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Trasmoz Witch Festival

In the 13th century, witchcraft was a big deal in Europe. Accusations could land you in deep trouble with the zealots of the Catholic Church. The very least of the punishments would be excommunication from the church.

Imagine, if you will, a whole village accused of witchcraft. Thousands of people would end up cast out of the church, and the entire village would be condemned for its evil. What caused the excommunication of Trasmoz?

Greed & Rattling Chains

The village of Trasmoz is watched over by a medieval castle atop the nearby hill. During the early 13th century, the inhabitants of the castle spent their days in forgery. They created fake gold coins which would then be put into circulation.

Forgery makes noise. The scraping and hammering was suspicious, and the villagers had questions. Luckily for the forgers, all they needed was the plot of a Scooby-Doo episode.

They spread rumors of witches haunting the castle walls. Ghosts of dead witches rattled chains and banged on the walls of the castle.

Obviously, the villagers believed this. The rumors spread throughout the countryside, and soon Trasmoz became infamous for the haunting witches who dwelt there.

Trasmoz was a wealthy corner of Spain. Inhabited by a mix of Jews, Christians, and Muslims, the territory was not under the jurisdiction of the Catholic Church. Their iron and silver mines produced income for the wealthiest of the 10,000 inhabitants of the village alone. As you can imagine, wealth, untaxed by the church, caused discomfort for the local abbot.

Begone, Foul Trasmoz!

The abbot of Veruela, the nearest Catholic monastery, was miffed. He needed a way to get back at the people of Trasmoz who dared not pay taxes to the Catholic Church. Despite the fact that the people of Trasmoz were in lay territory and had never been under Catholic rule.

He sent out a desperate plea to the local archbishop. Using the rumors of witchcraft, he begged the archbishop to excommunicate the village. The archbishop, who was as greedy as any, acquiesced.

Trasmoz was excommunicated, and would only be allowed back into the fold if they agreed to repent their heathen ways and pay taxes to the church. They refused.

Soon the monastery started stealing water from Trasmoz. This angered the villagers and their leader, Lord Pedro Manuel Ximénez de Urrea. He mustered his forces, and soon the region was on the brink of civil war.

War was averted when King Ferdinand II intervened. He declared that Trasmoz did nothing wrong.

Their feud was left to simmer until 1511, when Pope Julius II cursed the town forever. Never mind the fact that curses are more the purview of witches. This papal curse can only be lifted by another pope. No pope has done so, and the people of Trasmoz aren't asking for it either.

Trasmoz didn't have long to celebrate their victory over the church. It seems the curse struck in 1520, when the castle burned down. Villagers started leaving, and soon the 10,000 dwindled to under 100.

The European witch trials of the 16th to 17th century also affected Trasmoz. Famously witchy places are bound to attract that kind of attention. The village executed their last witch as late as 1860. Well after the witch trial craze had died down in the rest of Europe.

Joaquina Bona Sánchez, known as La Tia Casca was blamed for an epidemic, and thrown down a well soon after. Her statue now stands in the rebuilt courtyard of Trasmoz castle, above the well she was cast into.

Owning It – Festival of Witches

Local officials started giving subsidies to villages for the hosting of festivals. This was an attempt at slowing the population drain from rural villages and into cities. Trasmoz settled on Feria de Brujería, the witchcraft festival, held every summer. They also hold festivals on Halloween, Arbor day and many more.

Every summer they celebrate their heritage with mock witch parades, reenactments of their dark history of witch persecution and torture, and markets selling magic potions. They have sword fights, parades, and magic shows too. Every year they crown a local resident as “Witch of the Year”, the only prerequisite is that the “witch” must be able to mix a potion or ointment.

The Trasmoz castle was rebuilt and now houses a museum of witchcraft. Thousands of people make the journey to the cursed village of witches every year. Revenue from tourism has become the town's lifeblood.

If you are ever in the province of Zaragoza, Aragon, Spain, around the summer, consider stopping by the cursed town of Trasmoz for a truly witchy experience.



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