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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

—  Municipality  —
Altamira Castle in Elche


Coat of arms
Elche is located in Spain
Location in Spain
Coordinates: 38°16′1″N 0°41′54″W / 38.26694°N 0.69833°W / 38.26694; -0.69833Coordinates: 38°16′1″N 0°41′54″W / 38.26694°N 0.69833°W / 38.26694; -0.69833
Country  Spain
Autonomous community  Valencian Community
Province Alicante
Comarca Baix Vinalopó
Judicial district Elche
Founded Iberos; 5th century BC
 - Alcalde Alejandro Soler Mur (2007) (PSPV-PSOE)
 - Total 326.07 km2 (125.9 sq mi)
Elevation 86 m (282 ft)
Population (2008)
 - Total 228,348
 - Density 700.3/km2 (1,813.8/sq mi)
 - Demonym Il·licità, il·licitana
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 - Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 032xx
Dialing code 966 - 965
Official language(s) Valencian
Website Official website

Elx (in Valencian) or Elche (in Spanish)[1] is a city located in the comarca of Baix Vinalopó, in the Alicante province which, in turn, is a part of the Valencian Community, Spain. According to the 2008 census, Elche has a population of some 228,300 inhabitants[2] (called il·licitans in Valencian and ilicitanos in Spanish), ranking as the third most populated city in the Valencian Community (after Valencia and Alicante) and the 20th largest Spanish city.

Part of the municipality is coastal but the main city is some 15 km (9.5 miles) from the Mediterranean Sea. A small creek called Vinalopó flows through the city splitting it in two parts.



The economy of Elche is based, in large part, on the footwear industry, with over 1,000 shoe factories, being one of the most important footwear industries in Spain and the rest of Europe. There are other economic activities in Elche: agriculture (dates, olives, cereals and pomegranates), although it has lost importance in recent years; rubber industry; trade, which employs 20% of the workforce; and tourism.

Elche has a conference centre (called Ciutat d'Elx), an international airport (Aeropuerto de Alicante) a public University, Universidad Miguel Hernández, and a private University, Universidad CEU Cardenal Herrera.


La Alcudia is 10 km from the current city's location and the immediate predecessor of current day Elche. This original location was settled by the Iberians and then occupied by Carthaginians and Romans. The latter called the city Ilici and granted it the status of colonia; after a brief Byzantine rule, the Goths took over, establishing an episcopal see.

Elche lost importance during the period of Moorish occupation, when it was moved slightly north to its present location. James II of Aragon took the city from the Moors in the 13th century, during the Reconquista. The city grew throughout the 18th century and became more important during the 19th century with the arrival of the railway and a booming industrial development of what used to be the traditional footwear industry.

Many archeological remains have been found in Elche, with the stone bust of the Lady of Elche (Dama de Elche/Dama d'Elx in Spanish and Valencian, respectively) being the most important. This may date from the Iberian period (4th century BC). The original is in the National Archaeological Museum of Spain.

Main sights

Basilica of Santa María de Elche.
Frontal view of the Lady of Elche.
Barrio del Raval de San Juan.
  • Elche Palm Grove (better known as Palmeral de Elche in Spanish, or as Palmerar d'Elx in Valencian). It is an orchard of over 200,000 palm trees that was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2000.
  • Altamira Castle, also known as Alcázar de la Señoría, located next to the Municipal Park (which, in turn, is a part of the Elche Palm Grove) It was originally built in Almohad times (12th-13th centuries), and was later renovated with brick exterior in the 15th century. A former fortress, in 1913 it became a fabric plant, it has also been used as the town hall and as a prison during the Spanish Civil War, while today is home to the Elche Archaeology and History Museum (Museo Arqueológico y de Historia de Elche).
  • Baños Arabes (Arabic Baths), which re-uses old Roman baths.
  • Basilica of Santa Maria
  • Calahorra tower, of rectangular plan and Rabic origin, it represent the last relic of the old city walls.
  • Municipio
  • Convento de la Merced.
  • Huerto del Cura
  • Elche Palaeontological Museum (Museo paleontológico)
  • Elche Municipal Festa Museum (Museo de la Festa)
  • Palm Groves Museum (Museo del Palmeral)

The Mystery Play of Elx (better known as Misteri d'Elx, in Valencian) is a sacral-lyrical medieval drama, dated from the 15th century, which was declared a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2002. It is played every year in mid August, in the context of the local holidays dedicated to the Assumption of Virgin Mary. Also as a part of this celebration, on the 13th of August is the date of a celebration in Elche called Nit de l'Albà (Night of the Dawn) in which a city-wide night-long show of fireworks takes place.

Twin towns


  1. ^ Both names are official.
  2. ^ Elche supera ya los 228.300 habitantes,, December 31, 2008, Editorial Prensa Ibérica

See also

External links

Panoramic view of Elche from the Basílica de Santa María: the Altamira Castle is to the left, next to the Municipal Park.

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

ELCHE, a town of eastern Spain, in the province of Alicante, on the river Vinalapo. Pop. (1900) 27,308. Elche is the meetingplace of three railways, from Novelda, Alicante and Murcia. It contains no building of high architectural merit, except, perhaps, the collegiate church of Santa Maria, with its lofty blue-tiled dome and fine west doorway. But the costume and physiognomy of the inhabitants, the narrow streets and flatroofed, whitewashed houses, and more than all, the thousands of palm-trees in its gardens and fields, give the place a strikingly Oriental aspect, and render it unique among the cities of Spain. The cultivation of the palm is indeed the principal occupation; and though the dates are inferior to those of the Barbary States, upwards of 2 2, 500 tons are annually exported. The blanched fronds are also sold in large quantities for the processions of Palm Sunday, and after they have received the blessing of the priest they are regarded throughout Spain as certain defences against lightning. Other thriving local industries include the manufacture of oil, soap, flour, leather, alcohol and esparto grass rugs. The harbour of Elche is Santa Pola (pop. 4100), situated 6 m.E.S.E.,where the Vinalapo enters the Mediterranean,. after forming the wide lagoon known as the Albufera de Elche.

Elche is usually identified with the Iberian Helike, afterwards the Roman colony of Ilici or Illici. From the 8th century to the 13th it was held by the Moors, who finally failed to recapture it from the Spaniards in 1332.

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary




  1. Plural form of Elch.

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