Moors and Christians in the Mountains of Alicante.

Posted in Alcoy, Almeria, Castalla, Castles, Christians, Churches, Crusades, forts, knights, medieval, moods, Moors, photo, Photography, pirates, relax, Relics, renactment, road trip, Spain, travel, walks, writing on November 29th, 2009 by wabisabipix

While traveling through the Mountains of Alicante region I came across many interesting sights.Two areas in particular captured my interest.The ancient Moorish Castle in the town of Castalla and the town of Alcoy world famous for its Moors and Christians festival held every year.

The town of Alcoy is the site of a yearly re-enactment that happens every April in which the entire population dress in  full historical costume.It remains one of Spains most well known and Colourful Fiestas.

It is based on  the battle of Alcoy in the 13th Century and is in place to honour St George the patron saint of the town who is said to have saved the town from the Moorish forces of Alazraq in 1275.

As the tale is told James I of Aragon led a campaign of reconquest through the region after centuries of Moorish occupation and influence. In retaliation the Moors  invaded once more to recover their lost ground.However as the battle was starting St George is said to have appeared in the sky over the v shaped famous gorge in the town to save the day.

It is a colourful and entertaining day in which mock battles are fought all over the town and where a fog of gunpowder and fireworks descend amidst the playing of traditional period music and merriment and much feasting.

It is a 3 day 24hr long festival in which 28 armies do battle and the whole town is festooned in the red cross flags of St George.                                  St George saving Alcoy from the Moors.

Being from the UK I was fascinated by the  interpretation of  the patron saint adopted both here and in  England and its interpretation in both countries.

In the U.K  St George is frequently shown as the slayer of a dragon but in this area of Spain he is shown as a saviour from the Moors.

The local Church of St George at Portal de San Marcos shows fascinating murals of the battle painted by Fernando Cabrera Canto painted in 1921 and a relic said to be St Georges finger that is paraded around the town during the festival.

Heres link to the Alcoi festival tourist site:http://www.alcoiturisme.com/

The Battle of Alcoy in St Georges Church

The Relic of St Georges Finger

Further South heading back to Alicante one sees the outstanding pinnacle on which is perched the Castle of Castalla.

The Castalla Castle

Raised in the 11th century by the Moors it was incorporated into the kingdom of Aragon in 1244.

In 1362 the castle was given to Ramon de Vilanova to defend against Castilian attacks and ultimately became part of the Hapsburg Monarchy’s defence strategy against Barbary pirate attacks on Alicantes coast line.

Throughout the 18th century Spanish war of succession it became a place for storage and sadly was in ruins by 1813.

Castalla like Pamplona also has its own running of the bull festival in August and like Alcoy above has its own Moors and Christians festival.

The town found itself embroiled in the Spanish Civil war and between 1933 and 1935 the hill and fort was sacked by the locals looking for treasure.In recent times it has been the subject of restoration with a view towards tourism.

Wandering through the old medieval town on an early morning sunlit stroll is a nice way to start the day and each corner throughout the maze of passage ways can reveal odd surprises and treats for the senses with sun bleached bright coloured old buildings and elevated views of the area ,a coffee and a taste of the local olives is also highly recommended.Below are some views around Castalla.

All these images were shot on a Nikon P6000 compact camera which I like to set up with easy access to manual overide settings for compensation,flash output and white balance using the my menu settings for speed.

Its a great light weight durable tool for keeping in your pocket when traveling light.

Bon voyage!

 

copyright:Kerry Davies.

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