History and Culture - The Costa
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Before an individual can begin to understand the basics of modern-day Spanish, it is important to learn a bit about its history - see our page which answers some common questions about the Spanish Language