The Medieval Market held annually in Orihuela has built a national reputation and attracts visitors from across Spain. This year the event will be held from Friday 31st January and promises to be bigger and better than ever. Although final details and the schedule for the free buses which will run between Orihuela Costa and the Medieval Market are yet to be released, the 2020 event will once again be divided into two camps: the Moors and the Christians.
Medieval Spain was very different to most European countries. Rather than jousting, fair maidens and armoured knights, from 8th to the 15th Century Spain was largely occupied by the Moors, who were Arabs from North Africa. As a result, the architecture is much closer to that found in Morocco than in south-western Europe – think Alhambra Palace in Granada, and the Great Mosque in Córdoba.
Elements of Moorish Spain are revived in the Mediaeval markets such as fragrant tea tents – designed like traditional Moroccan and Algerian lounges with embroidered satin cushions for seats, low-slung silver-topped tables, hot mint tea with abundant sugar served up in decorative glasses, poured from ornate silver teapots and served with almond biscuits – and music played on the laúd, a popular instrument of the time similar to the lyre.
Stalls holders dress in traditional outfits such as tunics and turbans made from modest materials and discreet colours, much like the ordinary person on the street would have worn at the time whilst going about their daily life and work.
Birds of prey, wandering minstrels, street theatre, fire-eating, juggling displays, donkeys and other animals all add to the atmosphere. The streets between stalls are often lined with straw to make the surface softer for working livestock, as was typical of the time.
Effectively, you’ll take a step back several centuries when you mingle with the crowds negotiating the network of stalls selling traditional food stuffs and wares, with the vast majority of goods hand-crafted. On the food side, fig and date cakes, spices, nuts, cheeses and sausages from all over Spain and medicinal herbs and teas are typical finds.
There is also everything from satin and lace (cushion covers, tablecloths, sofa throws, scarves) to leather (belts, handbags, decorative items), coloured glass (lamps and mirrors galore), jewellery, and an array of brightly-coloured, unique ornamental and practical pieces. Orihuela Medieval Market also hosts demonstrations and workshops for children and adults, and again once the full programme is issued we will provide the all details.