The route we'll describe below is quite nice and easy, perfect for a family day out by the capital of the Bajo Vinalopó region:
Summarising everything that
Elche/Elx offers to visitors in just a few words is an impossible task. However, there are a couple of things that one really shouldn't miss when coming to this town:
Elche/Elx's Palmeral (a unique palm grove) and The Mystery play of
Elche/Elx. They have been declared as a World Heritage site and a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity respectively. These local identity symbols are the main tourist attractions in this traditionally industrial town.
The place where we'll begin the route is also a good starting point to visit the Palmeral, the Altamira Palace, the Archaeology and History Museum of
Elche/Elx (MAHE), the Santa María Basilica and the Central Market. You can find more information at
However, we'd like to point out another excellent infrastructure which, despite not being very well known by visitors, is held in high esteem and used very often by locals. We're speaking about the enhancement and remodeling of the Vinalopó's riverbed as it goes through
Elche/Elx, which is used by locals to do sports or even just to go for a walk and also proves the value of the bridges that join both sides of
Elche/Elx together and tell the history of the town's urban development.
We'll start our route by the tourist information office, next to the Archaeology and History Museum of
Elche/Elx (MAHE). After a few metres, we'll see the Altamira Palace, where we'll definitely want to stop to take a few pictures. We'll cross a road called Diagonal del Palacio in order to join the bike lane and, just before getting to the Altamira bridge, we'll turn left onto a downhill gravel slope to get to a road that runs along the riverbank. We'll go north following the Vinalopó River upstream. We'll pass under the Altamira bridge and, just before we arrive at the
Puente del Ferrocarril (Railway bridge), we'll see the Molí del Real amongst some palm trees on our right-hand side. This 18th century gristmill (probably of Arabic origin) has become one the most representative elements of the Municipal Park and the town, with its sets of buttresses and semicircular arches standing on the river bank. This building, reformed in the 80s, is currently where the Fine Arts Association of
Elche/Elx is located.
After having covered barely more than 1.5 kilometres, we'll reach the highest point in the whole route and we'll start the descent on the eastern side of the river. At this point, we'll see that the road almost forces us to cross over to the other side of the river, since it starts getting narrower and the pavement is not in the best of conditions, making it more suitable for experienced mountain bikers. We'll also have the chance to enjoy a beautiful and impressive view of the
Puente del Bimilenario (Bridge of the Bimillennial), a symbol of the town's modernity.
On the way down, we'll pass under the Railway and the Altamira bridges again, while admiring the stunning views of the Palmeral. We'll keep descending and we'll go under the
Pasarela del Mercado (Market footbridge) and the
Puente de Canalejas (Canalejas bridge), and we'll continue until we get to the impressive
Puente de Santa Teresa (St. Theresa's bridge). This bridge, also known as
Puente Viejo (the old bridge) or
Puente de la Virgen (Virgin Mary's bridge) is the oldest one in town. In 1703,
Elche/Elx's town council announced the construction of a new one-arched, more resistant stone bridge that had been projected many years earlier, in 1673; however, the actual works didn't begin until 1705, when they managed to gather the necessary funds. They had to stop again until 1715 due to the War of the Spanish Succession. But in 1751, when the bridge was almost finished, a terrible flood destroyed the whole structure, mainly due to the fact that the only arch in the bridge was not big enough to let all the water go through and it ended up going over it.
We'll continue our route and, once we go past the
Pasarela del Pintor Albarranch (Albarranch bridge), we'll arrive at the last bridge of the day: the
Puente de La Generalitat, with a modern design that contrasts with the
Tercer Canal de Riegos de Levante aqueduct, which is literally next to it. Just about 500 metres later, we'll find a pedestrian walkway: this is the lowest point in the whole route and also where we'll turn to start our way back.
While we return to the starting point, we'll have the chance to take a look at the Vinalopó's riverbed. Apart from being the town's "green lung", thanks to the channeling of the river and the reforestation work carried out on the river banks between the 70s and 80s, it has also become an iconic image for the town due to the colourful murals at the bottom, created during the implementation of the Víbora project. As we admire these interesting and symbolic murals, we'll reach our destination with hardly any effort. Without a doubt,
Elche/Elx features a perfect combination of history, tradition and modernity. The town is definitely worth visiting, and while we're there, we recommend trying some of its traditional dishes in one of the bars and restaurants we'll find in the old quarter, next to the point where our route begins and ends.
Villajoyosa/Vila Joiosa (La)
Alicante / Alacant
Alfàs del Pi (L')
What to see
As we've already mentioned, Elche/Elx offers a wide and diverse range of attractions for tourists, so we recommend checking out the town's website (http://www.visitelche.com/) in order to decide what we want to visit first.
What to eat
Elche/Elx's traditional cuisine has an excellent reputation. The best-known dish is the arroz con costra (baked rice with an egg layer on top), but there is more to the local cuisine than just that. If we have a chance, we shouldn't leave Elche/Elx without trying the arroz con conejo y caracoles (rice with rabbit and snails) and the traditional puchero con pelotas (meatball stew). The mújol del Hondo con all i oli (mullet with allioli) and the seafood from the area are very highly regarded, too.
Popular desserts include the different kinds of fruit that are grown locally (dates, figs, pomegranates…), the Tortada de Elche/Elx (almond and meringue cake) and the Pan de higo (fig cake).
The town also produces some spirits locally: a traditional liquor called cantueso, distilled from the flower of the same name, the anís de paloma (aniseed liquor, known popularly as "Nugolet") and date liquor.
Did you know?
Elche/Elx is the only place in the world that still produces what's known as "palma blanca" or "white palm". The Town Council sends some white palms every year to church and political authorities, such as the King and Queen of Spain, the Pope or the President of the Government.
Artists from different countries in Europe, Asia and America gathered in Elche/Elx in 1993, at the request of local painters, and created what was then certified as the biggest mural in the world: the Víbora project, which was carried out all along the part of the riverbed that goes through to the town. This project was repeated again a few years later, in 2014.
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