A Palm Grove in Europe?! Elche was one of the stops during my Alicante road trip. I´ve heard many times about its famous “El Palmeral”, but never really managed to visit it. It´s hard to imagine 200 000 palms in the heart of the Spanish city, right?! Well, in Elche palms have been a part of its 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.
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 views from the Santa Maria Basilica
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 have survived to the present day.
The palms inside the city of Elche form one of the most beautiful parks I´ve ever been to – it even reminds of me an oasis. 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 quite informative.
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
By the way, another 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 which can´ t be found among the most visited places in Spain in any tourist guidebook !
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 rough climb and it might not be for everyone.
Santa Maria BasilicaThe views from the Santa Maria Basilica
And I don´t know whether it´s my thing or palms make any place look more beautiful..