Elche has had two distinct locations in its history. The first at the site of l’ Alcúdia, which is located two kilometres south of the current city. Inhabited from Neolithic times until the Visigoth era, it offered the strategic advantage of being easy to defend thanks to river Vinalopó. The primitive settlement took shape until it came to form the Iberian city of Helike by the Vth century B.C, and remained in existence up to the Carthaginian invasion in 280 B.C. This was the golden age of Iberian culture, during which the Lady of Elche was sculpted. In the year 209 B.C. the Iberian city was occupied by the Romans, and by the I st century B. C. it had acquired the title of Colonia Iulia Illice Augusta. From here onwards destruction and reconstruction were ongoing as a result of barbarian attacks during the final era of the Visigoths.

With the arrival of the Arabs the city was moved to its current site, between the eighth and ninth centuries, to the neighbourhood known as the “Vila Murada” or walled city. The conquest by the Christian King Jaime I, in 1265, forced the Muslims to leave for the Raval de Sant Joan. Early in the 17th century Elche lost a third of its population as a result of the expulsion of the Moors. In the nineteenth century the important activity of “alpargatería” or espadrille-making emerged, and with it the origins of the current footwear industry that has enhanced the growth of the city.

Elche ciudad amurallada