The historical highlight of the palm-fringed city of Elche, just a short hop from Alicante, the Basilica of Saint Mary is best known for hosting the annual Mystery of Elche play, a theatric interpretation of the death of the Virgin Mary and her assumption to heaven. The traditional play, which features around 300 performers and draws huge crowds, has been performed in the basilica since the 13th-century, and it’s the only Catholic church in the world permitted to host such an event. The play, typically held in two acts each August, is also inscribed on the UNESCO Intangible Heritage list.
Built on the site of an ancient mosque, the Basilica of Saint Mary is also notable for its ornate Baroque facade and striking dome, which date back to the 17th century, and the bell tower, which offers panoramic views over the city.
The Basilica of Saint Mary is located on Placa de les Flors in Elche, around 25km southwest of Alicante, and is open daily 7am-9pm.