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Surrounded by palm trees: The Palmeral of Elche
It seems like the old Spanish city of Elche is built in the middle of a palm grove. Everywhere you are surrounded by palm trees. The Palmeral of Elche was originally built by the Arabs when they settled in Elche. Today it is UNESCO World Heritage and one of the largest palm gardens in the world!
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The Spanish city of Elche
The Spanish city of Elche is just over 20 kilometers from Alicante. It is a small but nice town to wander around. Visit the beautiful Basílica de Santa María, where you can climb the tower for a beautiful view of the city. Explore little squares where you can drink a cool glass of wine or visit restaurants with tempting menus.
And also palm trees. A lot of palm trees.
The city was founded by the Arabs around the 10th century. They surrounded the city with date palms and laid an ingenious irrigation system to provide the trees in the dry landscape with water. The palms produced dates and the shady terraces were used for growing fruit and vegetables, such as pomegranates. The trees are still there. There are about 200,000 of them, actually, and together they are on the UNESCO World Heritage List. This palm orchard is a rare example of Arab agricultural practices in Europe.
Palmeral de Elche
The Palmeral de Elche consists of 97 different orchards inside and outside the city. Most of the palms are on the banks of the river Vinalopó and some of the palm groves have now been turned into city parks. And so nowadays you walk through a Spanish town, in a sea of palm trees, but also olive trees, lemon trees, pomegranate trees and all kinds of cacti. A nice Mediterranean town with a wonderful exotic atmosphere.
Nice to know about the Palmeral de Elche in Spain:
In the city of Elche you will find around 70,000 date palms. No less than 200,000 in the entire landscape around the city.
This is the largest date palm plantation in Europe.
The current irrigation system is still the same as the original irrigation channels!
There are some hiking trails in Elche, the Sendero del Palmeral, from 2.5 kilometers to 10 kilometers long, which take you to the most beautiful places of the Palmeral de Elche.
There are several museums (the Museo del Palmeral or Museo Arqueológico y de Historia de Elche) where you can learn even more about the city and its surroundings.
Combine your visit to Elche with a city trip to Alicante. Relax on one of the white sandy beaches, visit the medieval fortress towering over the city or stroll through the Mediterranean old-town with whitewashed houses and cobblestone streets.