You ask yourself what to see in Elche? Perhaps it is because you have heard about the wonders that this beautiful Levantine city offers you. We must point out that they are all true. You will even find more than one surprise in it in the form of palm groves in the middle of the town, old Arab fortresses and majestic churches.
But you will also find in Elche unique museums in the world, celebrations that have their roots in the Middle Ages or archaeological sites from the Iberian period. Even though it is fifteen kilometers from the coast, there are beautiful beaches such as those of Arenales de Sol, Altet or La Marina. But even more spectacular for its dunes is that of the Carabassi. In any case, without further ado, we are going to show you what to see in Elche.
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The Palm Grove
As we were saying, it is one of the great symbols of the Levantine city and has been declared Heritage. Not surprisingly, it is the largest in Europe, with some five hundred hectares and between two hundred and three hundred thousand specimens.
Its most abundant variety is date palm, which the Muslims brought to Spain. But already in the Iberian remains found in the area there are representations of this tree, which shows that the Palm Grove is older.
In turn, the most exuberant area of the complex is the so-called Priest's Garden, with about a thousand specimens, some over three hundred years old (approximately, this is the maximum age a palm tree can live). It owes its name to the chaplain José Castaño, who was its owner until 1918. In turn, it highlights the Imperial Palm, so named in honor of the famous Empress Elisabeth of Bavaria (sissy), who visited the Garden in 1894.
If you want to get to know the Palm Grove of Elche well, you have a route that crosses it and that you can do by bicycle or on foot. It is circular, since it begins and ends at the Orchard of San Placido, where there is a museum about this natural wonder. In addition, it is a very easy route, since it is only about two and a half kilometers long.
Basilica of Santa Maria of Elche
This architectural marvel combines the prevailing style Italianate baroque with neoclassical elements and even medieval reminiscences. It was built between the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries on the remains of an old Gothic church that, in turn, had replaced a Muslim mosque.
It highlights its three impressive covers, due to the sculptor Nicholas of Bussy. And, inside, we advise you to see the Communion Chapel and the spectacular marble tabernacle brought from Naples and the work of Jaime Bort.
Other wonders of the historic center
The Basilica of Santa María is located in the heart of the old part of the city. But in this part of it you have many other things to see. Its nerve center is roundabout square, where you will see a replica of the famous Lady of Elche. The original sculpture, Iberian and dated between the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries before Jesus Christ, is found in the Archaeological Museum of Madrid.
Very close is the Plaza de la Merced, Where is he Convent of Santa Lucia, a beautiful three-storey building with a Renaissance façade. Also, in its basements, you can see the Arab baths, which consisted of three vaulted rooms and another for changing rooms.
In front of the convent, you have the TTower of the Calahorra, an Arab fortification from the late XNUMXth or early XNUMXth century that was part of the old medieval wall. It was restored in the XNUMXth century, so the battlements will seem much more modern to you. And behind her is the Santa Isabel Square, where you can see The Three Marys, a precious sculptural group dedicated to the Elche mystery, which we will talk about later. Finally, you can leave the old town through the beautiful Santa Teresa bridge, which is the oldest in the city.
Altamira Palace, another essential monument to see in Elche
Also called Palace of the Lordship, was built in the fifteenth century by order of Gutierre de Cardenas, who was the first lord of the city after being taken by the Christians. However, to do so, he took advantage of a previous Arab building that was part of the Almohad walls. Remains of them still remain today.
Its floor plan is polygonal, with cylindrical towers at the ends and another larger quadrangular or Homage. Currently, it is the headquarters of the Archaeological and History Museum of Elche, another visit that you should not miss among what to see in Elche. As a curiosity, we will tell you that the palace was a prison and even housed a weaving factory.
Other towers and buildings in the city
We have already told you about the Calahorra tower, but it is not the only one you should see in Elche. The TTower of the Council It was built in the XNUMXth century and is currently the seat of the Town Hall. With an almost square floor plan and two bodies, it was also part of the wall. In fact, his Gate of Guardamar It served as an exit from the city. Also, attached to it is the fish market, with its pointed arches. Already in the XNUMXth century, the entire complex was used to build a Renaissance-style palace.
Likewise, attached to the construction is the TTower of the Vetla, which became an icon of the city by adding two automatons to its clock. These, named Calendura and Calendureta, still today they are in charge of giving the hours and quarters striking two bells.
For its part, the TTower of the Vaíllo, built in masonry and ashlar during the fifteenth century, served to monitor and protect the city against the arrival of enemies. The TGall's Tower It is a beautiful mansion in the Valencian modernist style built at the beginning of the XNUMXth century. and the building of Alcazar Cinema, a little later, responds to Levantine rationalism.
Finally, the royal mill It is an imposing XNUMXth century construction equipped with a set of buttresses and semicircular arches that is in the Municipal park. It was dedicated to the manufacture of flour and today houses the Association of Fine Arts of Elche.
Museums, an added value to what to see in Elche
The Levantine city has a good number of museums, each one more interesting. We have already told you about the Archeology and History, which houses important pieces found in the La Alcudia site, where the Lady of Elche was also found. However, you also have a small exhibition on the site itself.
Likewise, we have told you about the Palmeral Museum. But, in addition, we advise you to visit contemporary art, paleontological, the one dedicated to Virgin of the Assumption, patron saint of the city, and the one of the party, dedicated to the Mystery of Elche, which we are going to talk to you about next.
The Mystery of Elche
It is the representation of a sacred-lyrical drama whose origins date back to the Middle Ages (it has been staged since the 14th century). To see it, you will have to visit the town on August 15 and XNUMX, since it is represented in two days. But we cannot tell you about what to see in Elche and not mention this tradition, since it has been declared Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
It is staged in Basilica of Santa María and they are inhabitants of the city who represent the piece. Except for a few small fragments in Latin, its text is in old valencian. Likewise, it is accompanied by music that combines different styles, from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance and Baroque. The work, which barely consists of two hundred and seventy verses, recreates passages from the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. The first part of it is Vespra (August 14), while the second is The Feast (day fifteen).
Likewise, the celebration is accompanied by other traditional events. At the beginning of August the calls take place voice test, where the children who are going to sing in the play are chosen, and of the angel, which is used to make the last checks. For its part, the thirteenth of August is the celebration of the Nit de l'Albá, with the people of Elche launching fireworks from the roofs of their houses. And the night from 14 to 15 takes place the roa, a procession with thousands of people carrying lighted candles.
The Mystery of Elche is one of the great events of the Spanish summer. Therefore, we advise you, if you can, to visit the Levantine town on these dates. Although, if you cannot do it, any time is good to travel to this beautiful city.
In conclusion, we have shown you the main what to see in elche. But we also want to talk to you briefly about the surrounding towns. very close, fully Natural Park of the Salinas, is the beautiful coastal town of Santa Pola, with its imposing fortress castle and its Roman villa del Palmeral. Likewise, half an hour away by car, you have the historic Orihuela, land of the great poet Miguel Hernández, whose museum house you can visit. But, in addition, the town of Orihuela is full of monuments. To name just a few, we will mention its castle and walls, its Gothic cathedral, its convent of Santo Domingo, its baroque palaces and its impressive modernist complex. Don't you think they are enough reasons to travel to Elche?