As you build your 5thsandcastle on Ampolla Beach in Moraira, trying to protect this one from the
feet of the little devils you brought with you on holiday – look behind you at
the real castle, and reflect on what it was trying to protect.
Completed in 1742, and armed with 4
bronze canons, the castle was part of the fortifications commissioned by Felipe
II to protect the area from Barbary pirates. Earlier, Moors from North Africa
had conquered the Spanish Mediterranean coast, and there was no wish to let
that happen again.
The Moors called their Iberian
territory Al-Andalus, and by the turn of the millennium, it’s said that some 5
million of Iberia’s 7 million population were Muslim. Many place names around
Moraira give evidence of the Moorish influence. Alcassar, Benimeit, Benimarco,
Moravit and Tabaira are all examples. Even legend has it that a Moorish
princess named Ira, la Mora caused our little village to be called Moraira, but
even though it’s a romantic thought, the truth of that is uncertain.
What is refreshing though, is that
the connection between Moors and Christians is not forgotten – and the
recollection is not centred on weapons, animosity and bad feeling. Instead, in
most towns along the Costa Blanca there is a fiesta each year to remember the
events of centuries ago, with local people donning Christian or Moorish costume
or picking up an instrument of some kind, and marching through the streets to a
haunting and melodious beat.
If you’re planning to visit the
area, you are recommended to research when and where the Moors and Christian
celebrations will be held. Please be sure not to miss them.