Elche Tourist Attractions
Elche, situated on both banks of the Río Vinalopó in one of the hottest parts of Spain, is noted for its palm grove, a feature unique in Europe. There were Iberian, Phoenician and Greek settlements on the site, and the Romans founded the colony of Julia Ilici here. With its flat-roofed white houses and domed churches the old part of the town, set on the edge of an oasis of palms, has an Oriental air. Elche is now a center of shoe manufacture.
The 17th century church of Santa María in Elche, dedicated to the Virgen de la Asunción, is a prominent landmark with its large blue-tiled dome and its fortress-like tower, 37m/121ft high, from which there are fine views of the town and the palm grove. The richly decorated main doorway and the Baroque facade were the work of Nicolás de Busi.
Misterio de Elche (Misteri d'Elx)
Every year on August 14th and 15th the Misterio de Elche is performed in the church. This 13th century play is a dramatic presentation (by male actors only), with a musical accompaniment, of the Death, Assumption and Coronation of the Virgin.
North of Santa María, in the 15th century Palacio de Altamira, is the Archeological Museum, with a fine collection of prehistoric, Iberian, Greco-Roman and Islamic antiquities.
Opening hours: 10am-1pm, 4pm-7pm; Closed: Mon
Always closed on: Elche Mystery Play - Spain (Aug 11-15), Valencia Day - Spain (Oct 9)
Archeological Museum - Lady of Elche
Puente de Santa Teresa
There is a very fine view of the town from the Puente de Santa Teresa, a bridge in Gothic style (1705) which spans the Río Vinalopó a little way southwest of the Plaza Baix.
Museum of Contemporary Art
Farther south from Puente de Santa Teresa is the Museum of Contemporary Art, with a collection of pictures, graphic art, sculpture and ceramics, mainly by Catalan and Valencian artists.
The Palmeral de Europa is a huge palm grove surrounded by walls and hedges. Guided tours are available.
Procesión del Domingo de Ramos
The Palm Sunday Procession is mainly of interest to Spanish travelers.