The festival at Caravaca celebrates a legend that dates from the 1200s, the period in which Spain was occupied by the Moors and there were constant battles. This legend says that the people of the town were trapped in the citadel by the Moors and they had run out of water. The Knights Templars at the bottom of the hill in the town, couldn’t find any water that hadn’t been poisoned, so they tied skins of wine to the horses and they ran up to the citadel. The people there dipped the Holy Cross in the wine which cured all the sick and dying.
Caravaca’s full name is Caravaca de la Cruz as there is still a cross there, Vera Cruz, the True Cross and it has been designated a holy city by the Pope. Approaching the city by coach we had some amazing views, the citadel and the basilica stand on the top of a mound, dominating the landscape. Since I don’t have a drone I have found this picture to show you what it is like.
I did get a nice shot from the car park though.
We did not have chance this time to visit the citadel or the basilica so a return visit is definitely something we will do as I would love to wander around the town a little more. There were some stunning squares and churches and I always enjoy visiting towns outside of their fiesta days.
The first thing that we encountered was the parade of the horses, accompanied by lots of very enthusiastic supporters and bands. The fact that they sell a special wine for the occasion and there are lots of stalls selling beer obviously helped with the general mood, so I had a can of Estrella just so I blended in with the locals 😉
The horses are decorated with beautiful coats, I am not sure if they are embroidered or some other technique, but many featured people. The horses, around 60 of them, parade through the town and up to the citadel. We watched a few come through and made our way up the back streets to the base of the citadel to get a good view.
We were a little concerned to see so many ambulances arrive a bit later, unusually for a Spanish fiesta there were warning notices so we knew it could be dangerous but the ambulances were thankfully just kept busy with people passing out from the heat. We were waiting for people to fall off the hill just below the citadel in front of us as it got more and more crowded.
Before the horses run there are parades of the monarchs and their armies up to the citadel. As always this is wonderful, I do love a good Spanish re-enactment, with marching and swords! I wasn’t able to get any clear pictures of the kings and queens and their armies in the parade. Next time we go I will stay at the bottom for a bit longer to see these as it was fantastic to see them all parade up the hill to the finish line. The Catholic queen looked as if she was wearing a similar outfit to the painting of her retaking Granada that I shared in a previous post. You can see the outfit more clearly in in this news report.
The Moorish king and queen were equally splendid, there are some more detailed pictures of them in this blog post. We will see more of this type of fabulous costume when we visit the Moors and Christians festival again in Alcoy next year.
The horses run a 80 metre course up to the citadel, one team at a time and their time is recorded. The team of four have to keep one hand on the horse at all times so we could hear the the groans of the few teams who didn’t manage that. We were helpfully right opposite the film crew who were display live footage and all the team times on a big screen. We then had a quick wander back through the town before getting on the coach.
The journey back was quite eventful as we had a hailstorm fiercer than any I have ever encountered in Yorkshire as we came back through the mountains. Luckily we had a great driver who kept on going, though many people were pulled up on the hard shoulder it was that severe.
A brilliant day out and I am so glad I have been able to see it, it is one of the fiestas that Mum has always wanted me to go to, but it was never the right time of year for me to get leave. I so love the way that the Spanish celebrate life and it was brilliant to be in the middle of things again, as obviously most fiestas haven’t run for a couple of years.
I have been busy this week with working on cushions for Katy, I have still got to do some hand sewing on the last one and then I can share those but I am very pleased with them. I also ran a little workshop at my sewing group on English Paper Piecing which everyone said they enjoyed. They are such a very talented group of people and it is lovely that we take turns sharing our skills.
I had my first sea swim at the weekend, it is a lot hotter now, about 28 degrees so it will soon be pool time as well. Bike rides are having to be done only in the evenings now as it is too hot for me otherwise, but I have had fun discovering some new routes along the back roads that run next to the irrigation canals.
Hopefully this weekend I will get chance to work on the outfit for Whitby that I started last year, in January as it turns out, before life got very busy with driving, doctoral submissions and house selling! There are now only five weeks until I return to the UK, away from my sewing machine so I really need to crack on! I hope that you have all got some nice things planned, whatever you are doing, have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.