Blessed with the most exquisite scenery, Alicante rises majestically from the waters of the Mediterranean in a blend of natural and more urban, human landscapes. The Explanada de España is one of the many gems of the Alicante seafront, shining alongside other jewels such as the Muelle de Levante quayside, the Canalejas Park and the inimitable Paseo del Conde Vallellano boardwalk at the water’s edge. This ensemble is a melting pot of different worlds, whose boundaries blend into facades that end where the sea begins, becoming over recent years one of the most popular spaces for leisure and entertainment in the whole of Alicante. These days, from the Panoramis complex at El Postiguet beach and from La Rambla to the Club de Regatas yacht club, it’s fun all the way.The emblematic 19 century Explanada, with its gentle wave-shapes created from over six million red, white and blue marble tiles, is bordered on one side by the Puerta del Mar gateway to the port, and by Plaza de Canalejas square on the other. In the middle of the promenade rises an enormous shell-like structure that makes for an unusual stage, in testimony to the locals’ love of music. Also testifying to this passion is the Noray, a swish but cosy floating bar near the Canalejas statue where live music can often be enjoyed. Arts and crafts stalls line the route, creating a lively flea market atmosphere, while boutiques offering the best and most exclusive of Spanish and international fashion can be found between La Rambla and La Explanada.
The three most representative buildings along La Explanada are the Casino, with its beautiful ironwork structure, the pristine white Casa Lamagniere, and the modernist Casa Carbonell, whose blue cupolas point fo the heavens.
Designed by architect Juan Vidal Ramos, the Casa Carbonell was built in 1924 by Enrique Carbonell, an industrialist from Alcoy who wished to construct the most beautiful building in the whole city. Almost opposite this structure, on the other side of La Puerta del Mar and at the entrance to the Muelle de Levante quayside, rises the early 20 century customs building, the finest example of Alicante industrial architecture.
Alicante grew under the shelter of the Santa Barbara Castle, which belonged to the Castilian Crown from when the city was conquered in 1248 by the then prince Alfonso, until Jaime II took over the fortress for the Crown of Aragon. One century later, Pedro IV the Ceremonious modified the site and, in the early years of the 16th century, King Charles it definitively fortified. The main reform work, however was carried out during the reign of Philip II.
The castle is structured in three parts. The turret or old keep tower is the highest and oldest and this enclosure comprises the Bastion of the English, the engineers’ section, the main hall and the governor’s house. The castle stronghold was the highest esplanade where the old citadel stood.
The sea has such a presence in Alicante that it led the author Gabriel Miró to write of this, his home city, that where the sea cannot be seen, it can be felt. Passionate about his birthplace, also wrote that “in Alicante the scent of the sea anoints the stones, the latticework, the tablecioths, the books, the hands, the hair (…). And the sky, the sea and the sun glorify the rooftop terraces, the towers, the walls, the trees. Where the sea is not seen it is divined in the glory of the light and in the air that crackles like a rich cloth and one cannot live without Alicante once one has known it”.
Gabriel Miró was well aware of Alicante´s uniqueness, a uniqueness is still palpable today and which may be a fruit of its historical turmoil, its colours, its beauty and, above all, its sea: a history and a sea that have made the city one of the most enchanting places on the Mediterranean, which even in autumn still warmly welcomes its visitors, offering them the blues of its sea and its sky, captivating their soul.
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