Elche Alicante

Pictures, information and guide for the city of Elche Alicante.

Huerto del Cura - ElcheSt Mary's Basilica ElcheCactus Garden - Huerto del Cura Elche

Towns of the Alicante Province - Elche

Elche Alicante - Capital of the Baix Vinalopo region of the province of Alicante, Elche is the third largest city in the Communidad de Valencia. Elche (Elx) is situated approximately 23 km inland from Alicante and has a population of around 220,000 (2006).

Well known for its palm forest, its medieval drama (The Mystery of Elche) and for the famous Lady of Elche bust, Elche has a long and distinguished history. The former site of the city was some 10 kilometres away from its present location and was originally built by the Iberian civilization (and known as Helike) in the area known as L’Alcudia, it was later occupied by the Carthaginians and then by the Romans, who named it Ilici. Elche was moved to its current location by the Arabs who planned and irrigated the area using methods developed from the ‘oasis culture’ of the Middle East and North Africa.

Often referred to as ‘The City of Palms’, Elche is perhaps best known for its large palm tree forest (Palmerar D’Elx), which was thought to have been started by the Phoenicians in the 6th century BC, but was mostly designed and irrigated by the Moors during the Arab occupation (8th to 13th centuries).

The Moors were finally defeated and expelled by Jaime I (James I - The Conquistador) in about 1265, the walled section of the city (known as Vila Murada) being occupied henceforth by the Christians, while the few surviving Arabs settled in the district of Ravel. Due to the expert irrigation techniques of the Arabs, Elche remained an important agricultural area for many centuries, in fact, right up until the 19th century when the current shoemaking industry emerged.

The famous Lady of Elche bust (Dama D’Elx) was uncovered on the original city site in 1897 and dates from the 4th century BC (Iberian Period), the bust now has its home in the National Archaeological Museum of Madrid.

Elche’s palm forest covers an area of approximately 430 hectares and contains over 200,000 trees, making it the biggest palm forest in Europe. The Palmerar D’Elx was declared a World Heritage Site by U.N.E.S.C.O. (2000) and every tree is now protected. Expert palm tree farming techniques are used for the production of edible dates and white palm tree fronds.

The Mystery of Elche (Misteri D’Elx) play is famous all over the world for its haunting reinactment of the life of the Virgin Mary, this spectacular medieval drama (declared a World Heritage Event in 2002) dates from the fifteenth century and is held over 2 days every August (14th and 15th) in the Basilica of Santa Maria.

Most of Elche’s interesting and historical monuments can be seen in the area around the Municipal Park and all worth a visit are the Basilica of Santa Maria (17th century), the Archaeological Museum, the Lord’s Fortress (15th century), the Museum of La Festa ( museum dedicated to the Mystery of Elche play), Elche Town Hall (15th century), the Calendura (automaton clock from the 16th century) and the Muslim Calaforra Tower (12th century).

Also well worth a visit whilst in Elche, is the Priest’s Garden (Huerta del Cura), which is part of the palm forest and contains a huge selection of palm species, cacti and tropical plants, the most impressive being the famous Imperial Palm - a spectacular 7-branched palm tree (which all stem from a single trunk), standing proudly in the centre of the garden. The Huerto del Cura also has a cactus garden and a shop where you can purchase dates grown in the gardens or even you own small date palm.

Important in Elche’s economy are the shoemaking industry (one of the largest in Spain with over 1,000 factories), tourism, agriculture, sweets and clothing manurfacture.

Elche is located on the N340 and is easily accessible from the AP-7 motorway and from the N332 coast road and is about a 15 minute drive from Alicante (El Altet) airport.

Elche Links: Elche Main Page - Elche Map - Elche Weather - Elche Spain - Saint Mary's Basilica Elche - Palm Tree Farming - Palm Forest - Rio Safari Pictures

Nearby Places: Elda - Novelda - Crevillente - Monforte del Cid - Biar - Castalla - Santa Pola - Monovar - Sax - Aspe - Jijona - Villena - Los Arenales - Hondon de los Frailes

Attractions: Rio Safari Elche - Fortuna Spas - Santa Barbara Castle

Golf Courses: La Finca Golf - La Marquesa Golf - Spain Golf

Related: Alicante - Valencia - Murcia - Alicante Transfers - Spain - Builders