Wednesday, 30 May 2012 9:31 AM
The Spanish city of Alicante is in the region of Valencia and makes the perfect destination for a cultural getaway. While many people come to the harbour city for its golf courses and beautiful climate, it also boasts amazing historical attractions.
Another reason why Alicante makes a fantastic holiday destination is that the airport lies just six miles away from the city centre. Secure car hire at Alicante Airport and you could be at your accommodation within 15 minutes, meaning you can get your break started as soon as possible.
Below is a guide to some of the top historic sights Alicante has to offer.
The Castle of Santa Barbara
This Renaissance structure dates back to the 9th century and is located on the Monte Benacantil hill. During the 17th to 19th centuries the fortress witnessed several battles, while it secured its name after prince Alfonso of Castile took the castle back from the Moors on the Santa Barbara feast day.
Stroll around the castle and you will find it is split into three areas. The first is the lower, where you can take in the Revellin del Bon Repos rampart. Next is the intermediate section, which is home to some of the most important rooms of the Castle of Santa Barbara, including the Phillip II hall. Indeed, the historic attraction was remodelled during his reign in the mid to late 16th century. Finally, La Torreta is where you will come across the old keep.
Santa Maria church
The region of Valencia is steeped in religious traditions and boasts some spectacular churches, one of which is Santa Maria in Alicante. Built in the 13th century, this gothic church is the oldest in the city and is located on the site of a former mosque. With a baroque facade and an interior consisting of Bautismo chapels, rococo and a high altar, it really is magnificent to look at.
Its majestic appearance is made all the more fascinating as the Santa Maria church was rebuilt in the 15th century following a fire. If you are something of an art fan, you might already know that a Virgin image by Juan Bautista Borja can be found inside the church. After admiring the attraction, pop across the square to the Casa de la Asegurada Museum, where you can enjoy more artwork from the likes of Eduardo Chillida, Pablo Picasso and Joan Miro.
Alternatively, the surrounding old walled city is great to explore, with plenty of alleyways and narrow streets to stroll around.
San Nicolas de Bari Procathedral
This procathedral was built in the 17th century during the Renaissance - you won't be able to miss it, not only for its beauty, but also because it is located close to other attractions such as the Castle of Santa Barbara and the Capuchin Convent.
It consists of one nave with several chapels adjoining, with one of the most popular being the Communion chapel, which is constructed in a baroque style. Like many churches and cathedrals in the region, the altar is very high and amazing to look at, especially as there are marble steps leading up to it. In the apse of the central nave you will find the baroque altar of Saint Nicholas. While not as striking on the exterior as perhaps some of Alicante's other churches, its design and interior more than make up for this.