Villajoyosa's Moors and Christians festival

Waiting in the Wings for the Parade to begin

Waiting for the parade to begin
Waiting for the parade to begin | Source
Beautifully Costumed
Beautifully Costumed | Source
Regal and ready
Regal and ready | Source
Fabulously Attired
Fabulously Attired | Source
"What am I supposed to be again? " Isn't she a cutie
"What am I supposed to be again? " Isn't she a cutie | Source
Time for one last cigarette before the parade starts
Time for one last cigarette before the parade starts | Source
Warrior with his ice cold water
Warrior with his ice cold water | Source

Preparations are underway

I cannot believe that it is July again already, and things are beginning to hot up in Villajoyosa in more ways than one.

The Spanish are saying that the hot weather we are having at the moment is more like August weather than July weather and the temperature looks set to rise some more.

Two days ago it was the presentation of the two Kings ready for this year's Moors and Christians fiesta.

You can sense the excitement in the town building up as preparations are underway for the coming fiesta which starts on Tuesday the 24th of July when all the lights will be switched on and all the bands will march to through the streets.

Inaugaration of the Bands

Getting Ready to go to the Inaugaration
Getting Ready to go to the Inaugaration
Marching to the Inaugaration
Marching to the Inaugaration
Marching from the Inaugaration
Marching from the Inaugaration

Moors and Christians

Spain is a country of fiestas and festivals one of the most popular being that of the Moors and Christians this fiesta is celebrated in many parts of Spain.

The biggest and best of these festivals is the one that takes place each year in Villajoyosa in the last week of July. The festival of the Moors and Christians or the Moros Y Cristianos has been running for over 250 years.

This fiesta is also known in Villajoyosa as the ‘Desembarco’ because of the sea battle that is reinacted on the sea front which starts just before dawn.

The festival commemorates an event that took place in 1538 when a fleet of Berber pirates who were led by Zale-Arraez tried to attack Villajoyosa.

However, in the midst of the battle Santa Marta miraculously appeared causing a great storm to take place which led to the sinking of the enemy fleet for which she was made the Patron Saint of the town.

For seven days the whole town is taken over completely by this fiesta with events and parades taking place every day. Many of the local shops close during this week and thousands of towns folk take part in this fiesta.

Although this fiesta is a great tourist attraction for the town it is still very much first and foremost a fiesta that the town’s people celebrate and take part in.

The first of these parades to take place is that of the Moors which normally takes about four to five hours to pass by. The costumes worn by those in the processions are rich and lavish making a spectacle well worth seeing.

The Parade of the Moors

Moors

Part of the Moor's parade
Part of the Moor's parade

The Parade of the Christians

The following evening the Parade of the Christians takes place. Normally this up to an hour shorter than the Moors parade but this may be down to the fact that the Christians tend to march to music that is double the tempo of that of the Moors. Again the costumes are wonderful and must cost an absolute fortune to make.

The Parade of the Christians

Christians

Waiting for the Procession to start
Waiting for the Procession to start | Source
Part of the parade of the Christians
Part of the parade of the Christians | Source

Defile Cristianos 2009

The Desembarco

The Desembarco is the sea battle that takes place on the sea front and it marks out Villajoyosa’s Moors and Christians as something very special. Many places in Spain have a Moors and Christians fiesta but none have a sea battle (Desembarco) that can rival Villajoyosa’s. This battle begins just before dawn and involves around thirty boats or more.

The Desembarco 2012

The Desembarco

Click thumbnail to view full-size
This is part of the Desembarco that is the part where the Moors come ashoreThis is part of the Desembarco This is part of the Desembarco This is part of the Desembarco the figure outlined in fireworks on the boat is Santa MartaThis is part of the Desembarco This is part of the Desembarco at this point many people can be heard repeatedly crying out Santa Marta as though she really had just appeared.A new day is dawning and it is time for the Moors to abandon their boats and swim ashore.The water even in July can still be a tad cold at this time in the morning.The Desembarco is a sight well worth staying up for.
This is part of the Desembarco that is the part where the Moors come ashore
This is part of the Desembarco that is the part where the Moors come ashore
This is part of the Desembarco
This is part of the Desembarco
This is part of the Desembarco
This is part of the Desembarco
This is part of the Desembarco the figure outlined in fireworks on the boat is Santa Marta
This is part of the Desembarco the figure outlined in fireworks on the boat is Santa Marta
This is part of the Desembarco
This is part of the Desembarco
This is part of the Desembarco at this point many people can be heard repeatedly crying out Santa Marta as though she really had just appeared.
This is part of the Desembarco at this point many people can be heard repeatedly crying out Santa Marta as though she really had just appeared.
A new day is dawning and it is time for the Moors to abandon their boats and swim ashore.
A new day is dawning and it is time for the Moors to abandon their boats and swim ashore.
The water even in July can still be a tad cold at this time in the morning.
The water even in July can still be a tad cold at this time in the morning.
The Desembarco is a sight well worth staying up for.
The Desembarco is a sight well worth staying up for.

The taking back of the Castle and the defeat of the Moors

Once the Moors have landed, a battle royal ensues between the Moorish army and the Christian army.

Both armies battle it out until they reach the foot of the castle, which is normally sited not far from the landing site on the beach. Eventually the castle is taken by the Moors.

At around seven thirty in the morning everyone retires to one of the local bars down on the sea front for a much needed breakfast and in the case of the British tourists a hot cuppa tea. After everyone has caught up on a little sleep the battle continues.

First of all, the Christians try to persuade the Moors to surrender, but the surrender negotiations are unsuccessful. So late in the late afternoon the Christian soldiers come back and forcibly retake the castle via a great battle in which the Moors are defeated and who are then sent back to the sea from whence they came. Hurrah!!!

Battle on the Sea Front

Battle on the Sea Front

The defeat of the Moors

Click thumbnail to view full-size
This is the Castle captured by the MoorsThis is the Castle captured by the Moors the Moorish king is looking pleased with himself.This is the Castle captured by the MoorsThe battle begins to oust the MoorsThe castleThe battle rages on the beachThis is the Christian King coming to take possession of the recaptured castle.
This is the Castle captured by the Moors
This is the Castle captured by the Moors
This is the Castle captured by the Moors the Moorish king is looking pleased with himself.
This is the Castle captured by the Moors the Moorish king is looking pleased with himself.
This is the Castle captured by the Moors
This is the Castle captured by the Moors
The battle begins to oust the Moors
The battle begins to oust the Moors
The castle
The castle
The battle rages on the beach
The battle rages on the beach
This is the Christian King coming to take possession of the recaptured castle.
This is the Christian King coming to take possession of the recaptured castle.

Fireworks on the Beach


From just before midnight, on Friday people begin to assemble on the beach and beachfront ready for the Firework display. The beach and promenade soon fills with happy excited people of all ages waiting to see the show.

Beachfront Promanade

Waiting on the Promanade
Waiting on the Promanade | Source
Waiting On the Beach
Waiting On the Beach | Source

Ringside Seats for the show

Some folk in the brand new beachfront hotel have ringside seats for the Firework spectacular. Shadowy figures can be seen on the hotels balconies and on the top floor, silhouettes can be seen against the white lights.

Ringside Seats for the Show

Ringside Seats for the Show
Ringside Seats for the Show

Firework Display


At 1.00 a.m. early Saturday morning down on the beach, the big Firework display begins.

Firework Display on the Beach

Watching On the Beach
Watching On the Beach
Watching on the Beach
Watching on the Beach | Source

The Paella Competition

The last big event of the week that begins drawing the weeklong fiesta to its conclusion is the Paella Competition.

Paella Competition

Paella
Paella | Source

The competition takes place in the street

This competition takes place in the street and the different Peñas that have taken part in the fiesta compete against one another.

The Street

The street is closed off to traffic during the competition
The street is closed off to traffic during the competition | Source

Rivalry

This part of the fiesta is very informal and the rivalry is very good natured but intense as every peña wants to win.

Good Natured Horseplay

Flour and water seem to be the weapons of choice and the good natured horseplay seems to be within their own Peas
Flour and water seem to be the weapons of choice and the good natured horseplay seems to be within their own Peas | Source

Wood Fires on the Street

They cook the paellas over a wood fire made out of small twigs, which actually give off far more heat than you would expect from such a small fire. The closest I got to the fires was about six foot and I could feel the heat quite strongly.

Preparing the fire

It was normally the men who lit the fire but this lady did a really good job lighting this fire.
It was normally the men who lit the fire but this lady did a really good job lighting this fire. | Source

Preparing the Ingredients

The competitors prepare the ingredients ready for cooking out in the open right there on the side of the street. It does not look very hygienic but no one seems to care much.

Preparation

Preparing the food ready for cooking
Preparing the food ready for cooking | Source

Tasting Time

The Judges pick the winning paella then afterwards the spectators get to sample the paellas for themselves. The tasting of the paella is very popular part of the day.

Tasting Time

One of the members of a Pea giving visitors  samples of his Peas paella
One of the members of a Pea giving visitors samples of his Peas paella | Source

Bands at the Paella Competition


All the time this is going on bands roam around the street playing fiesta type music, which creates a very happy environment.

Bands at the Fiesta

A Drum Band which was very popular
A Drum Band which was very popular | Source

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Comments 6 comments

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 7 years ago from Central Oklahoma

What an interesting celebration! 250 years and the outcome of the "battles" is always the same. People obviously come for the pageantry and fun! ;D


maggs224 profile image

maggs224 7 years ago from Sunny Spain Author

A small coastal town about twenty miles away during it's Moors and Christians Fiesta had a rebellion one year and the Moors refused to surrender the castle to the Christians. They barricaded themselves in and didn't come out until all the wine and beer had gone. lol


marieryan profile image

marieryan 6 years ago from Andalusia, Spain

That was wonderful Maggs, so well-presented!

I'm putting a date in my diary now. Let's see if I can get there for the next celebration in July! Thanks.


maggs224 profile image

maggs224 6 years ago from Sunny Spain Author

Hi marieryan I am sure that you would enjoy it, if there is one thing that the spanish know how to do well it is how to have great fiestas! The firework displays here are usually really impressive not to mention noisy.


Sammy 4 years ago

Its a shame that the true history of the moors is not expressed at these celebration, the moors who ruled over Spain sucessfully for hundreds of years, brought civilisation to spain and the rest of the wesrern world. Why is it so important to alter history, and give credit where its due


maggs224 profile image

maggs224 4 years ago from Sunny Spain Author

I think that these days it is more about a big party where everyone gets to dress up and have a good time Sammy.

In our town Moors and Christians live together in harmony and everywhere that you look you can see the Moorish influences on the landscape.

Most of the irrigation for the citrus groves that dominate the area still uses the irrigation systems that the Moors put in place during their occupation.

Thank you so much Sammy for leaving a comment.

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