Elche is the city of the palm trees and the third biggest city in the Valencia region, the Comunitat Valenciana. A medium-sized city, full of charming and beautiful places to discover.
If your son or daughter is going to study in our campus in Elche and you want to explore the city together, these are the places you really shouldn’t miss:
1. The Huerto del Cura palm garden
Elche would not be Elche without its historic palm forest: it’s part of its very essence and has been recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. A large part of the palm forest is inside the Huerto del Cura garden and it boasts a wide variety of palm trees: one of them, called Sissi, takes its name from the nickname of Empress Elisabeth of Austria. In the Huerto del Cura you can also see cacti and succulent plants amongst the garden’s ponds and sculptures, making the garden the green lungs of the city.
2. Misteri d’Elx
Also known as the Festa, the Misteri d’Elx was recognized by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2001. This liturgical drama, performed in an antique form of the Valencian language, represents the Dormition, Assumption and Coronation of the Virgin Mary. It is currently performed over two days (14th and 15th August) in the Basílica de Santa María in Elche. Extra performances also take place every other year (in even-number years).
3. Baños Árabes
These Arab baths are thought to have been built in the mid-twelfth century. Their value is heightened by the fact there are few surviving remnants of public Islamic architecture in the surrounding area. The baths are located in the cellar of a former Mercedarian convent, but only a part of them still survives, with visitors being able to visit the cold, warm and hot rooms. A standard entrance ticket costs only 1 euro and the complex is open every day of the week.
4. Basílica de Santa María
The Basilica can be found in Plaza del Congreso Eucarístico, having been built on top of the old mosque. This is the church where the Misteri d’Elx is usually performed.
Laid out in the form of a Latin cross, it has a central nave and four chapels on each side. It displays the vicissitudes of architectural fashions, incorporating baroque, rococo and neoclassical styles and it is open to visitors every day of the week.
5. Plaza de la Glorieta
This square of one of the most emblematic places of the whole city, located in the city centre. It is a common meeting point for locals and it also tells the story of the history of Elche. Right in the middle of the square, there is a fountain with one of the angels from the Misteri and on one side of the square there is a replica of the famous Lady of Elche statue. Many attractive bars and shops also line the square.
ELCHE IS THE ONLY CITY in SPAIN WITH THREE items included IN THE world heritage list by unesco
6. Festivals in Elche
Apart from the Misteri d´Elx, there are several big events in the city over the course of the year, such as Palm Sunday or the Moros y Cristianos celebrations. One of the events that locals most look forward to is the Nit de l’Albà, on 13th August. A huge firework display lights up the sky as if were day (hence the name, which literally means the Night of the Dawn). The origins of this celebration go back to the Middle Ages, when families would launch a firework for each of the children they had, in a show of thanks to the Virgin Mary.
7. Wonderful cuisine
You mustn’t leave Elche without trying some of its outstanding and varied cuisine. Some typical dishes include arroz con costra (literally, rice with a crust), arroz con conejo y caracoles (rice with rabbit and snails) or puchero con pelotas (stew with meatballs). Other highly regarded dishes include Mujol del Hondo con all i oli (grey mullet in a garlic and oil sauce) and fresh seafood from the coast. Those with a taste for sweeter things can try some of the local fruit (dates, figs and pomegranates), tortada de Elche (Elche cake) or pan de higo (a kind of figgy pudding).
8. Clot de Galvany
This seaside nature reserve is a treasure trove of flora and fauna. Visitors can take two different itineraries through the park, which is open to everyone, and there’s also a learning facility to satisfy the most avid interest. Seeing the sun set over the park is a truly memorable experience.
Elche’s coastline is made up of six different beaches of fine, golden sand. Visitors have some nine kilometres of beaches to enjoy in total, but the coast is also of significant ecological value, with its sand dunes and pine groves. Two of the best beaches are those at Arenales del Sol and el Pinet, but they all offer the visitor clean and clear water to bathe in and a wide range of aquatic sports for the more adventurous.
10. Parque Natural del Hondo
This park takes in marshland between the town of Crevillent and Elche. There are multiple lagoons which visitors can cross via wooden walkways, making for a very pleasant walk during which you can enjoy the view over the wetlands. As the park has a picnic area, why not pack up some food and spend the day with nature?