Alicante, Spain

October 19, 2009

The first thing you see in the harbor at Alicante, Spain, is the old Santa Barbara fortress that protected the city.  Alicante is in Valencia province, which is much drier than Catalonia, where Barcelona is located.  They grow a lot of citrus fruit and dates here.  Once again, the architecture, especially the fine wrought iron and tile work, was very nice.

The primary destination of our tour was the town of Elche, which is famous for its palm trees and the statue of ‘la dama de Elche’ (which actually lives at the National Archeological Museum of Spain, in Madrid.  It only visits Elche occasionally).  Our first stop in Elche was the Huerto del Cura Garden, a privately owned botanical garden that was started by a priest.  The garden is dedicated to the preservation of palm trees, and includes a statue of Jaime 1, the conquistador who liberated Elche and who became the protector of the palm trees.  The most interesting palm tree in the garden is the Imperial Palm, a main trunk with 8 secondary trunks, that looks a lot like a candelabra.  This tree was dedicated to the Empress Elizabeth, aka Sissi, (whom you might remember as the one who built the Achillion Palace on Corfu), after she visited the garden.  There are some amazing specimens of cacti and euphorbias (the African equivalent of the western hemisphere cacti).  The garden was very peaceful.  At the end of the tour we got to sample some local wine and dates.

Our next stop was the city park, which once again is primarily populated by palm trees.  It is a nicely maintained park, with a visitor center of an unusual design.  At one end of the park there is a mosaic representation of La Dama de Elche, a statue which is believed to be of Etruscan origin.  The mosaic is done entirely in 1/4” tiles in shades of black, white and gray.  We walked to the far end of the park to see it.  Unfortunately it is showing a bit of disrepair, but it is quite amazing.

The tour we took to Elche is not for everyone, but we enjoyed it a lot.  That said, for us Elche is a one-time only visit.  There is nothing there to draw us back.  However, there were other tours available in Alicante and the surrounding area.

There are a few additional photos in the album.

                                                                            La Dama de Elche Mosaic

© Susan L. Stone 2015