Castillo de Santa Bárbara
In a commanding position above the town, the Castillo de Santa Bárbara seems to sprout from a rocky outcrop overlooking the sea. The hilltop location is a testament to the castle’s military purpose and has been a strategic asset as far back as the Carthaginian era. The original ninth-century Islamic Alcazar was captured from the Moors by the Christian Prince Alfonso of Castile. The victorious battle was on the feast day of Santa Barbara, explaining the castle’s name.
During the reign of Philip II, the castle was renovated in Renaissance style. The castle is open to the public for self-guided visits as well as guided tours. Tourists are astounded by the castle’s ancient halls, its fascinating history, and the stunning panoramic views. From this vantage point, the outlook stretches over the town, along the coastline, and to the hills in the north. Visitors can see La Torreta, the old keep; the splendid reception hall of Philip II; and the Revellín del Bon Repós rampart. Temporary exhibitions are also held at the castle throughout the year.
This superb archeological museum takes visitors on a journey through 100,000 years of history. The collection covers prehistory; the classical period of antiquity with Greek, Roman, and Iberian artifacts; and the Middle Ages. Specific rooms are dedicated to Iberian culture, Roman civilization, and the medieval period. Highlights of the collection include the assortment of ancient coins, a figure of the goddess Tanit, and the Iberian ceramics. The medieval exhibit is especially impressive with an assortment of more than 300 objects. Another interesting feature of the museum is a display that recreates a scene of Roman daily life. The museum also presents educational information about the archaeological sites of Lucentum and Illeta where many of the artifacts were discovered.
Basilica de Santa María
In the historic Santa Cruz quarter, the Basilica de Santa María is the oldest church in Alicante. The church was built by the Catholic monarchs in the 13th century on the site of a former mosque. Originally Gothic in style, the church was remodeled in the 18th century with a Baroque facade and interior. On the main front of the exterior, notice the Virgin sculpture by Juan Bautista Borja. Step inside the church to admire the richly decorated sanctuary. Highlights are the Rococo high altar and exquisite Baptism chapels.