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Alicante History

For centuries a vital Spanish trading port, Alicante has transformed into a holiday hotspot.

The first hunter-gatherers moved here from Central Europe between 5000 and 3000BC.

By 1000BC, Greek and Phoenician traders had arrived in Spain. The Greeks named the area Akra Leuke (White Peak).

But by the third century BC, rival armies from Carthage and Rome began to invade and fight for control of the Iberian Peninsula. Alicante was eventually captured by the Romans, who were to rule for another 700 years.

The Moors conquered Alicante in the second half of the eighth century, and the Castilian crown only took it back in 1246. In 1308, it was incorporated into the Kingdom of Valencia. Alicante became a major Mediterranean trading port.

In 1691, under the reign of Charles II, the French Armada bombed the city for seven consecutive days. The War of Spanish Succession followed between 1701-14, in which Alicante’s castle was bombarded by British troops.

During the War of Independence in the early 19th century, the city became the provisional capital of the Kingdom of Valencia. But amid this period of conflict, Alicante slid into decline. It was only by the end of the 19th century that the economy improved.

After the Spanish Civil War broke out in 1936, Alicante was the last city loyal to the Republican government to be occupied by Franco's troops on 1 April 1939.

By the late 1950s and early 1960s, the tourism industry had begun to blossom. Alicante’s climate and beaches were major draws and the construction of new hotels, restaurants and bars benefited the economy.

Although there was industrial decline in the 1980s, the Port of Alicante has managed to become an important stop for cruises, bringing thousands of passengers to the city every year.

Today Alicante is the second-largest city in Valencia and a tourism honeypot.

Did you know?
• Evidence of Alicante’s earliest settlements has been found on Mt Benacantil, where Santa Barbara Castle stands today.
• The Roman name for Alicante was Lucentum (City of Light).
• Tennis player David Ferrer was born in Xàbia, just outside Alicante, in 1982.

Featured Hotels

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Sercotel Spa Porta Maris Hotel

This hotel boasts 114 modern, spacious rooms with balconies overlooking Postiguet beach and the marina. There is free Wi-Fi plus an urban spa featuring a swimming pool, Jacuzzi and sauna. The rooms are quite functional-looking but you can't beat the location.

TRYP Alicante Gran Sol Hotel

This 80-room seafront hotel is not the best looking among its peers with its 1970s build but has all the amenities you would expect – comfortable rooms, fully equipped bathrooms, air-conditioning and satellite TV. Rooms on the upper floors have great views.

Meliá Alicante Hotel

This established Alicante hotel is located between El Postiguet beach and the Marina, close to the town hall and the MUBAG Museum, and not far from the shopping district and the historic centre. Facilities include a business centre, restaurants and bars. Guests can use the spa at the adjacent Spa Portmaris.

NH Alicante

Modern design and comfort are combined in the NH Alicante, located just 10 minutes from the centre of Alicante. There is a smart, elegant air to the 100 spacious guest rooms, as well as a free spa, gym, cocktail bar, roof terrace and restaurant.

Hostal Les Monges Palace

This charmingly renovated budget hotel features brickwork, balconies, pillars and quirky interior touches in its 18 rooms, some furnished with antiques and wonderful paintings. Expect plenty of historical glamour despite the price – the building is more than a century old.

Hostal La Milagrosa

Set on a side street in the old town, this family-run hotel offers small, simply decorated rooms (some with shared bathrooms), plus complimentary breakfast served on a roof terrace with views of the town. There's also a shared kitchen and self-service laundry facilities.