The most major tourist resort in Costa Blanca is Benidorm. It has the capacity to cope adequately with over 500,000 tourists over the period of peak season. As for the history in Benidorm you have the Tossal de la Cala, in Poniente, where the remains of an Iberian settlement provide evidence of an ancestral past linked with fishing in the town.
There is a head of the Phoenecian goddess, Tanith, in the MARQ, which is Alicante’s Provincial Archeaological museum which places it with phoenecia and Carthage.
At El Moralet, a Roman villa places it with the period of Romanisation.
The name Benidorm apparently comes from the distant Yemen in Sharg al-Andalus, however Benidorm doesn’t appear in the Llibre del Repartiment (1237) of Jaume l, but Llivriets does, today a rural district. After the 14th century you will see the chronological events that have had a big impact on the history of Benidorm.
A quick timeline of Benidorm’s history
In 1325 Benidorm receives its town charter or Carta Pobla, A founding charter from Bernat de Sarria. It is dedicated to fishing and to a slightly lesser extent some agriculture. Population decreased due to coastal pressure from pirates and the only thing remaining on its beaches were fishermen’s huts, as they turned to the island setting.
1666 – Beatriz Fajardo sets up the Rec Major de l’Alfas (of Benidorm) and grants a new Carta Pobla. The Benidorm was transformed by by the irrigation.
In 1740 the discovery of the Patron Saint, the Virgin of the Suffrage, and the beginning of a boom, as described towards the end of the century by the Botanist Cavanilles.
Benidorm is occupied by the French in 1812 and they grant it the title City of the Emperor. The castle is stormed by the English. Another boom time is experienced after the war of Independence, based on coastal shipping. The seamen of Benidorm received letters of Marque and create a coastguard service.
In 1850 in his Geographic Historic Statistical Dictionary, Pascual Madoz gives an account of Benidorm’s mild climate and its emerging vocation as a tourist resort.
In 1865 the first permanent tourist establishment, the Hostal La Mayora opens and in 1870 the first bathing house, the Balneario Virgen del Sufragio is opened.
In 1880 the highway joining Alicante with Valencia arrives. The first documented tourist advertisement of the Balneario Banos del Mar Virgen del Sufragio de Francisco Ronua-y Galindo inviting people to spend their summer in Benidorm. People from Madrid and Alcoy go to visit. The ‘trenes botijo’ of the MZA railway company, bring the first summer visitors to Alicante and from there and to Alcoy in horse drawn carriages to Benidorm. Its so called ‘trenes botijo’ because they were crowded with people all bringing their own botijo, a traditional earthenware bottle with a drinking spout, to survive the long hot journey.
In 1920 the Hostal “La Plaza”, the Hostal “La Mayora” and the boarding house “Casa de Banos” hang up their first “full” sign.
The iconic balustrade is installed at the Castle’s vantage point in 1927.
In 1936 the local Tourist Board is created, which was to be called the “Pro-Beach Committee” after the conflict. In the 50’s it would be known as the “Gabriel Miro” Friends of Benidorm Association, for the promotion of tourism. It came up with the first idea for the General Plan.
The work of the mayor Pedro Zaragoza Orts triumphs in getting approval of Spain’s first General Urban Development Plan for an entire town, which makes the high-rise Benidorm we see today.
1959 the first Swedish and British tourists arrive through the Tour Operators (Wings & BEA) at Manises airport (Valencia)
1967 the Alicante airport ‘El Altet’ is opened, a tourist revolution for Benidorm.
After the A-7 highway is opened in 1975 sparking a perfect connection between Benidorm and the rest of Europe. The mass arrivals begin with tourists from France, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Britain and Holland.