Point of interest 4/4
Alcazaba and Moorish Games
Audioguide in text
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Dominating the town is its Alcazaba, one of the demonstrations of the importance of Purchena in the Al- Andalus period. This enclosure is an ancient Nasrid citadel built in the year 888, of which only some remains are preserved. Here Aben Humeya took refuge with his troops during the rebellion of the Alpujarras.
Today there are only remains of houses, a cistern, a bath, the wall and a tower, known as Torre del Agua, which is a magnificent work of hydraulic engineering because, inside it has a deposit of drinking water, which made the village a place almost impossible to conquer. Half of its original 13 meters has been preserved. It has two floors and inside there is a mine with a water source that flows into a cistern.
There are also remains of funerary constructions of the Bronze Age, almost disappeared. Its watchtower, in the vicinity of the village, was a watchtower also from the Nasrid period, from which all the surroundings could be seen. At present, this Alcazaba is a great viewpoint to observe both the urban area and the nature that Purchena and its surroundings offer us.
The participation of Purchena in the rebellion of the Moors and its support to Aben Humeya brought about that Felipe II cut, as punishment, the wings to the bicephalous eagle of the shield of the city what has turned this shield into the only one in the world with a bird without wings.
Aben Humeya made Purchena his capital during the rebellion in September 1569 and convened here for several days the Moorish Games that are now held every two years during the month of July. In the words of Juan Antonio Samaranch: “The Moorish Games of Aben Humeya represent a missing link in the chain between the Olympic Games of Antiquity and the modern world”. These games have been declared of National Tourist Interest by the Ministry of Tourism and Sport. For a week, the town of Purchena travels back in time and recovers all the Andalusian traditions: clothing, gastronomy, folklore, crafts, sports; being at the same time a meeting place for many visitors from inside and outside our borders.
Some of the competitions held are: wrestling, lifting of the Burxana marble stone weighing 68 kilos, brick holding, sprinting, archery, sling shooting, triple jump, chant throwing, etc.
The Moorish Games have served as inspiration for numerous artists. An example of this is that the writer Ildefonso Falcones, author of La Catedral del Mar, novelizes the Games in a passage of his book La mano de Fátima (The Hand of Fatima).
In 2013 a musical discovery of great value was made: the discovery of a piano piece called Fiesta en Purchena composed in 1938 by the prestigious American soundtrack composer Albert Hay Malotte inspired by the Moorish Games. This score has led to the creation of a festival of Music, Film and Literature that is held every two years alternating with the Moorish Games.
Our visit ends here but not before asking you to close your eyes and in its impregnable Alcazaba let your imagination fly towards the past splendor of Purchena, but also to contemplate the present day of a town that has managed to maintain its traditions and wants to continue forging its history in the centuries to come.
From this magical place in the north of the province full of stories and legends we say goodbye. We hope you enjoyed your visit. You are invited to return. Purchena awaits you with open arms.