The dominant feature of the comarca of Alacantí (known in Castilian Spanish as Campo de Alicante) is the River Montnegre. Its source lies in Hoya de Castalla, and it traverses the traditional Huerta [orchard or farmland] of Alicante after passing through the Tibi dam, an important water engineering work dating back to the sixteenth century. That was when agriculture began to develop here on a large scale, mainly due to wine growing. A wide area was devoted to farming — including the land now occupied by the municipalities of Alicante, San Juan, Campello, and Mutxamel.
Nowadays, the huerta is confined to Mutxamel Various housing developments and new access roads have transformed the face of a landscape once dominated by vines and by palm, almond, olive, orange, lemon, and other fruit trees. It is still possible to catch a glimpse of the past, thanks to the Torres de la Huerta trail. The route follows the line of a series of lookout towers built along the coast.
Now designated an Asset of Cultural Interest, they were built during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Their purpose was to protect the rich farmlands from attacks by the Berber pirates who ravaged the Mediterranean region in search of spoils. The tour can be made on foot or bicycle — and from the different look-out points it affords travellers views of the sea and the beautiful mountain scenery: the Sierra del Cid, the Maigmó, the Peñarroya, the Carrasqueta, the Cabeçó d’Or and, further in the distance, Aitana and the Puig Campana.
But Alacantí’s attractions are not confined to its countryside and mountains. Its towns and beaches also attract many visitors. Promenades such as La Explanada and iconic buildings like the Castle of Santa Bárbara (at the summit of Monte Benacantil) are a few of Alicante’s distinctive landmarks.
You don’t even have to leave the main centre: the province’s capital has popular beaches such as Postiguet. Other outstanding beaches in the area include San Juan, La Almadraba, La Albufereta, Saladares-Urbanova, and the coves at El Cabo de la Huerta. And, of course, we must not forget to take a boat trip to the Isla de Tabarca, located opposite the city, whose walls have been designated a Historic-Artistic Site and an Asset of Cultural Interest.
Further surprises await the traveller in the other part of Alacantí, the Canal de Jijona (also known as the Hoya de Jijona or Valle de Jijona). This comprises the towns of Jijona, La Sarga and Torremanzanas. Jijona, where the traditional Christmas turrón [a nougat-type confection] is made, is well worth a visit. Jijona is in a great valley surrounded by mountains, in the foothills of the Penya Migjorn. The La Serra, De laTorre, Coscó and Montnegre rivers flow through this extensive municipality, which is dominated by the Castillo de la Torre Grossa. A highlight of its rich landscape is the major ecological conservation area, the Paraje Natural de Els Plantadets with its significant scenic and cultural heritage. The area has two caves and a reservoir with historical links to the livestock farming industry.
Very near here in La Sarga (at the foot of the Sierra de Carrasqueta and on the boundary with Alcoy), the traveller can find some fascinating cave paintings. They are in the caves next to what is known as the Mas de la Cova, and were discovered in 1951. The paintings show figures of ancient hunters and animals, as well as other, geometrical figures. In 1998, they were designated a World Heritage Site by the General Assembly of UNESCO, and they constitute one of the Mediterranean’s most important examples of this type of work from the post-Paleolithic age.
Celebrated for its blue dome, the Co-cathedral of San Nicolás de Bari is one of the best examples of the Spanish Baroque
Alicante’s excellent and diverse beaches are, to a large extent, responsible for the influx of visiting families every summer. Don’t miss its big sandy beaches or charming coves.
Steep Santa Cruz neighbourhood virtually hangs off Santa Bàrbara castle and is the liveliest and most authentic area in Alicante — a great place for a stroll