Santa Bárbara Castle
Santa Bárbara Castle, locally known as Castillo de Santa Bárbara, lies on a mountain in the center of the city of Alicante, in the province of Alicante in Spain.
The first castle at this site was built in the late 9th century during Muslim rule. It was a strategic place; a 166 meter high promontory, bordering the sea, having excellent views over the city, nearby San Fernando Fort, the entire bay and the surrounding lands.
In 917 al-Sayj al-Aslami, the local governor, revolted against the future caliph Abd al-Rahman III, opposing the payment of heavy taxes. Al-Rahman responded with a siege and al-Aslami locked himself in the castle during the several months that the siege lasted until his surrender. This Muslim castle, of which nothing remains at present, only occupied the area that is now the upper enclosure.
In 1248 the Muslim castle was taken by the future Alfonso X of Castile. He conquered it on the feast day of Saint Barbara, which is why the Christians named the castle Santa Bárbara. In 1296 it was taken by James II of Aragon, who ordered to rebuild the ruined castle. At that time the castle was equipped with a second enclosure, which is now the middle enclosure.
In 1381 Santa Bárbara Castle was again rebuilt, now by Peter IV of Aragon. The castle he had built stayed more or less the same until the 16th century.
In the beginning of that century Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor, ordered the castle to be fortified. Works, however, did not start until 1562, during the reign of his successor Philip II of Spain. Santa Bárbara Castle was then transformed into a formidable fortress in Renaissance style by the military engineers Juan Bautista Antonelli, Vespasiano Gonzaga and Giovan Giacomo Paleari Fratino. Works were completed in 1580. The castle then consisted of 3 enclosures with bastions.
In 1691 the castle suffered a bombardment from French troops. From 1706 until 1709, during the War of the Spanish Succession, it was held by English troops. They surrendered when in 1709 part of the castle collapsed as a result of mining by troops of felipistas under General D'Asfeld. This part of the castle was never rebuilt because the explosion had been so destructive that part of the mountain was gone.
In 1873, during the Third Carlist War, Santa Bárbara Castle together with the city suffered its last bombardment from a frigate manned by cantonalistic rebels. It was decommissioned and abandoned 20 years later.
At present Santa Bárbara Castle can freely be visited during daytime hours. A very extensive and nice castle with great views over the city and the bay. Recommended.