ONE of Alicante’s biggest tourist attractions, Santa Barbara castle, has made a good start in a new bid to double visitor numbers.

New free guided tours, half of them in English, were introduced at the end of January, with nearly 6,000 people visiting the castle in the first week of the initiative.

Free Guided Tour
NEW TOUR PROGRAMME (Castillo Santa Barbara image)

The ninth century fortress offers spectacular views as it looks down on the city from Mount Benacantil.

In a normal year, it welcomes around 400,000 visitors, but Alicante council wants to double that figure in 2022, especially as pandemic travel restrictions have eased for international tourists.

60% of visitors in the first week of the revitalised castle programme were from outside Spain taking in 70 different nationalities.

A council spokesman said: “We want to breath new life to this unique area so that visitors and Alicante residents alike can enjoy this fortress as a tourist, historical, musical, cultural, gastronomic and leisure meeting place”.

Weekend attractions have so far included plays, magic shows, and storytelling aimed at children of all ages.

Magic Time At Santa Barbara
MAGICAL TIME (Castillo Santa Barbara image)

Future Santa Barbara plans include concerts and exhibitions as well as historical re-enactments.

The castle got its name after being recaptured from the Moors by Castilian forces on December 4, 1248- the feast day of Santa Barbara.

In the 18th and 19th centuries its strategic role lessened and it was used more as a prison before being abandoned.

It reopened as an attraction in 1963 and houses the Alicante City Museum that displays the history of the area.

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