By Humphrey Carter

THE annual Soller fiestas are underway and yesterday, the Port hosted one of the exciting festivals of the year in the Balearics.
Traditionally, on the day of El Firo, the Monday after the main fair, the victory of the locals of Soller over Turkish pirates on 11 May 1561 is remembered.

There is a re-enactment of the various battles which took place, with historic characters such as Captain Angelats, Sergeant Soler, the Turk Uludj Alí Ochiali and many people dressed in the traditional costume of farmers, brigands and Muslims.

When the port was plundered its inhabitants were very nearly sold into slavery by marauding pirates from North Africa.
But, it was a fate suffered by many other towns in the Balearics and the wider Mediterranean during the 16th century, when the Barbary corsairs and their sea lords, the fearsome Barbarossa brothers, ruled the waves. The clashes, which are re-enacted throughout the year in other towns such as Pollensa, are often very violent and the battle rages all afternoon until the soldiers can fight no more and head for the bars and restaurants to enjoy the post-battle festivities which attract spectators from all across the world.