Barlovento Moros y Cristianos festival


Every three years in the month of August, Barlovento honours the Virgin of the Rosary with a re-enactment of the Battle of Lepanto on the right side of the Pilón ravine.  From mid-afternoon, the red banner with a crescent moon waves over the Muslim castle, while Turkish troops stand guard.  (The castle actually is made from painted paper, stretched over poles).

Barlovento Moros y Cristianos festival

Barlovento Moros y Cristianos festival

Suddenly white sails appear on the “sea” behind the castle.  It’s a Christian ship captained by  Juan de Austria.   The ship’s captain asks the castle to surrender, and castle naturally refuses, saying, “If you really have Mary with you, fire your cannons and land your men.”    The Christian captain replies, “Fire your cannons and we’ll do the same, and then we’ll all shout, ‘Long Live the Virgin Mary’.”

Several smaller ships with black sails appear, flying the Muslim flag and shouting “Long Live Turkey!”  The Christian ship replies, “Long Live the Virgin Mary!”  A naval battle ensues, with  plenty of (fake) artillery fire, which finishes when the Christians board the Ottoman ships.  Of course there’s still the castle.  The explosions continue, this time seasoned with hand-to-hand combat, the taking of prisoners, and finally the Spanish flag flying over the castle to the tune of the national anthem.

The battered Muslim prisoners are taken to the church, barefoot, with pretend wounds, and with their leader, Alí Baja , limping in chains.  The statue of the Virgin waits for them at the door, and men on the Christian ship at the back of the procession sing a song in her praise (a loa).  Then everybody goes into the church where the Muslims tacitly convert to Catholicism.  They come out again, unchained and arm in arm with their former enemies to accompany the Virgin of the Rosary in a procession.

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Category: Spain festivals

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