City walk B: Santa Barbara Castle walk
Walking route specially designed for travellers who have little time to get to know Alicante, and for cruise ship passengers with stopovers in Alicante city.
1. Route Starting Point. Puerta del Mar
Did you know that Alicante is a South-facing city? Virtually all the settlements in the province of Alicante faced the South as they were protected against the cold winds from the North by the mountain range located in the interior of the province. That is why we enjoy such a nice climate in our city. The orientation and the rock called Benacantil were essential elements for the Muslims to settle in the city. We can get a better view of this from the Castle of Santa Bárbara. For this, we will take the lift and get off at the last stop.
The Muslims, in the 9th Century, decided to settle where the Castle is currently located. Thus, the city of Alicante was born in the Castle and subsequently developed at its foot protected by the fortress. The Castle is currently divided into 3 different areas.
First area: called “El Macho” after the technical name given to the surrounding walls. This is the higher part of the castle, located 166 m above sea level where the first Muslim fortress was erected. From this height, we have a view on all the mountains described during our first stop. The castle was located at this height to make it defendable against enemy attacks. Precisely because of its defensive nature, when King Alfonso X The Wise conquered the city and the castle in the 13th Century, he decided to keep this elevated settlement. We can also find wells to store rainwater. In this area, you can visit the Museum of the City of Alicante (MUSA) spread across several rooms exhibiting part of the town’s long history.
Second area: this is the old muslim fold, where cattle took refuge as well as soldiers in war times. From the 18th Century onwards, as the Medieval Castle of the Macho was dismantled, new Barracks, Guard Corps, Chapel and other outbuildings (furnaces, cells, etc.) were built in this area.
Third area: The English occupation of the Castle at the beginning of the 18th Century made it necessary to improve the defence of the Northern face and a series of reconstructions were undertaken. Thus, some of the bastions and walls were built in this area. From this enclosure you can reach the spectacular Renaissance cistern.
in the 18th and 19th Centuries the size of the castle increased. The war art had changed and the Castle had to be adjusted to the current needs. In this period, after a number of improvements, the Castle finally acquired its current so now have two options: we can use the lift to go down again to the beach and visit the MARQ museum, or walk down through Ereta park to the Alicante Water Museum, and visit the MARQ museum at the end of the walk.
Would you say it rains a lot in Alicante? The answer is no. That is why water and the way to bring it to town has always been a major factor in the development of the city. This museum shows the way water was channelled from its sources to the city. The Garrigós wells are located next to the museum. Although the first accounts of these wells date back to the 18th Century, we know that scarce rainwater was already being stored in wells in the medieval period because the Muslims used these wells to store water, just as they did in the Castle.
This monument was originally a Muslim mosque. The remains of the mosque can still be seen inside the Basilica. Indeed, the square where this church is located was the centre of the Muslim settlement. The city developed in this enclave, and was protected and defended by the castle. If you visit the Basilica, you will observe that the current building is the second one to be built by the Christians after the conquest. It has pointed arches and its construction began at the end of the 14th Century although the decorations of the façade and interior were added later. Do not miss the shields in the ribbed vault on the High Altar.
After visiting the main spots representing the city’s origins, you can now visit the Province’s Archaeological Museum, the “MARQ”, where remnants from a number of archaeological excavations in Alicante and the rest of the province are exhibited. All presentations are interactive, and for this reason, this museum obtained the Best European Museum award in 2004. Our itinerary ends here. We hope you enjoyed this walk in Alicante city and hope to see you again soon.