The Fiesta de Cascamorras is an annual festival held in the Spanish towns of Baza and Guadix on September 6. One of the longest-running traditional festivals in Spain, it was declared a Fiesta of National Tourist Interest of Spain.

Guadix and Baza are located in the province of Granada. The neighboring towns have been rivals since the 16th century. After the Reconquista, the Co-Cathedral of Baza (Colegiata de Nuestra Señora Santa María de la Encarnación) was established in Baza. The new church was reluctant to accept rule from the Diocese of Guadix. As a compromise, it was given authority over 12 parishes and the diocese was renamed the Diosese of Guadix-Baza, indicating a union of two dioceses under one bishop. This was the first manifestation of rivalry between the two cities.

The history of the Cascamorras Festival also has to do with religion. According to legend, a worker from Guadix named Cascamorras found a buried sacred image of Our Lady of Mercy (Virgen de la Piedad) while working in Baza. He attempted to bring the image to his home town, but Bazans took it from him, considering his actions a theft. Cascamorras returned to Guadix empty-handed and his countrymen decided to fight for the image. Finally, the two cites reconciled and the statue remained in Baza, but the festival that reminds of these events is still held every year.

Each year, one of the citizens of Guadix is nominated the Cascamorras and is tasked with stealing the statue of Our Lady of Mercy from Baza. Dressed as a jester, he makes his way from Guadix to Baza, accompanied by a flag-bearer, a drummer and a group of supporters. Of course, Baza residents are unwilling to give up the statue and try to stop him by throwing black oily paint.

The Cascamorras Festival is divided into two parts. The first one takes place on September 6 in Baza, when the Cascamorras tries to steal the statue and Bazans cover him with black oil. The second part is held in Guadix on September 9. Villagers meet the Cascamorras who’s failed to retrieve the statue and punish him by covering him with bright paint. Of course, things quickly get messy and the local fire brigade helps to cool the participants with a water hose.


Photo: Javi SLH



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