|Benidorm has existed since 1325 when it gained it´s town charter
from Admiral Bernat De Serria at Polop castle which was then part
of the kingdom of Valencia. The giving of town charters was
carried out until the 17th century as a way of removing the Moors
and allowing Christians to inhabit the area.
The first settlements in the area can be found at Montbenidorm a
hill in Cala Finestrat that you can see at the far end of the Poniente
beach. Here there are burial grounds and remains of an Iberian
settlement that dates back to the first century B.C. Archaeologists
discovered remains of fishing nets here firmly tying Benidorm to
the sea even then. A figure of Tanith who is a Phoenician goddess
of fertility and the heavens was also unearthed here as were
remains of Roman settlements nearby.
See this great film taken in 1965 which shows Benidorm and also
Montbenidorm and La Cala Beach long before any building work
took place. Well worth a look as much of this historic film is in colour.
It is the long history of fishing which created the myth that Benidorm
was a small charming fishing village when in fact it never was. The
fishermen of Benidorm were actually deep sea fishermen who
spent many months in the Atlantic, South America and north of
Spain. They were famous all over Spain for their skills with trap
netting and were much sought after in the 18th century. They had
for many years used Almadraba netting an ancient Arabic tradition
to catch Tuna by placing a maze of deep sea netting to
progressively smaller inshore pools. A tradition which continued
until the 1950´s at the Rincon De Loix to catch Tuna as they
migrated across the Mediterranean.
Benidorm grew around the rocky outcrop now know as El Castillo
(in the old town) but it´s beginnings were hampered by raids from
pirates during the 15th century and the town was almost destroyed
as inhabitants fled. In the 16th and 17th centuries the town was
strengthened by the castle being rebuilt and made larger ( it is sad
but today nothing remains of the castle). In 1665 the town really
began to grow as water from inland was bought to the town along
channels. This was the single biggest cause of the population
increasing at this time.
With water came agriculture and olive groves sprung up all over
Benidorm with every spare meter of land being used to cultivate
this valuable commodity as well as Orange and Lemon groves. If
you go to Raco Conil a preserved area on the road to Villa Joyosa
were you take a left at the casino you can still see the terraces and
derelict fincas that have lay unused since the turn of the century
many of which still have ancient olive trees on them. It was the sea
and agriculture that would maintain the town until the 19th century
when the road to Alicante was built.
Once road access opened from Alicante and the national railway
joined Benidorm to Alicante and other parts of Spain in 1914 the
first tourists begun to arrive in Benidorm from Alcoi and Madrid. It
was also at this time that Spain lost many of the colonies in South
America so the much needed income from deep sea fishing began
to decline. The first tourist hostals were built on the Levante in
1925 which was the start of the holiday industry for the town. It was
not however for another 30 years that the foreign invasion slowly
began in the form of package holidays to the Costa Blanca.
In 1952 the Almadraba netting which had earned an income for
many local families was closed in the Rincon de Loix now known
as the Rincon in the center of the Levante Playa tourist area of
Benidorm. This meant a loss of income and the need for a plan to
regenerate the town for it´s now dwindling resident population.
In 1956 the town mayor approved plans to build the now famous
avenues along the Levante which would welcome at first Spanish
tourists and later those from Holland then Germany and later from
Britain. However Benidorm is a Spanish holiday resort and the
Spanish do make up the majority of visitors, despite the myth that
Benidorm is today only for the British. See vintage photos here.
The first package holidays to Benidorm for as little as 21€ for a
week half board in the 4 Star Delfin Hotel including air travel to
Valencia airport which opened in 1933. In those early years the
coach trip from Valencia took four and a half hours. Late evening
arrivals when hotel kitchens were closed necessitated a stop at a
road side Tapas bar where a bottle of wine would only cost 9
pesetas and dinner 15 pesetas.
Alicante airport did not open until April1967. Once opened this
was the biggest contributing factor to Benidorm´s success as a
holiday resort, together with the introduction of modern jet airliners.
These made flying more cost effective and for the first time
enabled the ordinary family to enjoy a basic holiday abroad. This
was the beginnings of the end for many seaside destinations in
Britain such as the channel islands which saw tourist numbers
decline rapidly as tourists headed to the beaches of Benidorm.
Passenger numbers reached 8.9 million in 2005 and a new
terminal is due to open in 2012 to cope with the increased air
traffic of which 80% arrives from foreign destinations.
Benidorm was the model that all early holiday resorts were based
on. The success culminated in 1977 when Benidorm entertained
12 million visitors a figure that has never been bettered.
Benidorm once contributed 12% of Spain's gross national product
which meant that the towns revenue was a massive 16,853,000€
every day of the year. That is an incredible 702,802€ per hour
source national statistics 2005 - Today of course the figure is much less.
For more information on the town see the
Benidorm Guide and A to Z of Benidorm Hotels
|Benidorm Spain Costa Blanca History and old photos of Benidorm
|The History of Benidorm
A short history of Benidorm
BENIDORM IN THE HISTORIC
LAND OF VALENCIA