Elche, Costa Blanca, Spain
Elche, or Elx in Valencian, is known for its palm trees, the largest palm grove in Europe with 200,000 palm trees. The Phoenicians created the palm grove in Elche during the 6th century BC, because of its warm climate and their ingenious irrigation system. The Palmeral palm tree forest has now been named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. These palms are found on every street corner and can be enjoyed in many places, including the city park and just a short walk away in the Huerto del Cura (Priest's Garden).
With a population 192,794 Elche is the second largest city in Alicante Province. Elche has its own university and is capital of Bajo Segura area which includes Santa Pola and San Fulgencio.
On August 14 and 15 for the past 6 centuries, the Misteri d'Elx (Mystery of Elche) has celebrated the Assumption of the Virgin. It is reputedly the oldest dramatic liturgy in Europe. The play takes place at the Church of Santa María, which dates from the 17th century. The Misterihas recently been declared a World Heritage Event (vocal and nonphysical) by UNESCO.
When King James I conquered the city, the victorious Christians occupied the Vila Murada or walled city and the Moors moved to the Ravel area, where a contemporary art gallery is now situated. In the historical, old section of the city sights include the Altamira Palace (The Municipal Archaeological Museum is inside the Altamira Palace), the Basilica of Santa Maria, the Moorish fortress and the Moorish Baths.The River Vinalopo runs through Elche and most of the sights can be found along the river
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