Santa Barbara Castle
History and museums
Santa Bárbara Castle (Valencian: Castell de Santa Bàrbara, Spanish: Castillo de Santa Bárbara) is a fortification in the centre of Alicante, Spain. It stands on Mount Benacantil (166 m).
Bronze Age, Iberian, and Roman artifacts have been found on the slopes of the mountain, but the origins of the castle date to the 9th century at the time of Muslim control of the Iberian Peninsula, from 711 till 1296. The Arab medieval geographer Al-Idrisi calls this mountain Banu-lQatil, and the toponym may derive from the words pinna (Arabic for "peak") and laqanti, adjectival form of Laqant, the Arabic name for Alicante.
On 4 December 1248, the castle was captured by Castilian forces led by Alfonso of Castile. It was named after Saint Barbara, on whose feast day the castle was recaptured from the Arabs. It was conquered by the Aragonese in 1296 during the reign of James II of Aragon, who ordered its reconstruction. Peter IV of Aragon, Charles I of Spain and Philip II of Spain would oversee further reconstructions.
The castle was bombarded in 1691 by a French squadron. During the War of Spanish Succession, it was held by the English for three years. In 1873, it was bombarded, along with the city, by the cantonalistas from the frigate Numancia.
From the 18th century the military role of the castle has declined and it was used sometimes as a prison. The castle remained abandoned until 1963, when it was opened to the public. Lifts have been installed inside the mountain (there is a small charge for the lift but not to enter the castle), and there are refreshments and other amenities at and near the summit. Reasonably fit visitors may also appreciate the exercise of a walk to the top.