MOORS AND CHRISTIANS
The festivities known as Fiesta de Moros y Cristianos came into being as a commemoration of the period of Islamic domination of most of the Iberian Peninsula and the series of battles that took place between Muslims and Christians. The festival takes place from August 7 through to August 11 and is the first event that honours Nuestra Señora de la Asunción (Our Lady of the Assumption), patron saint of the city. The event which attracts big crowds commemorates the Christian re-conquest of the city and is made of 12 large teams known as comparsas. Six belong to the Moro (Moorish) side while the other six represent the Christian battalions. Open to both men and women, each comparsa has several hundred members.
The comparsas are the following:
Bando Moro (Moorish side): Musulmanes Almorávides, Benimerines, Huestes del Califa, Abassíes, Moros Sarracenos and Moros Tuareg.
Bando Cristiano (Christian side): Estudiantes, Astures, Filà Boscos, Caballeros Halcones, Caballeros Templarios and Piratas.
The festivity lasts for four days and the three key events are:
Bautizo del Moro (Baptism of the Moor): A theatrical re-enactment performed by local folk and portraying the conversion to Christianity of the Moors that lived in the Raval quarter. The actors are amateurs who put a lot of feeling into their interpretations. In 2009 the play was performed in Jaca to celebrate Jaca’s and Elche’s new sister-city status.
Entrada Mora (Entry of Moorish troops): In even years, the event takes place on the 8th of August and in odd years it takes place on the 10th of August; it is a re-enactment of the entry of Moorish troops into Elche. Presided by the Moorish Captain and high-ranking officers, the 6 Moorish comparsas parade down the streets in an extravaganza of ostentation.
Entrada Cristiana (Entry of Christian troops): In even years, the event takes place on the 10th of August and in odd years it takes place on the 8th of August; it is a re-enactment of the entry of the Christian troops into Elche. Presided by the Christian Captain and high-ranking officers, the 6 Christian comparsas parade down the streets in an extravaganza of ostentation.
Embajadas (Embassies): After the lively “Alardo” which involves fireworks and bangers that consume more than 80kg of gunpowder, the Moorish and Christian embassies assemble and interact. The proceedings take place next to Altamira palace and re-enact the taking of the city by Jaime I “The Conqueror”. The theatrical event has two parts: The Moorish Embassy and the Christian Embassy. In the course of the show, there is a small skirmish between Moorish and Christian soldiers. All of the actors taking part are members of the various comparsas and very active in the festivities.