La Alcudia is 10 km from the current city's location and the immediate predecessor of current day Elche. This original location was settled by the Greeks and then occupied by Carthaginians and Romans. Greeks Ionian colonists from the Achaean city Helike established their new colony, naming it Helíkē (Greek: Ἑλίκη) around 600 BC. It was a point of resistance against Carthaginian advance in Spain between the First and Second Punic Wars. The Romans called the city Ilici or Illice and granted it the status of colonia; after a brief Byzantine rule, the Goths took over, establishing an episcopal see.
Elche lost importance during the period of Moorish occupation, when it was moved slightly north to its present location. James II of Aragon took the city from the Moors in the 13th century, during the Reconquista. The city grew throughout the 18th century and became more important during the 19th century with the arrival of the railway and a booming industrial development of what used to be the traditional footwear industry.
Many archaeological remains have been found in Elche, with the stone bust of the Lady of Elche (Dama de Elche/Dama d'Elx in Spanish and Valencian (or Catalan), respectively) being the most important. This may date from the Iberian period (4th century BC). The original is in the National Archaeological Museum of Spain.