Since the time of Christ a settlement existed on Tossal de la Cala, the hill above Cala de Benidorm. However Benidorm was not officially “born” until the year 1325, when the Lord of the “Baronia de Polop” awarded it a town charter, thus recognising it to the rest of Spain. During the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries Benidorm’s fate and therefore primary purpose was similar to that of other towns along the Costa. Constantly plagued by Turkish and Barbary pirates it was fortified with a castle to provide a secure point to evade their attacks. Sadly the castle sustained significant damage during the peninsular war and its remains have long since disappeared.
The 18th century however was good to the town, and 2 significant religious happenings occurred; the first was the beginning of the works of the parish of St. James (Jaime Apostole), who is a patron saint of Benidorm. The second was the miraculous discovery of the Virgen de Suffrage. She was discovered in the year 1740 when townsfolk discovered a ship on Playa Poniente beach. There was neither sight nor sound of the crew, and at the time the populace was taken by intense paranoia of the plague, and so set the ship alight. Discovered amongst the cinders and miraculously undamaged by the flames, the infamous Virgen del Suffrage (statue of the Virgin) was found. The Virgen was taken as a patron saint of the town.
Although these religious events clearly raised the profile of Benidorm, its growth was largely attributed to its fishermen being granted the installation of the greater quantity of “almadrabas” in the Mediterranean (a type of Tuna fishing using a complicated system of nets). This won international acclaim for the town increasing both populace and prosperity.
The first half of the 19th century brought with it an increase in coastal traffic and the town fared well as a base for merchant sea captains and the building of their vessels.
Post war confidence in the 1950’s brought to Benidorm the first taste of tourism. Hampered only by a wretched age under the rule of the dictator Franco (1940-1976) package tourism soon established itself, and ultimately it is this which has made Benidorm the place it is today. With a population of just 2,000 at the start of the century, it has been transformed into a tourist Mecca capable of entertaining and lodging up to 5,000,000 visitors per year.