Elche is undoubtedly one of those Spanish cities with the greatest heritage and cultural wealth in the entire Spain. When we think of culture and heritage, one of the best examples thst comes to mind is the symbolic sculpture of 'Lady of Elche', whose origins are not known for sure. However, the municipality is home to much more and today, it has three distinctions that have been awarded by UNESCO. In short, Elche is a must-see destination.
Elche, a UNESCO-registered city
The Palmeral of Elche
This is Europe's largest palm grove. In fact, there are only a few left in the world, most of them being in Arab countries. Specifically, it is composed of approximately 200,000 plantations, most of them belonging to the species 'Phoenix dactylifera', which was brought by the Muslims who founded the city during their occupation.
On November 30th, 2000, the Palmeral of Elche had the honour of being recognised as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Mystery play of Elche
Every year, on the 14th and 15th of August, inside the Basilica of Santa Maria, the "Mystery play of Elche" is represented. This is a religious liturgical drama in which the Dormition, Assumption and Coronation of Virgin Mary are enacted and celebrated. According to research carried out during the last few years, this play was created during the second half of the fifteenth century, although there is no absolute certainty about its exact origin. In fact, local tradition linked it to the conquest of Christians in 1265 and to the discovery of Virgin Mary in 1370.
On May 18th, 2001, UNESCO declared the 'Mystery play of Elche' as one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity, which increased its popularity all over the world.
Centre for Traditional Culture-Pusol School Museum
This is an educational project on the initiative of the city of Elche which aims, on the one hand, to promote education based on the integration of natural and cultural heritage and, on the other hand, to contribute to preserving the heritage of the region through action, awareness and training. At the moment, the project has 770 oral files and 61,000 inventory entries. It has also taught more than 500 school children.
The Centre for Traditional Culture-Pusol School Museum was chosen in 2009 as the project that best represented the objectives set by UNESCI for Good Safeguarding Practices in Cultural Heritage.
In recent years, UNESCO has been able to recognise the value of Elche's cultural heritage, which has been made possible by a strong commitment to conservation by the city's authorities.