AlicanteThe Costa Blanca in Spain has long been a popular holiday destination for UK holiday makers. Most tourists arrive at Alicante airport before heading for the holiday resorts of Benidorm, Calpe, Moraira, Javea and Denia.
Alicante is known as the capital of the Costa Blanca and is located directly on the Mediterranean, although most visitors to this Costa will best know Alicante for its airport, but this lovely city is well worth a visit. Check out the sea views from Santa Barbara Castle, situated on Mount Benacantil, the top of which can be reached by an elevator set into the rock face across from Playa Postiguet.
Aside from the view, the strange rock formation is worth examining, which resembles a Moors face, as well as the Museo de les Fogueres (Museum of the Bonfires) where amazing figures created for Junes Fogueres Festivals are displayed. The CAPA Collection is also housed here, featuring examples of modern Spanish sculpture, including works by Dali.
Santa Faz Monastery is also worth a look, if only for the legend attached to the site where it is situated - a pilgrim brought a relic of the cloth which was used to wipe the blood from the face of Jesus at crucifixion to Alicante in the 16th century and by doing so, caused a miracle to occur. Visit the monastery to learn the whole story.
Museum lovers looking for something a bit different from the usual scraps of pottery and so on will enjoy a change at the Nativity Scene Museum, which is located in Alicante's Old Quarter. As well as an interesting collection of Christmas bric-a-brac, the museum displays lovely nativity scenes from all over the world. The Bullfighting Museum also offers something a bit different from the norm a permanent display focusing on various local bullfighters, with rooms given over to presentations and discussions on this contentious topic.
For a more conventional museum experience, try the Gravina Fine Arts Museum, with its collection of pieces ranging from the 20th century a far back as the Middle Ages. Alternatively, La Aseguarda Museum features a fine collection of contemporary pieces, from masters including Miro, Dali and Gargallo, as well as some non-Spanish artists.
Alicante's beaches are also as good as any you'll find along the coast, especially San Juan beach, which, with its endless 7 kilometres of fine sand and broad range of facilities, plus a nearby 18-hole golf course.
The city centre is packed with shops and restaurants, in addition to a number of shopping malls on the outskirts, such as Gran Via, Vista Hermosa and Panoramis. Eating out is certainly enjoyable in Alicante with a lively selection of bars, outdoor cafes and restaurants available in El Barrio and El Puerto. The two locations offer very different atmospheres, the old town charm of El Barrio contrasting nicely with El Puertos sleekly modern marina location.
El Puerto (meaning The Port) offers a regular service to Barcelona, the Balearic Islands, Canary Islands, France and North Africa. The regular ferry and shipping services, rail and motorway links with Barcelona, Murcia, Denia and Madrid, and the international airport, make Alicante the gateway to Spain's Costa Blanca.
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