Moors and Christians for six centuries¡

Moors and Christians Festivity in Spain

The festivities of Moros y Cristianos (Moors and Christians) are celebrated in the South of the Valencia Region, in parts of Murcia region, Albacete (Castilla-La Mancha) and the East of Andalucia. However, the epicenter is the province of Alicante by the Mediterranean Coast.

Moors and Christians Festivity in Spain

1920, celebration of Moors and Christians in Villena, with the statue of Mohammad in the castle on the right corner

These feasts commemorate the victories of the Christian army against the Moors and are considered to have their beginning in the XV century, even before the complete defeat of the Moors. It has a deep religious substrate, still kept nowadays, as well as a ludic intention and they are a manifestation of cultural identity. Note that, despite the triumph over the Moors as told by the historians, the locals incarnate both Christians and Moors, both of them compete to be the most impressive and they are represented with the same dignity.

The first document about the celebration is from 1496. During the XIX century, the celebrations started to get their current shape: each of the armies takes the city for one day and, at the end, there is battle to get over the castle of the city (spoiler: Christians win). There are several characters and each city has their singularities.

Moors and Christians Festivity in Spain

2006, celebration of Moors and Christians in Callosa de Ensarriá (by Josemanuel in Wikipedia)

The armies are composed by participants of different groups and associations of the city, who prepare outstanding parades with specially designed customes. And in 1817, the wind music bands started to join the parades. Soon after, the composers started to create new works, to provide the special mood and the rhythm for the parades. This has developed into a huge corpus of works, divided mainly in marchas moras (Moorish marches), marchas cristianas (Christian marches) and pasodobles (used by both sides). Every year more and more pieces are created.

One of our favourite is the Moorish march Aligeabà-Spyros, by Vicent Pérez i Esteban, born in the town of Albaida, of less than 6000 inhabitants, in 1976. He dedicated this piece to his friend Sergi Molina Gea. The piece is inspired in a popular melody from Turkey.  You can find many versions of the piece in Youtube and we have chosen one that is live on the street, as it is played at the celebration of Moors and Christians. Enjoy!

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