The origins of Alicante date back to the 3rd century BC when the first Iberian settlers appeared. They were closely linked to the Greeks of Asia Minor but it would not be until the arrival of the Roman troops during the 2nd century BC that the region began to develop, when the fluvial maritime port was founded at the mouth of the Albufereta.
However, with the decline of the Roman Empire, the port lost influence and importance, as the torrent became silted up and the area became swampy and unhealthy.
This forced the population to move to the foot of the rock formation known as “Benacantil”, where what is currently known as the urban area of Alicante originated.
The era of the Caliphate and the reconquest
In the 8th century, Alicante came under the rule of Islamic expansion, and the region was renamed Medina Lagant, also known as Al-Lagant. Over the centuries, it became the Valencian place name Alacant, which would later be called Alicante.
During the following five centuries, the entire region was under the control of the Caliphate of Cordoba and its respective Taifas. That is why the current city has impressive ruins from the Muslim era.
In the year 1151, important political movements began to take place between the Crown of Aragon and the Caliphate of Cordoba, to establish a status quo by defining border limits between both kingdoms. However, after a series of subsequent agreements, said stability began to break due to the intentions of the Christian kingdom to reconquer that territory.
Finally, in the year 1248, the opportunity presented itself when the Christian troops of Alfonso X took advantage of the internal struggles between the different Islamic factions that competed with each other. The Christians took the city definitively.
From that moment, Alicante would be repopulated by Christians from Catalonia and Castilla, definitively expelling any redoubt of the old Muslim population and consolidating Christianity throughout the region.
Over the next 300 years, Alicante became a disputed bastion between the different Christian kingdoms, first by the Crown of Castile and then by the Crown of Aragon. This led to a series of wars that marked the fate of Alicante in a pendulous way.
By the year 1490, Alicante had become a prosperous town as a result of the manufacture and export of its famous wines. This led to the development of a port with high merchandise traffic and a thriving middle class with notable influence, due to which Ferdinand II of Aragon granted it the title of city that same year.
With the arrival of the 16th century, Alicante was already the fifth largest city in the Kingdom of Valencia, which led to the demographic and commercial growth of the city. This, in turn, resulted in a proliferation of orchards, reservoirs and different commercial enterprises.
This enormous growth and development made the city a military and geostrategic objective among all the neighbouring kingdoms, so much so that in 1691 the city was almost totally destroyed during the war between the Bourbons and Austriacists. This led to fortification to prevent further attacks.
The contemporary and modern era
With the arrival of the 19th century, Alicante began to exhibit an openly liberal attitude that translated into an open stance against repressive institutions such as the Inquisition and the firm determination to face foreign or domestic enemies by forming volunteer troops against the Napoleonic or local collaborators.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Alicante was an important manufacturing and industrial centre but the crash of 1929 hit the agricultural sector hard. This generated a crisis that worsened until, in 1931, Alicante became one of the first cities where the Republicans triumphed in the municipal elections and the subsequent republican declaration.
It was a turbulent period when the most sectarian factions carried out the systematic destruction of a large number of temples and churches and which finally ended with the Spanish Civil War in 1936.
Alicante was the protagonist in these violent events by shooting the Falangist leader Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera. This led to a brutal attack that made the city a prime objective throughout the conflict.
After Franco's triumph, the city recovered its stability and flourished socioeconomically, presenting a demographic upturn that continued until the advent of democracy.
During the following 20 years, Alicante once again established itself as one of the most important industrial and commercial centres. It became one of the most important tourist poles in Spain, which resulted in a real boom in city planning.
With the arrival of the 21st century, Alicante underwent significant changes in practically all of its structures, which has resulted in sustained development in construction, roads and urban planning and even in the appearance of new artistic, educational and commercial fields. Briefly, Alicante became a film production centre.