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The Moors and Christians Festival takes by assault the streets of Alcoy
Publishing date 20/04/2015
The army of the cross and the hosts of the crescent have faced each other for eight centuries in Alcoy to dispute the city. These celebrations commemorate the events in 1276, when the Christians from Alcoy struggled against the troops of the Muslim leader Al Azraq. That battle is the origin of the patronage of Saint George, to whom the Christian tradition attributes the victory. Come and discover the secrets of a celebration that every April surprises thousands of visitors and unites a whole town around its history and its holy patron, Saint George. Come and feel the festivities, this is a different way to celebrate the arrival of spring.
During the holidays, Alcoy remains taken by Moors and Christians and both sides happily show their power by means of color, sound, gunpowder and clothing. The structure of the festivity, known as Trilogía Festera (Three Days Festival), is divided in three days. The first day is the day of the parades, the second one is dedicated to the holy Patron Saint George, and the third day is the day of the Alardo. The eve of the three major festival days is known as the “Day of Musicians” and it's an emotional tribute to the music bands. There is a musical parade that ends at Plaça d'Espanya (one of the main squares in town), where musicians come together with the people singing the Festivity Anthem.
At dawn, bells ring from the Santa Maria Church, the Parade Day has just started. The Plaça d'Espanya shall be overflowed with people waiting and the festive participants will show their most joyful face, pristine costumes... it's time for the Reveille! A squad of eachfilà(neighbor associations participating in the festival) goes through the center of Alcoy on the double. Wake up, Alcoy! La Fiesta is here! The morning progresses and the streets are a river of people who are ready to enjoy the Christian Parade, a show that runs through the center of Alcoy, and recalls the entrance of the armies of the cross in the city, ready to defend the Saracen attack. The trumpets and drums sound, and the visitor can admire the chariot of the Captain surrounded by his knights, special squads, banners and groups of dancers. In short, this is a Christian army marching in an unmatched profusion of color and music. Throughout the morning, the differentfilaeswill continue parading with their squads, their music bands, and chariots full of children, until the arrival of the Sub-lieutenant, which closes the Christian Parade and always surprises with its pageantry.
Its time to eat! Only a brief pause for regaining strength before the visitors can settle to watch the Moor Parade. A profusion of imagination and sensuality that will immerse the visitor in an oriental atmosphere of the hosts of Muhammad, ready to take the city with dancers, African warriors and animals, under a shower of confetti and streamers, launched from the balconies crowded with people. When the night starts, the Moor Pared is over, leaving the visitor with an amazing feeling and wanting more. And, of course, there is more, much more...
If the visitors are lucky and can extend their stay, they should know that the second day is dedicated to the Patron Saint George, the worldwide known martyr of Cappadocia. In Alcoy, the saint is embodied in the figure of a child, the undisputed star of the Festival, loved and admired by all. Visitors can enjoy the children Reveille and both morning and evening processions, in which more closely admire the lavish costumes of the major players in the festivity.
Alardo Day is the third and final day, when the dialectical struggle succeed through embassies followed by a bloodless struggle with thunderous muskets, plunging the city into a frenzy of powder and noise, not for sensitive ears. Both sides, Moors and Christians, take turns in taking and reconquering the castle, while Alcoy is filled with the smoke of gunpowder and the peculiar odor emanating from the fired muskets. And in the evening, on the battlements of the castle, the child Sant Jordiet appears, riding on his white horse, recreating the miracle that the people of Alcoy has remembered for hundreds of years.
If 800 years ago the inhabitants of these lands had to fight, nowadays they overlook from the balconies, prepare their cameras and get the best place for watching the majesty of the parades. Crusaders, Asturian, children of the Cid, Basque, Navarre and farmers, among other groups -known as filaes- symbolize the different Christian forces who dressed in helmets, swords and shields await the arrival of the Moorish army. Timpani and trumpets herald the arrival of the Moorish troops. Berber, Abencerrages, Benimerines and Mudejar, among other armies, prepare the time of the battle, which occurs when both armies burn over two thousand kilograms of gun powder in a clash full of sound, joy and smoke.
Come and enjoy a unique spectacle in the world!