Elche Tourist Attractions

Santa Maria, ElcheSanta Maria, Elche
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.

Santa María

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.

La Calahorra

To the east of Santa María are the remains of the 14th century Moorish stronghold of La Calahorra.
Address: Calle Uberna, E-03200 Elche, Spain

Archeological Museum

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.

Archeological Museum - Lady of Elche

The museum has only a copy of the famous "Lady of Elche", an Iberian figure of the fourth or third century B.C. which was found at Elche in 1897; the original is in the Archeological Museum in Madrid.

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.
Address: Plaza Major Del Raval, E-03202 Elche, Spain

Palmeral de Europa

Immediately east of Elche is the Palmeral de Europa, the largest palm grove in Europe. A visit takes about 2 hours; the best time in summer is in the early morning. The plantations, probably established by the Phoenicians but dating in their present extent from Moorish times, are surrounded by walls or hedges. Water for irrigation comes from a reservoir in the Vinalopó valley, 5km/3mi away.
The date palm (Phoenix dactylifera; Spanish palmera) requires very careful culture. The dates (which are inferior in quality to those of the Sahara) are harvested between November and the spring; each tree bears dates (an average of 35kg/77lb) only every other year. From April onwards some of the male palms are bound up so that they become bleached, and the bleached fronds (ramilletes) are then sold all over Spain for Palm Sunday and hung from the balconies of houses.
The palms, usually between 20 and 25m (65 and 80ft) in height but sometimes reaching more than 35m/115ft, stand with ''their feet in water and their heads in the fires of heaven'', as an Arabic saying has it. Under them are planted pomegranate trees, in the shade of which fodder crops and vegetables are grown.

Priest's Garden

Particular features of interest are the Huerta del Cura; the Palmera Imperial, a male palm said to be 200 years old, with seven lateral stems growing out of the main trunk; the Palmeras Romeo y Julieta; and the Villa Carmen, with a belvedere from which there are fine views.

Huerto del Cura

The garden is famous for its great grove of palms, El Palmeral. The great trees cast deep and welcome shade on winding paths. The Mediterranean orchard are intermixed with other exotic flowering plants.
Address: Porta de la Morera 49, E-03203 Elche, Spain

Procesión del Domingo de Ramos

The Palm Sunday Procession is mainly of interest to Spanish travelers.

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