Villajoyosa's Moors and Christians festival
Waiting in the Wings for the Parade to begin
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
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
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
Defile Cristianos 2009
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 DesembarcoClick thumbnail to view full-size
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 MoorsClick thumbnail to view full-size
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.
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
At 1.00 a.m. early Saturday morning down on the beach, the big Firework display begins.
Firework Display on the Beach
The Paella Competition
The last big event of the week that begins drawing the weeklong fiesta to its conclusion is the Paella Competition.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.