Moors and Christians Ontinyent
Moors and Christians Ontinyent
Although many fiestas here in Spain are very visual, Moors and Christians in Ontinyent, is high up on the list of spectacular Spanish fiestas.
It is wonderful enough to have been listed as a festival of national tourist interest.
The fiestas of Moors and Christians are the most traditional and symbolic of the city, in honour of the blessed Christ of Agony. They are considered of National Tourist Interest and despite not having the consideration of major fiesta, it is, without a doubt, the most crowded festivity.
The Moors and Christians in Ontinyent had their own representation in the Baroque Period, and linked to the appointment of the ambassadors for the Immaculate Conception festivity. This celebration of soldiers soon disappeared, and it was in 1860 that members of the Liberal Casino, with the collaboration of the City Council, began the festivities by copying the models of the populations of the Mariola to generate a summer party, between the season of planting and harvest.
The taking of Tetuán by Spanish troops and the gratitude displayed to the image of the Santísimo Cristo de la Agonía (Holy Christ of Agony) led to the birth of the Moors and Christians festival in the town of Ontinyent in 1860. The festivities begin on the third Sunday in August, with mass said at the doors of the hermitage of Santa Ana, which is the religious preamble to the explosion that is the recreation of the battle itself.
One of the highlights of the festive acts, which reach their maximum splendour between the Thursday and the Monday of the fourth week in the month, is the arrival of the Moors and Christians. The Christian army arrives in Ontinyent in the afternoon led by its captain and processional group to the rhythm of Christian marches and pasodobles. As night falls, the army of the crescent moon takes over the streets and avenues, showing off their luxurious dress uniforms, horses, camels, and dances.
Another of the most spectacular moments of the festival is the Bajada del Cristo de la Agonía (Descent of the Christ of Agony), the Moors emerging from the old Paseo de Sant Antoni and the Christians marching down the hill of Santa Ana, sound their blunderbuses, harquebuses and muskets.
On Monday, Ontinyent is woken up with a bang, as the Moorish army shoots its way towards the castle to lay siege to it, through a thunderous battle. The point that marks the end of an intense and exhausting five days of festivities is the final parade, with processions led by their captains, flag-bearers, ambassadors and their convoys, followed by the twelve Moorish and twelve Christian processional groups.
The festive structure is organised in such a way that the first “comparsas” hold the annual Captaincy of the entire respective side, and those who make seven appoint the Ambassadors and “Bandereros”. Charges are renewed every year. The first “comparsa” becomes the last at the following year.
The celebrations are celebrated the weekend corresponding to the fourth Sunday of August. It begins the previous Sunday with the Lagrima’s breakfast and the Pregón of Fiestas – Presentation of Positions. During the week there are numerous events and on Thursday will be the entrance of Music Bands, which concludes with the joint interpretation of the official anthem of parties and the city, the march “Chimo” of the Master Jose Maria Ferrero, at night is the first big procession called “Los Alardos” a crowded costume parade. On Friday morning there is the Children’s Entrada, and in the afternoon the entrada del bando Cristiano and entrada del bando Moro. Saturday starts with the Diana and continues with the Contraband act played by the Marineros and Contrabandistas.
In the afternoon, La bajada del Cristo is done, the most emotional act for the festers. At night, a fireworks castle is fired and there is a musical performance. On Sunday there is the bullring, the high mass, the tribute to the elders of the Hospital de Beneficencia and the procession. Monday is the turn of gunfights and embassies. The Ambassadors of both sides perform a battle for the control of the village interpreting the verses of Joaquin José Cervino, written exclusively for Ontinyent in 1680.