When choosing a destination to visit, focus mainly on what can be seen in this place. But do you wonder, what that place has already seen? In order to understand the reality that surrounds us, it is worth to take a look in the past. That is why today we would like to outline the history of Alicante – a city that has survived for over three thousand years.
The first traces of human presence in the present areas of the city are dated to the third millennium BC. On the mountain side of Benacantil, where the Castillo de Santa Bárbara is currently located (the Castle of St. Barbara), settlements were built, probably created by Celts or Iberians. The first name of Alicante is not known, however, the Greeks, who together with the Phoenicians colonized the south-eastern lands of the Iberian Peninsula, called this important antiquity trade point AêòαΛευκῆ (White Mountain). Over time, the Phoenicians were driven out by the Carthaginians, while around the first century, after the end of the Punic wars, the authorities came into possession of the Romans, who changed the name of the city to Lucentum. During the Arab rule, in the years 718-1248, the city was named Al-Laqant. The word meant “source of light” and at the same time was the source of the current, Castilian name – Alicante. It was then, for defense reasons, that the city center was moved to the Benacantil mountain and centered around the castle. In 1246, the Castile king Alfonso X, took Alicante from the hands of the Moors, in 1308 Jaime I joined them to the Kingdom of Valencia, while in 1490 Ferdinand V, the Catholic King, granted him city rights. Thanks to the port, the city became soon an important trading point, not only on the map of Spain, but also throughout the Mediterranean. Unfortunately, the rest of Alicante’s history is no longer so peaceful. In 1691, during the reign of Charles II, French troops shelled the city for six days, leveling it with the ground. Not long after, Alicante was entangled in a war of succession. Once again it comes to its devastation – this time the British are guilty of taking the Santa Bárbara castle by force. They did not enjoy the victory for too long – the French quickly deflected the fortress from their hands, destroying the old city. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Alicante slowly came to its feet, after the disasters brought by wars. However, this is not the end of the military history of the city. During the Civil War, in 1936 and 1939, it opted for the Republic and thus became the victim of 71 bombings, which resulted in the death of 481 people, and 705 buildings were destroyed. The later years of the Franco dictatorship were also not easy for the city supporting the Republic. It was only the decade of the sixties, that gave birth to the economic development of Alicante, whose economy gradually evolved into the service sector. The construction of new hotels, bars, restaurants and service points has led to the dynamic development of urbanization in the city. In addition, thanks to its unique climate, weather and landscapes, Alicante attracted tourists so much.
Today, Alicante is the second largest city of the Valencian Community, the capital of the province of the same name and one of the most popular places on the Costa Blanca, for which tourism is the most important pillar of economics.