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Alicante is wedged in between the mountains of the hinterland and the Mediterranean. The connection with the sea is visible almost everywhere. Alicante is also described as one of the friendliest cities in Spain.
The historic heart of Alicante is formed by the triangle between the Rambla de Méndez Núñez, the Explanada de España and the Benacantil mountain. On the top of that mountain - at an altitude of 166 meters - is one of the city's main attractions: the Santa Barbara castle. The Moors built a fortress in the 9th century, but the oldest parts of the current building date back to the 11th and 12th century. The castle was further expanded in the 16th century. It is one of the largest fortresses in the Mediterranean. Beautiful parks and gardens have been laid out around the complex and inside the castle. You can reach the castle by foot, or use the elevator on Av. de Juan Bautista Lafora.
The picturesque district of Santa Cruz lies against the slopes of the Benacantil, with narrow, winding streets and staircases and pretty, white painted houses. The neighborhood is named after the chapel La Ermita de Santa Cruz (Hermitage of the Holy Cross).
The Archaeological Museum of Alicante (Museo Arqueologico Provincial de Alicante) has over 80.000 objects which have been found at archaeological sites in and around the city. Only the best objects are available to the public. Ultramodern technologies are used to exhibit the findings and for this reason the museum was voted European Museum of the Year in 2004. The building at the Plaza del Doctor Gómez Ulla is an avant-garde design from 1932.
Modern art can be seen in the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, which is housed in a 17th-century baroque building (La Asegurada). The collection contains works by Pablo Picasso, Juan Gris and Joan Miró. Part of the museum is dedicated to Spanish artists in the fifties of the last century: Alfaro, Canogar, Chillida, Mompó, Saura, Tàpies, Zobel and Viola.
When in Alicante one should definitely make a boat trip to the island of Tabarca. Around the port of Alicante you will find many providers and it can't hurt to shop around a bit before you decide which catamaran to take on your 45 minute trip across to the island. Tabarca was a fortress against the Moors. The fortified town on the island is walled and has two gates. The Petrus and Paulus Church (Iglesia de San Pedro y San Pablo) has been beautifully restored.
The Postiguet beach is in the heart of the city. This beach is popular both during the day and in the evening. The beach and the waves look somewhat surreal in the projection of the sodium lights. Outside the city (seven kilometers) lies the beautiful and very sandy beach of San Juan.
North of Alicante lies the town of Jijona, birthplace of the famous Spanish (soft) noga variant, turrón. The caves of Canelobre are located near this town too, in a beautiful area near Busot. The acoustics in this cave are fantastic and concerts are organized regularly.
Elx, 22 kilometers southwest of Alicante, is famous for the largest palm forest of Europe. There are over 300,000 trees! But the old, walled city itself is worth a visit too, with an Arabic Fort, Moorish bath houses, Altamira Palace and Santa María Basilica. In August, the historical medieval drama Misteri d'Elx is performed here.
The historic Roman town of Orihuela is located about 50 kilometers from Alicante. The Museum de la Muralla is particularly nice: you walk over medieval cobbles streets with Arabic houses and remains of a gothic church.
You can take a beautiful hike to the top of the mountain Maigmó (1296 m), along the road to Castalla. You can reach that top by car, but it is much more fun to climb the narrow road. From the so-called Balcón de Alicante you will have a spectacular view over the mountains, the plains of Alicante and the Mediterranean.
The traffic in Alicante is by no means as busy as in other major Spanish cities. However, it might be difficult to find a parking space on the street, but luckily there are several parking lots and garages in the center of the city (including at the port, near the bus station and at the Police Office.)
The airport is located nine kilometers southwest of Alicante, on the Costa Blanca. Alicante Airport is easily accessible using the Alicante-Murcia road (Autovia). The exit to the airport is clearly signposted.