Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Mojácar Pueblo

I completed my Sunday Eucharist sermon for Mojacar this morning, nice and early. There'll also be an Evensong inland at Aljambra. With plenty of leisure to think, I'll prepare something different to suit the readings for this occasion.

I've been meaning to do it since I arrived, but finally this afternoon I drove up to Mojacar Pueblo, the hill town sitting 150 metres above the coastal plain, nestling on a promontory beneath jagged sierra peaks. The site's history of occupation dates back 4,000 years, but the present layout of the town, like so many other historic villages in Spain dates from 11th century Moorish occupation.

In the 19th and early 20th centuries its ancient prosperity diminished greatly, as did its population, but it was then 'rediscovered'. It became a centre for artists from the 1960s, and after that grew as a tourism destination, with the development of Mojacar Playa on the coastal plain, during the past thirty years. The old town has decent approach roads, modern parking facilities, several plazas and small retail areas equally modern, yet exploiting its steep hilly environment without detriment.

It was quiet, and there weren't many people about during siesta time on this autumn afternoon, but I could imagine the place welcoming large numbers of high season visitors. There are spectacular views over the plain to the north towards Vera and Garrucha, with a walkway following the line of the ancient town wall, no longer visible, showcasing the view.

The Parish Church of our Lady of the Rosary and St Augustine, dates from 1560. It stands at the edge of the upper plaza. It has a plain fortress-like exterior, and a squat bell tower. The interior is a simple high round arched unvaulted nave without apse or aisles. The west front is also plain with a single round arched entrance. Classic forms, but with no renaissance or baroque portal to boost its status as a church building post reconquista. It was built on the site where the mosque once stood. I wondered if the unadorned simplicity of this building bore witness to the town's history, in which Jews, Muslims and Christians had lived peacefully together, and won respect from Ferdinand and Isabella when citizens of all faiths united in pledging loyalty to the Crown without surrendering the status quo they'd developed.

Although it was siesta time, the church was open to visit, and a gentle stream of recorded plainsong offered a calming welcome to all who entered. There seems to be no Catholic place of worship in Mojacar Playa. There's an Assemblies of God missionary congregation, and the Anglican presence, but no Mass centre advertised to cater for visitors down on the seaside. I wonder why? This Friday is the patronal fiesta of Our Lady of the Rosary, so there'll be special events up in the old town, but not at a time when I can make it, unfortunately, as I have a prior engagement with the Anglican congregation out at Aljambra.

After a couple of hours up in the old town, I returned to the apartment, and then went out for my daily walk. This time to the Mercadona and back, eighty minutes exercise, and some fish for supper as a reward for the effort.

My photos you'll find here

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