We viewed a lovely sunrise from our balcony as we came towards the port of Alicante Spain.
This area has been populated for 7000 years by the regular cast of characters, the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans and Arabs. The Spanish monarchy recaptured Alicante in 1214 AD and established Catholic rule.
We could see the ancient fortress way up on the hill. We learned later it was the Castillo de Santa Bárbara, built over a span of 1000 years, but primarily in the 16th century.
Alicante actually has two castles, the second being the Castillo de San Fernando. We didn’t go to either. What were we thinking?
We were thinking something different – the Caves del Canelobre. We had a brief city tour before heading inland.
We saw the expansive public beaches the city is known for a well as the Explanada de España. This tree lined walkway has restaurants, shops and open air events. It took about five minutes of waiting to get this photo with the walkway mostly clear of people.
There are 6.6 million tiles in three colors.
We saw the Alicante Town Hall, built in the baroque style in the 18th century. The four flags represent Valencia, Spain, Alicante and the European Union.
This sculpture by Salvador Dali (1973) was inside the entrance of the town hall.
These ruins were discovered about ten years ago. They are from a 13th -18th century Christian city.
Walking in the old town area, we saw the Basilica de Santa Maria built in the 14th to 18th centuries. The outside style is baroque.
The style inside is gothic and has a glass floor above the crypt. The basilica served as a church and a fortress and was built over a 9th century mosque.
We enjoyed a ride through the countryside on our way to the Caves del Canelobre.
The caves, formed in Jurassic times, were discovered during the Arab era. They also have an interesting recent history.
During the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) the primary cave was used by the Republicans as a place to work on airplanes. The Republicans were at war against the Nationalists who were led by Franco and supported by Mussolini and Hitler.
An attack on Alicante by the Nationalists Italian Air Force on May 25, 1938 killed more civilians than any single bombing raid anywhere in Spain during the Civil War.
The Nationalists overthrew the left-leaning democratically elected government and Franco ruled as dictator until his death in1975.
This tunnel was built during the civil war and is now used to provide access the cave. The cave opened to the public in the 1950s.
Pictures are not allowed in the cave so this is from their advertising.
The Canelobre Cave is considered the biggest cathedral in rock measuring 70 meters tall. In addition to tourism, the cave is used for concerts because of its great acoustics.
We had a guided tour that lasted about 30 minutes. We descended into the cave several hundred steps and then departed on those same steps. The guide, speaking very good English, said the cave was last full of water 7000 years ago.
We go into caves whenever possible and now we have been in a cave in Spain!
Our next port is Barcelona – our only bad day of the whole trip.