Alicante Buildings of Interest
Castillo de Santa Bárbara (Santa Barbara Castle).
In view of its size, this is one of the largest medieval fortresses existing in Europe. It occupies the entire summit and a large proportion of the slopes of the Benacantil mountain, a peak rising up from the beach to a height of 166m. This provided a privileged look-out point over the sea, the bay of Alicante, and the surrounding farmland, propitiating human settlement on the crest of the mountain since time immemorial. Remains from the Bronze Age, the Iberian period and the Roman age have all been found here, as well as from the Islamic period, dating from the end of the 9th century. Between 1562 and 1580, under the reign of Felipe II, major reform work was carried out under the direction of the architects Antonelli and Palearo, further enhancing this monument's rich history. The Castle has three differentiated enclosures. The highest part preserves the oldest remains (9th-13th C) and the English Bulwark, the Noble Room and Governor's House; the intermediate area has some of the most important works erected in the 16th century: Felipe II's Rooms, the Guard's Room, the Bulwark of the Queen and the Forecourt, and the remains of the ancient Santa Barbara chapel; the last of the enclosures finished in the 18th century contains the so-called Bon Repós Reveille and monuments to the illustrious Alicante militaryman Félix Berenguer de Marquina, Captain General of the Philippines and Viceroy of New Mexico. The Castle can be accessed by a road leading up the western slope of the mountain amongst pine trees, or by a lift through part of the mountain going up 144m, which can be reached through a 205m-tunnel entered from Jovellanos Avenue, along the Postiguet beach.
Ayuntamiento (City Hall).
This is a marvellous example of baroque civic architecture designed towards the end of the 17th century and started in 1701 according to plans by Lorenzo Chápuli, with work continuing until 1780. The façade is 50m long and is flanked by two twin towers of original design with tiled central domes erected over a portico through which the building is accessed. From the central doorway, with two pairs of twisted columns, there is a smaller back door opening onto the Plaza de la Santísima Faz, which contains some magnificent stone sculptures.
At the foot of the main stairway is the so-called "cota cero" (zero sea level), the reference point which is used to measure the height above sea level of all Spanish towns. Inside the sumptuous interior is a gigantic triptych by Gastón Castelló, allegorising the construction of this building, the so-called Blue Room, with a side chapel presided over by an Immaculate Conception painting by Lucas Espinós, and the Plenary Hall.
OTHER CIVIC MONUMENTS AND BUILDINGS OF INTEREST
Castillo de San Fernando (St Ferdinand Castle).
This castle was built on the Tossal hill at the beginning of the 19th century in response to Napoleon's approach. It was soon rendered strategically useless, however, and became a local recreation site. It still preserves parts of its walls and a doorway that make a stopover worthwhile.
Panteón de Quijano (Garden).
This is one of the last typically romantic gardens in the entire city. It was built between 1855 and 1857 and preserves a funerary mound in its centre, crowned with an obelisk designed by the architect Francisco Morell, which contains the remains of the civil governor Trino González de Quijano, who died heroically in the exercise of his duties as a victim of the cholera epidemic of 1854, which took a severe toll on the local population.
Casa de la Asegurada (Ancient city granary).
This is the oldest civic building preserved in the city. It dates from 1685 and was first conceived as a granary, later becoming a school, and now being used as a Contemporary Art Museum..
Teatro Principal (Main theatre).
Finished in 1847, the main theatre stands as a fine example of a classical construction. Inside, it reflects notable architectural audacity for its day, as it was built without supporting columns. It contains good examples of decoration and ornamentation.
Plaza de Toros (Bullring).
This is one of the oldest bullrings still in use, built in 1849, although it has been restored and enlarged since then, with its current design dating from 1888.
Pasaje de Amérigo (Amérigo Arcade).
This arcade is doubly curious in that it serves as an access to the largest building complex in Alicante, built in 1853, and that it is the only example of a typical 19th-century city landscape with notable Parisian influences.
Casa Alberola (Alberola House).
This was the first large-scale housing block in the city, built in 1894, with an interesting maritime façade, built according to plans drawn up by the architect Guardiola. Of note are the corner tower and dome.
Casa de las Brujas.
Pure modernism can be seen here, in the so-called "Witches House", cons-tructed by Enrique Sánchez Sedeño, the architect who designed practically all the buildings in Alicante in this particular style. Completed in 1911, although it was originally designed in the late 19th century, this house has a façade decorated with Art Nouveau plant motifs. It is now the seat of the regional government in the province of Alicante.