Alicante is a city in Spain, the capital of the province of Alicante and of the comarca of Alacantí, in the south of the Valencian Community. It is also a historic Mediterranean port.
The port of Alicante has been reinventing itself since the industrial decline the city suffered in the 1980s (with most mercantile traffic lost to Valencia's harbour). In recent years, the Port Authority has established it as one of the most important ports in Spain for cruises, with 72 calls to port made by cruise ships in 2007 bringing some 80,000 passengers and 30,000 crew to the city each year. The moves to develop the port for more tourism have been welcomed by the city and its residents, but the latest plans to develop an industrial estate in the port have caused great controversy.
Alicante has its own regulatory wine council. Tinto Alicante and Moscatel Alicante are the most known varieties.
Nightlife is concentrated in Old Town, called El Barrio or El Casco Antiguo, with dozens of bars and clubs along the narrow streets. Another focal point is the eastern rim of the marina, called Puerto, in and around the casino, where things start and end later.
The "Barrio" is the center of nightlife in Alicante, with bars like Dos Gringos, Mulligans, Carpe Diem, and Swing; there is never a dull night in this small Spanish city. Drinks are cheap, and shots are sometimes free. Pregame of "Botellon" on the castel or on the beach, then head over to the Barrio at around midnight. Then head over to swing or the puerto at 4am. A typical night should end at around 7 or 8am. (Note: "El botellon," literally, "the large bottle," is a custom among young people in Spain, in which they buy 2-litre bottles of soft drinks and mix into them hard liquor, and then stand or sit around drinking in parking lots and other public places. This is to avoid the high cost of drinks in some bars and clubs.)
If you want to see how the locals shop, head into town down the Rambla de Méndez Núnez then turn West on the Avenue de Alfonso El Sabio, and you'll find the city's main market, the Mercado Central de Alicante(38°20'52.5"N 0°29'9.6"W). It is open until about 14:30 or so most days, the two levels sell all the fresh meat, seafood, cheeses, fruit and vegetables anyone could need. If you exit the market through the back, you'll find the flower sellers in a small outdoor square.
- The Co-cathedral of Saint Nicholas of Bari is a Roman Catholic co-cathedral. The church, part of the Diocese of Orihuela-Alicante is dedicated to Saint Nicholas and was elevated to the title of cathedral on 9 March 1959 by Pope John XXIII. This church was built between 1613 and 1662. It was designed between 1610 and 1615 by Agustín Bernardino, a student of Juan de Herrera, and was constructed over an ancient mosque. The cathedral has a Latin cross plan, though the transepts are quite short. flanking the nave are six interconnecting side chapels and an ambulatory around the apse. A blue dome rises 45 meters above the crossing. The chapel of Holy Communion, configured as a small Greek cross-planned temple, is considered to be one of the most beautiful examples of the Spanish Baroque. The external appearance of the cathedral is quite sober. The main facade located on the east side is of the Doric order, and the one built on the south side is of Ionic order.
- Tabarca, also known in Valencian as Nova Tabarca and Illa Plana, is an islet located in the Mediterranean Sea. Tabarca is the smallest permanently inhabited islet in Spain and it is currently known for its marine reserve. Despite being much more socially and economically related to the fishing port of Santa Pola, the tiny island of Tabarca is a part of the city of Alicante. Administratively, it is managed as a rural district of Alicante, jointly with el Palmeral, Aiguamarga and Urbanova. Tabarca was the last Spanish Mediterranean location where the critically endangered Mediterranean monk seal successfully bred before it became extinct in this part of its range in the 1960s. This proves the high quality of the waters around the island in terms of marine ecology. Therefore waters around Tabarca were declared a Marine reserve in 1986, the first of its kind in Spain.
- The Basilica of Santa Maria is the oldest active church in Alicante. It was built in Gothic style between the 14th and 16th centuries over the remains of a mosque.
The basilica is composed from a single nave with six side chapels located between the buttresses. In 2007, by request of the city of Alicante to the Holy See, the church was promoted to the rank of basilica.
- The Archaeological Museum of Alicante is an archaeological museum in Alicante. The museum won the European Museum of the Year Award in 2004, a few years after significant expansion and reallocation to renovated buildings of the antique hospital of San Juan de Dios. The museum houses eight galleries that use multimedia to allow visitors to interact with the lives of past residents of the region.
- Santa Bárbara Castle is a fortification which stands on the Mount Benacantil (166 m).
Bronze Age, Iberian, and Roman artifacts have been found on the slopes of the mountain, but the origins of the castle date to the 9th century at the time of Muslim control of the Iberian Peninsula. The Arab medieval geographer Al-Idrisi calls this mountain Banu-lQatil, and the toponym may derive from the words pinna (Arabic for "peak") and laqanti, adjectival form of Laqant, the Arabic name for Alicante. On 4 December 1248, the castle was captured by Castilian forces led by Alfonso of Castile, later King Alfonso X. It was named after Saint Barbara, on whose feast day the castle was captured. It was conquered by the Aragonese in 1296 during the reign of James II of Aragon, who ordered its reconstruction. Peter IV of Aragon, Charles I of Spain and Philip II of Spain would oversee further reconstructions. From the 18th century the military role of the castle has declined and it was used sometimes as a prison. The castle remained abandoned until 1963, when it was opened to the public. Lifts have been installed inside the mountain.