Located 21 kilometers southwest of Alicante, Elche is a medium-size city of approximately 230,000 inhabitants. The city's history dates back to ancient times, having been inhabited over the years by Iberian tribes, Carthaginians and Romans, after which the Goths, Moors and finally Christians called it home. Due to this rich history, many archaeological artifacts have been found throughout the area, most notably the bust of the Lady of Elche, the original of which is housed in the National Museum of Archaeology in Madrid.
Elche's biggest draw, however, is its enormous grove of palm trees. Covering over 3.5 square miles and consisting of thousands upon thousands of palm trees, some dating back over 300 years, the Palmeral de Elche is Europe's largest palm grove and one of the largest in the world. In 2000, UNESCO declared the Palmeral de Elche a World Heritage Site, yet another token of its historical, cultural and natural worth.
Palms were most likely first planted on the site during the 5th century BC by the Carthaginians, after which they survived under the Romans and Moors. In fact, the Moors are credited with the grove's formal landscape as well as with the effective irrigation system that remains in use today.
A visit to the Palmeral de Elche is a wonderful way to enjoy the excellent Mediterranean weather while discovering one of Spain's unique treasures. Sign up at the school reception and come along on this fun day trip!