Ethnic traditions

Los Caballos del Vino – Wine Horses – May 2

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CARAVACA DE LA CRUZ RUNNING OF THE WINE HORSES

The Running of the Wine Horses is a fantastic fiesta to attend, it takes place on the same day every year; the 2nd May. The fiesta, known in Spanish as the ‘Caballos del Vino’ has been declared as being of International Tourist Interest and is a well worth enjoying. It starts on  1st May and continues until  5th May. There are lots of parades, processions and re-enactments aside from the main event of the actual running of the wine horses.

Caballos del Vino or the Running of the Wine Horses is held on the 2nd May every year in Caravaca de la Cruz inland Murcia. Your Euro Tour Guide has chosen this promotional video by Bravo Studios to highlight this great fiesta.

In the video you’ll see panoramic images of this historic inland town, the impressive Sanctuary de la Cruz where the race takes place, traditional dress worn by the locals and participants, and of course the beautiful horses dressed in their traditional cloaks. The main parade introduces all the runners with their horses proudly accompanied by their loyal, passionate supporters all singing and dancing along to the beat of their own bands! The Moors and Christians follow before the race begins. The locals of Caravaca really welcome you to share this, their special day.

History of the Fiesta

The history of this unique fiesta is absolutely fascinating and is all about the extraordinary story of the True Cross, in Spanish the ‘Verz Cruz’. This fragment of wood is said to have been part of the cross upon which Jesus was crucified and it has protected the city since the 13th century. The presence of the True Cross in Caravaca is the reason for its status as a Holy City, one of only 5 in the world, on par with Rome and Jerusalem. 

The legend dates back to the days of the Knights Templar, who came to the aid of the townspeople. The invading Moorish army had cunningly poisoned the water supply, which flowed into the besiege town, and many people were dying of thirst, as they couldn’t drink the poisoned water. The only liquid that could be found to drink was wine. So the brave Templer Knights tied flagons of wine to their horses and ran with them up the hill before the Moorish armies realised what was happening, bringing the precious liquid to the townspeople.

The Vera Cruz was bathed in the wine and miraculously the sick and wounded were healed. Today, to commemorate this happening 60 horses are dressed in spectacular embroidered cloaks and run up the hill to the sanctuary one by one, in a race against the clock. It can be extremely exciting, as the streets are packed with onlookers who part to allow the horses to rush past just centimetres away! Prizes are awarded for both the fastest horses and those with the most exceptional embroidery. Source 1, Source 2, Source 3

LOS CABALLOS DEL VINO (WINE HORSES) MOORS AND CHRISTIANS

The beginning of the fiestas is on April 30th with the Noche de las Migas (Night of the Breadcrumbs). Streets are crowded with charanga bands, batucadas (music events consisting of a group of percussion instruments) and the colouring of the peñas migueras, groups of people meeting to cook this typical dish made of breadcrumbs, garlic, sardines and sausages, that later get together in Plaza del Hoyo to choose the best migas. On May 1st there are very popular events such as the Flower Offering, the Contest of Bareback Horses and the Exhibition of Capes, real pieces of art woven with silk and silver and gold threads that will decorate horses the following day.

In the morning of May 2nd Caravaca celebrates the Caballos del Vino (Wine Horses), the big day of the fiestas. The only requirement for not being out of tone is to wear a red shawl, a white shirt and to bear in mind that you’re going to attend one of the most deafening fiestas of Spain.

Hundreds of thousands of people meet together to live in direct the legendary race. Everything happens in the blink of an eye. Four lads run next to each horse in an intense gallop that finishes at the open area of the Castle. This race recalls an incredible event that happened 700 years ago. According to legend, when the Muslims besieged the castle of the sacred city, a group of templars was able to break the siege, introduce saddlebags full of wine with the aid of their horses and prevent the population from dying because of the poisoned water that the enemies had used to contaminate tanks.

Some things you won’t forget

One of the most special things is to wake up on May 2nd at seven in the morning with the bell ringing and the strong thunders, already listening to the bells of the horses galloping in the streets. This day, wherever you look, you’ll see it all in white and red.

  Something unique of these fiestas is the number of different environments that are displayed according to the event and the time of day. It doesn’t seem the same city in the morning as when the sun sets, but yes, both the spectacular nature and the hospitality of the caravaqueños is assured at any moment.

Coexistence between peñas caballistas and their charanga bands and Moor Kabyles and Christian groups, who take the streets willing to fight, to draw their swords and broadswords and gain positions around their kings and sultans.

The flavour of migas ruleras, the cakes or desserts like the alfajor (sweet of almond, pinenuts, walnuts, bread crumbs, honey and spices) the famous yemas, delicacies made of egg yolk and sugar, coated by caramel or chocolate. To end up with a good digestion, it is traditional to try homemade drinks like sweet wine and coffee liquor.

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