Would you love being thrown back to the Spanish Middle Age? Moros y Cristianos (Moors and Christians) is a fantastic festival taking place from 22nd to 24th April in Alcoy, in the Valencian Community, whilst other cities celebrate it in different periods of the year.
Behind this festival there is a long and fascinating tradition to discover: it commemorates the fight between the Muslim and the Christian culture which took place during the period known as Reconquista, from the 8th to the 15th century. More specifically, the festival commemorates the battle of the 1276: at that time Alcoy was on the border of the Muslim territories and skirmishes between factions were very common, but the battle fought on the 23rd April 1276 was crucial as Moors attempted to conquer the city but failed and had to retreat.
According to the legend, after James I of Aragon reconquered the city the Moors tried to attack and recover it, but Saint George appeared and frightened the Moors who were definitely defeated.
The festival represents the capture of the city by the Moors and the following Christian re-conquer: people are listed in local associations called filaes or comparses that represent the Moor or Christian legions and are dressed with traditional Muslim or Christian costumes.
Actually, Moros y Cristianos is a reenactment of the historic facts. The festival starts with shots of gunpowder and goes on with a huge procession: the two factions march throughout the city for a spectacular event and around 5000 people take part in it!
On the second day there are many religious events held in honor of St George, but the peak of the festival is reached on the third day with the event called embajadas (meeting of envoys) which takes place in the castle: each faction tries to persuade the other to surrender, but the negotiation fails and a mock battle is fought ending with the Christian’s victory.
The final battle takes the celebrations to an end after three days of great fun, colours, fabulous costumes and fantastic pageants.
If you have the chance to plan a few days away, Moros y Cristianos is the perfect Spanish tradition to enjoy!