History and Culture - The Costa Blanca

History and Culture - The Costa Blanca


When it comes to fiestas and festivals, there are so many on the Costa Blanca, you are bound to see one wherever you are, whatever time of year. As with the rest of Spain, one of the most important events is the Semana Santa or Easter Week. These deeply religious celebrations are somewhat overwhelming.

Abdet has two main Fiestas - one at Easter and one during August. You can view some video clips of the August 2004 fiesta.

The Passion of Christ, or Easter Week, known in Spain as Semana Santa is the most important celebration in the country. The festivities begin with the Domingo de Ramos (Palm Sunday) and end with Lunes de Pascua (Easter Monday). It is a celebration of life itself and the whole country comes alive.

Each area, city and town has it's own accent on it's celebrations. They all differ but in common they all portray life, colour, culture, music and dance, all with a very religious meaning.

Everywhere, processions make their way through the streets, carrying religious icons and symbols of their faith. In Seville alone there are over 100 of these such images.Semana Santa has to be experienced first hand to be fully appreciated and no words can begin to describe the emotions that flow like water, wherever you go. If you have the opportunity to sample these festivities, one thing is sure, the images will stay with you forever.

In major cities such as Alicante, the processions go on for miles and will last until the early hours of the morning, every night through the Easter week. Children as young as 3 or 4 take part and crowds will swell into hundreds of thousands.

The Fallas festivity is held in March, in which monumental statues are ceremoniously put to the flames.

Saint Joseph's day is celebrated on 19th March. The Fallas festival runs for a week up to the weekend nearest this date.

Where to go: Valencia is the capital of Fallas, and the hotel prices reflect this. By contrast, Denia is big enough to have the atmosphere but small enough to watch almost every crema. Costa Blanca towns which have Fallas festivals include: Benidorm, Bunol, Calpe, Denia, Gandia, Oliva, Pego, Sueca, Valencia.

Best Information: http://www.fallas.com/

See Simon Willis's article here




Fiesta de Moros y Christianos, Alcoy, Spain

(Battle of the Moors and the Christians)

Every year, the Moorish occupation and Spanish re-conquest of the Iberian peninsula is celebrated throughout Southern Spain. Nowhere is the re-enactment as spectacular as in Alcoy, 28 km from Abdet.

What Happens at the Fiesta de Moros y Christianos?

In late April each year, a papier-mache castle is erected in the town's main plaza and the townsfolk re-enact the confrontation between the Moorish (Muslim) and Christian leaders.

On the first day of the festival, the townsfolk flock to take part in the colourful parades which weave their way through the streets of Alcoy. They spend a great deal of time making their costumes together, and curiously everyone is vying to be a Moor, as their tribal costumes are the most colourful and exotic.

The second day of the festival is St. Georges Day. On this day, the religious aspects of the festival are remembered, when the relics of the Saint are removed from the Church of Santa Maria and returned with high drama to the temple. That evening there's a spectacular firework display and Valencien fallas or effigies are burned on huge bonfires in the town.

On the final day of the fiesta, a furious battle takes place on the streets of Alcoy. When the Christian leaders tear up the Moors' demands, a horse messenger spreads the word of impending war, and the battle begins. For hours the two armies flood through the streets letting off blunderbusses that are so loud they can be heard for miles around. Before noon the Moors succeed in seizing the castle. However in the afternoon, after a child dressed as Alcoy's Holy Patron, St. George makes an timely appearance on the battlements, the Christians re-gain control of the castle and the battle is won.

What's the history of the Festival?

This festival commemorates a famous battle held in this city in 1276 between the Christian ruler and the Moorish captain Al Athrak. The story goes that on the point of losing the city to the Moors, St. George appeared on a white charger and turned the Christians' fate around.

The proceedings have changed little for 700 years, closely following the sequence of events recorded immediately after the battle: the Moors seize the castle in the morning and the Christians win it back again in the afternoon.

One year, about 10 years ago, the Moorish team decided they were not prepared to give up the castle so easily and locked themselves in to celebrate their victory with plenty of food and drink. The outraged Christians were forced to call the police and the Guardia Civil so that the course of history wouldn't be altered forever.


The area is rich in history from rock painting sites dating back 8000 years, to Moorish hilltop castles.

In the year 715 the Moors settled hin the valley. The local villages were incorporated into the domain of Teodomiro and Tarik. In 1238 Guadalest was conquered by Jaime I but was not occupied until 1245 after he defeated all the Moors counter attacks from those living in Vall de Gallinera, Confrides, Alcala and Pego. The Moors rose up again in 1248 under the command of Alazraq but were defeated and expelled from the kingdom of Valencia. The Moors did not leave and Alazraq attempted again in 1253 but were defeated again by Jaime I and expelled from the entire kingdom. In 1275 a ruling was passed that any Moor wishing to change his place of abode must have prior permission from the Christians.

Alazraq returned from exile in 1276 and supported by the Moorish former chief of Finestrat, Abrahim, a new uprising began. This time the Moors defeat saw Alazarach killed in the battle of Alcoy by the troops of the king's son - Don Pedro.

All the Moors who had stayed after this were ordered to be expelled in 1609 by Felipe III. This led to another uprising of more than 20,000 Moors led by Mellini, a Moor from Guadalest. Mellini was defeated and most then set sail for Africa from the ports of Alicante and Dénia.

The Population in the Guadalest Valley increased greatly during the 18th Century (in fact it was overpopulated) and gradually fell away over the last 50 years. A legacy of notable interest are the snow wells or Nevaras and of course the amazing terraced hillsides.

In recent times the Civil War has disturbed the peace of the valley. The "man hole" in number 21 is witness to this.

Here is a Spanish historical timeline

1100 BC. Phoenician traders establish colony at Cádiz in southern Iberia.
228 BC. Carthaginians occupy southern and eastern Iberia.
218-220 BC. Romans defeat Carthage in Second Punic War and occupy Iberian peninsula.
74. Inhabitants of Iberia are granted full Roman citizenship.
409. Visigoths occupy Iberian peninsula.
711. Combined Arab and Berber force from northern Africa cross Strait of Gibraltar to occupy Iberian peninsula.
756. Independent Emirate is established in Iberia, with Córdoba as its capital.
913. Having re-taken territories in northern Spain, Christians establish capital in León.
1013. Powerful Caliphate of Córdoba breaks up due to internal strife; Moorish Spain split into small feuding kingdoms.
1212. Decisive Christian victory at battle of Navas de Tolosa spells the beginning of the end of Moorish rule in Spain.
1492. King Fernando and Queen Isabel's army capture Granada after a long siege, the final defeat of the Moors in Spain. Jews are forced to convert to Christianity; those who refuse are expelled from Spain. Christopher Columbus sets sail on his voyage of discovery.
1702-14. War of Spanish Succession. Bourbon dynasty accedes to Spanish throne.
1808-14. Peninsular War. Spaniards rise against Napoleon's occupying force. Combination of guerilla tactics and support from Wellington's army end in French defeat.
1898. Spanish American War. Spain loses Cuba and Philippines.
1931. Spanish king is forced to abdicate. Spain becomes a republic.
1936-39. Spanish Civil War. Bloody conflict ends with General Franco's victory. Dictatorship established.
1975. Franco dies, Juan Carlos de Borbón is proclaimed king. Spain becomes constitutional monarchy. Democracy would bring membership of the European Community.

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