Elx, the third largest town in the Valencian Community, is situated on the Costa Blanca and surrounded by more than 300.00 palm-trees. Elx is a compendium of the many splendours the province can offer its visitors.
Prehistory and history, the riches of Nature, beaches and the love of its inhabitants for culture and tradition all attract attention in this modern, growing, dynamic town. Its extensive municipal district spreads from the Sierras de Molar, Tabaià, and Castellar to the sea. The fertile area of the orchards next to the sea, known as the Campo de Elche, has many little rural villages, such as Les Baies, Perleta, Els Bassars, Torrellano, L’Alted an Matola, to name but a few. The Vinalopó runs through Elche and by the Reservoir, which was built in 1632, there are some native species such as the Elche Poplar. An area of great ecological value, the Laguna del Fondo, is situated in the hinterland. Two kilometres away, towards Dolores, is the primitive settlement of Elx, L’Alcudia, which holds the remains of prehistoric cultures from the Neolithic, Iberian, Roman, Visigothic and Muslim eras. It was here that the sculptured bust known as the Dama de Elche, now in the Madrid Archeological Museum, was found.
On the site itself there is a museum which displays all the history of this ancient, important town. Around the tenth century this place was abandoned by its dwellers in favour of the present site of Elche. The Arabs surrounded the new Elx with palm trees, making it comparable in eleventh century Arab writings with Mecca, the holy place of Islam and a major oasis city.
Jaime I conquered the town in 1265 and it passed definitively to the Kingdom of Aragon under Jaime II. The Christians occupied the Vila Murada while the Muslims moved south to the Raval. Vila Murada contains the richest parts of the historic heritage of Elx, like the palace of Altamira and the Alcasser de la Senyoria, the Basilica of Santa María, the Arab fortress of Calaforra, the Town Hall and the Arab baths in the convent de la Mercé. You can easily walk round these places, as they are all close together. Inside the Palace of Altamira is the Archaeological Museum. More than 300.000 palm-trees have not only become the symbol of Elche, making it unique, but also form the largest and southernmost palm grove in Europe.
Near the tourist office is the Municipal Park, with space to relax, play of attend open-air performances. To the south-east, another park that deserves a visit is the Huerto del Cura, where you can see the seven branched palm tree admired by the Empress Sissí and the cactus garden. In the palm-grove surrounding the town there are two medieval watch-towers, Vaillos de Llanos to the north and Ressemnlanc to the south. 15 minutes from the town we find 12 km of coastline with two stretches of beaches, at Altet and La Marina l’Altet has one of the most popular, Els Arenals del Sol, as well as a nudist beach known as El Carabassí. La Marina has the welcoming family beaches of El Pinet, La Marina-Playa, Les Pesqueres an El Rebollo, with dunes and pines. Any day is a good day to see Elx, but the best time is during the month of August, when the fiestas in honour of the Virgen de la Asunción are celebrated. This is when the medieval lyrical-religious drama called the Mystery is performed. The drama has two parts, vespra and festa, and is held on the 14th and 15th in the Basilica of Santa María.