Alicante - a tour of the more beautiful Buildings and Monuments
Alicante City has a wonderful heritage that can be experienced through many of its building and monuments. We have chosen come of the key sights to see and compiled a short tour that is easily achievable in an afternoon or morning. So put on your walking shoes and lets go!
We start off in the barrio below the Castle, and opposite the beach area, in the street called Jorge Juan as here you can visit the oldest church in Alicante.
Iglesia de Santa Maria (St Mary's Church) was built in a gothic style between the 14th and 16th centuries and stands on the foundations of a Moorish mosque. There is a wide range of art kept in the church with two of the most valuable dating from the 15th century. Of particular interest is the 16th century white marble font that is attributed to the school of Michelangelo.
Walk a little further along the street toward La Ramblas and you will find the Ayuntamiento (Town Hall) which, with its twin towers, strikes an impressive pose over a square lined by arcaded walkways. Step inside to see the dramatic statue of Dali, and below it, on the lowest step of the staircase, you can see the 'cota zero' a brass stud used to measure the height of the sea level of all Spanish Towns. But don't stop there - go up the stairs to see the striking 'blue' room and the small chapel.
Still moving towards La Ramblas, two streets back you can find the imposing Catedral de San Nicolás de Bari (Cathedral of Saint Nicholas of Bari). Completed in 1662, it dominates the warren of streets that have wrapped themselves around it. Once again this was built on the remains of a mosque (a common practice in those days, to eradicate any trace of the Moors) and has a wonderful blue dome that raises to over 45m. Do visit inside the Cathedral and have a glance at the communion chapel, it's considered one of the most beautiful in Spain.
Walking a little way along past the Cathedral you start to climb uphill in to the area known as Santa Cruz. Here amongst narrow streets more reminiscent of Seville you will find the Chapel of Santa Cruz (Holy Cross). Constructed at the end of the 18th century it once formed part of the old town walls and now plays a large part in the Easter celebrations when one of the large heavy floats containing a religious icon is expertly maneuvered around the tight bends and carried into the church.
Now head back to La Ramblas and about half way up turn left onto Teatro Street and you will see the Teatro Principal (Main Theatre). This is a fine example of neo-classical construction and when it was completed in 1847 the interior was designed to be as grand as the exterior: in its day it was considered quite audacious! This is the centre of culture for the city where performances of ballet, opera and theatre can be enjoyed - so do check out the programme of events.
Carrying on to the top end of La Rambla and across the road is the Mercado Central (Central Market). The art deco building has two floors; meat is sold on one and fish on another. This impressive building is usually a hive of activity most mornings and gives you an opportunity to experience a slice of Spanish life! At the back of the mercado is the daily flower market: full of colour and perfume - don't miss it!
Finally carry on along the street called Calderon de la Barca (running from the back of the market) and at the top you will come across the fabulous Plaza de Toros (Bullring). Built in 1849 it is one of the oldest in Spain and is still in use today. Here you will find a museum dedicated to bullfighting where artifacts such as capes and costumes are on show along with the occasional stuffed bulls' head. If you visit on Saturday morning there is usually a busy market being held. Outside the bullring is a marvelous bronze statue of racing bulls, whilst the square that the bullring is on is filled with jets of water that bubble up from the pavements - great for the kids to jump over on a hot summers day!
If you've reached this far then you may want to walk a few hundred meters to the right where you will be able to view what was once the poorhouse of Alicante. Formally a Bishop's palace, the building that dates from 1752 became a tobacco factory in 1801 and until recently was still functioning as one.
The Ibero-Roman City of Lucentum was found on the hill known as Tossal de Mansis in the later part of the 18th century. This 'city' which covered 30,000m2 is the origin of Alicante and it has been listed as a National Historical site since 1961. Only 200m of its 1.3km of streets have been excavated but the finds have included sections of the ancient city walls from the 3rd century BC and pottery from the late 5th century BC. As a city, Lucentum was riding high in the first century of the Christian era and at the site you can view remains of its streets, thermal baths and also the homes of its inhabitants.
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