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Elche

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Elche (/ˈɛl/, Spanish: [ˈeltʃe]), or Elx (Valencian: [ˈɛʎtʃ]),[1] is a town located in the comarca of Baix Vinalopó, Spain. According to the 2014 census, Elche has a population of some 228,647 inhabitants[2] (called il·licitans in Valencian and ilicitanos in Spanish), ranking as the third most populated city in the Valencian Community (after Valencia and Alicante) and the 20th largest Spanish city.

Elche

Elche / Elx
Altamira Castle and panoramic view of Elche
Altamira Castle and panoramic view of Elche
Flag of Elche
Flag
Coat of arms of Elche
Coat of arms
Elche is located in Spain
Elche
Elche
Location in Spain
Coordinates: 38°16′1″N 0°41′54″W / 38.26694°N 0.69833°W / 38.26694; -0.69833Coordinates: 38°16′1″N 0°41′54″W / 38.26694°N 0.69833°W / 38.26694; -0.69833
Country Spain
Autonomous community Valencian Community
ProvinceAlicante
ComarcaBajo Vinalopó
Judicial districtElche
FoundedIberos; 5th century BC
Government
 • AlcaldeCarlos Gonzalez (2015) (PSOE)
Area
 • Total326.10 km2 (125.91 sq mi)
Elevation
86 m (282 ft)
Population
(2014)
 • Total228,647
 • Density700/km2 (1,800/sq mi)
Demonym(s)Ilicitano, ilicitana
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)
Postal code
03200-03299
Dialing code966 - 965
Official language(s)Spanish and Valencian
WebsiteOfficial Website
Official tourism Website

Part of the municipality is coastal but the main city is some 11 km (6.8 mi) from the Mediterranean Sea. A small creek called Vinalopó flows through the city splitting it in two parts.

Elche is so close to the city of Alicante, that both cities form a de facto conurbation of some 800,000 inhabitants that can very well double during the summer peak-season.

Contents

HistoryEdit

La Alcudia is 10 km from the current city's location and the immediate predecessor of current day Elche. This original location was settled by the Greeks and then occupied by Carthaginians and Romans. Greeks Ionian colonists from the Achaean city Helike established their new colony, naming it Helíkē (Greek: Ἑλίκη) around 600 BC. It was a point of resistance against Carthaginian advance in Spain between the First and Second Punic Wars.[3] The Romans called the city Ilici or Illice and granted it the status of colonia; after a brief Byzantine rule, the Goths took over, establishing an episcopal see.

 
Frontal view of the Lady of Elche.

Elche lost importance during the period of Moorish occupation, when it was moved slightly north to its present location. James II of Aragon took the city from the Moors in the 13th century, during the Reconquista. The city grew throughout the 18th century and became more important during the 19th century with the arrival of the railway and a booming industrial development of what used to be the traditional footwear industry.

Many archaeological remains have been found in Elche, with the stone bust of the Lady of Elche (Dama de Elche/Dama d'Elx in Spanish and Valencian (or Catalan), respectively) being the most important. This may date from the Iberian period (4th century BC). The original is in the National Archaeological Museum of Spain.

EconomyEdit

The economy of Elche is based, in large part, on the footwear industry, with over 1,000 shoe factories, being one of the most important footwear centres in Spain and the rest of Europe with brands like Pura Lopez or Panama Jack. There are other economic activities in Elche: agriculture (dates, olives, cereals and pomegranates), although it has lost importance in recent years; rubber industry; trade, which employs 20% of the workforce; and tourism.

Elche has a conference centre (called Ciutat d'Elx), an international airport (Aeropuerto de Alicante) a public University, Universidad Miguel Hernández, and a private University, Universidad CEU Cardenal Herrera.

ClimateEdit

Elche has a hot subtropical semi-arid climate (Köppen climate classification BSh).

Climate data for Elche
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 17
(63)
18
(64)
20
(68)
22
(72)
25
(77)
30
(86)
33
(91)
33
(91)
29
(84)
25
(77)
22
(72)
18
(64)
24
(76)
Average low °C (°F) 7
(45)
8
(46)
10
(50)
12
(54)
15
(59)
18
(64)
22
(72)
22
(72)
19
(66)
16
(61)
11
(52)
8
(46)
14
(57)
Average rainfall mm (inches) 20
(0.8)
19
(0.7)
22
(0.9)
26
(1)
24
(0.9)
5
(0.2)
1
(0)
1
(0)
14
(0.6)
22
(0.9)
28
(1.1)
20
(0.8)
202
(7.9)
Average rainy days (≥ 1.0 mm) 4 3 4 4 3 1 0 1 2 3 4 3 32
Source: Meteoblue[4]

Main sightsEdit

 
Basilica of Santa María de Elche.
 
Palmeral of Elche (The Palm Grove of Elche)
 
Old part of the city, Barrio del Raval.

The Mystery Play of Elx (better known as Misteri d'Elx, in Valencian (or Catalan)) is a sacral-lyrical medieval drama, dated from the 15th century, which was declared a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2002. It is played every year in mid August, in the context of the local holidays dedicated to the Assumption of Virgin Mary. Also as a part of this celebration, on the 13th of August is the date of a celebration in Elche called Nit de l'Albà (Night of the Dawn) in which a citywide night-long show of fireworks takes place.

Notable peopleEdit

Twin townsEdit

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Both names are official Elx/Elche.
  2. ^ Elche supera ya los 228.300 habitantes, INFORMACION.es, December 31, 2008, Editorial Prensa Ibérica
  3. ^ "Roman Policy in Spain", Harvard Studies in Classical Philology, p. 209.
  4. ^ "Climate Elche".

External linksEdit

 
Panoramic view of Elche from the Basílica de Santa María: the Altamira Castle is to the left, next to the Municipal Park.