Alicante is situated on Spain's eastern Mediterranean coast, and is one of the fastest growing cities in Spain. The local economy is based upon tourism connected with the beaches on the Costa Blanca coast. It is also a historic Mediterranean port, originally established by the Greek and Phoenician traders. Later came the Romans and the Moors, who gave the city its modern name, Alicante, which in Arabic means "city of lights". In the 11th century the city was taken back from the Moors.
|Today Alicante has a population of around 330,000, and estimated a little more than 450,000 in the entire urban area. The population in the metropolitan area is more than 750,000, ranking it as the eight largest metropolitan area of Spain.
Amongst the most notable features of Alicante is its main castle, the Castle of Santa Bárbara. Of Arab origin, the castle bears the marks of all the different peoples that the city has sheltered, although a good part of the present building only dates back to the 16th century. From the top of the walls you have a commanding view of the whole city, the impressive coastline and the beautiful countryside. The old walled city was built at the foot of this castle. One of the most attractive buildings in this network of narrow streets and alleyways is the Gothic church of Santa Maria, built in the 16th century on top of an old Arab mosque. Across from the church is the Casa de la Asegurada Museum from the 17th century, which has an important collection of contemporary art, with artists such as Joan Miró and Pablo Picasso among others.
The coastline is, without doubt, the favourite recreational spot for the tourists as well as the people of Alicante. The Explanada de España promenade, located across from the port, is a lively boulevard dotted with terraces and pavement cafés. A more modern leisure area extends along the port breakwater, where there also are many bars and restaurants. Alicante is also known for its seafront promenades, such as the impressive Rambla Méndex Núnes. Playa del Postiquet beach is the nearest beach to Alicante center, just to the east of the marina leisure area and port. It is a beautiful beach with fine white sands and easy access to local cafés, bars and restaurants.
Due to its mild, inviting climate, Alicante has an easy, carefree nightlife all year round. There are many places to have a drink or a bite to eat around town, but the old city center is probably the most enjoyable place, especially for the younger generations. The "modern" zone, between Alfonso El Sabio and the Explanada de España, offers other types of entertainment, with elegant pubs, restaurants with famed cuisines, discotheques and clubs.
Alicante Airport is among the busiest airports in Spain, and keeps expanding. It is connected with many Western European cities and also has flights to Algiers and Russia, as well as Bogotá in South America. There are also domestic flights to and from most destinations in Spain. The airport is located 11 km (6.8 miles) south of the city. A bus departing every 45 minutes takes you to the city in about 30 minutes, but because of the route the bus follows, it takes about 40 minutes for the bus to return to the airport.