Elche Palm Groves
Elche palm groves are one of the defining features of this lovely green city and can be reached in less than 20 minutes from Santa Pola. Visiting the groves is well worth the short drive where you will find much to discover among the pleasant nature trails. The layout of Elche palm groves and gardens makes it possible to visit many of the city's historical attractions without too much of a walk. These include charming squares and plazas, several museums, the Arab Baths and the Basilica de Santa María. You are also never far from cafes, bars and restaurants. With beautiful surrounding gardens, many visitors like to bring along a picnic to enjoy in the welcoming shade.
Elche Palm Groves History
It's not certain when the first date palms were planted. It could have been as far back as the 5th century BC by Carthaginians. The first intricate forms of irrigation and water management were introduced when the Romans settled in the area, and further developed under Arab rule. Since then they have been well cared for and were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000.
Among the many impressive palms, some of which have been given quirky names, is the famous Imperial Palm. It is believed to be around 165 years old and was named for and dedicated to Empress Elisabeth of Austria who visited the groves in 1894. Close to this grand palm tree is the Palm Grove Museum. Here you can learn about the history of the groves and browse the displays.
Elche Palm Grove Gardens
Over the years various beautiful parks and gardens have been cultivated to compliment the Elche palm groves. These spread throughout the city and feature many lovely nature trails to explore. Among the trails are some exquisite examples flowers, plants and trees as well as spectacular cactus gardens. Adding to the attractions are lakes, waterfalls, ponds, fountains, monuments, picnic areas and children's playgrounds. Running from the huge Municipal Park to Parc del Filet de Fora is the Vinalopó River. This has further nature trails and various playing fields. Lying between the two parks is the stunning Huerto del Cura Botanical Gardens. All of these attractions can be explored on foot, or visitors can hire a bike from the Tourist Information Bureau.