s reputation by now firmly cemented as being a place tourists flock to primarily for the predictable triumvirate of sun, sand and sea, there is actually a lot more on offer there than you might expect, especially if the standard beach holiday isn’t normally the type of thing you’d go for.
Indeed, the destination has a wide range of historical and cultural offerings for visitors who have a taste for such things. The castle of Santa Barbara, an imposing monolithic structure that looks down on its surroundings from a lofty height of 166m, jutting as it does out of the side of Mount Benecantil, is just one great example.
The castle, which would be worth a visit in any case, comes with the added attraction of being completely free of charge. So, it will cost you nothing to gain access to the priceless views of the bay, beach and the attractive marinas dotted thereabouts, that can be seen from its summit. If you are visiting in the summer, you can even partake of delights for the ears as well as for the eyes by attending one of the free open air musical concerts that are held there in the evenings, once the heat of the day has disappeared and been replaced by more temperate balmy conditions.
Of course, getting to the top of the castle might seem a little unappealing, or even intimidating to many, especially if you’re a touch out of shape, or suffer from vertigo! The good news is that, as well as being accessible by footpath and road, there are also lifts you can use to get to the top.
The castle itself actually dates way back to the 9th century, back when the area was under Arabic control. Over the years the site has been the centre of several different violent conflicts, and it was thanks to one of these many battles that the castle bears the name it does. After being captured by King Alfonso X in 1248 and his Castillian forces, the victorious monarch gave the castle its moniker, choosing it as its capture was secured on the day of saint Barbra’s annual feast.
After that the castle changed hands several times, normally passing between the English and the French in the course of the many wars those two countries have waged. Next, the castle started to serve the far less glamorous role of prison, and was used in this manner up until 1963, when the grounds were made open to the public for the first time.