Atop the 166 metres of Mount Benacantil sits the Castillo de Santa Bárbara. This castle was designed as one of the largest medieval fortresses in Spain, from which visitors can enjoy 360º views of the city of Alicante. The Castillo de Santa Bárbara has been considered a Cultural-Interest Site since 1961.
If you would like to visit the Castillo de Santa Bárbara, don’t forget to check our opening hours to make sure you don’t miss a single corner of our castle. Remember, we recommend allowing at least one hour for your visit. Our opening hours are:
FROM 15 NOVEMBER TO 27 FEBRUARY:
Monday to Sunday from 10:00 to 18.00.
FROM 28 FEBRUARY TO 16 JUNE:
Monday to Sunday from 10:00 to 20:00.
FROM 17 JUNE TO 4 SEPTEMBER:
Monday to Sunday from 10:00 to 23:00.
FROM 5 SEPTEMBER TO 14 NOVEMBER:
Monday to Sunday from 10:00 to 20:00.
DAYS OF PERFORMANCES:
consult the Castle’s closing hours.
The fortress will be closed on, 24 June, 24, 25 and 31 December and 1 and 6 January.
ACCESS TO THE FORT IS NOT PERMITTED 30 MINUTES BEFORE CLOSING.
How to climb Mount Benacantil
If you want to visit the castle but don’t know how to reach us, read on to find our instructions. On foot or by lift, taxi, microbus or car. These are the options available to visit this jewel of Alicante. We can’t wait to see you!
On Avenida Juan Bautista Lafora (opposite El Postiguet Beach).
Free for pensioners or those over 65, children under 5 and law-enforcement officers performing their duties.
Last lift going up: 40 minutes before lifts close.
Last lift going down: 20 minutes before lifts close.
Approximate prices from the closest stops:
Day: €4.00 – €5.00
Evenings and Public Holidays: €5.20 – €6.00.
Day: €4.50 – €5.50
Evenings and Public Holidays: €5.50 – €6.50
Plaza del Mar:
Day: €6.00 – €7.00
Evenings and Public Holidays: €7 – €8
Day: €6.50 – €7.50
Evenings and Public Holidays: €7.50 – €8.50
Day: €8.00 – €9.00
PEDESTRIAN ACCESS RECOMMENDED VIA URBAN WALKING ROUTES
ROUTE 1. From the City Hall, passing by the old town.
This route starts by passing through the streets of the city’s historic centre, offering a spectacular view of the city, the Alicante skyline, the surrounding towns and villages and the Mediterranean sea, once you reach the La Ereta Park.
ROUTE 2. From El Postiguet Beach.
In this case, we suggest taking the lift to the fortress and enjoying the views of El Postiguet Beach from Calle Virgen del Socorro, joining the route on the western face of Mount Benacantil, which offers breath-taking views of the north of the city and the mountains of Alicante.
From Plaza Gómez Ulla, opposite the MARQ, to and from the castle.
Frequency: every 20 minutes
Via Calle Vázquez de Mella.
You can reach the top of the hill by car to drop off visitors at the castle entrance, but parking is not permitted within the Castillo Santa Bárbara premises.
Closest car parks:
The legend of the Moor’s Head
The Castillo de Santa Bárbara hides a great many tales, battles and even love stories within its walls – but only one of these, “the legend of the Moor’s Head”, admired and acclaimed by local residents, gave its name to the city of Alicante.
According to some, Alicante – the “best place on earth” – does not take its name from its former Islamic title (Al-Laqant), but from a beautiful Arabic princess whose father was the commander of the Muslim medina. He and his daughter lived in the impressive fortress of Benacantil (today, the Castillo de Santa Bárbara), surrounded by overwhelming riches and infinite delicacies brought from the furthest corners of the earth.
However, as Cántara – the Caliph’s daughter – grew, more and more suitors began to appear at their door. The commander watched the young men carefully, hoping that the right one would arrive for his daughter: the strongest, most handsome and richest of men.
Days and months passed without finding a single worthy candidate for the woman’s hand in marriage, and so he decided to organise a great banquet in his castle, to be attended by all appropriate suitors. The feast was so successful that he found not one, but two candidates: both of them lavishing gallantries upon the princess right from the very start of the gala.
The father, undecided but satisfied with both options, gave each man a different test, with the firs to complete their mission obtaining the princess’s hand. One of them, Alí, was sent to bring water from Tibi to the castle, building an aqueduct as large and robust as necessary. The other, Almanzor, was told to travel to the Indies, by sea, and bring back the best species he could find to delight the young princess.
Both got to work on their respective challenges with a great deal of dedication, but Alí – who was to channel the water of Tibi to the castle – began to distract himself by entertaining and secretly meeting with the princess. Before long, his feelings would be reciprocated and, deeply in love, they began to plan their prosperous future together.
But Alí had been so absorbed with his love that he neglected his work and, just when he thought that no one could separate him from the princess, Almanzor returned from the Indies with everything the commander had asked of him and, as a result, with his work completed.
Cántara’s father, true to his word and ignoring the pleas of his daughter – who had already made her mind up – granted her hand in marriage to the competent Almanzor, to the horror of the lovers.
Alí, distraught and robbed of his love, saw no other solution to his pain than to take his life by jumping from the top of the Tibi mountains, creating a great crater where he fell. The princess, equally pained, travelled to the hill of San Julián and, lost in her misfortune, jumped into the void.
Such was the guilt felt by the Emir for having caused the loss of his daughter that he begged Allah for the worst of punishments. As a result, he was turned to stone under his empty castle, where we can still see his face, looking west, to this date: the Head of the Moor of Alicante, under the Castillo de Santa Bárbara.
Moved by such a tragic story, the people of Al-Laqant rebaptised the city with the name of Alicántara, in memory of the Arabic princess – and it is said that this is the source of the city’s modern name.