Celebrate on the Costa Blanca with the Moors and Christians

Spain is world renowned for it's rich cultural history, so elegantly celebrated in the hundreds of different fiestas and festivals held around the country every year.  Each fiesta is celebrated to the full by eager townsfolk and tourists alike, with gusto and fervours enthusiasm, and the Moors and Christians fiesta is one that is certainly a date to put in your diary.

Calpe - Moros y Cristianos 

Who are the "Moors and Christians"?


Many years ago, in fact over 600 years ago, Spain was a Muslim country and was known as Al-Andalus, largely inhabited and ruled by the Moors who were North African in Origin.

The religious difference of the Moorish Muslims, in stark contrast the the majority of Christian kingdoms throughout ancient Europe led to a centuries of long wars, battles and struggles for ideology and for land.

A long battle was aged against the Muslim rulers, led by the combined military might of Aragon and Castile, who sought to capture Spain from the Muslim Emirate of Granada.

 Granada - Generalife gardens

The city was the last outpost of the Moorish forces and its capture and subsequent expulsion of the moors brought an end to 780 years of Muslim control in Islamic Iberia.

There then a followed a mass expulsion of the Muslims who were banished to Northern Africa, with the remaining ones who stayed behind, forced to convert to Catholicism or face death. These people were known as the "Moriscos".

This is the key and the reason, to all celebrations of the "moros y cristianos" as they are known here.

What happens during a Moors and Christians fiesta?

Although the fiesta is celebrated in many parts of Spain, for the Costa Blanca the fiesta is one of the most important days of the year and takes a tremendous amount of planning for this visual spectacle to come to fruition.

 Months are spent in planning the wonderful costumes, practising the march and the "battle" and choosing the best music to accompany the participants who strut, pose and dance to entertain the spectators along each parade route.

Moors and christians valencia 

The various enactments of the moors and Christians across the Costa Blanca primarily represent the capture of each town or city by the Moors and the subsequent Christian reconquest.

The gaily dressed townspeople that take part in this festival are based in 2 opposing (but friendly) groups known as comparsas. Half of them are the Muslim "moros" and half represent the Christians. The streets throng for several days with people wearing outrageous and flamboyant costumes loosely inspired by Medieval clothing.

The Christians often wear lots of fur, metal helmets, and armour such as in the photo above. Many also either ride horses, or fun fake guns, adding to the amazing spectacle. Each party within the parade is often accompanied by live music, drums and lots of noise!

In stark contrast, the Moors wear ancient Arabic styled costumes, carry curved swords called scimitars, and some of the more enthusiastic members of the respective fiesta committees even get to ride through the town on real camels or elephants!

The climax of this spectacular fiesta is the fake battle where they re-enact the overpowering of the occupying Muslins and their subsequent expulsion from the town. It really is a fiesta worth seeing and happens in many towns up and down Spain, at different times of the year.

When does the Moros Y Cristianos happen?

The dates of the fiesta are different throughout the Costa Blanca and normally relates to the specific time period in which that particular area or town was liberated from Muslim rule.

For example if you are planning a holiday in Denia, the fiesta usually runs from around the 13th to the 16th of August inclusive, but if your holiday this year is in Calpe then expect the fiesta to run from the 19th to 22nd of October, but the celebrations in most towns run along the same theme.

The Moors and Christians fiesta is a very important one for Spain and if you are planning an interesting holiday this year on the Costa Blanca, it is well worth including this on your itinerary.