La Cara del Moro
La Cara del Moro is a legend about the origin of the city name Alicante. There are many legends, but this is definitely our favourite. The 166 m high hill, Benancantil, forms the base for the castle of Santa Barbara. But at the height of Playa del Postiguet, you can see the profile of a face in a piece of rock. This is a story about love and sadness that we certainly want to share with you!
A Moorish Caliph and his daughter
Many centuries ago, when the Moors dominated the Spanish Costa’s, there was a Moorish Caliph who ruled over the city (Alicante). He was a generous and supreme ruler who was respected by everyone.
He lived in the castle (Castillo de Santa Barbara) with his family, including his favourite daughter, Cántara.
Cántara was a wonderful and intelligent young lady, and many admirers came to the region to court her. However, there were only two gentlemen who drew her attention.
2 gentlemen with a mission
One of these was Almanzor, a brave general from Córdoba. His behaviour and reputation were known throughout the region. And the young Cántara was impressed by this.
On the other hand, there was Ali, a very handsome and seductive young man of noble origin. He, however, enjoyed little fame in contrast to his love rival.
The caliph preferred someone with status and tried to persuade his daughter to choose Almanzor. The young Cántara did not know who to choose. So, the caliph determined that fate should decide. Both gentlemen were to fulfil an assignment and the one who succeeded in this, would marry his daughter.
Almanzor left for India. He would establish a trade route for silk and spices. Ali preferred to stay close to his lover. He decided to take care of the supply of water from nearby Tibi. This was a task not to be underestimated, but he was enthusiastic and motivated.
Love is ….
Even though Ali had started very well, he could not get Cántara out of his mind. He tried to see her as much as possible. During every free moment, he ran to the woman of his dreams in order to court her. And it bore fruit, because not much later, Cántara fell madly in love with Ali.
When Almanzor returned, he had accomplished his mission. He brought an abundance of spices and expensive fabrics from the Middle East. The Caliph was greatly impressed and promised him his daughter’s hand.
On hearing this news, Ali was devastated. He ran away from the city, inconsolable and desperate. During the journey, he fell and tumbled into the ravine. When he fell into the abyss, the earth opened in a miraculous way. As a result, the mountain water flowed to what is now the dam of Tibi (the main supply of water to this day).
Cántara was desperate and shocked when she learned that Ali had died. Crushed by heartbreak, she decided to follow Ali in death. She went to the same location and jumped to her death. This place bears the name “Salto de la Mora” (The Moor’s leap) today.
A father in mourning
The caliph had lost his favourite daughter and was desperate and depressed. Not much later, this once mighty man died of his grief for his daughter. During the death of the caliph, his distressed profile appeared, carved into the rock of Benancantil, near Playa del Postiguet.
Alicante, an homage to love
The court and all the residents were greatly impressed by the events. Saddened by the story of unrequited love, they decided to bring the two lovers together forever. But how? After discussing various ideas, they decided to change the city name. It was decided to connect Ali and Cántara in the name Alicante.
In this way the two lovers were united, only by name, but for all eternity.