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The Palm Grove of Elche, an example of sustainability
6 mins ago
The IT Guy
South of Europe, 18 ºC average annual temperature, 300 days of sunshine per year, a Mediterranean oasis in Spain. Elche is a millennial city, the only one in Spain with three sites listed in the different categories of UNESCO’s World Heritage lists. Its beaches, natural spaces, culture, gastronomy and a wide range of leisure activities make it a unique destination in the Mediterranean.
South of Europe, 18 ºC average annual temperature, 300 days of sunshine per year, a Mediterranean oasis in Spain.
Elche is a millennial city, the only one in Spain with three sites listed in the different categories of UNESCO’s World Heritage lists. Its beaches, natural spaces, culture, gastronomy and a wide range of leisure activities make it a unique destination in the Mediterranean.
Elche was first awarded in 2000 when the historical Palm grove of Elche was declared a World Heritage.
An agricultural system of arab origin based on the logic of the oasis.
This unique landscape dates from the end of the tenth century A.C., at the time the Muslim city of Elche was erected. The ancient irrigation system, which is still functioning, is of special interest: a system for agrarian production in arid areas, highlighting the importance to manage the irrigation as a limited resource by using low flows. The irrigation channels are open air channels carrying water by gravity. It is also a unique example of Arab agricultural practices in the European continent and has survived to the present day. It is 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.
There are several routes that visitors can enjoy immersing themselves in such a beautiful scenario. Palm trees can be found not only in the rural areas, but also in the city all over the historic centre.
- Palm grove walk: The route starts and finishes at a traditional 19th Century house with two wings joined by a wooden bridge. It hosts the Palm Grove Museum, that reveals the origins, history, development and culture of the palm grove.
- PR-CV 439 Palm way: This pathway has as main element the date palm tree. A 10km circular route to be enjoyed walking, running or by bike.
- The outstanding palm tree route: consisting of the most peculiar specimens, that due to their outstanding beauty, shape and morphology deserve a special mention. The absolute queen of the Elche Palm Grove and the only one of its kind is
The Imperial Palm Tree
. This specimen owes its name to the Empress Elisabeth of Austria, the popular Sissi, who was entranced when she admired it in 1894. This spectacular tree consists of a male date palm with seven branches that have grown symmetrically from the same trunk.
Elche is an example of sustainability. During the last two centuries, palm trees were an essential raw material for the locals: trunks were used as pillars in building or to manufacture benches and tables. Palms were used to make baskets and hats. This craftwork is still alive at present and the products can be found at small shops and directly from the local producers, being a source of income for the rural community.
The palm worker trade has remained unchanged over the years. A trade that implies abilities, skills and traditional knowledge both to collect the dates and to prune the palms. The workers still climb up the tree with a rope and wearing either espadrilles or barefoot.
Special mention must be made of the white palm, produced by preserving palms from sun light with a cone-shaped black cover. Elche is the main manufacturer and seller for the
all over the world, selling more than 200.000 units nationally and internationally. Following the tradition, craftsmen families create real master pieces passing down the techniques from generation to generation. The council sends beautiful palms every year to different political and church authorities like the Royal Family or the Pope in Rome.
There is nothing like tasting good dates under a palm tree while having a nice chat with the locals!