The history of Alicante is varied and rich. It is intertwined with the history of the Costa Blanca as a whole. As you wander around the streets of Alicante or anywhere on the Costa Blanca it is hard to imagine that there was a much different life here before tourism arrived. These tourists arrived in their droves over the last 50 years and this is such a small amount of time in the history of this area.
Can you believe that the first humans settlements in Spain were over 50,000 years ago. The evidence to support this still survives today with early caves dating back to 50,000 BC
I am unable to cover the full history of Alicante and the Costa Blanca here because there is just too much so I have decided the best and most informative way to present this information is 'in brief'
Alicante History Highlights
50,000BC Cave dwellings from this time have been discovered.
8th Century BC Phoenician traders introduce the pottery wheel, the fig and the olive
218-19 The Spanish mediterranean coast conquered by the Roman army under Publio Cornelio Scipio.
711-14 Muslims invade and conquer Cartago. This territory is lost in 624 to Visigoths.
1243 - 4 Kingdom of Murcia ceded by Ben-hud dynasty to Castile.
1238-48 James I of Aragon conquers northern Alicante.
1263 Muslims revolt in Alicante but is quashed.
1304 The Treaty of Torrellas confirms Alicante's annexation of Castilian territory south to Mar Menor.
1361 Pedro the Cruel captures Alicante for Castile after repeated attempts.
1492 - 1609 Expulsion of Spanish Jews and moriscos (converted Muslims)
1702 - 14 Spanish War of Succession between Philip of Anjou and Charles Duke of Hapsburg.
1783 Death of Francisco Salzillo, baroque sculptor.
1808 - 12 War of independence (also known as the Peninsular War) against the French.
1812 The Spanish constitution.
1833 - 6 Present provincial borders are fixed:Villena, Denia and Orihuela are included in the province of Alicante.
1936 - 9 Civil War: Alicante and Murcia remain Republican.
1939 Surrender to the Nationalists after fall of Madrid.
1960 - 71 The number of annual visitors to Alicante province rises from 950,000 to more than 3,750,000
1982 Statutes of Autonomy of Valencia and Murcia regions (Alicante becomes Valencia's southern province).
1992 Spain becomes a full member state of the European Union.
2000The population of Alicante City reaches 1,445,000, double that of 1960.
During the postwar decade of Franco's military dictatorship Spain saw a slow reconstruction of their exhausted country. It was only in the 1950's that the economy started to strengthen, then in the 1960's the Tourist invasion of Spain began and an economy based on tourism began. Yet Franco didn't die until 1978 and this was when true democracy arrived.
It isn't all tourism in Alicante for industry and agriculture have survived. At the same time the scale of tourism is putting great pressure on the environment. Did you know that there are more hotel beds in Benidorm than there are in the whole of Greece? There is a fragility about the environment now, levels of fish are falling, soil and beach erosion are happening. Added to this are dramatic water shortages and mountain fires. These are the new threats of the future, not just to Spain but globally. It is this need to protect the environment that will shape the development of the Costa Blanca over the next decade.