richard davies

Mojácar has been habitated by many and varied peoples since antiquity. Populated since the Bronze Age around 2000 BC, traders such as Phoenicians and Carthaginians arrived to serve the growing communities. Under Greek dominion, the settlement was called Murgis-Akra, from whence came the Latinized Moxacar, the Moorish Muxacra and finally the current name of Mojácar.

 

The north African Moors established themselves in Spain in the early 8th century and the province of Almería became under the authority of the Caliphate of Damascus and later ruled from Cordoba.

Under this second enlightened rule, Mojácar quickly grew in size and importance. With the coronation of Muhammad I of Córdoba in Granada, Mojácar and its lands became incorporated into the Nazari sultanate, and the town found itself on the frontier with the Christian forces to the east.

 

Watchtowers and fortresses were built or reinforced during the 14th century, which nevertheless did little to discourage Christian incursions and fierce battles like the bloody event of 1435 where much of the population of Mojácar was put to the sword.

On June 10, 1488, the leaders of the region agreed to submit to the Christian forces, although Mojácar's alcaide refused to attend, considering his town to be already Spanish. At that time occurred the well-known meeting at Mojácar's Moorish fountain, where a pact of free association between the local Moors, Jews and Christians was agreed to. Mojácar once again began to expand until the early 18th century, when the census of the time recorded 10,000 people. Around the middle of the 19th century, Mojácar began another period of decline.

The records state that several severe droughts brought about this drop in the town's fortunes, with a consequent emigration to northern Spain, Europe and South America. The depopulation of Mojácar was reaching worrying proportions by the 1960s when tourism began to reverse the trend. Today, Mojácar remains loyal to the past with architecture, the whitewashed houses and the openness of the people, who inherited the ways of understanding and sympathy from their forebearers. Perhaps one result of this continuous mixing of cultures and religions is the Indalo or Mojácar man. This magical totem is said to bring protection and good luck, and from times past was always painted onto the fronts of houses once the whitewash was dry: keeping away the evil eye and protecting those within from storms. The figure might be interpreted to be a man holding a rainbow between his outstretched arms. The original totem is thought to be around 4,500 years old, and the earliest known one appears among other prehistoric paintings in a cave in Vélez-Blanco. The name, Indalo, is recent, and was coined by a group of artists and intellectuals who settled in Mojácar in the early 'sixties, attracted by the magic and bewitchment of the town, and who commercialised the totem which today signifies the whole province of Almería. Indalo Man has, probably due to the increase in tourism, spread in popularity and has been seen on houses as far apart in Europe as Brittany in France and Cornwall in England for the benefit of its protection from storms and the evil eye.

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Fiestas are the heartbeat of Spanish culture and tradition and Mojacar has it's fair share. Moros y Cristianos is one the biggest annual celebrations held over two days along the beaches and the white washed walls of the pueblo every June.

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