The origins

The Moors and Christians festivities in Campillo de Arenas have their origins in the 13th century, when these lands marked the border between the Castilian kingdom and the Nasrid kingdom of Granada. This event is also common in other villages in the Sierra Mágina region, such as Cárcheles and Bélmez de la Moraleda.

The most likely date for the beginning of these Moors and Christians celebrations in Campillo de Arenas dates back to the beginning of the 18th century, which is when they became more widespread throughout Spain. The first written records are found in a letter dated 18 September 1860, in which the parish priest of the town, Pedro Francisco Ruiz, informs the Bishop of the Diocese of the celebration of a pompous Moors and Christians Festival on 7 October, in honour of the patron saint, the Virgen de la Cabeza, which was attended by a large number of people from neighbouring towns and cities, including a number of personalities.

The oldest record of the existence of the Moors and Christians Festivities is found in the Cadastre of the Marquis de la Ensenada in 1752.. Among the council charges mentioned in it are the expenses dedicated to the festival held on the 14th of October in honour of the Virgen de la Cabeza, patron saint of the town.

The first book of minutes of the patron saint's brotherhood begins in 1876. In it we find the first written data on the development of the brotherhood and the development of the Moors and Christians festivities. The two sides, Moorish and Christian, were initially made up of ten brothers of the Brotherhood who took the name of "commissaries", who were exempted from the entrance fee, being obliged to pay the annual fee.

When they are held

The Moors and Christians festivities are held in honour of the Virgen de la Cabeza. the second weekend in August.

On Saturday, the image of the Virgin is carried in procession, during which the first "advance parties" of the war between Moors and Christians take place, after which, following an ambush, the Moors manage to steal the image of the Virgin from the Christian troops, who are then taken captive to the castle of the Muslim army, which has been erected in the Plaza de Andalucía for this purpose and for this representation.

Several attempts will be made by the Christian side to storm the fortress, and these fights will take place amidst the roar of fireworks and rockets and the sound of drums and bugles. After midnight, the procession of the Virgen de la Cabeza will return amidst the noise and colour of a multitude of fireworks.

On Sunday morning, the Christians set up camp near the castle with the intention of rescuing the Virgin. There will be new fights between the two sides, swords will be crossed in a primitive ritual dance of great artistic beauty, and the Moors manage to steal the Christians' weapons. The ambassadors of both sides then held a parley. The Christian side defended the Immaculate Conception of Mary, while the Moorish side did not listen to such arguments and sought to destroy the image of the Virgin. There was fighting again, and the Moorish troops were finally defeated and converted to Christianity.

Other traditions

The celebration of the feast of the Virgen de la Cabeza in Campillo de Arenas also includes the "campanilleros", who at dawn on Sunday, accompanied by bells, guitars and bandurrias, will sing at dawn the "coplas de la Aurora", traditional popular compositions of salutation to the Virgin, and will invite all the people of Campillo to participate in the Holy Rosary presided over by the Patron Saint.

Fiesta de Moros y Cristianos de Campillo de Arenas on CanalSur TV