Elche, Costa Blanca, Spain
A historical city with plenty of buildings and monuments of interest, it's also a city with two international UNESCO awards; one for its palm groves and the other for its annual religious play, the Misteri d'Elx. Elche residents have performed the play every August since Medieval times, and at the end of the week one of Spain's loudest firework displays takes place, known as the Nit d'Alba.
Things to see & do
Altamira Castle is situated next to the Municipal Park; it houses the Archaeology and History Museum. Originally built in Almohad times, this former fortress has been used as a fabric plant, town hall and during the Spanish Civil War as a prison.
Elche unsurprisingly has several large palm parks, the unique Imperial palm tree with seven branches stemming from one trunk can be found in the Huerto del Cura Park where a small local entrance charge applies. The Municipal Park offers free admittance with six hectares featuring many palms, a water mill, fountains and small ponds.
The historic centre of Elche is home to a number of monumental buildings built over a range of eras; the baroque Basilica of Santa Maria, the Alcaza de le Senoria (Altamira Castle), and the Calahorra Tower, the Renaissance period Convent of la Merced and Arab Baths, and the Gothic style Town Hall.
The Rio Safari Park is just 9km outside of Elche, highlights include the reptile cave, crocodile farm and chimpanzee island. There are also shows, trampolines, a kart circuit and during the summer months a pool with slide.
Out and about
The most popular part of the city 'the triangle', is formed of the Plaza de Baix and la Glorieta squares, and Les Eres de Santa Llucia street, where a number of shops can be found, as well as a good choice of bars and restaurants.
The Elche tourist train is an enjoyable way to get around the city, starting at the tourist office next to the Municipal Park; taking around 40 minutes it makes five stops along its route.
There are many boutique style shops in Elche, along with the well known high street names, the El Corte Ingle department store and the Salvador Artesano shoe factory. Slightly out of town is the L'Aljub shopping centre which has around 120 shops, cinema and plenty of food outlets.
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