Alicante is the capital city of the Alicante province in the Autonomous region of the Valencian Community. Alicante is the 5th most populated province in Spain with its population of over 1,700,000 people; the city of Alicante is home to about 320,000 of those inhabitants. Alicante, like the rest of the province, has 2 official languages: Castellano (or traditional Spanish) and Valenciano, although the majority of people speak traditional Spanish.
Similar to the rest of mainland Spain, it is possible to get from Alicante to other bigger cities in a matter of hours; between 4-5 hours you can reach Barcelona, Madrid, or Málaga. Siutated only about 50 km from Alicante you can arrive in Benidorm or Denia. These two popular tourist resort areas over great recreation activites and some amazing beaches on Spain's Costa Blanca. The Costa Blanca is a large resource for Alicante's economy. It is a fast-growing region with a big draw for tourists. Apart from the beach and sun tourism Alicante is also a very popular destination to learn Spanish Alicante and many youngster come from all over the world to learn Spanish at the University of Alicante or in one of the many private language schools in Alicante.
The region of Alicante has existed for over 7000 years. About 3000 B.C. hunter gatherers from Northern and Central Europe started to migrate to this area. Supposedly the first settlers made their home where the Castillo de Santa Barbara still stands today. Still 1000 years B.C. the Greeks and Phoenicians began to inhabit the eastern coast of Spain. After many rivalries between the Roman and Carthaginian armies, the Carthage reign built the first settlement on which Alicante currently stands. Still the Roman strength was able to overtake the area, and ruled the land for many years. The Visigoths came in and rivaled the Romans for some time, but neither were able to defend the land against the Moors. Still today many Moorish features are found throughout Alicante, such as art and architecture, as well as many prominent products like rice.
In the 11th century the Moors, who ruled much of Southern and Eastern Spain, were overtaken by the Spanish Reconquista, and King Alfonso X ruled the land. In the following centuries the area of Alicante became quite important as it was gaining a great deal from gold that was being imported from South America.
For about the last 5 centuries Alicante was known as a very agricultural area. Like today, there was fertile land, plus the benefits of being on the coast. An interesting fact about Alicante is that during the Spanish unrest of the 1930s, Alicante stayed loyal to the government; it was one of the last cities to be overtaken by Franco's army during the Spanish civil war.
In more recent years, Alicante has started to boom with tourism, much like the other coastal regions of Spain. It is a popular destination for many European vacationers, as well as people throughout the world. The port saw a decline in the 1980s after Valencia's became more frequented, but now it has been rehabilitated.
- Airport: there is an international airport located just outside the city, in a municipality called Elche. Getting to and from the airport is possible by bus, taxi, or car. Several airlines use this airport, so it is possible to fly to many desinations in Spain and throughout Europe.
- Train: There is a train station which services the RENFE lines, connecting Alicante to the larger cities. The FGV train that runs along the Costa Blanca serving the coastal cities and resort areas
- Bus: There is a bus station in the city, many lines are primiarly served by the company Alsa Enatcar and it is possible to reach many of Spain's biggest cities. There is also the local bus system, run by TAM. These buses have several routes through the city, as well as the nearby suburbs.
- Foot: It is possible to roam around Alicante by foot, and often times, this is preferred to be able to take in all the beauty and culture the city has to offer.
Alicante hosts a few markets where you can find anything from hand-made crafts, clothes, pottery, artwork and household items to food and flowers. To view some of these delights that these markets boast talk a walk down Paseo del Doctor Gadea or along Explanada. You can find some of Alicante's freshest seafood, produce, and flowers around the Central Market on Avenida de Alfonso el Sabio.
Alicante has many interesting attractions, as it is a university city there are a lot of activities for young people, but there are also many museums, monuments, and cultural happenings for everyone. The city dates back about 7000 years., therefore Alicante is full of historical attractions, it also has very modern attractions such as the Tierra Mitica amusement park nearby.
Similar to other coastal cities throughout Spain, Alicante's gastronomy is largely based on the Mediterranean Sea. Fish and seafood is a very important and prominent part of the diet. Rice is also very prevalent in many of the traditional dishes due to the deep Muslim roots found in the historical culture of the area. Of course, like any true Mediterranean gastronomy, the use of olive oil can be found in Alicante's reciepes as well as many products from the land. Alicante has an agricultural history which still blossoms today bringing fresh fruit and vegetables directly from the region to the local consumers.
Paella is a famous dish known throughout Spain, but legend tells that it's roots come from the Valencian region. Paella is a mix of meat and seafood, rice and some vegetables. It is cooked both for an everyday meal or for many people, it can be prepared in a big pan, this is done for festivites and celebrations. Each chef has their own variations of this traditional recipe and it can be quite a fun experience to try preparing a paella dish yourself, especially with the fresh products right from Alicante.
Alicante was also the birthplace to a still widely known Spanish tradition,the tradition of eating 12 grapes along with the chimes of the clock in the countdown of New Year's Eve. In Alicante, in 1909, there was a surplus of grapes that year. So the local farmers thought to do this ritual on New Year's Eve.
Also, if you happen to be in Alicante (or Spain in general) around Christmas try turrón which is a sweet varying in tastes, but normally of almonds and honey. This is made in Jijona, a town in the province of Alicante.
Spain is known for having some of the best nightlife in the world, Alicante is no exception. Being a university city there are many choices for students, but also a variety of options for anyone. There is a wide array of restaurants offering typical cuisine from Alicante and the Valencian region, as well as almost any other type of food you could want. Being a coastal city the main areas for going out in Alicante are split between the harbor and the city center. The area around the harbor has been greatly expanded and during the summer months there are often a great number of professional art and musical performances to be seen. Just as the Explanada de España is a popular area during the daytime, head there at night to find all kinds of pubs, cafés, bars and restaurants.
The area that sits inland, just behind Explanada de España, is referred to as “la zona” and among streets such as Paseo del Doctor Gadea, Calle de San Fernando, Calle Alemania and Avenida de Ramón y Cajal there is a lively ambience with night clubs and discotheques. Plus more relaxed bars and restaurants.
“El Barrio” or the old quarter of the city is situated at the Co-Cathedral of San Nicolás. This area is said to be welcoming for people of all ages and backgrounds. There is a charming feeling in the streets, and of course it is filled with options of places to dance, drink and dine.