Moors and Christians of Alcoy

Moors and Christians of Alcoy
Moors and Christians (Moros y Cristianos) is a series of festivals celebrated in many Spanish cities and towns, mainly in south Valencia. According to popular tradition they commemorate the battles between Christians and Moors (Muslims) during the period of Reconquista. The oldest and one of the most popular festivals of this kind is the Moors and Christians of Alcoy.

Alcoy is an industrial and university city located in the Spanish province of Alicante. It was established in 1256 by James I of Aragon, who ordered to build a castle on a strategic position on the river Serpis to protect the southern frontier of Valencia during the Reconquista.

According to popular legend, after the city of Alcoy was reconquered by James I of Aragon, the Moors initiated several uprisings trying to recover it. When the city was under attack by the Muslims in 1276, Saint George miraculously appeared on the battlefield to defend the population and scared the moors who scattered in defeat. The Muslim leader Al-Azraq is believed to have been killed in this battle.

Since this miraculous defeat of the Moors, Saint George has been recognized as the patron saint of Alcoy, and the Moors and Christians festival in Alcoy is usually held on and around the feast of Saint George (April 23), although these dates are sometimes altered due to falling during Easter week. The festival has been held regularly since 1672. It was declared an event of international tourist interest in 1980.

The Moors and Christians of Alcoy is basically the re-enactment of the historic battle between Moors and Christians. The people who participate in the re-enactment are enlisted in filaes (singular: filà), local associations that represent the Christian or Muslim legions. The members of each filà wear costumes loosely inspired by real medieval clothes.

The four-day festival features colorful parades, live marching bands playing one of three kinds of music called marchas moras, marchas cristianas and pasodobles, and a simulated battle between the Christians and the Moors. Of course, the Christians always win because that’s how the battle ended all those centuries ago.

Alcoy even has an entire museum dedicated to the Moors and Christians festival named Museu Alcoià de la Festa. It is located in a 17th-century building popularly known in Valencian as “Casal de Sant Jordi” that has been owned by the Sant Jordi Association since 1954. The museum was opened in 2006 thanks to the captains and lieutenants of the filaes who had donated their costumes and other objects related to the festival.

Moors and Christians of Alcoy




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