Moors and Christians Festival in Villena

Moors and Christians Festival in Villena
Moors and Christians (Moros y Cristianos) is a series of festival activities held in many towns and cities across Spain, mainly in the Valencian Community. These festivals commemorate the confrontations between Muslims (Moors) and Christians during the historical period known as Reconquista (between the 8th century and the 15th century). The biggest such festival takes place in the city of Villena.

The Moors and Christians Festival of Villena (Moros y Cristianos de Villena) is held every year from September 4–9. It is dedicated to the feast of Our Lady of Virtues, the patron saint of Villena who is believed to have saved the city from plague in 1474. With approximately 12,000 participants, it is the largest festival of its kind, although not the most famous one (that would be the Moors and Christians Festival of Alcoi). It is officially recognized as Fiesta of National Tourist Interest of Spain.

The festival features 14 teams of participants called comparsas, with 7 teams representing Moors and the other 7 teams representing Christians. Each comparsa comprises several hundreds participants of both genders. Clad in period costumes, they participate in colorful parades and re-enactments of battles between Moors and Christians.

The Moors and Christians Festival combines three different elements: the religious element, the military element, and the historical element. The religious element stems from the veneration of Our Lady of Virtues. It includes processions, pilgrimages to the church of Our Lady of Virtues and masses.

The roots of the military element of the festival can be traced back to the 17th century. The most spectacular military event at the Moors and Christians Festival is a big military parade called La Entrada that involves both Moor and Christian comparsas. Christians wear armor and helmets and ride horses, while Moors wear Arab costumes and ride camels. The parade is accompanied by a live marching band that plays three kinds of music: marchas cristianas, marchas moras and pasodobles.

Finally, the historical element is the heart of the festival. It represents the capture of the city by the Moors and the subsequent reconquest by Christians. The re-enactment lasts for several days and includes battles, combats and fights, embassies, storming of the castle, conversion of Moors to Christianity, etc.

The program of the Moors and Christians Festival in Villena also includes various entertainment, such as concerts, fireworks displays, horseback riding displays, and other events and activities for attendees of all ages.

Moors and Christians Festival in Villena




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