Palm paradise: The mystery of Elche

Palm paradise: The mystery of Elche.

Palm paradise: The mystery of Elche. Image: Comunitat Valenciana.

“We were approaching Elche, we could already see its valley overflowing with fruits and its immense palm grove.”

“It is the largest and most beautiful in Europe, the most paradisiacal in all of Spain.” A Journey through Spain, Hans Christian Andersen (1862)

The Mystery of Elche goes beyond being just a World Heritage Site; it’s a remarkable example of how nature, civilizations, and people have come together to shape a beautiful city.

Elche is renowned for its “palmeral,” or palm grove, a significant cultural landscape blending ancient Andalusian traditions with modern adaptations.

Over time, it has evolved from traditional farming to modern urban uses, growing both native and introduced crops.

For over a thousand years, the palm grove has been integral to Elche’s identity, influencing the city and its inhabitants.

World Heritage List

Recognised by UNESCO in 2000, it boasts over 200,000 palm trees, with another 50,000 waiting to be planted from municipal nurseries.

Despite palm trees disappearing in many southern European areas due to harsh weather, Elche has preserved its palms, protected from extreme conditions.

Evidence of their importance can be traced back to ancient Iberian pottery from the 3rd to 1st centuries BC.

Within the palm grove, several areas stand out, including the Municipal Park, the Hort de Baix, the Huerto del Cura, and the Hort del Xocolater.

Each adds to the richness of Elche’s landscape and history.

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Written by

Anna Ellis

Originally from Derbyshire, Anna has lived in the middle of nowhere on the Costa Blanca for 19 years. She is passionate about her animal family including four dogs and four horses, musicals and cooking.