Ring my Bell

Bell ringing in Spain is pretty rare compared to England, but in Albaida in the Valencia Region, there is a long history of Bell Ringing, going back hundreds of years.  We were very lucky to visit Albaida recently with the intention of finding out what days their local bell ringing group performed, we visited their tourist information office who told us the Bell ringers were about to perform in the church tower behind their office that very minute and to hurry across to the Bell Tower of the Church. 

We climbed the narrow staircase up to the top of the tower, which luckily was not a huge tower,  and discovered the bell ringers, wearing their official t shirts and red waistbands, plus a team of 2 who were there to record a special programme for television. We thoroughly enjoyed a special programme of their bell ringing which was very different to English bell ringers, in the UK the bell ringers are at the bottom of the tower, but here in Albaida, they are at the top of the tower to push and pull the bells as well as pulling on the ropes. I have some video to add, but need a stronger internet connection than the one I have in Spain, so once back in the UK I shall add more media. The Bellringers were most welcoming and very interested to hear about English Bell ringers, luckily we have a friend who rings the bells at a local church, so we could talk with a little bit of knowledge, albeit second hand !  

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Traditional Xativa Fair

Since 1250 there has been an annual fair held in Xativa,  back in the day it was food, livestock and some entertainment. Even now they still hold sales of livestock as well as  traditional products. We enjoyed a demonstration of lace making by a small group of local women in one of the side streets, whilst there was a horse riding demonstration along the Main Street of the fair.  My favourite sellers are those who sell the beautiful hand-painted mediterranean Crockery and Hand Carved wooden products, not to mention a fine array of pickled olives and local fruit with a selection of specialist Jamon and Chorizo products. If you ever find your self in visiting Spain either visit the local tourist information office or google your destination and check out the diary of local events, you will enjoy their local hospitality I am sure. This is the link to Xativa Tourism page http://www.xativaturismo.com/en/fira-de-xativa/

Source: http://www.louisehowell.com/blog//xativa-f...

Don Quixote Windmills

At the end of August last Summer, 2017,  we took a short road trip from  Valencia across to Toledo, the former Capital of Spain, the highlight of the journey for me, was stopping to see the Windmills that had been featured in the stories of the well known Spanish legend Don Quixote, although he was a fictional character, the windmills definitely are not. They are spread across the region Castile De La Mancha, there are a few different places to stop and see them, but we had researched various drives as recommended by the  AA and chose to  stop in 2 specific places to take a closer look at these wonderful buildings.

Campo de Criptana

Despite being the end of August, the weather was pretty turbulent that day, with thunder, rain and stormy winds sweeping across the region, so our sightseeing was somewhat curtailed by the inclement weather. However our first stop was at a little Moorish Village named  'Campo de Criptana',  we followed the small signs ' Los Molinos' all through the village, until we arrived at the very top of the hill where the dozen or so  Windmills stood tall and proud overlooking the town and across the valley. It is completely free of charge to park your car and wander around the many windmills which are scattered across the hilltop, however if you would like to inside as many are renovated and run as small museums you then just pay a small amount to the keeper at the windmill doorway.  One windmill is now an official tourist office too. 



Out next stop which is possibly the most famous is up above the town of Consuegra, there are only 4 windmills up on the top of the hill side, next to the derelict Castle. Unfortunately by the time we arrived, the wind was literally howling, the sky was turning black and the rain just poured out of the sky, so I was able to take only a few shots. There is a bit of a steep walk from were you can park your car then walk up to the castle and then further up to the 4 windmills, but the wind was making it impossible to go any further than the first one. Perhaps if the weather had been kinder I might have enjoyed the visit more.

Of the two locations, I much preferred the first, Campo de Criptana, much easier to enjoy the windmills as they are all on the top of the hill with the free parking, cafe, restaurant close by, had the rain not been pouring I would have happily stayed to enjoy the view with a cup of coffee. The village is very quaint with many houses and buildings still painted white with blue outlines which was typical during the time of the Moors. Very few tourist books mention the village of Campo de Criptana, but the Windmills are well worth the visit if you are in the area.   


Source: http://www.louisehowell.com/blog//don-quix...

Los Moros y Cristians Fiesta

I have finally found the time to write up on one of my favourite Fiesta's that is held in Spain, their Moors and Christians or Los Moros y Cristians. If you ever find yourself in Spain, make sure you check for their local events, one not to miss is the The Moors and Christians Festival which is an annual Festival that commemorates the battles between the Moors or Arabs and the Christians during the Reconquista between  8 - 15 Century. 

The battle reenactments take place in some parts of Spain but not all, they are more frequently held in the Valencia Region of Spain. It is an annual Fiesta and each town that celebrates holds their event on differing dates.  The festival also has different durations, these photos that I took in L'Olleria which is a small town in the Valencia Region. their festival lasts over 10 days with different activities running on different days and nights. (Nights were mainly bands and dancing which normally would not start till around midnight!)

The actual reenactment of the Moors and Christians Fiesta include Moorish capture of the city followed by the christian re-conquest. For a few days  people dress up in elaborate costumes representing either Christians or Moors.  Christians costumes will include the wearing of  armor, helmets and lots of fur, some will ride horses too. While those representing the Muslims or Arabs  will  wear  ancient Arab costumes sometimes they will  carry scimitars and ride camels. In LOlleria they have a procession which starts on a Saturday night a 7pm,  and lasts for around for 5 hours, among the marching groups of Moors and Christians there are the local music bands and various other entertainers, including performing horses, acrobats and dancers. It is free to watch, you can reserve a chair from the town council for a few euros or stand, in fact every part of the Fiesta is free to enjoy. 

As you can see from a few of these photos it is a very elaborate festival, they hire professional costumes and make up artists to apply the detailed face paints, as it is an annual event the overall theme remains the same, Moors and Christians, but they choose a different sub theme each year which is depicted in their costumes. These are just a small selection of photos that I took. I have a couple of other blog posts about different events that were also held during this amazing Fiesta.