During the last weekend of June, Alcazar de San Juan relives a part of its history through the Moors and Christians Festival celebrated in the city since 1988.
The music, dance, gunpowder, crafts, and the banners that dress some of the spaces of the city transport neighbors and visitors to the time of the Reconquest.
The Moors and Christians Festival was born on the initiative of the neighborhood association of one of the most symbolic neighborhoods of the city, that of Santa Maria, under the tutelage of the Cultural Association of Moors and Christians “Al-Kasar”.Since its origin, the festival has maintained the celebration year after year with theatrical representations that recreate the most significant moments of a decisive historical period for the city, as well as for its name, first coined as Alkasar and later Alcázar de San Juan.Show more content
In mid-June, the first event to take into account takes place: the Izado de Banderas, in which the poster of the festivities is presented and the starting signal for what is to come is given.
During the last weekend of June, the festivities take place in all their splendor. The proclamation, as well as the knight naming ceremony are the beginning of the Moors and Christians festivities turning the city into an image of the Middle Ages through recreations and spectacular parades, such as the children’s, the majestic Moorish entrance and the solemn Christian entrance that adorn the streets with their wonderful costumes to the rhythm of their most emblematic marches.
Since Friday, the Alces Park hosts the medieval market delighting visitors looking for natural and handmade products that transport them for a few days to a totally remote era, all enlivened with street theater through animations linked to the recreated time.
The fireworks put the finishing touch to the victory of the Christian side.
Since 2016, the Moors and Christians festivities were declared a Festival of Regional Tourist Interest, and since 2018 is the Excmo. Ayto. of Alcazar de San Juan who assumes the management of the same, supported by the Association of Moors and Christians “Al-Kasar”.
The cultural association of Moors and Christians “Al-kasar”, was born in the city of Alcazar de San Juan in 1988, as a small group of residents of the historic district of the city, but gradually grew and now becomes a local association with over 300 members, since that year of its creation has been celebrating the festivities of Moors and Christians in the city of Alcazar de San Juan every June in the last weekend of the same, always trying to coincide with the feast of St. John. Growing in number and experience has held uninterruptedly over the years parades, events and embassies with great success and expectation and is already known at provincial and national level as part of the undef for several years.
In the year 2000, the historical recreation group was born within the association, in response to a project to bring the history of the city closely linked to the Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem (The Knights Hospitallers) to both visitors and locals throughout the year. As a result of this project, the work “Appointment of a Knight of the Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem”. (See diptych that accompanies this text) in which words and symbolic gestures used by the order are recreated with great realism and performed identically, and perfectly recreates how an aspirant was named to enter the order in the middle ages.
For the realization of this work we had the invaluable advice of the history professor Mr. Daniel Jesús García Riol, who, enthusiastic about the project, became one of the recreation group and participated in it, giving us the idea of the name of the group. “Fray Fernán Pérez” who was the historical character that took the ancient city Al-kassar (nowadays Alcázar de San Juan) and gave it the title of villa, arriving this character as I say before real and historical to become Prior of the order in Castile.
Since then the play has been performed uninterruptedly several times every year, but the group has gone further, and what began as just the appointment has been extended to other works that have complemented it, thus creating a whole mosaic of characters and real and fictional stories and turning what began as a mere historical recreation in a great work with its plot and outcome, so the following dramatizations have been added to the appointment, being represented in this order:
- The Mora Alcazar
- The Knight’s Weapon Sail
- The Appointment
- The siege of the city and its outcome
- The Last Temptation of Fray Fernán
These works are acts independent of each other but coinciding with a plot that is spinning them and develops a main story between them all; in some of them the characters are developing from one story to another through the various scenes, I mean by this that represented in the same order make up a single solid and beautiful story, with its beginning. (which would be Fray Fernán’s knighthood). and its end (A somewhat freer version that places his death on holy ground in the battle of the horns of Hakim, which is clearly invented as it does not coincide with the real dates but dramatizes and fills the story with interest and spectacularity). but if necessary they can be represented separately because the subplot of all of them begins and ends in the same ones.
The style used by the reenactment group is clearly classical, inspired by the masterpieces of the genre, in the Spanish Golden Century. All the members of the group are amateur actors, who do their best to achieve realism and expressive force in their performances, but they are not professionals. This lack is made up for with the impressive staging, not only with the large number of extras and excellent costumes and enormous resources of props, but also with the experience that more than ten uninterrupted years of performances have given us, and this fact has provided us with countless resources to adapt our plays to any type of stage where they are required. The works look equally well in amphitheaters, stages, exteriors of some representative building and even in the middle of a square, everywhere we have taken them and we have managed to adapt them to any place saving professionally all the problems and obstacles.
Another highlight of the representations is that the group being integrated within the association has great resources both human and costumes and props all related to the Middle Ages, in this way, in all the works appear a large number of extras with the main actors all of them perfectly characterized, including costumes, armor, swords, spears, shields, helmets, banners and a long etcetera that make up a great and realistic spectacle.