The town of Elche has a palm grove that is the largest in Europe. The town of Elche was founded by the Moors, who planted the first palm groves as a plantation, with the aid of irrigation, because of the scarcity of water. This irrigation system is still in use. In the 18th century, the palm grove reached its maximum splendor, with more than 200,000 palm trees. The UNESCO named it a World Heritage Site in 2000. Today the palm grove is under the threat of the red palm weevil.
1. El Huerto del Cura
It was the priest Jose Castaño Sanchez who built the gardens at the end of the 19th century. The gardens are named National Artistic Gardens. There are palm trees, bamboo, cactus, and flowers in the gardens. At several places there are replicas of La Dama de Elche. The gardens have the custom of naming one of the trees after a famous visitor. One famous visitor in 1894 was the Empress Sissy of Austria. They named one palm tree after her and this tree is the most famous now in the garden because from the main trunk, there have grown eight new trunks. The gardens are an enjoyable place to visit.
2. Santa María Basilica
This church is found in Elche and was built on the site of the old mosque. When Jaime I conquered the town, he consecrated the mosque to the Christian faith, and dedicated it to Saint Mary. Later it was remodeled in the Gothic-Renaissance style. Still later it was remodeled into a Baroque church in the 17th century. The facade is Baroque and is quite impressive with its decoration. There is the San Agatangelo Door that was named that way because on the top there is an image of this saint, done by the sculptor Bussi. There is a Communion Chapel in the Neoclassic style. Every year, this church holds the Mystery of Elche, a fiesta of International Tourist Interest.
3. Altamira Palace
Elche uses the Altamira Palace as the Municipal Archaeological Museum. The palace was built by the Moors in the 12th century. The palace was used to house the Catholic Kings and other important persons in history after the Christian conquest. There is a replica of the Dama de Elche, one of the most important finds in Spain, and whose original now is in the National Archaeological Museum in Madrid.