The Annual Battle between Moors and Christians

Customs and Traditions — By on

If I had to choose my favourite Mallorcan festivity to recommend to a friend or visitor, it would probably either be the Pi de Sant Antoni in Pollença (in January), the Devallament in Felanitx (on Good Friday), the Moros i Cristians in Sóller (in May), the Corpus Cristi procession in Palma (in June), the Moros i Cristians in Pollença (in August) or the Festa d’Estandard in Palma (in December).

Sóller’s historic battle against the invading Moors is said to have taken place on May 11th, 1561. That was the date when the Arab pirates, coming from Algiers, disembarked in Port de Sóller, meeting fierce resistance from the local town folks of Christian denomination. Luckily, the then Viceroy in Ibiza had sent warning to the citizens of Sóller who could prepare themselves and organize their defence.

Next Monday, May 14th, the battle between Moors and Christians, Sóller-style, will be re-enacted, first in Port de Sóller, and then in Sóller proper in the main square. Sóller was victorious at the time under its brave Capità Angelats with the help of the valiant town folks from Sóller, and will be again this year, for sure. The invaders will be led by the Rei Moro, who first thought he had conquered Sóller, but ultimately had to accept that his men were defeated. Thousands of Sollerics participate every year, exhibiting lots of enthusiasm and expressing plenty of pride. The population of Sóller dresses up for the occasion in either white, for the Christians, armed with sticks and farming utensils, or in full colour and headdress for the Arabs, heavily armed with scimitars. Gun barrels are impressively fired with gunpowder and live fuse. Ear shattering. Nowadays, both camps are united though, in the plentiful consumption of spirited beverages throughout the day.

There are a number of Moros i Cristians events in Mallorca throughout the year, at different dates and in different places. The main event, historically speaking, would have to be the offensive assault lead by Jaume I from Aragón, bringing his troops from Catalunya to Mallorca, and landing in Santa Ponça in September of 1229. The operation was successfully concluded on December 31st, 1229, after a siege lasting three months. Ibn Abū Yahyā, then Mallorcas’s Almohad Wali, finally capitulated. In Mallorca, this historical event is called the Reconquista. Santa Ponça celebrates Jaume I’s historic landing every year in September.

Other historic re-enactments of battles between Mallorcan town folks and invading pirates, Saracens, Moors, Arabs or Turks are held in Sant Elm, Calvià, Alcúdia, Pollença and Valldemossa.