Alicante is situated one of the most famous castles of the levante coast. The Santa Bárbara castle, measuring 166 meters in height, is a millennial monument which dominates the Alicante municipality. Situated at the foot of mount Benacantil, this gem made of limestone is surrounded by legends, myths, historic conquests and it´s origins are intertwined with those of the city it represents.
More than a thousand years of history rest upon the blocks of this castle, built upon an important archeological site, with remains of Iberians, romans and other old cultures.
The chronicle of Santa Bárbara, however, started much later in the December of 1248, when a Spanish king was able to subdue the Arabic forces and conquer the castle for Alicante.
An Age of Knights
And so, this great feat of Alfonso X el Sabio would mark a before and after in the conquest of the Reino de Taifa of Murcia, demonstrating the superior military strength of the Christians. Even though previously Jaime II made plans to reform the castle, they would not come into effect until the arrival of Pedro IV and Carlos I, who would fortify the plot and add the benefits which we see and admire today.
The second turning point in the buildings history would take place in 1691, when the city was attacked by the French, and then again in 1873, after the attack by the Cantonalistas de Cartagena. Two attacks, whilst not in vain, would demise the fall of the Santa Bárbara in the midst of that century.
Since 1963, being one of the most famous landmarks of the Costa Blanca, the castle has remained open to the public and is visited by millions of tourists.
A Living Legend
As always the case, the walls of this castle harbors more than one ghost. Nicolás Peris is one of them. After vowing to protect the city “With all my honor forever” this national hero defended every last inch of the fortress with his life from the grips of Jaime II whose troops saw it fit to cut off his hand as they could not pry the keys from it. Even though the Aragonian king fed his corpse to the beasts, it is said that the spirit of Peris restlessly wanders the galleries and corridors of the castle.
From the sands of Postiguet, mount Benacantil reveals to its visitors one of its biggest peculiarities: the shape of a man, of Arabic origin, known as “la Cara del Moro”. Behind this strange geological structure is a legend known as the “Legend of Alí”.
One of the many versions of this story states that a young noblemen fell in love with the Alcántara princess, daughter of the Califa. Her father, however, did not approve of the union and so the lovers threw themselves from the highest tower of the fortress. The Califa, consumed with guilt, then threw her body onto the sharp peaks of Benacantil.
The MUSA, A Cultural Space For The Whole Family
Also situated within this building, is the Alicante Museum (MUSA). Since 2011, it has provided a true historical representation for the inhabitants and tourists of Alicante. Via expositions, audiovisual projects and archaeological remains aging up to 3,000 years old.
Fierce battles and legends, just some of the secrets which these foundations hide, have multiplied in significance with the passing of time. It’s safe to say that Santa Bárbara is a building that captivates the imagination of both inhabitants and foreigners alike.