The Castle of Santa Barbara in Alicante, stands at the top of Mount Benacantil located in the center of the city, from where you can admire a lovely view of the city, the harbor and the sea.
Thanks to its advantageous location, the castle was an important strategic site during the reign of the Moors who founded the fortress and in later periods of the country’s history. We already talked about Alicante in the past, today we are talking about one of its jewels.
The Face of the Moor
The locals claim that from a certain area of the city, on the outskirts of the mountain, you can see the Moor. Mount Benacantil even has an unofficial name – the Face of the Moor, which is associated with an old urban legend that tells of the tragic love of a Moorish princess and a young Spanish nobleman. The old Moor, the woman’s father, executed the young man, and the princess, distraught with grief, threw herself off a cliff into the sea. Then, in the contours of the mountain, the features of a cruel father appeared.
How to climb the Castle of Santa Barbara
Although the mountain seems high, and the castle on top looks tiny and so distant, it is possible to climb Mount Benacantil and walk to the Castle of Santa Barbara on foot, in just 10-15 minutes from the centre of Alicante. There are both free and paid ascents via high-speed lifts.
Paid high-speed elevator to Santa Barbara Fortress
The entrance to the high speed elevator, which takes only one minute to go up to the top of the mountain and directly into the heart of the Castle of Santa Barbara, is located in Jovellanos street, in front of the Postiguet beach.
The elevator is paid, the cost is 2.70 euros per person. Payment through the terminal. Children under 4 and seniors over 65 are free. The paid elevator operates daily: from 10:00 am to 7:45 pm. From 7.45pm to 11.10pm, you can take the lift up and down free of charge. From 23:10 to 23:30 the elevator only works to go down, also free of charge. This is the only thing you have to pay, not counting souvenirs and coffees. Everything else in the castle (viewing, exhibitions, museums) is free of charge.
Attention! At the moment, due to coronavirus, the elevator is not working.
Free ascent to the fortress of Santa Bárbara
Climbing the Benacantil Mountain and entering the Castle of Santa Barbara is completely free of charge. It only takes 10 to 20 minutes to get through the Santa Cruz area. Santa Cruz is the oldest quarter of the city, which has preserved the lifestyle of medieval Spain, a very picturesque place.
Further along the mountainside, through the Ereta Park to the central entrance of the castle. There is a lot of greenery in the park, beautiful watermelon-scented flowers grow, there is a fountain, and from the sites located at different heights, a panorama of the sea and the city of Alicante opens up. The ascent to the mountain is provided with paths without steps. It is very convenient to go up and down.
It is true that in some places you still have to overcome several sections with steps, sometimes even steep, but thanks to this, the climb becomes exciting. Also, just walking, you can see the Benacantil Mountain and the castle of Alicante from different angles and peaks.
It is also possible to drive up to the fortress through the main entrance to the Castle of Santa Barbara. Behind the gate there is a first observation deck and free parking.
History of the Castle of Santa Barbara
The Castle of Santa Barbara in Alicante was built in the ninth century by the Arabs and for several centuries was an impregnable citadel that prevented the complete expulsion of the conquerors from the country. In December 1248, the castle was captured by the troops of the infant Alfonso, son of Ferdinand of Castile, later known as Alfonso X the Wise. In commemoration of the brilliant victory of St. Barbara’s Day, the fortress was named after St. Barbara.
Almost half a century later, in 1296, the Castle of Santa Barbara was captured by the troops of the Aragonese King James II the Just, under whose orders a large-scale reconstruction and reinforcement of the castle began. The work took almost a hundred years and was completed during the reign of King Peter IV. At the beginning of the 16th century, by order of King Charles I, work was carried out to strengthen the fortress of Santa Barbara. New buildings appeared on the territory of the castle from 1562 to 1580.
The Castle of Santa Barbara in Alicante played an important role in the defense of the city during the wars that arose in different periods of Spanish history. It was badly damaged in 1691 during the bombardment of the city by a French squadron. No lesser damage was caused during the War of the Spanish Succession in 1707-1709.
During the uprising of Colonel Pantaleon Bonet against the regime of General Baldomero Espartero in January 1844, the castle fell into the hands of the rebels, but the betrayal of one of the colonel’s supporters sealed the fate of the rebel Bonet and his followers. The fortress fell, the uprising was suppressed, and Bone and all the rebels were brutally executed.
The castle suffered serious damage during the civil war of 1873, when it was bombarded from the sea by the battleship Numancia, captured by the rebels of Cartagena.
At the end of the 19th century, during the reign of Alfonso XIII, the Castle of Santa Barbara in Alicante came under the control of the municipal authorities. After the restoration works, the fortress became a prison for several decades. During the civil war of 1936-1939, political prisoners were held there – Republicans and opponents of General Franco. On the walls of the castle there are still drawings and inscriptions scribbled by prisoners of the Franco regime.
What to see in Santa Barbara Castle
- Medieval walls and towers
- The “Contramina”. War of Succession (18th c.)
- Park of Military Engineers (18th century)
- Exit from the castle to the coastal path Sala Noble, old hospital
- Entrance to the castle during the s. XVI
- Courtyard of the Alcazaba
- Governor’s House of the Castle
- Enclosure of the “Macho” del Castillo
- Archaeological remains of the Medieval Alcazaba
- Plaza de Armas
- Philip II Hall (Exhibition “A City is Born”)
- Old kitchens
- Guard Corps. Exhibition Hall
- Old exit to the lower bastion
- Bastion of the Queen (XVI c.) and Grafitti prisoners of the Castle
- Ruins Hermitage of Santa Barbara (XVIIIth century)
- Gunpowder storehouse (18th century)
- Moat, wall and “La Torreta”.
- Bastion of Santa Ana (x. XVI)
- La Mina Bastion
- Ruins of the Tahona del Castillo
- Revellín del “Bon Repós” (XVIIIth century)
More photos of the Castle of Santa Barbara
More info on the website of the City Council of Alicante.