Nestled in the shadow of Mount Benacantil and the iconic Santa Bárbara Castle, the Santa Cruz neighborhood is a captivating enclave within the bustling city of Alicante. This historic quarter, with its narrow, cobblestone streets, brightly colored houses, and vibrant atmosphere, offers a glimpse into Alicante’s rich past and the essence of its Mediterranean charm. In this article, we explore the history, attractions, and unique experiences that make Santa Cruz a must-visit destination for travelers seeking an authentic taste of Alicante.
Also read: 16 things to do in Javea
The Santa Cruz neighborhood, also known as Barrio de Santa Cruz or El Barrio, dates back to the medieval period and has been shaped by various cultural influences throughout its history. The neighborhood’s strategic location on the slopes of Mount Benacantil allowed it to serve as a natural fortress and vantage point, protecting the city from potential invasions. Over the centuries, Santa Cruz has evolved into a vibrant, picturesque quarter that reflects the diverse cultures and traditions of its inhabitants.
Attractions and Experiences
Santa Cruz offers a variety of attractions and experiences for visitors to enjoy, including:
- Wandering the Narrow Streets: One of the best ways to explore Santa Cruz is to meander through its labyrinth of narrow, winding streets. The neighborhood’s cobblestone lanes, whitewashed houses adorned with colorful flowers, and hidden plazas evoke the charm and romance of a bygone era.
- Hermitage of Santa Cruz: This small, 18th-century hermitage is a hidden gem within the neighborhood, featuring a beautiful Baroque façade and a charming interior. The hermitage is dedicated to the Holy Cross, which is celebrated with a lively annual festival known as the Cruces de Mayo.
- Vibrant Street Art: As you wander the streets of Santa Cruz, you’ll discover an array of vibrant street art that adds a modern touch to the neighborhood’s historic charm. These colorful murals, created by local and international artists, showcase the neighborhood’s creative spirit and ever-evolving identity.
- Traditional Tapas Bars and Restaurants: Santa Cruz is home to several traditional tapas bars and restaurants, offering visitors an opportunity to sample authentic Alicante cuisine. From delicious seafood dishes to savory paella, there’s no shortage of culinary delights to savor within this charming neighborhood.
- Panoramic Views: The neighborhood’s hillside location provides stunning panoramic views of Alicante, the Mediterranean Sea, and the surrounding mountains. As you ascend the steep streets towards the Santa Bárbara Castle, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking vistas that capture the beauty of the city and its coastline.
- Local Festivities: Santa Cruz is known for its lively festivals and celebrations, such as the aforementioned Cruces de Mayo and the popular San Juan Bonfires. These events bring the neighborhood to life with music, dancing, and vibrant decorations, providing visitors with an opportunity to experience Alicante’s festive spirit and local traditions.
Visiting Santa Cruz
The Santa Cruz neighborhood is easily accessible on foot from Alicante’s city center and is well-connected by public transportation. It is an ideal destination for a leisurely stroll, a romantic evening, or a cultural immersion into the city’s history and traditions. With its picturesque streets, historic charm, and engaging experiences, Santa Cruz offers a captivating glimpse into the heart and soul of Alicante.
How to get to Santa Cruz from Javea
- Start from Javea: Begin on Av de la Fontana heading southeast.
- Merge onto CV-734: Continue on Av de la Fontana. Take Carrer de la Toscamar and Avinguda dels Furs to CV-734.
- Get on AP-7 from CV-735 and N-332: Turn right onto CV-734. Continue on CV-735. Take Av de Ultramar and Camí Cabanes to N-332 in Gata de Gorgos. Follow N-332 and Camí Vell d’Altea to AP-7 in Benissa.
- Follow AP-7 to Av de Dénia in Alicante: Merge onto AP-7. Keep right to stay on AP-7. Keep right at the Y junction to continue on Exit 67, follow signs for A-70/Alicante/Valencia and merge onto A-70. Use the right 2 lanes to take exit 6-Alicante/Glorieta toward Alicante/Glorieta/Av de Dénia.
- Drive to Carrer de Sant Rafael: Continue on Av de Dénia. Take Av de Alfonso X El Sabio, Plaza de los Luceros, Calle del Poeta Quintana, and Calle de San Isidro to Carrer de Sant Rafael in Alicante.
- Arrive at Santa Cruz neighborhood: The Santa Cruz neighborhood is centered around Carrer de Sant Rafael.
This route should take about 1 hour and 30 minutes, but timing can vary based on traffic and the time of day. It’s always a good idea to check current road conditions and local traffic regulations before setting out on your journey.
The Santa Cruz neighborhood is a delightful and enchanting destination that showcases the historic charm and vibrant atmosphere of Alicante. From its narrow, cobblestone streets and colorful houses to its lively festivals and traditional tapas bars, Santa Cruz provides an authentic and unforgettable experience for travelers seeking to explore the essence of this Mediterranean city.