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Alicante Travel Guide


Elche

Where is Elche

The town of Elche is located in the Valencian Autonomous Community, 200 kms. south of Valencia and 20 kms. from Alicante. Elche is the main city of the Baix Vinalopó.district which measures 325.5 sq Kms. Population is almost 200.000 of which 20.000 live in the country. The Vinalopó river crosses the city, and the ancient quarters are surrounded by a vast palm grove, unique in Europe, and the northernmost in the world. The climate is typically Mediterranean, with average low rainfalls, and a pleasing, dry climate softened by a coastal breeze.

Location

Elche is located on 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. The" Pantano d'Elx ", the area's dam, was first constructed in the year 1632, gathering waters from the Vinalopó river running trough the town.

Close to the Mediterranean coast (altitude 86mts) it is one of the most visited cities in the Costa Blanca. Near the town center are 12km of beach land where sand dunes commune with pine tree 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. Then come the public beaches of Les Dunes and El Carabassí and L'Escull, at the foot of the Sierra de Santa Pola. The southern extension of the municipal district can boast the beaches of El Pinet, Les Pesqueres, La Marina and El Rebollo, where clear waters and fine sand provide excellent swimming, which can be combined with pleasant strolls among the pine groves flanking the beach.

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

Surrounding the town are a total of thirty rural districts dotted with farmhouses and bungalows. This is mainly an agricultural area named El Camp d'Elx, where pomegranates, figs, dates, citrus, fruits, almonds, cotton, and a variety of vegetables are grown.

History of Elche

A number of peoples have contributed to the culture and character of Elx and its present-day inhabitants. The first remains discovered at the archeological 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 works of Iberian art ever to be found.

The town was later destroyed by Carthaginian troops, but when the Romans arrived, it was renamed as the Iulia Illice Augusta colony, and thereafter enjoyed a period of prosperity. In the Paleochristian (3rd-5th C.) and Visigothic (5th-8th C.) periods, Elx was known as the Basilica de Ilici a sign of its importance as an Episcopalian seat.

Under the Moorish dominion in the Lower Middle Ages, the town was established in its present position, in the area known as the Vila Murada. The name was changed to Elx, whence Elche. It was at this time that agriculture was developed to the full, with a complete irrigation system being introduced. The Christian conquest in the year 1265 ousted the Moors from the town itself, and they were obliged to build a new town in the environs of the Vila Murada, known as the Raval de Sant Joan.

After a long silence, the 19th century saw the rise of an important sandal industry, the origin of the present-day shoe industry, which unshed in a period of growth, both economic and cultural.

Today there are hundreds of companies in the area involved footwear industry, although other industries such as metallurgy, chemical products, confectionery and building, are also of note. In this respect, the Alicante Trade Fair Institution, located in the municipal district of Elche, is a major platform for professionals involved in activities such as footwear manufacturing, automobiles, catering, leisure (golf, nautical sports, etc.), real state and tourism promotion.