This is a guest video and description from photographer Paul Louis Archer:
The Moors & Christians Festival took place during The National Day of Valencia. The festive events included an historical re-enactment and a street parade.
The traditional Moors & Christians Festival is celebrated throughout the Valencian community in south east Spain. It commemorates the battles fought between Moors (or Muslims) and Christians during the period known as “Reconquista”. In English, reconquista means reconquest. Eventually, the Moors were defeated by the Christians, ending approximately 800 years of Moorish rule in Spain – from the 7th century until the 15th century.
Prior to attending the festival in Valencia, I harboured some preconceived ideas of the Moors & Christians. I presumed that the spectacle might owe more to pantomime than accurate historical portrayal. Furthermore, I felt it may inflame a few people as a contentious issue, simply because the festival may not tread lightly upon history, while also being construed as politically incorrect.
However, while witnessing the celebrations firsthand, I realised that these preconceived ideas were unfounded. It was not a pantomime as such, although a few costumes were spectacular. It was more than just a historical re-enactment or a commemoration of antiquated battles. For, the festival is deeply rooted in the regional identity of the contemporary Valencian community.
It almost seems that the celebrations are a form of reconciliation, not so much between occidental and oriental cultures, but between the echoes of those same groups found within the national psyche and very gene pool of most Valencians.
There’s no doubt that the festival is about historical battles fought between the Moors and Christians, but it’s also a celebration of Valencian Moorish roots and Christian heritage. It’s an honourable stamp of identity. Furthermore, the festival gives closure to past conflicts for the autonomous community of Valencia.
Imitation reigns supreme at The Moors and Christians Festival in the city of Valencia. It has been said that imitation is the highest form of flattery. In this case, flattery flows uninhibited among both Moor and Christian alike, as if their forefathers from both camps were watching from above.
Arguably, the Moors never really left Spain, because they still dwell in spirit (alongside the Christians) within the hearts of the Spanish. This is especially poignant in the Valencian region. As the festival organiser announces next, “The Moors, here! The Christians, here!”