Elda Spain

Guide to Elda, a town on the Costa Blanca, Spain.

Costa Blanca Towns - Elda

Standing on the banks of the Vinalopó river, the Costa Blanca town of Elda is located in the Alicante province and is part of the autonomous Community of Valencia. With a population of around 56,000 Elda is the 7th most populous town in the province and is separated from its neighbouring town - Petrer by just a single road - the buldings on one side of the street belonging to Elda and on the other side belonging to Petrer, both towns have their own castles and Town Halls.

Elda’s biggest claim to fame is its importance in the shoemaking industry, and it is particularly renowned for the making of women’s shoes. One of Elda’s most visited attractions is the Museo del Calzado (Museum of Footwear).

Long before people wore shoes, the area around Elda bore witness to human activity, remains in an area known as ‘Chopo’ reveals signs of human settlement during the Neolithic Period, cave paintings in El Barranco del Gavilán and burial remains uncovered on La Sierra de la Torreta, give 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 Romans founded the first organised civilisation in the area and established an important trading centre dealing with Italy and Southern France. This activity reached its height in the 1st and 2nd Centuries AD. The decline of the Roman Empire saw this region of Spain 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 around 560 AD and there are remains of a basilica in El Monastil.

The arrival of the Moors in the 8th Century, saw the town of Elda established as an agricultural community and also saw the town fortified and strengthened. The castle of Elda which is located on a small hill beside the Vinalopó river, was constructed during the 12th and 13th Centuries, but was not secure enough to defend against the re-conquering Christians. The castle and town changed hands several times after the defeat of the Arabs, and life in the region was unsettled due to constant conflict between the Kingdoms of Aragon and Castille. Elda finally became part of the Kingdom of Valencia in 1304. By way of a treaty, a number of ‘moriscos’ (Moors converted to Christianity) were allowed to stay in Elda and Petrer, where many remained until finally expelled in 1581. This expulsion resulted in a severe decline in the population of Elda, leaving only about 600 Christian inhabitants, the knock-on effect was also a decline in the economy of the town, and it was very slow to recover during the ensuing centuries.

Elda again found prosperity during the 18th and 19th Centuries, assisted by the construction of a road from Madrid to Alicante and later by the building of a railroad. The economic revival was mostly fuelled by an emerging shoemaking industry and by the end of the 19th Century over 400 townspeople were employed in this craft.

Towards the end of the Spanish Civil War (1936-39), Alicante was one fo the last havens of the failing Second Republic and during this time Elda became its headquarters during its final struggle with Franco’s forces.

Modern day Elda has some interesting places to visit and the first port of call should be the Museo del Calzado (Footwear Museum) where there are interesting collections of old and recent shoes, shoemaking tools, machinery and books and documents outlining the workings of the town’s shoe factories going back to their creation.

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

Elda and Petrer are situated just off the N-330 between Alicante and Villena and is about 30km inland from Alicante.

Elda Links: Elda Map - Elda Weather - Elda Spain

Nearby Places: Petrer - Elche - Crevillente - 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

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