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Alicante History, Spain

Alicante is one of Spain’s most popular seaside holiday destinations. Located in the beautiful Valencia region, Alicante is the fastest growing city on the south eastern coast of Spain. Alicante, Valencia and Murcia, the three largest cities in the region, attract thousands of visitors every year. Alicante is the perfect seaside city for those who like to lounge on the beach for hours on end, but visitors interested in cultural tourism will not be disappointed either. The city has a long and rich history, and many monuments and sites that are definitely worth seeing. This Alicante History Guide will briefly present the events that shaped the city’s fascinating past.

Alicante History Guide - Foundation an early history

Alicante is over 3000 years old, but there is archaeological evidence that points to human settlements of hunters and gatherers in 5000 BC. The native Iberian tribes were illiterate until about 1000 BC, when Greek explorers and traders landed on what is today Costa Blanca, and established several trading ports. Gradually, the natives learned the Phoenician alphabet, ironwork and using the pottery wheel. By the time the Romans invaded the Iberian Peninsula, the Alicante was a flourishing little village. The Carthaginians built the fort of Akra Leuka on the site of modern-day Alicante, although hardly any part of the fort survived until today. When the Romans gained control over the Iberian Peninsula, they named the settlement Lucentum, but it didn’t take long for barbarian tribes such as the Visigoths to thwart the Roman influence.

Alicante History Guide - Moorish rule and the Reconquista

The Moors conquered Alicante in the 8th century, and their influence left a lasting mark in the city. Elements of Moorish art and architecture became integrated into the face of the city, but they also brought more practical gifts such as orange and rice cultures, which greatly helped the city’s economy. The modern-day name of the Alicante means ‘the city of lights’ in Arabic, a fitting name. In 1246, during the Spanish Reconquista, Alicante went back into the possession of the Castilian Crown. In the following years, Alicante changed hands several times between the Kingdoms of Castile, Aragon and Valencia, but by the 15th century the city had become a major trading port of the Mediterranean. However, the city suffered a blow when King Felipe III made the mistake of exiling the all the Moriscos of Alicante, the descendants of the Moors who have converted to Catholicism. The city lost a lot of its agricultural workers and tradesmen, a great loss for its economy.

Alicante History Guide - Modern History

Alicante managed to restore its economy by the 20th century, but the city’s development was interrupted by several civil and political unrests. Many Alincateans fought in the Moroccan War in the 1920’s, and many more died in the bombings during the Civil War. Although the city suffered a great deal during Franco’s dictatorship, with the dawn of Spanish democracy it began a steady course of development, especially due to its touristic potential.

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Read our members' reviews about Alicante

  • WazlingNice parks and bullfighting in Alicante
    review by Wazling posted more then 30 days ago
    Alicante is a nice harbour city and one of Spains fast growing cities. It offer you some possibilities in every direction. For example the weekly markets close to the Bull fighting arena. You get fresh vegetables and fruits there, coming from the farmers around Alicante. Was also interesting to...
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