This weekend, El Puig, a small town about 25 minutes north of Valencia by train, celebrated its liberator King James I. In 1238, he took El Puig and used the its strategically important location for an assault on Valencia, and his presence was honored with a medieval festival.
Just a note: El Puig is not pronounced “El Pwig”. Asking locals about “El Pwig” will result in confusion. Everyone here knows it by the Valencian pronunciation, which sounds like “El Pooch”.
Among the highlights of The Pooch’s festival was a medieval tournament, with a number of knights involved in tests of skill. A story ran throughout this competition, pitting the King’s champion against a sneering “Black Knight”. You get one guess who triumphed in the end.
Even more impressive was the marketplace. Silk spinners, soap makers, blacksmiths, chair makers, and other artisans practiced their craft in the plaza underneath the monastery. We saw a tea house, farm animals such as donkeys & baby pigs, acrobatics and enjoyed excellent food. Unlike the lame medieval festival recently held in Valencia’s Plaza de Toros, El Puig managed to convey a real sense of the times, with monks wandering amongst the crowd with other characters, like an executioner and a crazy woman with leprosy.
The concluding espectáculo del fuego, unfortunately, was a mess. But an entertaining mess, as it was immediately apparent that the jugglers and flamethrowers were just winging it. We left early, but overall had a great day in El Puig.