Elche Travel Guide
Elche, Elx in Valencian, is a city of palm trees – but not just any palm trees, specifically date palms, which were originally introduced to the Iberian Peninsula by the Moors in the 8th century. Thus, not surprisingly, all roads leading into Elche are lined with palms, as are many of the city's inner streets, while the shady green Palmeral – or palm grove – of Elche, which covers some 1,000 acres and boasts more than 200,000 trees, is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Elche's other claim to fame is its hugely popular medieval mystery play, Misteri d'Elx, a lyrical dramatization of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, staged in the city's 17th-century Baroque Basilica de Santa Maria in mid August every year, in which an angel descends from the heavens, emerging from a pomegranate, to announce the sleep and assumption of Mary. The city itself is supremely historic, heir to the early Iberian settlement of L'Alcudia, the site of which lies just to the south of it and where the statute of Dama de Elche – Lady of Elche – was discovered in 1897. It thus has a good store of historic monuments and a fabulous old town with pleasant plazas to show for it. Apart from its historicity, however, Elche has all the trappings of a modern city, with its fair share of restaurants and cafés, shops and boutiques, museums and galleries, and parks and plazas. Elche, besides, is all but a stone's throw from such delectable beach resorts as Torrevieja, as well as the touristy Costa Blanca and bustling Alicante.
Elche is situated in southeastern Spain, just 7 miles (11 km) from the Mediterranean coast. It is 31 miles (50 km) southwest of Alicante, or 2 miles (3 km) north of the site of the ancient Iberian settlement of L'Alcudia. It can be reached by way of Alicante, which has an international airport, from where you can take highway N-340 southwestward to Elche.
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