El Campello, Spain is about 11 kilometres north of Alicante along the Costa Blanca in the region of Valencia. It commemorates the day the Christians defeated the Moors.
Everyone parties for days before and after the event. It’s a wonder how anything gets done as the town appears to be at a complete stand still.
Early Morning Entertainment in El Campello, Spain
Picture this. The town awakes at 3am, ready to walk down to the beach to await the Moors whom arrive on small man-made boats. They are ornate, with twisted bows and full of warriors that will attempt to break through the Christian soldiers that await on the beach. Meanwhile, the Christians launch faux cannonballs into the water, flinching in anticipation that somehow the Lord will guide the cannonballs directly at one of the boats. Sometimes they groan in defeat, other times they cheer loudly and hug one another. The boats continue onto the beach. The initial attack was not enough, as it wasn’t enough in the 16th century.
Christians and Moors Battle on the Beach
The Moors get on the sand, and a battle commences. Little kids turn to their parents asking “mama, who wins? The Christians, or the Moors?” The adults laugh at the questions telling the kids to guess what they think will happen, and to watch carefully. They cannot and should not miss a thing. Faux swords are pulled out and a series of well calculated moves and acrobatics add to the mystique of the ancient fight. The best part is watching the mixture of old and new amongst the warriors. The Christian soldiers wear their hooded capes with big red crosses over jeans. The Moors fight in their costumes with Marlboro cigarettes held loosely in their lips, stopping every once in a while, to take a drawl, exhale, and put out the cigarette in the sand. Moors lay on the sand, Christians run to the Tower of Illeta, which dates back to the 16th century. When day breaks and the tower of is enveloped by the sun, the Christians drop their flag over the highest point. They have defeated their enemies. Now it is time for the parade.
Parade through the City of El Campello
Everyone in the street lines up to get a glimpse of the Christian King and Queen and the Moorish King and Queen. Before the grand arrival, Christian soldiers march through with their weapons, Moorish women dance along with ceramic bowls on their hips or balanced atop their heads. The parade lasts for hours, and spectators have the option to wait it out, or walk over to the churro stands and enjoy a deep-fried dough treat dipped in thick chocolate sauce.
Flight deals to Alicante, Spain
Locals will start to trickle into family owned restaurants and have a morning coffee, toast, or other small meal. It isn’t until 2pm when real food fit for a king is served. Entire tables are covered with delicious seafood meals from fried calimari, just out of the water fresh golden fried whole fish, the best olives in the world, to anchovies that have been preserved in olive oil for a few years that melt deliciously in the mouth. After the meal, the town is quiet for the siesta. Everything closes, and it is rare to find one person in the street. There is an eerie silence that floats through the tiny town yet is so peaceful that one cannot help lulling to sleep, especially after being up at 3am.
Late Afternoon Celebration to Commemorate the Christian Victory
After the siesta, the party starts once again. Pyrotechnics set up for another parade. The region is most popular for having the best firework displays in the nation and kids as young as two proudly hold massive sparklers that put any American firework to shame. Amazingly, nobody gets hurt, and the flashes of bright lights combined with marching and dancing and pure fun explodes through the town.