Alicante InformationThe Costa Blanca or White Coast, which extends along that section of the Mediterranean coast which corresponds to the province of Alicante, is made up of two clearly differentiated scenic sectors. To the North, a curtain of mountains runs parallel to the sea, descending at times to form cliffs; to the South, a vast plain of sand patches, palm trees and salt deposits make up the backdrop for the beaches. The traveller can choose any of the corners of this coast, from the most bustling and cosmopolitan to those which still maintain their rural air beside the sea. In any case, the trip to the nearby regions is well worth the venture for they make up a fine representation of the typical Mediterranean countryside. From the valleys, which are covered with stepped orchards and keep alive its Moorish past, to the palm trees of unmistakable African origin, the horizons of the Costa Blanca offer the most varied attractions.
The climate offers variations as well. The temperatures are usually mild -the annual average is a little higher than 17ºC- and rain is scare, though the pluvosity is logically higher in the mountainous northern sector, in comparison with the lowlands which surround Elche and Orihuela. The fields of almond trees, the vineyards, the fruit orchards and the magnificent palm trees form a vegetation which emphasises the oriental nature of the landscape.
The Costa Blanca's past is that of any other corner of the Mediterranean. Iberians, Phoenicians and Greeks settled in the ports, founding merchant cities and leaving important naval bases here before they were turned over to Rome. The area then belonged to Byzantium, and the Visigoths, and after the 8C it was a part of the prosperous region of al-Andalus. The Denia Taifa (Arab petty kingdom), on which the Balearic Islands and Sardinia depended for a while, sheltered several members of the Umayyad dynasty, upon the fall of the Cordova Caliphate, and the city knew a period of considerable cultural splendour.
The 13C marked the beginning of the Christian period, which was characterised from the very beginning by battles between the Crowns of Aragon and Castile, who disputed their borders, but at the same time left traces of the coexistence of their respective languages, Castilian and Catalan. The Moslem defeat would be reflected forever in a celebration of enormous interest - the Festivity of the Moors and Christians- which the traveller will be able to see in several of the towns in the province.
The Modern Age began under the sign of conflicts. Social revolutions and the threat from pirates marked the changing of the times along these insecure coasts. After an entire century - the 16C - filled with all kinds of events, Felipe III decreed the expulsion of the Moriscos (the converted Muslims) who, according to widespread, contentious opinion were suspected of collaborating with the Berbers who periodically attacked the littoral. The result of such a drastic measure had necessarily to be very hard: On one hand, the Moriscos who considered that they had just as much right to be there as the descendants of the old Christians, organised several revolts. In addition, once the expulsion took place, the lands were left without their expert farmers, who were capable of obtaining considerable production from their property. The whole 17C would have to go by -with the ever present threat of the pirates- before the orchards and fields would once again furnish such a magnificent yield.
During the 18C and 19C, the Costa Blanca continued to enjoy a relatively peaceful existence. With the exception of Alicante and Denia which became prosperous port cities, the littoral was a succession of small fishing villages backed by agricultural surroundings which were far removed from the convulsions of the wars. It would not be until our times that a considerable change, fortunately of a non violent manner, would be noted. The spreading of the railway system, cars and airplanes brought with this progress a new wave of invasions, but this time the invaders came in peace. Tourism brought changes to the landscape, the sports harbours, the hotel infrastructure and even to that enormous agglomeration of leisure time installations which is Benidorm, and which has always wanted to present itself as a symbol of the Costa Blanca. The traveller will be able to find, very close to the more frequented areas, intimate farming towns, old monumental centres and also the horizon of mountains which continue to offer their rugged, blue and untouched profile to the visitor.