Elche is Valencia's third-largest City.  It is renowned for its annual mystery play which is performed by the people of Elche themselves on the 14th and 15th August with dress rehearsals taking place the three preceding days.  There is a spectacular firework display on the evening of 13th August with the high point being at midnight when the town's lights are doused and a 'palmera' (simulated palm tree in flame) briefly fills the sky above the Basilica.

Elche is also well known for its Palm groves which dominate the City and its environs.  Within them are over 200,000 trees and the area has been designated a World Heritage Site.

The narrow streets of the old and fairly compact Vila Murada (Walled City) are well worth a wander.  Little of the old walls remain however the Torre de la Calaforra constructed in the 12th Century stands solid as a reminder of Elche's Arab heritage.  There is also the vast 18th Century baroque Basilica de Santa Maria which is the venue for the mystery play.

From mid-July until the end of August, guided tours of the historic quarter leave from the tourist office at 11.30am and 5.30pm.  These tours are conducted in Spanish with highlights in English and they last about two hours, costing around 3 plus admission fees.

There are clusters of good, cheap-and-cheerful places serving traditional Tapas and on summer evenings it is possible to find streets full of tables serving local dishes and Sangria!  There is also more sophisticated dining to be had at restaurants such as El Granaino or for that special occasion try Els Capallans at the Hotel Huerto del Cura.  There is also a pleasant terrace on the north side of Placa del Congres Eucaristic where you can sip your drink whilst deciding on one of the delicious local specialities.

Copyright 2005 R Mills & D Tester. All Rights Reserved. Reproduction in part or in whole including images without permission is expressly prohibited.