Mula is in the Region of Murcia 17,076 inhabitants. It is best known for the tamboradas (drumming processions) held during the Holy week. Tamboradas are a tradition in the area spanning the Murcian towns of Mula and Moratalla and the towns of Hellin and Baena in the provinces of Albacete and Córdoba, respectively.
Saint Michael’s church (la Parroquia de San Miguel) is located in Mula’s City Hall Square (La Plaza del ayuntamiento de Mula). With its two towers, including a clock tower, it forms a large monumental complex that often serves as the logo of the municipality. This church suffered near total destruction during the Spanish Civil War; only the entranceway was saved. The rest of the decorative paintings and sculptures were destroyed. It is known that the canopy of the old altar and the wall paintings were done in the Baroque style. It was quite tall for its era.
The church contains two chapels: to the right, the Chapel of Marquesa (marchioness) Vélez, and to the left, the Chapel of San Felipe. The latter chapel contains relics of the saint brought from Sicily by Marquesa Vélez in 1648.
This church has an art museum made possible by a donation from Doña Pilar de la Canal, widow of Don Pedro Luis Blaya, in 1940. It collection spans from the 16th to the 20th centuries.
The castle of the Vélez was mentioned by Al-Idrisi a 12th-century traveller and by King Alfonso X. In the 15th century it had a massive wall to the north, there was one wall to protect the cisterns of the city and another wall to watch over the city’s two parishes recently converted to Christianity; these walls remain.
The architecture of the castle is Renaissance in its defensive character and simple forms, situated over a crag of rock. Of the two entrances, one of them accedes better to the high part of the wall and the towers of the old Muslim fortress in addition to a drawbridge. It contains four differentiating elements: the torre del homenaje, a central nave with a barrel vault, a structure semidetached from the nave and a cistern. The cistern is an indication of Muslim influence because it is an essential element of a mosque.
The Night of the Drums, an origin of the playing of the drum in Mula is difficult to narrow down, but it seems to have taken place during the 14th century, as a form of protest. It is not presently clear that the first mention written that we have of the playing of the drum through the streets of Mula go back to the municipal ordinances of 1859, where it is written that only those persons authorized through the Brotherhood of Carmen were allowed to go through the streets with drums, and only in the procession. For this reason it is supposed that already at that time in the Holy Week of that year the people went out to play drums through the streets.
It is believed that this tradition of playing drums comes from the beginnings of the fourteenth century. It is possible to think that through the ages in which the playing of the drum in this locality, Holy Week, it could have been thought that it is a form of religious demonstration, but it is not at all the case that the people of Mula begin to play drums in protest at the restrictions and prohibitions imposed by the civil and catholic authorities in the locality.
On the night between the Holy Tuesday and the Holy Wednesday, in the plaza of the town hall, thousands of people dressed up in black tunics with huge drums congregate in and around the plaza outside the town hall. A few minutes before the clock strikes 12, the streetlights in the plaza are dimmed and all goes silent. Suddenly all the drummers raise their hands above their heads and create a beat by banging their sticks together. Fanfares of trumpets join in and finalise the end of the introduction. A few seconds then pass and the ground begins to tremble and shake and you can feel the vibrations through your whole body as thousands of drums begin to play at once, the ground begins to tremble… and in this way begins the Night of the Drums of Mula.
The drummers don’t stop the playing the drums for the whole night. MEan women and children march the streets all night beating upon their drums in a repetitive beat. The drumming continues into the next day and often after that.
Find out more about the surrounding region on the Murcia tourist information page.