Easter Week in Elche

Easter Week in Elche
It celebrates: From 28th March to 31st March
Place: Elche/Elx (Alicante)
Category: Religious
Popularity: (****) 4/5
Ideal for children
Organize: Junta Mayor de Cofradías y Hermandades de Semana Santa de Elche.
Known start date: The representation of the Mystery of the Passion began in the church of San Francisco in the 15th century, and in the 16th century it was moved to the Basilica of Santa María, where it has been carried out ever since.
Figure of protection: Festival of National Tourist Interest (since 1969)
Tags:
National Tourist InterestProcessionsHoly Week
Reading time: 6 minutes

Why Elche's Holy Week will surprise you

What makes Elche's Holy Week unique is its representation of the Mystery of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ, also known as "El Misteri".

"El Misteri" is a dramatic representation of the life cycle of Jesus Christ that takes place in the Basilica of Santa Maria in the city of Elche. The performance is carried out by some 300 actors, who represent the biblical characters live and direct.

During the days of Holy Week, the inhabitants of Elche dress up in traditional costumes and actively participate in the processional parades that take place in the streets of the city. In addition, the inhabitants of Elche make magnificent altars and carpets of flowers in the streets for the Maundy Thursday procession.

In short, Easter Week in Elche is a very special celebration that combines religious tradition with local culture and folklore, making it a unique and worthwhile experience.

Easter Week Processions in Elche

Each procession is led by a religious image representing a scene from the Passion of Christ. Members of the corresponding brotherhood or confraternity carry the image on their shoulders and walk through the streets of the city accompanied by processional music and the sound of drums and bugles.

One of the most emblematic processions of Easter Week in Elche is the Palm Sunday procession, which commemorates the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. During this procession, palms and olive branches are used to decorate the streets, and children often participate carrying palms and bouquets of flowers.

Another important procession is that of Maundy Thursday, which depicts the Last Supper of Jesus with his disciples. During this procession, scenes of Judas' betrayal, the washing of the apostles' feet and the institution of the Eucharist can be seen.

The Good Friday procession is one of the most emotional of the Easter Week in Elche, as it represents the Passion of Christ and his crucifixion. During this procession, you can see different religious images representing Jesus on the cross, the Virgin Mary and other biblical characters.

A unique experience not to be missed.

Origin and history of the Holy Week in Elche

Easter Week in Elche has a long and rich history that goes back several centuries. The tradition of representing the Passion of Christ in the city of Elche originated in the Middle Ages, when a group of Franciscan friars began to represent the Mystery of the Passion in the church of San Francisco.

In the 15th century, the performance was moved to the Basilica of Santa María, where it has been performed ever since. Over time, new scenes and biblical characters were incorporated into the performance, and the tradition became an important and eagerly awaited celebration in the city of Elche.

In the 17th century, the first Easter Brotherhood of Elche was founded, known as the Brotherhood of Nuestro Padre Jesús Nazareno. From that moment on, new brotherhoods and religious brotherhoods were created, which were in charge of organising the processions and parades of Holy Week.

Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, Easter Week in Elche experienced a great boom and became one of the most important religious celebrations in the city. In the 1960s, the representation of the Mystery of the Passion was declared a Festival of National Tourist Interest, which contributed to its popularity and diffusion at national and international level.

Nowadays, Easter Week in Elche continues to be a very important and eagerly awaited celebration by the inhabitants of the city and by the tourists who visit it during these dates. The representation of the Mystery of the Passion continues to be the focal point of the celebration, but there are also processions and other cultural and religious activities.

What places to visit in the city of Elche

The city of Elche has many interesting places to visit, among them:

  • El Palmeral de Elche, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. It is an impressive group of palm trees that extends throughout the city.
  • The Basilica of Santa Maria, which houses the Mystery of the Passion and is an example of Valencian Gothic architecture.
  • The Archaeological and History Museum of Elche, which has an important collection of Iberian art.
  • The Botanical Garden of Elche, which houses a wide variety of Mediterranean and tropical plants.
  • The Castle of Santa Bárbara, situated on a hilltop, offers impressive views of the city.
  • The Town Hall Square, with its imposing building and central fountain, is one of the most emblematic places in the city.
  • The Central Market, where you can find local and seasonal products, as well as taste typical dishes of the gastronomy of Elche.
  • The Municipal Park, an ideal place to stroll and relax surrounded by nature.
  • La Alcudia, an archaeological site that preserves the remains of an Iberian city.
  • The Casa-Museo de la Festa, which tells the history and traditions of the city and of Easter Week in Elche.

In the surroundings of Elche there are also several interesting places to visit, among them:

  • El Hondo Natural Park, a wetland of great ecological importance which is home to a wide variety of water birds.
  • Tabarca Island, a small island off the coast of Santa Pola which preserves an interesting historical and cultural heritage.
  • The city of Alicante, with its impressive Santa Barbara Castle, its historic quarter and its wide range of cultural and gastronomic offerings.
  • The beaches of the Costa Blanca, such as Playa del Postiguet, Playa de San Juan or Playa de la Marina, which offer crystal clear waters and a wide variety of services and activities.
  • The municipality of Crevillente, which has an important vegetable fibre carpet and tapestry industry and offers interesting tourist routes related to this product.
  • The Vinalopó Valley, a region with a great wine-growing tradition and a wide range of wine tourism.
  • The Elche Reservoir, a reservoir located in the municipality of Elche that offers activities such as fishing and bird watching.
  • The Parque Natural de las Salinas de Santa Pola, a coastal wetland of great ecological value which is home to an important colony of pink flamingos.

Crafts and recommended shopping

Elche has a rich craft tradition, in which two products stand out: white palms and esparto grass carpets.

  • White palms are traditionally used during Easter Week in Elche to make the bouquets and decorate the processions. They can be bought in craft shops in the city, especially in the Raval area.
  • Esparto grass carpets are another typical product of Elche. They are handmade and are used as a decorative element in houses and in Easter Week processions. They can be found in craft shops and in the Central Market of Elche.
  • Elche also has a wide range of shops in its historic centre, where you can find shops selling fashion, jewellery, accessories, souvenirs and typical gastronomic products from the area, such as turrón (nougat) and dates.
  • Another recommended place for shopping is the L'Aljub Shopping Centre, located on the outskirts of the city, where you can find shops selling national and international brands and a wide range of leisure and restaurant options.

Popular gastronomy in Elche

Elche's gastronomy is very varied and is influenced by its geographical location on the Mediterranean coast and its agricultural tradition.

  • One of its most popular dishes is arroz con costra, a variety of baked rice with a crispy layer on top, which is made with ingredients such as meat, sausages and vegetables.
  • Another typical local dish is caldero, a seafood stew made with rice, fish, potatoes and spices.
  • During Easter Week in Elche, typical sweets such as aniseed rolls, Easter cakes and cocas de llanda, a kind of sponge cake typical of the area, are popular.
  • The Elche area is also famous for its production of pomegranates, dates and grapes, which are used in the preparation of various dishes and desserts.

As far as drinks are concerned, the Mistela, a sweet liqueur made from the muscatel grape, and the wines of the Alicante Designation of Origin, which have a wide variety of varieties and flavours, stand out.

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