A Palm Grove in Europe?! – Yes, you´ve heard it right. Located in the city of Elche, “El Palmeral” has been on my Spanish travel bucket list ever since I moved to Castellon. It´s hard to imagine 200 000 palms in the heart of Europe, right?! Let me walk you through the exotic palm forest, which has been a part of Elche´s unique urban landscape for over a thousand years…
The Palm Grove of Elche
With more than 200,000 trees, the Palm Grove of Elche is the largest in Europe and was declared UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000. As seen from a distance it may appear to be a palm forest, while it is actually a plantation with agriculture purposes. Each of the groves is flanked by rows of palm trees in such a way that when viewed from the air, they form a grid pattern.
The origins of the Palm Grove date back to the X century when the Arabs relocated the city to its current site. The Moorish cultivation methods employed in Elche centuries ago have survived to the present day.
The views from the Santa Maria Basilica
The palms inside the city of Elche form one of the most beautiful parks I´ve ever been to. It even reminds me of an oasis or one of Spain´s magical forests. While it was extremely hot outside – strolling down the park´s alleys was quite pleasant. Honestly, I´ve never realized palms would have this refreshing effect on me… Moreover, the park had some rare palm species, so a simple walk also ended up being a cultural visit as well.
The Trident/ The composition of these 3 symmetric branches is very rare in a plant world
The Fountain Palm Tree / 4m in diameter, 7m tallMuseo del Parque Municipal
The Lady of Elche
Another famous symbol of the city is The Lady of Elche, one of the most famous sculptures in the world. Currently, it is kept in the National Archaeological Museum in Madrid. However, recently, due to the inauguration of the Archaeological and History Museum of Elche, the bust was back in its hometown for almost 6 months, where the Lady of Elche was valued at 15 million euros, for the insurance purposes. The largest palm grove in Europe and one of the world´s most famous sculptures… not bad for a city that can´ t be found in most of the international tourist guidebooks!
If visiting Elche one day I´d suggest you head to the top of Santa Maria Basilica: the views are simply stunning. However, it´s a lot of stairs, so might not be a match for everyone.
Santa Maria BasilicaThe views from the Santa Maria Basilica