This festival, held during the first week of September in Baza, in the north of Granada, is one of the more bizarre festivals celebrated in Spain each year. Its history lies in the discovery of a statue over 500 years ago.
Legend has it that after the reconquest of Granada, whilst a labourer from Guadix was demolishing the Merced Convent in Baza, a statue of the Virgin was discovered in the rubble. Due to the location of where the statue was found it was swiftly adopted by the people of Baza, much to the annoyance of the residents of Guadix. They felt that it should be moved there since it was discovered by one of their own people.
It was agreed that if an Accitano, as the residents of Guadix were known, was able to enter Baza and reach the Merced without staining his clothes, he could recover the Virgin for Guadix. Despite the passage of time the tradition is still very much alive.
Now, every year on the 6 September a villager from Guadix dresses as an oddball character called 'Cascamorras' and travels the 3km to Baza, accompanied by a team of representatives, to stage an attempt to recapture the statue. The people of Baza dirty their faces and wait with coloured water and eggs with which to pelt the intruders, thus staining the clothes of Cascamorras and ensuring his failure.
Throughout the onslaught, Cascamorras and his team are given the chance to clean off in the fountains and recommence. However he never succeeds in his mission. On reaching Baza he becomes guest of honour for the town's next two days of partying, not returning to Guadix until 9 September, whereby, having failed to recapture the statue, he receives a further barrage of good natured missiles from the Accitanos.
This fiesta, with its ever increasing popularity, is a superb excuse for everyone from both Baza and Guadix to get thoroughly filthy and party for 3 days.