Alicante is a city located in the Valencian Community of Spain. One of the most prominent features of the city is the Castle of Santa Bárbara, which is situated on Mount Benacantil overlooking the port and city of Alicante.
Legend has it that a Moorish king and his daughter, Cantara, used to reside in the castle over a thousand years ago. Cantara was said to be the fairest of the land, and her beauty was ballyhooed in prose and song. When Cantara turned sixteen, her father deemed her old enough to be betrothed. Two princes came along, named Almanzor and Ali, asking for Cantara’s hand in marriage. The king, unable to determine who should marry his daughter, declared that the first to complete a set of tasks would be wedded to Cantara. Almanzor proceeded to swiftly complete his challenges, which consisted of bringing back rare spices from the Indies; however, Ali spent all his time writing love letters to Cantara, and he was thus able to earn her love. But, being a man of his word, the king had to grant Almanzor his daughter’s hand despite Cantara’s protests. Struck with grief, Cantara jumped off the castle wall and plummeted to her death. Upon hearing the news of Cantara’s death, Ali too jumped so that he could be with his love in death.
The people of Alicante decided to name the city after Ali and Cantara so that the story of their tragic romance would be forever remembered and recounted. Furthermore, “La Cara de Moro” (The Face of the Moor), on Mount Benacantil is said to be the profile of the late Moorish king who lived out the rest of his life in deep sorrow and grief for the loss of his daughter…
Now, there’s no clear moral to this story. One can argue that it warns of the dangers of love and lust, and that one shouldn’t act so hastily. However, I believe the story is a manifestation of Spaniards’ passion. While the story by no means encourages people to go jumping off mountains to demonstrate their love for one another, I believe it does to a certain extent portray the belief that one should always act in love. I have observed this mindset on a daily basis in my time so far here in Spain. Whether it’s young couples going at it on a park bench or my host dad talking with passionate zeal about FC Barcelona, Spaniards embrace living their lives to the fullest and making sure they love every moment of it. I know this sounds clichéd (and saying that it sounds clichéd is clichéd within itself), but I believe this is a lesson worth listening to because too often we act sans passion in the United States.