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 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.
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 now 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 Alicante to Madrid and other parts of Spain the first tourists begun to arrive in Benidorm. It was also at this time that Spain lost many of the colonies in South America so the much needed income form deep sea fishing began to decline. In the 1950´s the Almadraba netting which had earned an income for many local families was closed in the Raco De L’Oix now known as the Rincon in the center of the tourist area of Benidorm.
At this time 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, Germany and Britain. The first package holidays arrived in Benidorm for as little as 21 euro for a week half board in the four 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.
Alicante airport did not open until April 1967, 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 seeing the
beginnings of the end for many seaside towns in Britain and europe. Passenger numbers reached 8.9 million in 2005 and a new terminal is due to open in 2009 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.Today Benidorm contributes 12% of Spain’s gross national product which means that the towns revenue is a massive 16,853,000 euro every day of the year. That is an incredible 702,802* euro per hour. For more facts about Benidorm see the Real Benidorm Guide
*source national statistics 2005