The Curious Case of the Benidorm Cross: Faith, Tourism, and a Tangled History

Towering over the vibrant Spanish city of Benidorm, a large white cross stands atop the Serra Gelada mountain range. Its stark silhouette, visible from almost every corner of the city, sparks curiosity among visitors. But why is this religious symbol perched atop a mountain in a city known for its sun, sand, and lively nightlife? The answer, like the history of Benidorm itself, is surprisingly complex and intertwined with faith, tourism, and a touch of local drama.

Picture by Harry Fabel

A Religious Statement with a Twist:

The story begins in 1950 when Benidorm transitioned from a small fishing village to a booming tourist destination. The arrival of bikinis on the beaches caused controversy, with some conservative residents viewing it as a threat to local values. In response, a group of religious figures organized a procession carrying a large cross up the mountain, symbolically seeking "forgiveness" for the city's changing image.

From Symbolism to Tourist Magnet:

The cross remained, becoming a local landmark and offering breathtaking panoramic views of the city and coastline. Its religious significance gradually faded, replaced by its value as a tourist attraction. Today, visitors flock to the cross for the scenic vistas, the peaceful atmosphere, and the opportunity to capture Instagram-worthy photos.

Beyond the Surface:

While the cross now serves primarily as a tourist draw, it's important to remember its complex history. It reflects a clash between tradition and modernity and highlights the evolving identity of Benidorm as it navigates the demands of tourism and its own cultural heritage.

A Landmark with Layers:

The Benidorm cross stands as a testament to the city's multifaceted character. It's a reminder that even in the heart of a bustling tourist destination, layers of history and local sentiment remain. So, the next time you see the cross on the mountain, take a moment to appreciate not just the view, but the stories it silently tells.