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Nova Santa Ponsa

The festivities of the Rei en Jaume commemorate the landing of the troops of the King of Aragon, Jamie 1, in Santa Ponsa in 1229. The ensuingbattles, which took place over several days, changed the course of history in Mallorca, ending 600 years of Arab rule in the island, and replacing the faith of the mussulmans with Christianity.


The landing of the King is re-enacted all over Mallorca on various dates and in various locations, such as San Telmo, but the annual mock battle in Santa Ponsa is the largest and most authentic, recreating a real feel for the violence and terror of those far-off nights.

On Saturday 8th September 1229, an exploratory squadron came to reconnoitre the coast of Mallorca, prior to making a landing. Meanwhile King Jamie, commanding a fleet of 155 warships, and smaller transport ships carrying 1,500 officers and 15,000 troops, as well as all the machinery of battle, waited off the coast. The King's own words record that "we found a place called Santa Ponsa and decided it would be a good place to land. At midday on Sunday a saracen named Ali, of La Palomera, came swimming out to us, and gave us news and information about the island, the city and its King. I gave the order that when midnight came, the galleons and warships should weigh anchor..."

The following day, Sunday 9th, the King and his troops rested off the island of Pantaleu in San Telmo, and just after midnight on Monday the 10th the huge landing took place, with a shock meeting of 5,000 saracens, 1,500 of whom perished. The King himself led an attack against 400 infidels, and the Montcada Brothers (later found to be uncle and nephew), carried on the fight with great bravery. On the 11th, whilst the King rested in his tent in Santa Ponsa, the bulk of the forces of the Arab commander, somewhere between 18,000 and 42,000 men, with 2,000 to 5,000 horses, according to various chronicles, who had marched out of Palma city, advanced steadily towards his camp. On the 12th battle raged all day, the cowardly troops of Nuno Sanchez being urged not to surrender by the King, and the gallant Montcada Brothers being killed in action, fighting bravely to the last. The King marched on to Bendinat (Be hem dinat), which in Catalan means well have we eaten), to rest and spend the night. The two Montcadas were buried on the 14th amid much mourning, and a monument was erected in their memory next to the old pine tree which sheltered their remains, and which continued to do so right up till 1914. After eight days of mourning, the King and his troops advanced on Portopi, where they destroyed the mussulman resistance, and arrived at the walls of the city of Mayurka. The King catapulted 400 severed heads of decapitated mussulman soldiers over the city walls to weaken morale inside, and after fierce fighting, the Arab King Aby Yahya surrendered to the Spanish, asking only that his people should be spared, and allowed to leave the island when and if they chose. The King showed clemency, and sparing the lives of those inside, received the city almost intact, but the followers of the Montcadas and the vengeful bishop of Barcelona, Berenguer de Palou, demanded revenge, and forced him to continue the slaughter and fighting against the infidels. In this way were the Moors forced out of the island, and christianity re-established.

Nowadays, the fiestas of the Rei en Jaume combine historical fact with popular culture, art and music, as well as a healthy dose of fun. The festival, which cost the taxpayers of Calvia some 30,000 euros last year, includes a yacht regatta, open to yachts of various classes, including the classics, which covers 15 to 20 nautical miles from Puerto Portals to Santa Ponsa around a marker in Palma Bay. There are prizes, a luncheon, and a good deal of prestige attached to this event. On land, a huge procession takes place in town, with the Associacion de geganters de Calvia (Calvia giants' association) parading the enormous characters which represent the King, the Montcada knights, and the three most prominent saracens, throughout the streets. The knights, both christian and saracen, are mounted on papier.mache horses, and all the characters are dressed according to the period, one of the main symbols of the festival being the the helmet of King Jaume, in the form of a griffin. All these characters have their own dances and music, the giants dancing at the Christian parade and at the protocol ceremony, whilst the knights carry out a sham fight to the best of the municipal band. The dance of the escamots, involving the use of sticks, takes place during the presentation of the standards and the before the final battle on the beach. During the fiesta it has become a tradition for popular Mallorquin music groups to perform on the Friday night after the protocal ceremony and the saracen parade. This event usually begins at 9pm and finishes in the early hours. And of course, no Mallorquin festival would be complete without fireworks! The "nit de foc" is a pyrotechnic spectacular in which demons run behind people throwing firecrackers, in an incredible show if noise and excitement which fills the promenade of Santa Ponsa and has become one of the highlights of the whole festival. The culmination of events, a huge fireworks display which fills the night sky with lights and color, brings to an end another year of history remembered.


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Central Office
Avda. De la Playa #5
Local 1 Palma Nova,
Calvia, Baleares 07181
Tel: 971 68 19 30

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