The Basilica of Santa María, also known as the Campanario de Elche (the bell tower of Elche) is one of the town’s main historic buildings. It is a Roman Catholic church, the fourth to be built in this town. The residents of Elche think of the Basilica of Santa María as the town's main church, so mass here is very beautiful and popular, especially on important religious holidays. Close to the basilica is El Palmeral, Europe’s largest palm grove, with more than 200,000 palm trees.
This church is dedicated to the town's patron saint, the Virgin Mary. The first stone of the basilica was laid and blessed in 1673, marking the start of the building work, which was to go on for years. The design of the church was based on the drawings of the architect Francisco Verde, who supervised the work until his death in 1674. As well as its cultural significance as a place of worship, the basilica is famous for the wonderful views it affords of the town of Elche from the top of the bell tower.
The church's main doorway is attributed to Nicolás de Bussy and is one of best examples of Valencian Baroque. The doorway was completed in 1682 and is made up of three different sections: the first part is flanked by solomonic columns, on top of which is a niche depicting the Assumption of Mary, and finally a depiction of the Holy Trinity.
This basilica is one of Elche’s best preserved treasures, and it really should not be missed. The historic building is located on Plaza de Santa María, on the bank of the River Vinalopó and just a few metres away from the town hall.
If you wish, you can park your vehicle in the Saba public car park that’s very close to the Basilica of Santa María and to El Palmeral, on Porta de la Morera.