Monday, June 22, 2015

Mojácar Earthquake

Mojácar and Vera were largely destroyed in an earthquake which occurred on the night of November 9th 1518. Articles in Spanish here and here tell the story.
There had been a series of worrisome trembles that year ever since mid-June, but nothing to match the final convulsion.
Briefly, with the eternal threat of the Barbary Pirates (I wrote about them here), and all the local defenses demolished by the ferocity of the earthquake - we are on a major fault line, the same one that finished off the Minoan Civilization in Crete in 1450BC - the area was suddenly and abruptly in a bad way. It was, after all, just thirty years after the towns had been liberated by the Reyes Católicos.
It was a Tuesday, and the earthquake arrived around about midnight. Vera was totally destroyed (the hill behind the current location of the city 'Cerro del Espíritu Santo' was the old town) and Mojácar was badly hit. There's an eye-witness account from the then mayor of Mojácar - Iñigo Guevara - who described the collapsed castle in these terms: 'I saw it all fallen in, until the very foundations were visible. There is almost nothing left of the fortress which is so flattened that it appears to have been destroyed by all the artillery of the world'. A report from the time says that almost a third of the eighty homes which made up Mojácar had collapsed. Another report says that the clergy were frightened to give Mass in the church due to its state. It says in the original:  "En la dicha villa de Moxacar no se dize misa a causa que los clerigos no osan entrar a dezir misa a la yglesia porque esta para caerse a causa del terremoto que agora hizo”. A little over a dozen people died in Mojácar as a result of the earthquake. In Vera, the death-toll reached 150. The survivors of the catastrophe  fired an arrow into the sky to chose the site of the new town (Wiki).
Vera in the Middle Ages
The Pirates? 1,500 Moors showed up outside the defenceless village of Mojácar on October 7th 1522. Some of them might even have been born there. No doubt it was time to head for the hills...

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