Alcoy Moors and Christians Fiesta

February 26, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

In Alcoy, history, legend and spectacle join hands in a celebration full of sparkle and fantasy to commemorate events that took place in the 13th century. Dates from Apr 22, 2012 to Apr 24, 2012.

Alcoy Moors and Christians Fiesta

Alcoy Moors and Christians Fiesta

The festival of Moors and Christians is the biggest event of the year in Alcoy. It is dedicated to Saint George, a figure steeped in age-old tradition. The festival dates back to the 16th century and commemorates a battle which was fought in 1276. At that time, Alcoy stood on the border of the Muslim-held territories of Spain. There were frequent skirmishes between the two factions until, on 23 April 1276, the Moorish troops of Al-Azraq attempted to storm the town. According to legend, St. George appeared during the battle and, thanks to his intervention, the Christian army won the day, forcing the Moors to retreat and never to return. In recognition of his timely intervention, the townsfolk of Alcoy made him their patron Saint and promised to hold a festival in his honour on 23 April every year.

On 22, 23 and 24 April each year, Alcoy is decked out in the style of the Middle Ages to celebrate its ‘fiesta mayor’ (main festival). On the first day, there is a spectacular procession of Moors and Christians: the different groups that make up each army march majestically through the streets of Alcoy dressed in luxurious costumes. Around 5000 people take part in this highly popular event. On the second day, many different events are held in honour of St. George. On the final day, a huge battle is fought in España Square in a specially-built castle which represents the city. The Moorish troops approach the castle in an attempt to persuade the Christians to surrender, but the offer is rejected and the ensuing battle ends with the Moors taking over the stronghold. In the afternoon, the Christian army returns and manages to retake the castle. Then, after unsuccessfully negotiating a surrender, the final battle begins in which the Moors are ultimately defeated. In the evening, an appearance by St. George marks the end of the three days of festivities, at least until next year. The patron Saint of Alcoy appears on horseback, shooting arrows from the top of the castle. If you like, you can even take some arrows home as a souvenir.

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