Comunitat Valenciana – Alicante Province – among the palms in Elche

Elche (Elx in Valencian) was a much larger town (population 230,000) and had a lot more history than I expected. I only stayed for one night as I had changed my hotel to stay in Alicante for the weekend but I did get a little time for a walk around town. You’ll find my map here.

If I’d had more time I would have visited the Palau dels Altamira (aka El Castillo de Altamira) and just opposite, the Museo Arqueológico y de Historia de Elche (MAHE), to get more of a handle on how the Greeks, the Carthaginians, the Romans and the Moors developed the city. You can also see a replica of the famous 4th century stone sculpture La Dama de Elche. Madrid pinched the original.

The most famous sight is the Palmeral of Elche, a huge palm grove originally planted by the Phonecians but developed by the Moors. With some 200,000 trees of several varieties, it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000. There are a few unusual specimens such as El Tridente (three symmetrical branches), La Palmera de la Font (eight trunks) and La Calmera del Colom (long, bent trunk).

If you have time you can hike the 2.5 kilometre-long Ruta del Palmeral (Palm Grove Route) which starts and ends at the Huerto de San Plácido park, and also visit the nearby Museo del Palmeral (Palm Grove Museum).

Another striking feature is the storm drain ravine that cuts the town in two. The water course has been turned into an outdoor street art gallery which is best viewed from one of the bridges that cross over it.

In terms of food and drink…

El Garaje (Elementary A), 3 Plaça de les Barques ,, closed Monday

This is a great little tapas bar with excellent and very reasonably-priced food. The staff are very friendly too. It’s extremely popular with the locals so get there when it opens or expect to wait. I had a media racion, half portion, of their excellent Nachos Pata Negra (A); corn tortilla chips seasoned with a mixture of cheeses, jalapenos, grilled peppers, guacamole, sour cream, jalapenos, and tinned tuna. Rereading this a year later and remembering how good it was, I’ve decided to recreate it for my supper!

I also had the Pollo Confetti, deep fried breaded chicken, which was okay (B). All the wines I had were pretty decent too. Alternatively you can buy a bucket of ten small beers to share if you’re in a group. They have a sister bar of the same name in Alicante.

La Repostería (Intermediate A), 31 Carrer Jorge Juan, was a nice patisserie near the school I was working at. They also do salads and I had this lovely Ensalada de Rulo Cabra (grilled goat’s cheese) for lunch (A). It cost €7.30 with a bottle of water and a coffee.

Malasaña (Intermediate B+), 29 Carrer Major de la Vila, is a cool hiptster bar playing good tunes.

I stayed at the Hotel Tryp Ciudad de Elche at 7 Avinguda en Joan Carles I,, which is a bit dated but essentially fine (B).

Sorry not to have more! On to Xàtiva next…

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