Perched high above the city on the summit of Benacantil Mountain is Alicante's most iconic landmark and a must-see for all visitors. If you're planning a trip to Santa Barbara Castle during your holiday in Alicante, here's what you need to know.
Some historyThe castle, one of Europe's largest medieval fortresses, dates back to the 9th Century and was built by the Moors. It gets its name thanks to a conquest that saw Alfonso of Castile capture the castle from the Arabs on the 4th of December, Saint Barbara's Feast Day. It was once held by the British during the War of the Spanish Succession and was also used as a prison. After years of abandonment, it was repurposed as a tourist attraction and has been open to the public since the early 1960s. If you fancy delving into the castle long and rich history further, there's an on-site museum that'll give you a more in-depth understanding of this amazing location.
How do I get there?There are three ways to reach the castle; on foot, by car, or via the lift from Postiguet Beach. The walk isn't easy but if you wear trainers and carry some water it's a hike that will reward you with spectacular views of the marina once you get there, and you'll certainly be well on your way to your 10,000 steps for the day. If you go by car you'll get the same views, but during the summer months you might well struggle to find a parking space. The lift, which travels up through a tunnel carved out of the rock, is quick, easy, and costs just a few Euros.
Once you're thereThe beauty of Santa Barbara Castle is that it's built on three different levels, with each level offering its own areas of interest. The lowest level, which was built in the 18th Century, is home to the exhibition centre, the castle's dungeon, and some very big canons. Level two takes you back further in history and is the site of 16th Century church ruins and the parade ground. The highest tier is the castle's oldest section, where you'll find the hospital, the governor's house, and some breathtaking views across the bay. After all that exploring you'll be glad to know that there's a restaurant where you can grab a cool drink or enjoy a romantic meal with a view.
Special events and guided toursIf your holiday in Alicante is during the summer months then you're in luck. On Friday and Saturday evenings throughout July and August, the local council puts on outdoor concerts in the castle's courtyard. It's an event you won't want to miss. The visitor's centre plays host to a number of exhibitions that vary throughout the months, and each Saturday you can enjoy a dramatized guided tour, which brings the castle and its medieval history to life. A regular guided tour is also available as well as an audio guide that allows you to explore at your own pace.