Alicante is situated in the Bay formed by the Cabo de las Huertas and the Cabo de Santa Pola, at the foothills of the Monte Benacantil. Alicante has a view over the sea and the fertile ‘huerta’, that surrounds the city.
Alicante’s historical district is located in the area around the Calle Labradores and the Rambla de Méndez Núñez -a street that a river used to pass through. Town planning and military disasters, such as those suffered during the War of the Spanish Succession, have destroyed the historical architecture of the Medina Laquant. The 19th century was an important time for Alicante as in 1821 the medieval walls were pulled down and the city spread to the east and the north. In 1833 Alicante became the capital of the province; in 1851 it was the first coastal city to be linked to Madrid by train, becoming the national capital’s main seaport.
Since 1957 more than six and a half million small red, black and cream tiles on the Esplanade have formed one of the most enduring images of Alicante. The esplanade runs parallel to the seafront and is a favourite place to stroll when visiting the city, to eat ice cream, and to listen to concerts performed by the Municipal Band. The Playa del Postiguet is located at one end of the Esplanade, the Canalejas Park with its Fish Market – now converted into the best exhibition hall in Alicante – on the other.
An interesting walk can be taken through the streets of the old centre and the Plazas del Carmen and Quijano, climbing up to the Castle of Santa Bárbara -a magnificent vantage point to view the entire city. Descending by the calles Toledo and San Roque you reach Plaza de Santa María where there is a Museum of Art – the Museum of the Asegurada- and the Church of Santa María. From the Plaza del Carmen take the calle de San Rafael and climb up to the Santa Cruz district, a vividly colourful area with geraniums in pots. At night this area full of bars and cafés becomes the centre of Alicante’s nightlife.
Alicante is an important service centre for the province. Alicante’s commercial centre is shifting eastwards, though the more traditional shops still remain in the calles Mayor, Castaños, Gerona and San Francisco. The avenidas Maisonnave, Federico de Soto, Doctor Gadea and the calle de los Reyes Católicos are the ‘rive droite’ of the capital.