When traveling, one of the best ways to immerse yourself in local culture is to visit the region during an event or festival. Spain is the ideal country to do so because of the many festivities, one of the most popular is Santa Faz Pilgrimage which takes place in the province of Alicante.
The annual event takes place in April when 200,000 people attend attracting pilgrims from the city center to the Monastery of Santa Faz. The procession begins at 8 am and it takes about two hours to travel the five miles that makes up the course. Along the way there are a number of traditional stops such as “paraeta” where pilgrims gather for a breakfast with threads of anise and sweet wine.
What makes this event so touching is the devotion of the faithful who go to the monastery as it contains the veil with which Veronica wiped the bloodied face of Jesus. This relic has been faithfully worshiped by the locals from the first pilgrimage to the monastery for over 500 years in 1489.
Rarely can you get a better understanding of local customs and traditions than with the experience that is the Santa Faz Pilgrimage. South east Spain also offers much more than this day of devotion.
A short distance south of Alicante is the historic town of Santa Pola. The best route is the one that supplied the car hire Alicante, because this city is just twenty miles south. Along the way you can enjoy panoramic ocean views, but be sure to keep your eyes on the road.
Once in Santa Pola you will be immediately struck by the rich history of the city. Roman ruins dating back to the fourth century BC are scattered throughout the city. However, the history of Santa Pola is broad and encompasses many times, in fact also has a Renaissance castle built in the XVI century to defend the city from pirate attacks, this building being one of the best examples of the rich history of the area.
Santa Pola is also a very economical to visit and you do not need to spend all your budget on food and lodgings. You will find that retail prices are very reasonable and restaurants always have fresh fish on the menu. In the list of things to do while enjoying this seaside town be sure to include seeing the world go by sitting in the Plaza de la Glorieta surrounded by terraces and gardens.
The Spanish Costa Blanca (located on the southeast coast) is the perfect destination all year round, but if you’re looking for a unique and special experience, mingling with the locals, enjoying the good weather and the beach in a calm and stress-free, then a good time to go is during the month of April. Book now before the prices go up!
Once the targeted by pirates sailing along the coast, Alicante still shows remains of walled fortifications around what is now its old town. These can be identified as stone crosses which mark where gates once stood in three locations. However, there is much more to see and experience in Alicante’s old town, or el barrio, than remains of its old walled defences. There is an abundance of historic buildings from churches to museums, along with a multitude of clubs, cafes and restaurants. All that the old town has to offer is easily accessible by foot due to its compact nature. If that wasn’t enough, Santa Barbara Castle which looms above this region of Alicante provides a fantastic back-drop for your explorations. In fact, Parque de la Ereta, a park designed by French architect to be in harmony with nature, offers a walkway between the castle and the old town.
The small medieval streets of the triangular region that is the old town provide a relaxing setting for a stroll without any fear of getting lost. You’ll likely come across the town hall, or Ayubtamiento, an outstanding example of baroque architecture with twin towers reaching 35m high. The cathedral of San Nicolas de Bari, which dates back to the 17th century, can be found nearby and is another stunning example of baroque architecture. With features such as its high alter and tranquil garden, this cathedral is particularly memorable. Also in the old town and dating back to the late 14th century is the church of Sant Bartolomé, it is now a listed National Historic and Artistic Monument.
Alicante’s old town is also home to museums such as the Gravine Museum of Fine Arts which showcases Spanish art over three floors, and the Museu de Arte del Siglo XX Asegurada, a modern art museum within the city’s oldest building which dates back to 1685 where works by Picasso and Calder Dali among others are displayed.
After a day of exploring the historic buildings, cafes and curio shops in the area, there are plenty of restaurants to cater for all tastes. With a multitude of bars and pubs, you won’t find yourself short of places to enjoy a drink or two. With a diverse collection of venues, Alicante’s old town is sure to provide a fantastic night out.
With souvenir shopping, opportunities to be immersed in culture and great nightlife on offer, the old town region of Alicante will please everyone around the clock.
Alicante is a city little known to the major tourist trade but happily this doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a lot to offer visitors. It is popular with Spaniards, with a wealth of history and entertainment to keep the locals and holiday makers alike happy.
With a range of atmospheres ranging from the tangled streets of the old quarters with their curio shops, to the white-washed properties higher on the hill with their stunning views of the city, Alicante has a lot to offer. Don’t fear, despite being so varied it’s easy to explore due to its compact nature.
With its very own mountain castle, 18th century manor houses, amazing beaches and an active nightlife; you’ll never be wanting for something to do. Alicante is also home to a multitude of churches, some dating back to the 16th century. The bullring, built in 1849, is one of Spain’s oldest; it has been restored and enlarged. The recently face-lifted El Barrio is where you can find an abundance of culture and charm in the form of the buildings and the ambience.
Alicante has a range of beaches suitable for a range of needs. For the water sport fans, the secluded Albufereta beach can provide what’s needed. Alternatively, the Playa del Coco may be the ideal choice for those who need easy access to rail links. The largest of them all at 5km long, the Playa de San Juan should cater for most with its range of hotels, bars, restaurants (it even has a golf course). Finally, majestic views of Alicante bay can be seen from the walkway at Saladar beach which itself is an attractive sandy beach. A relaxing stroll down the seaside Explanada de Espana will provide access to shops and cafes in a somewhat unique way as it is adorned with marble in black, red and cream, in addition to its palm tree lining.Numerous public parks complete with monuments and water features provide the opportunity to relax in the open air away from the beach. Besides beaches, historic buildings and parks, Alicante is an education hub with the university (founded in 1979) catering to over 30,000 students and a campus exceeding 1m square meters.
The harbour of Alicante, once the port of Madrid, is active to this day with working fishing fleets, sailing clubs, restaurants and nightlife.