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E l c h e   Europe´s Palm Forest by the Sea     valencia

 

Scenery 

Elche is located a plain crossed by the mountains of Molar, Tabaià and Castellar-the westernmost spurs of the Meseta which give shape to a varied geography where the palm tree reigns supreme. 

Near the town centre are 12 km. of beachland where sand dunes commune with pine trees along a scenic Mediterranean coastline. The northern stretch has the broadest dunes, on the beaches of L’Altet and La Senieta, which run south to Els Arenals del Sol, a tourist resort area equipped with an excellent range of services. 

The inland part of the municipal area offers a marvellous landscape with a very special ecosystem at the lagoon of El Fondo.

History

el geschA number of peoples have contributed to the culture and character of Elche and its present-day inhabitants. The first remains discovered at the archaeological site of L’Alcudia date from the Neolithic period, or about 5.000 B.C. 

This original settlement continued its development to be become the Iberian town of Helike in the 5th century B.C. To this period belongs the famous Dama de Elche, a treasured sculpture of an Iberian priestess dressed in ceremonial robes constituting one of the most important master woks of Iberian art ever to be found.

Fiestas

Among the variety of festivities held in the Land of el fiestValencia, there is one in particular that stands out for its originality, atmosphere and colour: the Misteri d’Elx. Represented in the Basílica de Santa María, the Misteri is a lyrical drama from the late Middle Ages. The actual score (la Consueta) is interpreted by non-professional singers from Elche.

During the rest of the year, there are other colourful feasts of interest: December 28th and 29th mark the arrival of the Virgin from the sea. The traditional romerías, or pilgrimages to Sant Antoni (January 17th) and Sant Crispí (October 25th) are a heritage of the ancient artisan guilds of Elche. The fiestas of the Pobladores, or settlers, inspired from tales of the first inhabitants of the town, take place on July 28th. During the first week of August, Elche recalls the Age of the Reconquest with its feast of the Moors and Christians. Today’s solemn Holy Week processions date from the 18th century, with the procession of the palms of the Palm Sunday dating from the 14th century. This festivity is listed as being of national tourists interest.

What to do? 

Something different for a change: take a hot-air balloon ride over the seventeen million square metres of the lagoon of Fondo, a rich ecosystem with an interesting variety of flora and fauna, especially water fowl. 

Visit the archaeological sites of L’Alcudia and see what life was like in the Neolithic, during the Iberian culture, and later under the Romans, with a fine example of a Provincial Roman villa. 

Enjoy the sun and sea by the extensive sand dunes and pine groves along the coastline: L’Altet, La Senieta, Els Arenals del Sol, El Carabassi, Les Dunes, L’Escull, El Pinet, La Marina, Les Pesqueres and El Rebollo. 

Walk round the Vila Murada, containing important buildings from the past, and enjoy some refreshment at the street terraces and cafés in town. 

In August, see the performances of the Misteri d’Elx in the interior of the Basílica de Santa María, and let yourself be swept away by the beauty and sentiment of this sacred liturgical drama of medieval origin-the only one of its kind still preserved in Europe. 

Make a trip to the local dam, the Pantano de Elche, where you’ll enjoy a unique landscape, and see a botanical variety which is unique to the area-the Elche poplar (Populus Eufrática).

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