AYUNTAMIENTO

Construction of the Torre del Consell or Town Hall Tower, the oldest municipal building in the south of the Valencian Region, and central part of the town hall building, began in 1441, under the supervision of the master builder Mestre Beiam, and was completed three years later. Almost square in shape, it had two parts and formed part of the medieval city wall in such a way that the lower part, la Puerta de Guardamar or Guardamar Gate, served as a passageway between the extramural square, Plaça de Baix (Lower Square), and the Plaça de Dalt (Upper Square), which lay within the vila city walls. To this practical role is added an artistic form in the shape of a grand Gothic arch with three pointed vaults and two access points to the sides, which lead to municipal buildings, which are usually closed. Every day thousands of Elche´s citizens pass beneath this arch.

Adjoined to the Town Hall Tower, on the west side, is the lonja or fish market, constructed of masonry with pointed stonework arches, inside which the activities of the traders of the time took place.

Renaissance Palace

In 1548, Sebastià Alcaràs converted the tower and fish market into a Renaissance Palace, thanks to the elongation of the Council Chamber over the fish market and the raising in height of the tower, which was then crowned with an open gallery with round arches.

In 1645 the final and definitive extension was undertaken, with the construction of the East Wing. Thus, the tower is now located in the very heart of the building. The structure of the fish market was also altered, reducing the height of the ground floor in order to gain a middle floor (the current site of the Town Hall) and converting the old pointed arches into rounded arches. Nowadays it is an exhibition hall.

Calendura and Calendureta

Part of the Town Hall building, although at a distance from the main body, situated at the far north-east point of the Plaça de Baix, is the old Vetla Tower. It forms part of the most ancient part of the city wall and is popularly known as Calendura tower, after a character who is a very dear to the people of Elche. Its most distinctive element is its clock, a shrine with a square base covered by a dome, with another smaller one in its upper part.

It dates from 1572, but in 1759 it became a local icon due to the incorporation of two multicoloured, automated wooden figures, the older one nicknamed Miquel, or Calendura, and the younger one Vicent, or Calendureta. Calendura and Calendureta sound out the hours and quarters by striking bells and thus providing accompaniment to the comings and goings in one of the busiest parts of the town. The clock and the wooden figures are both the originals and have continued working right from the very first day, albeit with a little delay from time to time, which the people of Elche do not take any notice of.