Benidorm Guide: History
There is evidence of the early settlements, an Iberian village and an ancient burial grounds atop the mountain at the end of Poniente Beach. Archaeological discoveries which include fishing nets, suggest the town's fishing heritage date as far back as 1st century BC.
Moder Benidorm starts with Pedro Zaragoza Orts (May 15, 1922 – April 1, 2008), mayor of Benidorm from 1950 to 1967, who had the vision that turned a fishing village into one of the most popular holiday resorts in Spain.
Zaragoza built an infrastructure that could support his vision. He secured the water supplies by pumping upto 10 miles distance. He widened avenues and access roads. At the time, these civic expenses would have been seen as a wasteful expense or a reckless gamble. If it was a gamble, it payed off, many of those roads, like the Mediterraneo and Avenida Europa are still in use and cope admirably with the vastly increased traffic in their original form.
However the Zaragozas biggest legacy must be that Alicante, the regional airport was built so strategically close to Benidorm. That Airport opened the floodgates to visitors who arrived to Benidorm in their millions. The Package Holiday had arrived.
A building boom followed. Up went the towering hotel and apartment blocks to accommodate the hoards.
But Benidorm became a victim of its huge success. Along with the tourists came the negative reputation depicting the resort as a cheap holiday for “lager louts”. The image of Benidorm as the home of the 5S's, “Sun, Sea, Sand, Sex and Sangria” image took hold.
Even to this day that image is not fully dispelled, but now it is certainly not justified. With careful planning and investment, Benidorm is back on track as being the favourite destination among European holidaymakers, who want a bit of winter sunshine.
Throughout all this turulent history, the Old Town of Benidorm has remained relatively unscathed. It is there that the charm and attraction of that historic fishing village can still be seen, with its tiny narrow cobbled streets, terracotta roofs and its beautiful old church.
Many of the original buildings are still standing, and when renovations occurr they are sensitive to the area thus ensuring the spirit of the place or charm, remains.
However the use of these old buildings has changed. Many are now British bars, with the old (and sometimes crumbly) exteriors being a stark contrast to the bright, air conditioned interiors.
The foreigners have not completely taken over. Centred around in and aroound the narrow, bustling streets,are the tapas bars and restaurants. They epitomize our idea of what a real Spanish village might be like. Over the years there has been an influx of tapas bars run by people from all over Spain, but especially from the North and the Basque country, bringing with them the tasty snacks of their region and making a closely knit community, all vying for the attention of passers by.