Cabo Roig, an unlikely target for pirates! – Comaskey Properties

Barbary Pirates For a few moments pretend you are setting on the beach near what is now Cabo Roig, sometime between the 11th and 19th century when a signal is received from a watch tower down the coast warning of an imminent attack from the Barbary Pirates. What do you do, where do you go, what happens to your family and then you wake up and realize that you were only dreaming or were you?

For centuries the people of Cabo Roig actually did live in fear of being attacked by these pirates. These fast corsair galleys could attack the coast any place any time in search of treasure but more importantly slaves. Between 800,000 and 1,200,000 people were captured from all over Europe during this period in time and subsequently sold into slavery, mostly in North Africa.

To protect yourself from the pirates the best thing to do was to run to the hills and hide until the coast was clear, hence the saying ”no hay moros en la costa” (there are no Moors on the coast). If there was a garrison town close by then you would try to get within its walls before the attack.

The watch towers were constructed along the entire coast after the Reconquest by los Reyes Catolicos Ferdinand and Isabella at the end of the 15th century. These gave warnings up and down the coast of imminent attack as a few minutes delay could mean slaughter or slavery. The towers were not armed and normally manned by one person and if he was smart he would relay the warning to the next tower and then run for all he was worth.

The alerts were given by smoke signals during the day or by torch at night. Some more complicated messages were devised at a later date and transmitted with remarkable speed over long distances. They could tell the number of ships and what direction they were headed in order to warn the next village.

But it is not that place in time and you are safe, there are no Barbary Pirates just off shore and the watch tower is now part of a restaurant, so set back and enjoy your holiday. Have a drink and give a salute to the ones that didn’t make it to the hills.

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