view towards santa barbara castle

Visiting Santa Bárbara Castle, Alicante – everything you need to know

Alicante is a fantastic city, full of culture and history. There are so many museums, galleries and historical sites to visit, with one of the top attractions in Alicante being the iconic landmark of Santa Bárbara Castle.

This castle is so important to the city that it’s a must-visit in Alicante, whether you’re a history buff or appreciate architecture and culture.

We’ve visited the castle several times over the years and would recommend visiting to anyone heading to Alicante on a day trip or for a holiday. Read on to discover everything you need to know about Santa Bárbara Castle Alicante before you go.

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About Santa Bárbara Castle, Alicante

Sat high up on Mount Benacantil, this historic 16th-century castle and fortress overlooks the city of Alicante – you can’t miss it from most places in the city! This impressive castle is situated 166 metres above sea level and is one of the main tourist attractions in Alicante city centre.

Known locally as El Castillo de Santa Bárbara it’s one of the largest medieval fortresses in Spain, covering approximately 400,000 m2. From the top of the castle you’ll find some stunning views of the city, mountains, port, and coast.

city view from Santa Bárbara Castle, Alicante

How old is Santa Bárbara Castle?

The Castillo de Santa Bárbara is over 1,000 years old. Built in the 9th century as a defensive fortress during the period of Muslim domination of Alicante, it’s been considered a Cultural-Interest Site since 1961.

Who built the castle in Alicante?

This isn’t a quick answer as while the construction of Santa Bárbara castle began in the late 9th century by the Arabs there have been lots of additions to the castle throughout the years.

  • In 1248 the Muslim castle was conquered by the future Alfonso X of Castile.
  • In 1296 it was taken by James II of Aragon, who ordered the ruined castle be rebuilt.
  • In 1381 Santa Bárbara Castle was rebuilt again by Peter IV of Aragon and stayed more or less the same until the 16th century.
  • At the beginning of the 16th century Charles V ordered the castle to be fortified.
  • In 1562 the castle was transformed into a formidable Renaissance style fortress with work completed in 1580.
  • In 1691 the castle was bombarded French troops.
  • It was held by English troops from 1706 until 1709 during the War of the Spanish Succession and they surrendered in 1709 when part of the castle collapsed and was never rebuilt.
  • In 1873 Santa Bárbara Castle and Alicante city suffered its last bombardment from a frigate manned by cantonalistic rebels. It was decommissioned and abandoned 20 years later.
  • During the Spanish Civil War the castle was used to house prisoners. Afterwards it fell into abandonment until it was opened to the public in 1963.  

As you explore the castle you’ll have chance to see the different influences in the architecture.

How to get up to the castle

There are several different ways to get up to Alicante castle – it all depends how fit you’re feeling!

Walking up to Santa Bárbara Castle

If you want to walk or hike up to Castillo de Santa Bárbara there are a couple of different routes you can take.

You’ll need to start in the centre of El Barrio in Alicante old town. The path up to the castle starts at the Parc de l’Ereta and takes approximately 30 minutes. The gravel and rock path is well sign posted, winding its way up the steep hillside to the castle. There are plenty of viewpoints on the way to stop and take photos of the amazing panoramic views.

Though this route will give you the best views over Alicante we wouldn’t recommend it during the summer months!

The path up to Santa Bárbara Castle, Alicante

Hiking up to Santa Bárbara Castle

For those who fancy a more adventurous and energetic walk you can find a more challenging Santa Barbara castle hike route here. Again, probably one for the cooler months as there’s not much shade along the way and it’s a fairly steep climb.

Driving up to Santa Bárbara Castle

You can drive up to the castle of Santa Bárbara to drop passengers off at the main entrance, however you cannot park here. The nearest car parks to the castle are La Ereta Park car park and MARQ car park which will still involve a walk up hill.

Getting a taxi up to the castle

Another option is to take a taxi for around €5.00 from the city centre and asked to be dropped off right outside the fortress. You may struggle to find a taxi to take you back down in peak season, but the walk back down isn’t as tiring as on the way up!

Taking the Santa Bárbara Castle lift

By far the easiest way to get up to the Santa Bárbara castle is to take the lift, the Ascensor al Castillo de Santa Bárbara. This is the option we always use to get up to the castle.

The lift is located on Avenida Juan Bautista Lafora, opposite Playa Postiguet. You’ll see a tunnel entrance in the hillside, walk through here and buy a ticket in the machines. Tickets for the lift cost €2.70 per person, except for pensioners and children under 5.

Lift entrance at Santa Bárbara Castle, Alicante

The last lift going up is 40 minutes before the castle closes, and the last lift going down is 20 minutes before closing.

We’d recommend checking the castle website before visiting as there are occasions when the lift isn’t in operation.

Getting the bus to Santa Bárbara Castle

There is also a shuttle bus up to the castle which stops at Plaza del Doctor Gómez Ulloa, opposite the MARQ museum. The bus runs every 20 minutes and tickets cost €1.45 each way.

How much does it cost to get into the castle?

It’s completely free to visit Santa Bárbara Castle, the only cost will be the lift if you choose to use it, making it a great option for a budget-friendly activity in Alicante.

Santa Bárbara Castle opening times

The opening times for Santa Bárbara Castle vary throughout the year:

  • 15th November to 27th February the castle is open Monday – Sunday, from 10:00 to 18.00
  • 28th February to 16th June the castle is open Monday – Sunday, from 10:00 to 20:00
  • 17th June to 4th September the castle is open Monday – Sunday, from 10:00 to 23:00
  • 5th September to 14th November the castle is open Monday – Sunday, from 10:00 to 20:00

How long do you need to visit the castle?

We’d recommend setting aside at least 2 hours to visit Santa Bárbara Castle as there’s a lot to see here and you won’t want to rush. Of course it can get quite busy during peak season so you may need to allow a little longer for your visit.

Why visit Santa Bárbara Castle in Alicante?

The main reason to visit Santa Bárbara Castle is that it’s one of the largest and oldest fortresses in Spain, so is one of the best examples of Spanish history you’ll get to see on the Costa Blanca.

The castle also offers the most spectacular views in the whole of the city, giving you chance to take some amazing photos.

View out to sea from Santa Bárbara Castle, Alicante

If you want to learn about Alicante and its rich history, then this is definitely the best place to do it. It’s a really interesting place for all ages, and one of the best things to do in Alicante with kids.

And it’s free to get in, so a great option to keep your costs down while on holiday and enjoy a great day out.

What to see and do at Santa Bárbara Castle

There’s lots to see at the castle, with three different areas to visit, each built in different time periods and set across different levels. From watchtowers looking out to sea to the weapons courtyards and dungeons, you’ll have lots of fun exploring.

Make sure you visit each level, as the views from every area are amazing and offer different viewpoints of the city.

The three different levels

The highest area is known as La Torreta, with the keep and the oldest part of the fortress dating from the 14th century. Here you’ll find the famous Bastion of the English, the Engineers’ Park, the Noble Hall (once a hospital) with lots of artefacts on display, and the Governor’s House.

The highest part here is where the ancient Moorish citadel once stood and you’ll get some amazing 360 views of Alicante city, beaches, mountains, and on a clear day some of the nearby towns such as Calpe and even Benidorm.

View from the keep at Santa Bárbara Castle, Alicante

The middle area of the castle is home to the large spaces that were constructed in the 16th century, including the Parade Ground, Philip II’s Hall, the Guard Corps, and the Queen’s Bastion.

You’ll also find some great statues of soldiers fighting which are always popular with children!

Soldier statues at Santa Bárbara Castle, Alicante

There is also a picnic area, kiosk and restaurant here if you want to stop and enjoy a snack or drink as you take in the views and enjoy the sun. Or have an ice cream to cool down if you visit in the summer!

The lowest area of the castle was built in the 18th century and this is where you’ll find the Revellín del Bon Repós (now used for parking) and the monument to Félix Berenguer de Marquina, a famous soldier from Alicante who was the Captain General of the Philippines and Viceroy of New Mexico.

levels at Santa Bárbara Castle, Alicante

Visit the Alicante city museum

The Alicante city museum, Museo de la Ciudad de Alicante or MUSA in Spanish, is located at Santa Bárbara Castle and is made up of five rooms. The museum is free to enter and takes you on a journey of the castle from the 9th century to present day. All information is in English as well as Spanish and it’s a really interesting read.

You’ll also find lots of historical documents and artefacts on display that have been excavated from the castle and surrounding hillside.

The exhibition hall also hosts temporary art and cultural exhibitions throughout the year.

Join a dramatised tour

If you’re visiting Santa Bárbara Castle with children, they’ll love joining one of the dramatised tours. You’ll be greeted at the gates by historical characters who will immerse you in the history of the castle. These are held every Saturday and Sunday at 12pm and you’ll need to book a place in advance.

Tours of Santa Bárbara Castle

If you like the idea of spending more time at the castle in Alicante and learning more of it’s history, there are lots of fantastic tours you can book from a history and legends tour to wine and beer tasting, and even tapas.

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There’s even an amazing free tour of Santa Bárbara Castle where you’ll be shown around by an expert local guide with the only cost a tip of your choice at the end.

Ready to book your holiday to Alicante?

If you’re ready to book trip to Alicante, these links may help…
– Find great value flights and accommodation at Expedia
– Rent a car with
– Check hotel reviews at TripAdvisor
– Book your tours and excursions at GetYourGuide
– Get your Travel Insurance at Civitatis

That’s everything you need to know about Santa Bárbara Castle in Alicante, so now you can be fully prepared for your visit and know what to expect.

We hope you enjoy your visit!

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