Elda Costa Blanca

Guide to the historic town of Elda Spain.

Towns of Spain - Elda

Elda Spain's Shoe Making Capital - The ancient city of Elda stands on the banks of the Vinalopó river, about 30 kilometres inland from Alicante. With a population of approximately 56,000 Elda is the seventh most populous town in the province and is divided from its neighbouring town - Petrer by just a single street - the houses on one side of the road belonging to Elda and on the other side, to Petrer, both towns have their own castles and their own Town Hall.

Elda’s biggest claim to fame is its high standing in the Spanish shoemaking industry, and it is particularly renowned for the making of shoes for women and one of Elda’s most popular attractions is the Museum of Footwear (Museo del Calzado) an intriguing museum dedicated to the development of the Spanish shoemaking industry from medieval times to the present day.

Long before mankind wore shoes, the region around Elda witnessed human activity, remains in an area called ‘Chopo’ revealed signs of human settlements during the Neolithic Period (4000 - 2500 BC), cave paintings in El Barranco del Gavilán and funeral remains uncovered on La Sierra de la Torreta, reveal further evidence of activity leading up to the Bronze Age (2300 to 700 BC). Later settlements were established by the Phoenicians, the Iberians and the Romans.

The arrival of the Romans saw the first organised society in the area and they established a flourishing trading centre dealing with Southern France and Italy. This activity and commerce reached its height in the First and Second Centuries AD. The decline and fall of the Roman Empire saw this region of Spain and much of Europe occupied by the Visigoths, a mysterious race of Germanic peoples with strange names and even stranger attire. The Visogoths founded a bishopric in the area in El Monastil in around 560 AD where there are still remains of a basilica

The arrival of the Arabs (Moors) in the Eighth Century, saw the town of Elda established as an agricultural centre and also saw the town strengthened and fortified. Elda castle, which is located on a hill beside the River Vinalopó, was built during the 12th and 13th Centuries, but was not sufficient to hold back the re-conquering Christians in the 13th Century. The town and castle changed hands frequently after the defeat of the Moors, and life in the region was generally unsettled due to constant battles between the Kingdoms of Castille and Aragon. Elda was finally annexed to the Kingdom of Valencia in 1304. By way of a treaty, numerous ‘moriscos’ (Moors converted to Christianity) were allowed to remain in Elda, where many stayed until finally expelled in 1581 by the Count of Elda - Joan Coloma. This expulsion resulted in a severe fall in the population of Elda, leaving only around six hundred Christian townspeople, this in turn led to a decline in the economy of the town, and it was very slow to recover during the following centuries.

Elda enjoyed renewed prosperity during the 18th and 19th Centuries, aided by the building of a road from Alicante to Madrid and later by the construction of a railway line. The economic revival of Elda was mostly fuelled by an emerging shoe making industry and by the latter part of the 19th Century over four hundred people were employed in this craft. In 1904 Elda received the title of ‘city’.

Towards the last days of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), Alicante was one of the last havens of the falling 2nd Republic and during this time Elda became its capital while undergoing the final struggle with the forces of General Franco.

Present day Elda has some fascinating places to visit and a good place to start would be the Museo del Calzado (Footwear Museum) where there are interesting collections of old and recent shoes, shoemaking implements and tools, footwear machinery and documents and books describing the workings of Elda’s shoe factories going back to their inception.

Other places of interest well worth a visit include the 12th Century castle of Elda (which later became home to the Caloma family), the Museo Archeológico, the Casa Grande del Jardin de la Musica, built in 1925 and used as a hospital during the Spanish Civil War, the remains of the Iberian / Roman settlement of Monastil on La Torreta, the Museo Ethnológico and the Church of Santa Ana from the 16th Century.

Elda is located just off the N-330 between Alicante and Villena and is about 30 kilometres inland from the city of Alicante.

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Nearby Places: Elche - Novelda - Monforte del Cid - Biar - Castalla - Onil - Agost - 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