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05/27/2015

Moors and Christians

So, you’ve killed a dragon or two, rescued several maidens in distress, become a saint, been named patron of Lebanon, Georgia and England and are now looking for some more action. Nothing better than becoming the hero of one of the loudest, most colourful and most extravagant fiestas in Spain – Moros y Cristianos in Alcoy!

St George takes centre stage in these huge, and hugely popular celebrations in the town of Alcoy, 45 minutes inland from Alicante, every year between 21- 24 April (or more usually the nearest available weekend). This internationally recognised festival commemorates the battle between the Christians and the Moors (think Shakespeare’s Othello, the Moor of Venice) of Alcoy in 1276, and has taken place, in one form or another, since 1511.

The most interesting parts are the spectacular period costumes; the choreographed parades with horses, cigar-smoking sword-swinging Moros; re-enacted battles with fireworks and arcabuzes (13th century shotguns!); and, of course, St George riding along the battlements, leading his side to the final victory.

And if you don’t think you can keep up with all that on an empty stomach, try La Noche de la Olla (the Night of the Cooking Pot) on the first night of the celebrations. It’s a (very!) hearty stew based on the gorgeous, sweet, fresh broad beans of the region, and is often washed down with a plis-play (coffee liqueur with coke) or a Sonrisa Alcoyana (an Alcoy Smile, of whisky with lemon sorbet). St George swears by it!

 

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