A Day in Alicante Tourism

At the start of March, all four of us decided to go out on our first tourism exploration day. In only half of a day we managed to accomplish a lot! We began with a tour of the MARQ museum, which is easily accessed from the MARQ-Castillo tram stop. After a couple of hours in the museum we wandered over to the Santa Maria Basilica, a beautiful church in the heart of the Santa Barbara barrio.  As we walked through the barrio we stopped to explore the Cathedral of San Nicholas, then moved on to find some lunch. We decided to try something on our list: Salazones, or cured and salted fish. In order to find these we walked to Mercado Central. Though we found some in Mercado, we decided to find a restaurant or bar that served it ready to go. A kind gentleman then pointed us to a bar across the street that served it, La Coveta. Though a little small, the salazones were beautifully prepared and we were offered to try some of their tortilla de patatas. With that delicious lunch, we concluded our lovely day of tourism.

Route map for tourism day 1
Our route for the day as mapped out on Google Maps. Only a half  hour of walking total!

Having had time to reflect and research what we saw, we have compiled some historical information, as well as tips and our own thoughts and opinions of each site we visited.

MARQ

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Historical Information:

The MARQ is an acronym for the Archaeological Museum of Alicante, or in Spanish, “Museo Arqueológico Provincial de Alicante.” The museum is a very modern and clean looking building both inside and out, dedicated to displaying a collection of cataloged finds from all over the province, as well as from all across the timeline. The museum has eight collections grouped into different sections based on eras. Each section includes multimedia displays that allow the visitors to interact with the exhibits in multiple languages. The museum was established in 1932 and is the first archaeological museum of the twenty first century. In 2004 the museum won the award for “European Museum of the Year” for its renovations and expansions into the old hospital San Juan de Dios.

Visitor Info:

Website: http://www.marqalicante.com/?lng=eng

Address: Placa Dr. Gómez Ulla, 0, 03001 Alacant, Alicante

Phone:965 14 99 00

Hours:

  • From Tuesday to Friday:from 10:00 A.M to 19:00 P.M
  • Saturdays: from 10:00 A.M to 20:30 P.M
  • Sundays and holidays: from 10:00 A.M to 14:00 P.M

Admission Prices: Prices vary from 3€ for regular admission, to reduced fee, to free. Check website for more details.

Guided Tours:

  • From Tuesday to Friday: 11:30 A.M  
  • Saturdays: 10:30 / 17:30 P.M
  • Sundays: 10:30 A.M
  • Basement of MARQ guided tour: Saturdays: 18:30 P.M

Analysis:

The museum is a perfect example of what museums are supposed to do, that is to educate the public and to research and collect artifacts as well as communicating finds. The MARQ does a wonderful job of opening themselves up to the public by keeping a clean and peaceful space to go, along with several forms of interaction designed to entertain and educate, from videos to music to QR codes that lead to information is many languages. The museum as well has a research center below the main museum that allows guided tours, demonstrating the great lengths the researchers are going to not only with their research and collection, but in their efforts to communicate with the public. Similarly, they have communicated well with colleagues , allowing the lovely Cocentaina exhibit to be brought in temporarily.

Our thoughts:

The visit to the museum brought me plenty of memories as I was there when I was in secondary school. It looked as I remembered it, tranquil and clean, interesting for all those who love history. -Julieta

The museum was a pleasant surprise for me, it was clean, well designed layout, with a diverse array of artifacts. There was a significant effort made to accommodate international guests, but ultimately I believe more could be done. I strongly recommend using the QR codes interspersed through the museum. -Rebecca

The museum is very clean and all the rooms are well organized and they follow a chronological order. What I really like is that you can start exploring the museum from our earliest ancestors up to our modern society. You have the possibility to see and understand how they used to live thanks to different types of multimedia and videos. – Siyana

It was my first time in the MARQ museum. It is well designed with ancient and modern views. The museum is so big that it took a lot of time to see all the stuff inside there. It is a perfect place for the people who is interested in history. – Ayushma

Santa Maria Basilica

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Historical Information:

The Basilica of Santa Maria is known as the oldest church in Alicante, Spain. The basilica is built over the remains of a mosque.  It was built in Valencian Gothic Style between  14th and 16th centuries. The church looks really beautiful when we enter inside.The Baroque style façade of the basilica has added more beauty in it. The main front is made with an image of Virgin Mary by Juan Bautista Borja. Inside the church there is the Rococo, high altar and the Baptism chapels. Mass is still celebrated at the Santa Maria Basilica.

Analysis

The church is situated in the old part of Alicante in a charming square. It has a cultural as well as historical values. It looks really beautiful, clean and peaceful once we go inside. The Basilica does a wonderful job by opening it twice a day so that the public can go there whenever they can. There is not many information given in English or in other languages because Castellano and Valenciano are the two local languages of the province and only few locals speak English. This church has a history that it was built over the remains of a mosque. Many rituals are performed by the locals in this church during festivals. The basilica can be developed by making more flexible opening timetable during weekdays.

Visitor Info:

Address: Plaza de Santa María, s/n, 03002 Alacant

Phone: 965 21 60 26

Hours: Monday through Sunday 10:00h-12:00h ; 18:30h-19:30h

Admission Prices: Free

Analysis:

Our thoughts:

I was also here when I was in secondary school with all my classmates and to be honest, I didn’t realize the history this basilica has. I have to say I did expect more inside…. I think Co-cathedral of San Nicholas is much prettier than the basilica. -Julieta

The basilica surprised me with how simple it seemed on the outside as compared to the San Nicholas Cathedral, however it was still a pleasure to see and is a quick and valuable stop in experiencing Alicante. -Rebecca

Like Rebecca, I also was surprised how simple the basilica looks like from the outside, compared to the Cathedral of San Nicholas, but when you go inside you will find out how beautiful is with its Valencian Gothic style and with the indoor patio. – Siyana

I don´t go to church a lot, but the basilica was unimpressive from outside but it is really beautiful when we go inside.The day we went to the basilica there were many people. I liked the façade of basilica and the main front of Virgin Mary.  – Ayushma

 

Cathedral of San Nicholas

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Historical Information:

The church was built between 1613 and 1662 and was designed by by Agustín Bernardino. The church was built over an ancient mosque in a 15th century Valencian Gothic style. The church is dedicated to Saint Nicholas, and as of 1959 has been elevated to the status of a Co -Cathedral. There are a lot of smaller histories attached to the church, and are gone into detail on the church website listed below.

Visitor Info:

Address: Plaza de Abad Penalva, 2, 03002 Alacant, Alicante

Phone: 965 21 26 62

Website: http://concatedralalicante.com/

Hours: According to Religious Services

Analysis:

Catedral de San Nicholas is a beautiful church that demonstrates how enculturation takes place in societies like Alicante. With churches like this scattered throughout the country, it is no small wonder that the majority of Spain is Catholic and has remained so. Religion is something taught from generation to generation, and the appearance of grand Cathedrals helps immensely in passing down the traditions by being a large physical reminder and a place to go to devote to the practices. Additionally, the grand paintings and sculptures help tell the stories of the bible, helping along the process of enculturation.

Our thoughts:

It is very well located so all tourist who come to Alicante visit it, there are always people in and out of it, and in my opinion is really pretty inside, however the facade is not as pretty as the one in the basilica. -Julieta

This Cathedral is a gem and is quite a sight from the outside, but I think it is fairly unknown to tourists. While it is easy to access there isn’t a lot of information about the cathedral readily available on location. -Rebecca

The Cathedral has a magnifcent look from outside, but it is nothing special from inside. I recommend to take some pictures, but you wont miss anything if you don’t go inside. – Siyana

The good thing about the cathedral is it is in the best place for the tourist to visit. The cathedral looks good from outside as well as from inside but I liked the basilica more than the cathedral. The cathedral is located in a good location in the centre and is easy to find. – Ayushma

Santa Cruz Barrio

Historical Information:

The Barrio de Santa Cruz is the beautiful and picturesque neighborhood under the Santa Barbara Castle. The quaint neighborhood is part of the oldest district in Alicante, and is a perfect example of a traditional Spanish neighborhood. The houses are all colorful, bright, and cheerful. Each is has its own distinct personality. Scattered across there neighborhood are beautiful vantage points to look out over the city and the sea. The neighborhood has been through several changes of hands, with part of it having Muslim origins as much as Christian.

 Analysis:

The Barrio de Santa Cruz is a hugely valuable type of social heritage. From the style of the neighborhood to all the festivities that go through there, the barrio does a lot in helping to preserve local social cultural heritage. This is incredibly important- only a few streets away on La Rambla or La Explanada there are McDonald’s and Burger Kings and Taco Bells, all examples of globalization creeping in and threatening the traditional ways of living. Globalization is not in and of itself a bad thing, but it does have the dangerous effect of eliminating older ways of living. Barrio Santa Cruz protects that heritage.

Our thoughts:

One of the prettiest neighborhood of Alicante and the oldest one for sure, every time I go to this neighborhood reminds me how people used to live in this place…although people still live in many of this little houses but it is just because they want to, as there are many different buildings in Alicante now. -Julieta

I absolutely LOVE this area. It is gorgeous and intimate, and really captures the “small beach side neighborhood” feeling. This neighbor hood is at the top of my list to show visitors when they want a taste of Alicante, especially since it contains so much history and so many other fantastic locations either within its boundaries or just outside them.     -Rebecca

When I go to Barrio it always reminds me of my hometown Plovdiv. We also have this type of Barrio, called the Ancient City, which is situated inside the town. They both have all these cobbled streets, where you can find nice hidden restaurants and bars. I highly recommend one restaurant called La Rosa in front of the Ayuntamiento on the small plaza where you can try the best paella in town. –  Siyana

Santa Cruz Barrio is a place which I highly recommend. I love the way the colourful houses are located just next to the stairs and it looks really beautiful. This place is beautiful because it is kind of unique place in Alicante. – Ayushma

Mercado Central

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Historical Information:

Central market “Mercado de abastos” in Spanish, was designed by the architect Enrique Sánchez Sandeño, and built in 1921 by the architect Juan Vidal Ramos. Its main entrance is in one of the main streets in Alicante “Alfonso el sabio avenue” and this is also a point of meeting for plenty of people who knows or live in Alicante. The second main entrance is on the other side of the building facing the famous “Plaza del mercado central” or Plaza 25 de mayo. The building has the ground floor, a semi-under floor and the first floor. It is one of the main places to visit for tourists in Alicante because of the importance of this building as in 1938 during the Spanish Civil War, the central market and other sites in the city were bombed by the “aviación fascista italiana” from Mallorca. Many people died, but since then the building has a big cultural heritage value.

Visitor Info:

Address: Av de Alfonso X El Sabio,8 03004 Alicante

Phone: 965 14 08 41

Hours: From Mondays to Saturdays

7:30 AM to 2:30 PM

Sundays and bank holidays closed.

Admissions prices : Free

Analysis:

Mercado Central is a very interesting example of how things can be tangible and intangible at the same time. On one hand the building of the Mercado is a representative example of the tangible cultural heritage in Alicante. On the other hand, all the products in it such as daily renewed and fresh are tangible proof of the intangible Spanish agricultural and fishing heritage. The location of the Mercado, situated in the centre of Alicante, has led this place to be seen as a socio-cultural point where people gather for their afternoon beer and to chat. This is where tardeo starts every Saturday, another clear example of intangible heritage, and also how a Cultural heritage can remain as an interesting place not only for visitors and tourists, but also for local people. The Mercado demonstrates how intangible heritage such as the agricultural methods and traditions, and the intangible social aspects such as Tardeo can turn a simple place in one of the most important things in Alicante.

Our thoughts:

I find Mercado central one of the main sites I do mention when I talk to my friends… I even saw tours with people walking around the market  because although many people from Alicante don’t realize, It has a huge importance, value, historical and cultural and also recreational, as many people just go there to buy the food everyday I spend a nice time outside home. – Julieta

I love going to Mercado Central. It is like a daily farmers market, filled with fresh goods and friendly faces. There are a lot of specialty goods there as well, for me henna to dye my hair with, and for my roommate, specialty olives. I have to admit though that some of the meat sections are intimidating for those who (like me) are not used to seeing certain kinds of meat. -Rebecca

The best time to go to the Mercado Central is Saturday afternoon, because this is where the tardeo starts. The tardeo became a tradition for the alicantinos and every Saturday the fiesta starts at the early afternoon there. People gather to drink and to have some nice chat, then they continue to some of the discos which open around 4 pm.  – Siyana

Mercado Central is located in the heart of Alicante. It is the biggest place in my point of view. We can see markets full of people inside the Mercado central. And the best thing about this place is once you go inside you can get everything for your kitchen inside. The smell of fish is the only thing which I hated inside the Mercado Central. – Ayushma

La Coveta and the Salazones

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Los Salazones

Historical Information:

Cured fish refers to fish which has been cured before it is eaten. These food preservation processes can include adding salt, nitrates or sugar, can involve smoking and flavoring the fish, and may include cooking it. The earliest form of curing fish was dehydration. Other methods, such as smoking fish or salt – curing also go back for thousands of years. The term “cure” is derived from the Latin curare, meaning to take care of. It was first recorded in reference to fish in 1743.

Visitor Info:

Address: Calle del Capitán Segarra, 4, 03004 Alacant, Alicante

Phone965 21 13 12

Hours: Monday through Saturday 9 AM to 5 PM

Analysis:

The salazones became a socio-cultural interaction between Alicantinos and their traditions from ancient times. This is a great example of how a simple thing can be saved for years and years. Today’s people from Alicante are taught how to prepare the perfect salazones from their parents and grandparents. This is another type of cultural heritage that is very important for people – food. Food is not only for sustinance, food is much more than this and people know it. It is a way to express yourself and the way you live. That is why food is so important for people, because our own food is the thing that makes us different, the way we eat makes us different. This is very important for people who do not want to lose their root and traditions.

Our thoughts:

I had never tried salazones before and I have lived here for the last 11 years… so I am too happy because I can say it is delicious, it might not be the first thing I think of when I am hungry but, for sure every time I go to the market to have a beer around I will ask for Salazones to go with it. -Julieta

The Salazones are not for the faint of heart when first seen at Mercado Central. To be quite honest they were a little frightening for my sheltered, city girl sensibilities. However, when bought as a type of tapas at La Coveta, they were prepared beautifully. Unfortunately I hated the taste, but that was to be expected as I do not usually like fish. While the salazones were not my cup of tea, I have to give a shout out to La Coveta for the best tortilla de patatas I have found so far in Spain!  -Rebecca

As a foodie, that was definitely my favorite part of our trip. I love Spain mostly because people here know how to indulge themselves with delicious food. The Salazones are not my favorite thing. I prefer jamon but it was something that I dont regret that I have tried. I recommend it to people, who love fish. – Siyana

The Salazones… it was the first time I ever tasted this food. Spain has a lot of delicious foods so I thought the salted fish will be good in taste, but to be honest I really didn’t like it. It had a weird kind of taste which was awful for me. I will not dare to try it again. –Ayushma

We hope this has been informative and helpful to all of you other tourists in Alicante!

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