Beyond Alicante, a place not to be missed is Elche.

In Santa Pola, an old seaport of Elche, particularly interesting are the Parco Saline, natural area where sightings of flamingos, and the Castle built by Philip II to cope with boatloads of pirates, which houses a museum dedicated to the sea and the archaeological heritage of the area.

The old town of Elche, the capital of the territory of Baix Vinalopo, preserves valuable evidence of the Muslim past and Baroque splendour.

The numerous parks, the picturesque fishing villages of the Costa Blanca and the exquisite gastronomy of Alicante, make the visit to Elche a must.

Palacio de Altamira de Elche
Foto de flickr del usuario Juan J. Martínez

MEDIEVAL HERITAGE


It was the Arabs who moved to the city in its current settlement in the tenth century and palm trees that surrounded her.

When Jaime I reconquered the city, the Christians occupied Vila Murada (the part inside the walls) and the Jews and the Muslims occupied the Raval (the outside of the wall).

Vila Murada on the banks of the river Vinalopó succeed the narrow streets of the track Arab Vila Murada, the area with the most history of Elche.

Here stands the Calahorra, a Muslim tower that was part of the fenced area. Behind the wall it was built the Palace of Altamira, which houses the Archaeological Site and the Monographic Museum Alcúdia.

Other points of interest are the Casa de la Vila or Town Hall, the tower of Consell and several mansions. Right here is the Basilica of Santa María, built over an ancient mosque and various Christian churches.

In the medieval city outside the walls is the Convent of the Mercé. Underground, it holds the Arab baths, which date back to the twelfth century. A little further from Vila Murada, the neighborhood of Raval (old Arab quarter and jew). The old Town Hall of Raval now houses the Museum of Contemporary Art.

PLACES TO VISIT


The Royal Mill, the Park Museum and the Rotonda (open air theatre) are found in the same area.

The Huerto del Cura, a National Historic Garden, palms together from around the world and has the following special style, influenced by Arab, the Spanish Levante and Elche.

The traditional palm grove, divided into many orchards, can be visited on foot or by bike.

The most extraordinary aspect of the city is a palm grove of 200,000 plants, declared in 2000 a World Heritage Site by Unesco.

Huerto del cura de Alicante, Elche
Foto de flickr del usuario Luiyo

TRADITIONS


A tradition begun in the Arab period, around the tenth century, when Elche was likened to a city of Islam. Do not worry because parents among the palm trees there are also games for children! Famous are the Palm Sunday and the Mystery of Elche.

The old mill and a grain storehouse, of Arab origin, houses the municipal laboratory processing handicraft of woven palm leaves. There are custom made by hand palms that accompany the processions on Palm Sunday, declared celebration of International Tourist Interest.

The Mystery of Elche, a work liturgical medieval World Heritage and Festival of International Tourist Interest, takes place in this area on 14 and 15 August.

The House of the festival (the old Charity Hospital, XV century) and the Municipal Museum of the festival retain different scenic elements and show a show with the most amazing virtual representation.

The well-know celebration Festa d’Elx is a UNESCO Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

FOOD


And here you need to enjoy the wonderful rice presented with various recipes: a band (rice cooked in fish stock and served with aioli sauce), with rabbit and snails, crust, like risotto or dry.

The fish and seafood from the coast of eastern Spain will remind us that we are on the shores of the Mediterranean. And for dessert, ice cream and nougat are essential in this region.

For its part, the wine of the Denomination of Origin of Alicante will honour these delicacies.