FIRO – Dont Mess with the Women of L’Horta

L’horta occupies a unique position in the Soller Valley. It is the Hamlet between the city of Soller and it’s Port. The place on the Tram line where the tram always stops irrespective of whether you press the bell. This is the mid point between the two places and you ignore it at your peril for it really is a very special place in the history books of Soller.

L’horta’s population stands at around 1700 people. Many of them local families who have always lived in L’horta. The main street of Poetissa Fca Alcover house the Bar Massi and the Shop Massi and a cluster of houses owned by the same family. This allegiance and family roots are replicated all over L’horta and is a throwback to the time when it was the farming heart of the growing industry of the oranges.

The fertile earth of the area plus the double dip location make it a unique growing micro climate. It is always slightly colder in L’horta in the winter and slightly hotter in the summer because of its double dip valley. Before the torrent was re- routed the area used to flood each winter and old photographs show the transport of the time being rowing boats in L’horta. There is something about this that creates unique orange growing conditions and it is always said that the tomatoes and oranges of L’horta are second to none. All still available today in the Shop Massi.

The Church of L’horta deserves special mention and is indication why this place is considered so special. The beautiful building dedicated to the Mother of God was built in recognition of the role that the people and in particular the women played in saving Soller from the pirates. The Virgin de la Victoria of L’horta was built between 1917 and 1923 and dedicated to St Joseph of the Mountain. In 1937 it became the Virgin of Victory Parish to commemorate the part played in the victory over the pirates on 11th May 1561.

If you are interested in really understanding the significance of this area join the crowd on Firo Day at the Monument restaurant at 10 am. This is the gathering place for the Historical People, the Aires de Sollerics, The Church and everyone else. The parade from the Monument goes up the road towards Fornalutx and turns left into the TAMANY district of L’horta to the house where it all kicked off. A ceramic plaque on the house tells you that this is the place where the women of L’horta came into their own.

The Moors arrived in the Port of Soller, Captain Angelats and his team from Soller, the Port and the surrounding areas went to the sea to repel them. The leader of the breakaway group of Moors heading for Soller entered the house at Tamany where two sisters Katherina and Francesca Casesnoves lived. The rest of the group waited outside the house as their leader rushed the house. One of the Valiant Women gave him wine, the other knocked him over the head with a lump of wood and together they dragged his body to the upper floor of the house. From there the Valiant Dones threw the body down to the crowd and they all ran …

Meanwhile at the site of the Monument restaurant back on the road other women had gathered and plastered the path with treacle and tar. The women were great shots with their slings and stone throwing and the Moors went running as fast as they could with tar on their feet. Anything to get away from the women of L’horta …

This is the story we celebrate each year in May and the Firo and the accompanying re-enactment of the battle of the Moors and Christians is the highlight of the year for many. Sollerics from all over the world return to Soller for this time each year. It is a huge gathering of family reunions and people planning their holidays to coincide with this Fiesta.

There are many manifestations of this story but all agree that the significance of the actions of the Valiant Dones saved the day. Every year in Soller the elections take place for the Valiant Dones of the year. To be considered for election, never mind being appointed is considered a great family honour in Soller.

These days L’horta is a sleepy hamlet of very local people. A few incomers make their home in this unique area and are surrounded by the beauty of the valley at every turn. The people of L’horta may seem as normal as the rest but they never forget the heart of steel that protected their City in the hour of need. Anyone new coming to live in this particular part of Soller needs to understand the soul of the place. This is not a dormitory village of Soller – it is a very special place which will always occupy the thoughts and gratitude of the history of the Soller Valley.

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