The Port of Alicante lies on the shores of the Alicante Bay off the Mediterranean Sea on the southwestern coast of Spain. It is the capital of the Alicante Province and part of the Valencian community. The Port of Alicante is an important commercial port for Madrid, with extensive connections by air, rail, and road. Its major products and exports include raisins, wines, esparto grass, and vegetables. Other important projects include embroideries, bricks, cigarettes, tomatoes, utensils, and furniture. It has a mild climate and beautiful beaches that make the Port of Alicante a popular winter resort.
One of Spain’s fastest growing cities, it has a strong tourism-based economy that has experienced more than one construction boom for second homes. Construction is a hot point for citizens and politicians and the subject of many heated debates. Most recently, the Port Authority has come under criticism for its plans to build an industrial park on reclaimed coastal land, in spite of regulations prohibiting such development. In 2007, over 322 thousand people lived in the Port of Alicante, and the urban area was home to almost 435 thousand souls.
Archaeological evidence suggests that tribes of hunter-gatherers inhabited the area as much as 7000 years ago when the first tribes moved to the area from Central Europe. Greek and Phoenician traders were visiting the villages by 1000 BC and established some coastal trading posts. They introduced technologies like the pottery wheel, iron, and the alphabet to the indigenous people.
Greeks founded a settlement there in 325 BC, calling it Akra Leuke (or White Summit). The village was taken by the Romans in 201 BC. They changed its name to Lucentum and ruled there for more than 700 years. As Rome’s power declined, the town was controlled by the Visigoths.
Moors ruled the city from 718 to 1249 AD, naming it Al-Akant (Alicante), the city of lights. Castilian King Alfonso X retook the city in 1246, but the Kingdom of Valencia quickly took the reigns of power. In 1298, Catalonian King James II of Aragon absorbed Alicante and gave it the status of a Royal Village. For many years, the Port of Alicante was a battleground, with the kingdoms of Castile and Aragon fighting for control. During that time, it became an important trading station on the Mediterranean, moving wine, olive oil, rice, wool, and oranges between cities of the period.
In the early 17th Century, King Felipe III began to drive remaining people with Moorish heritage out of Spain because they supported the Barbary pirates. Yet, this group included many skilled laborers and artisans, creating significant costs for the nobility. The area’s economy suffered for many years, and the Port of Alicante entered a long period of decline after the War of Spanish Succession in the early 18th Century.
In the late 19th Century, international trade and the growth of the harbor brought an economic revival to the Port of Alicante as it became an increasingly important exporter. This was reinforced by Spain’s neutrality during World War I. The citizens of the Port of Alicante celebrated the declaration of the Second Spanish Republic in 1931. It was the last Republican city to be occupied by General Franco’s army in 1939, and Republican government officials fled the country from the Port of Alicante.
In the mid-20th Century, tourism transformed the Port of Alicante into a cosmopolitan center. The mild climate was its greatest asset, and tall buildings and luxury hotels sprang up to greet visitors. Tourism also stimulated the growth of small businesses like restaurants, cafes, bars, and services to the city. When General Franco passed away in 1975, Spain successfully transitioned to a democratic constitutional monarchy under Juan Carlos I, and regional governments gained more autonomy, including Valencia.