Every autumn, early in the season, the city of Badajoz remembers when it was founded with a grand celebration called “Al Mossassa”. This is an Arab past that can be seen, sensed, tasted and even smelled during this celebration. It takes place during the end of the month of September. The city of Badajoz, located in the south of Extremadura, is the capital of the Spanish Province with the same name. This is a region in Spain, which is west of Madrid and is close to the Portuguese border. During this festivity the city is decked out for the celebration and numerous public and private spaces convert into the scenarios of activities. These range from theater to a medieval market, feature music, poetry, parades and gastronomy.
Dancers move to the rhythm of oriental music, soldiers are dressed with turbans and tunics, falconers, merchants in their tents, acrobats and snake charmers will cross your path if you visit the capital of this charming Province during the celebration. The “Plaza Alta” (High Plaza) of the city of Badajoz is the nerve center of the Al Mossassa celebration. It is where all these characters move. Also, it is where a Souk is installed with craft stalls, food kiosks and importantly vendors that will offer any thing from oriental fabrics to Persian rugs, all with the purest oriental style. In addition to the sight, Al Mossassa can also be enjoyed with your others senses, when the aroma of Couscous reaches you or also, the smell of oriental spices and Arab teas. Your host will prepare delicious snacks that put flavor to the party and are a real joy to be tasted.
The historical center of the city is also where events are set up. An example is an exhibit that depicts the life of the town during the time of its foundation in year 875 by Ibn Marwan. This is a place that attests to centuries of peaceful coexistence between Muslims, Christians and Jews during the middle Ages. The visitors can observe all kinds of objects that were used in the wars, such as old weapons and armor. But also objects that were part of the peaceful life, like an exhibit of musical instruments that are used to enhance the festive atmosphere.
The drama of the founding of the city is one of the most popular events at Al Mossassa. This takes place in the “Jardines de la Galera” (Gardens of the Galley), outdoors, with a hundred actors who recall de conquest that led to years of Muslim rule, where the traditions of art and culture occupied a vital place.
Al Mossassa is a celebration for family fun, because a place is made for the small children to start appreciating the historic past of Badajoz in a playful way. Workshops based on Arab cuisine, introduction to crafts making, storytelling, folkloric dances, or falconry are some of the activities planned year after year for the enjoyment an entertainment of the whole family. They also serve to make people understand history through fun activities.
A tour of the principal historic monuments of Badajoz, such as the Alcazaba, the Tower of “Espantaperros” or the “Puerta de Alpéndiz” is part of the attractions of this celebration in which leisure and knowledge are perfectly well assembled. Lectures given by experts are a prelude to the more festive events that are usually held during the weekend. This is an event, which is highly recommended to people of a wide range of interest and age groups.
Considering the size of the city, which is close to two hundred thousand people, a whole range of convenient forms of public transportation will reach Badajoz. There are also a variety of hotel accommodations and places to eat. This is a good place to learn about the European middle Ages.
Original article by Pilar Armero
Translated by Susana Windt
Published in September, 2016