Palmeral of Elche

UNESCO World Heritage

Palm Grove Museum (2000) by Palmeral of ElcheUNESCO World Heritage

A Mediterranean oasis

The Palmeral of Elche, a landscape of groves of date palms, was formally laid out, with elaborate irrigation systems, at the time the Muslim city of Elche was erected, towards the end of the tenth century A.C., when much of the Iberian peninsula was Arab. The Palmeral is an oasis, a system for agrarian production in arid areas. It is also a unique example of Arab agricultural practices on the European continent. Cultivation of date palms in Elche is known at least since the Iberian times, dating around the fifth century B.C.

Palmeral of Elche (2000) by Palmeral of ElcheUNESCO World Heritage

The site was inscribed in 2000 under two criteria: Criterion (ii): The Palmeral (palm groves) of Elche represent a remarkable example of the transference of a characteristic landscape from one culture and continent to another, in this case from North Africa to Europe. Criterion (v): The palm grove or garden is a typical feature of the North African landscape which was brought to Europe during the Islamic occupation of much of the Iberian peninsula and has survived to the present day. The ancient irrigation system, which is still functioning, is of special interest.

UNESCO Recognition (2000) by Palmeral of ElcheUNESCO World Heritage

With almost 988,42 acres of green spaces, more than 20m2 per inhabitant, Elche is one of the foremost Spanish cities in area of space devoted to parks and gardens.

Palmeral of Elche, World Heritage (2000) by Palmeral of ElcheUNESCO World Heritage

Molino del Real (2000) by Palmeral of ElcheUNESCO World Heritage

The XVIII century Molino del Real Mill was powered by the waters of the Main Irrigation Channel which crosses the park.

Priest's Garden (2000) by Palmeral of ElcheUNESCO World Heritage

The palm trees, the true protagonists of the garden, lend it its distinctive aspect.

Municipal Park (2000) by Palmeral of ElcheUNESCO World Heritage

Parks and gardens

The groves of palm trees are the most characteristic element of urban landscape of Elche. They wrap themselves round the city, like a huge green blanket, which is two kilometres long and one kilometre wide.

Priest's Garden (2000) by Palmeral of ElcheUNESCO World Heritage

So numerous are the palm trees (around 200,000) that, observed from distance, they give the appearance of a veritable forest.

Palmeral of Elche (2000) by Palmeral of ElcheUNESCO World Heritage

However, the Palm Grove is not a natural forest, but a cultured landscape, as planned in its layout as any Renaissance garden. It was created with agricultural production as its aim, which may not be understood without taking into account the complex irrigation system that gives it shape.

Municipal Park (2000) by Palmeral of ElcheUNESCO World Heritage

The Municipal Park contains several features of architectural interest, such as the 1980s bandstand and its adjacent dovecote.

Palmeral of Elche (2000) by Palmeral of ElcheUNESCO World Heritage

The site combines agricultural purpose (white palm trees and dates), importance as a landscape and cultural symbolism with its role as an integral part of the urban fabric.

Palm trees (2000) by Palmeral of ElcheUNESCO World Heritage

With over two hundred thousand palm trees it constitutes the largest palm grove in Europe.

Palm Grove Museum (2000) by Palmeral of ElcheUNESCO World Heritage

Palm Grove Museum and Interpretation Centre

A traditional 19th century house was chosen as the ideal setting for this museum and educational facility. The house has two wings connected by a covered wooden bridge and is located in the heart of the city at the grove known as Huerto de San Plácido, quite close to Huerto del Cura and on the Palm Grove Walk.

Palm trees (2000) by Palmeral of ElcheUNESCO World Heritage

Not surprisingly it is surrounded by palm trees and their history, uses and evolution are divulged in the various exhibition rooms inside by way of videos, panels, displays, tactile screens and ambience sound.

Palm Grove Museum (2000) by Palmeral of ElcheUNESCO World Heritage

The Palm Grove Museum may be complemented by a stroll in the garden, where the work of a palm tree specialist may be seen as well as demonstrations of the plaiting of White Palms.

Elche Countryside (2000) by Palmeral of ElcheUNESCO World Heritage

Thirty villages, or rural districts, make up a varied mosaic, with common features but also differences which give each its own particular identity.

Elche Countryside (2000) by Palmeral of ElcheUNESCO World Heritage

The Camp d’Elx (the Elche Countryside) takes up the lion’s share of the extensive municipal district. The city itself represents less than four per cent of its 80.556,4 acres area.

Palm Sunday (2000) by Palmeral of ElcheUNESCO World Heritage

The first existing document concerning Palm Sunday dates from 1371 and is preserved at Elche’s Municipal Archives. Elche is the only place in the world where the tradition of crafting white palm fronds lives on. This town has been exporting palm frond creations to other countries for centuries. Palm branches are used, which, after being treated, are plaited into beautiful, creative forms and figures. The Palm Sunday Procession was declared of International Tourist Interest on July 22, 1997.

Credits: Story

This exhibit was created by Visit Elche
www.visitelche.com/en/

More on the Palmeral of Elche and World Heritage:
whc.unesco.org/en/list/930

Photos: Visit Elche

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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