Wednesday, July 20, 2011

La Capilla de Sant Jordi (St. George's Chapel)

The view of St. George's Chapel from the school
No matter where you go in Alcoy, you can almost always catch a glimpse of a lovely blue-domed chapel situated in the center of the town's valley.  The chapel is dedicated to St. George, the same St. George of British legend, who purportedly slayed a dragon in Libya, saving a princess and returning home a hero.  As it turns out, he's a hero in Alcoy, as well.

In the latter part of the 13th century, Alcoy was being invaded by the Moors.  As the story goes, in the thick of the battle, when all looked lost, St. George appeared on horseback in between two mountains overlooking the city and led a victorious charge on the Moors, thus saving the Alcoyanos from certain ruin.  With gratitude, the locals pledged to build a church in honor of their savior, and hence, St. George's chapel was designed and raised.

Nowadays in April, there is a yearly festival in honor of this event in which the people of the town dress in medieval costumes and take part in an epic "battle" of Moors and Christians, which is always won by the Christians following the appearance of "St. George."  It is widely considered Alcoy's main attraction. The Lonely Planet travel guide even goes so far as to say that for 51 and 1/2 weeks out of the year, there is no reason to visit Alcoy -- this festival occupies the half-week exception.  Of course, we obviously don't agree with this sentiment and have found many reasons to be here!

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