A Touch of North Africa: The Story of Benidorm's Palm Trees

While they may seem like a natural part of the landscape, the palm trees that grace Benidorm's beaches and streets are not native to Spain. Their origins lie far across the Mediterranean Sea, in North Africa.

picture by Harry Fabel

History buffs will be interested to learn that these swaying sentinels were brought to Spain by the Moors, the Muslim rulers who governed much of the Iberian Peninsula from the 8th to the 15th century. Recognizing the palm's suitability for the dry climate of southern Spain, the Moors incorporated them into their agricultural practices.

The most iconic palm variety in Spain is the date palm. These trees can be found in vast groves, with a particularly impressive example being the Palmeral of Elche in Alicante. This UNESCO World Heritage Site boasts over 200,000 date palms, a truly magnificent sight.

Date palms aren't the only palm tree species to call Spain home. The Canary Islands fan palm and the Washingtonia are also present, often gracing gardens and roadsides with their ornamental beauty.

So next time you find yourself relaxing under the shade of a palm tree in Benidorm, take a moment to appreciate this lasting reminder of the Moors' influence.  Their legacy is not just in the architecture and culture, but also woven into the very fabric of the Spanish landscape.