If looking at old photos of a city is your thing, then head to Elche as soon as you can. Running until 11 December, Refugi de la Memoria is a fascinating collection of 300 photos showing how Elche has changed since the start of the Spanish Civil War. The exhibition space is rather small though, so it can feel a little cramped, and despite some information in English as you go in, everything else is either in Spanish or Valenciano, with the latter the more dominant language. Don’t let this put you off. You really don’t need to understand the few words to enjoy the photos.
Amongst the photos are scenes from around Elche in the early 1930s. They don’t seem to flow in a particularly chronological order which is a shame, but progress through the years is obvious as the pictures turn to colour. There are also special stamps issued in the city during the Civil War as well as examples of paper money which replaced metal coins during those times.
An old map of the city is displayed with the locations of Elche’s air raid shelters clearly marked. Of particular interest is shelter number 4 as it is located just up the road from the exhibition on Passeig de Germanies. Why is this of particular interest? Well, plans are afoot to develop this shelter with a visitor centre and full restoration of the underground tunnels. When (if?) this happens you can be sure that Anything But Paella will be going to have a look!!
From the location of the exhibition it’s quite an easy walk up into the old town for a coffee or some lunch. There are too many options for me to even try to mention in this blog! Why not walk along the River Vinalopó where you can admire the colourful murals (are they murals when they are on the ground?!) which various groups have painted and maintained over the years.
The exhibition can be found in the Sala Antigua Capilla Orden Tercera Franciscana Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. On Sundays it is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. but as is typical in Spain, it is closed on Mondays. The sala is located on the corner next to San José church, but if the door is closed the entrance may not be obvious!