Santa Barbara Castle (Castillo de Santa Bárbara)
The Santa Barbara Castle is the icon of Alicante. The fortress is the most known, visited, and visible tourist attraction in Alicante.
Santa Barbara Castle is located in the center of Alicante and is easily accessible. This castle is located at the end road called Alfonso X El Sabio. The castle is situated on top of Mount Benaca, which has a height of 166 meters. (http://www.alicanteturismo.com/castle-of-santa-barbara/?lang=en).
When traveling by car, one can park their car in the parking lot and walk the rest of the distance to the top of the castIe. If traveling by foot, there are several entrances and paths that lead to the top which makes for a good workout. If one prefers to be taken to the top via an elevator, there is one opposite of the beach. The opening hours of the elevator varies depending on the season. Information on the elevator schedule can be viewed here: http://www.alicanteturismo.com/santa-barbara-castle-1000-years-history/?lang=en. There is also a possibility of going there by bus, Turibús. (http://www.castillodesantabarbara.com/como_llegar_castillo_en.html) Wheelchair tourists can also visit the castle because there are routes designed for tourists with disabilities. Dogs are not allowed to go to the castle.
There is no entrance fee to visit the castle, but the elevator costs 2,70 € (for retired people the lift ride is free). Guided tours are also available at reasonable prices. http://www.alicanteturismo.com/santa-barbara-castle-1000-years-history/?lang=en.
The castle itself is open every day and the opening hours are different depending on the season (http://www.alicanteturismo.com/castle-of-santa-barbara/?lang=en).
- September: 10 AM – 10 PM
- October – March: 10 AM – 8 PM
- April – June: 10 AM – 10 PM
- July – August: 10 AM – 12 PM
Santa Barbara was built in the 9th century by the Moors. The Muslims dominated the castle during the years 713-1248. On April 12th, 1248, the castle was recaptured by the Christians who were led by Alfonso of Castile (also known as King Alfonso X el Sabio). In 1296, the castle was taken from the Castilian Nicolas Peris by King Jaime II de Aragon. In the 16th century, the king of Spain, Felipe II, transformed the castle into a military fortress.
Between the years 1701-1714, the castle was occupied by the Dutch and the English due to the war. The French also wanted to take over the castle, leading Felipe V to send his army to the castle. They built a subterranean passage under the castle which was filled with cannon powder when it was finished. The French general said they will blow up the entire castle if the Englishmen did not leave. They didn’t find any subterranean passage so they thought the French were lying and didn’t surrender. The French then set the gunpowder on fire on the 4th of March. The explosion was colossal and ended with many casualties. The castle was not completely mangled, but the Englishmen left the castle which was later seized by the Bourbons (the French royal dynasty).
1893 the castle was no longer a military fortress and was abandoned. During the Spanish Civil War, the castle was utilized as a prison. In the year 1960, the castle was opened to the public (lift was built in 1963) and now is the most visited cultural/ historical attraction in Alicante. Since the 1960’s the castle has been an important Monument of Cultural Interest (BIC) and it is also a protected monument.
The Santa Barbara Castle guide can be download here http://www.alicante.es/es/patrimonio-cultural/castillo-santa-barbara).
Architecture and other services
The castle’s architecture is vintage because the castle was built in the 9th century. Newer styles of architecture can be see on the castle due to the many renovations over the years. Also, a path was built for people incapable of walking and restrooms, shops, and restaurants have been built on the paths to the castle. One can also visit the Museum of the City of Alicante and currently there is an exhibition called The Fortress of the Ring. The museum is open every day from 10 AM to 2 PM and 4 PM to 8 PM. (http://www.castillodesantabarbara.com/index_en.html)
- Sociocultural and economic value: the castle provides a small amount of revenue even though there is no entrance fee. The lift costs 2,70 € and there are guided tours which are profitable for the city. The restaurant and shops also encourage spending because people get hungry while touring the castle and also want memorabilia from their experience. Money has to be spent on the castle because renovations must be conducted when necessary and the facilities must maintain a certain level of cleanliness (restrooms, paths, etc.). The main sociocultural value of the castle is the history involved with the monument and the fact that it is the main tourist attraction in Alicante. Also, the castle provides work for inhabitants of Alicante, therefore enhancing the city’s economy.
- Current situation: the castle is the most visited attraction in Alicante. There are also certain events that are conducted at the castle.
- Appeal as a tourist attraction: The “must-see” attraction for visitors to Alicante. It’s the most visible tourist attraction in town and the view from the castle is stunning.
- Cultural interpretation: there are many signs in the castle and one can join the guided tour or a dramatized tour where the guides will speak about the history of the castle in a theatrical way. (http://www.castillodesantabarbara.com/teatralizadas_en.html) Children can also learn about the history because there are tailored guided tours for children.
- Potential for further development: Further development on the castle would benefit if there was a fee to see the castle. Being a free site, it is difficult to improve the status because it generates very little profit. People would most likely still visit the castle for small fee. The websites for the castle could also be improved. The cites in Spanish have extensive information on the castle but the websites in english lack certain details. Here is an example of a website in english and a website in spanish. The spanish website is a bit more helpful. http://www.castillodesantabarbara.com/eventos_en.html http://www.castillodesantabarbara.com/eventos.html.
The Santa Barbara Castle guide