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Moors and Christians

Lots of sights in Valencia are connected with the period of Reconkista, i.e. 700 years of war between the Spanish monarchs and Arabs on the Pyrenean Peninsula. The victory of Spaniards over Moors in the 13th century became a decisive factor in the formation of modern Valencian community. The sincere admiration of the Valencian people connected with their past can be seen in a great fancy-dress holiday “Moors and Christians” which is usually conducted at the end of summer in many towns of the community.

“Moors and Christians” is a prototype of a fashionable European festival of medievel knights. “Moors and Christians” has been conducted for 200 years. It is a great festival involving the towns in all the three provinces of the community. Not only the members of particular clubs but practically the whole population of each town take part in this holiday. The citizens put on the costumes of Moors and the armour of Spanish knights, the processions riding camels and elephants are moving along the streets, fairs and concerts of medieval music are organized in the squares.

The capital of the Valencian festival is usually Alcoy City. This holiday has been celebrated there for the last 5 centuries. But only 200 years ago it was officially recognized. The origin of “Moors and Christians” can be defined from a legend. According to the legend at the end of the 13th century Moors occupied a small place of Alcoy. The forces were not equal and the city was ready to capitulate. But at the last moment there appeared Saint George in front of the defenders and he inspired them with great courage into the hearts of the citizens and gave them the opportunity to conquer the enemies. That is why the festival “Moors and Christians” has another name- the Day of St. George.

In honour of the significant victory the citizens of Alcoy organize a great perfomance in the streets, showing exactly the events of the year 1276. The perfomance is very trustworthy from the tracery of the Moors’ coats till the names of military subdivisions and ranks.

The streets of Alcoy are used as decorations. The costumes are prepared by the citizens themselves. They also build the wooden fortress in the central square of the city, where the main part of the perfomance takes place. The best seats for spectators are on the balconies and near the fortress. As a rule, the holiday is organized at the end of April but by the beginning of March all the tickets have already been sold. That is why if you would like to watch the perfomance you should buy tickets in advance.

The festival usually lasts for three days. For these three days the sounds of medieval instruments and the singing of Moslems and Christians are heard in the streets. Hubbub is constantly growing, and on the last day it sounds like crescendo while hundreds of “fighters” are trying to conquer the wooden fortress and are firing all the guns. The history of Valencia is being shown in front of your eyes.