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From the 25th to the  31st of March one of the deepest and most important religious celebrations is going to take place in Spain, Semana Santa. The Holy Week, a commemoration with centuries of history and tradition, in which the passion and death of Jesus Christ is remembered, is celebrated in many towns and villages all over the country. Starting on Palm Sunday and ending on Easter Saturday, there will be processions and church services during the entire week. Places that are well-known for their rituals during that time are, for example, Sevilla and Malaga.

The Holy Week throughout Spain 

In Sevilla people are marching from their home churches and chapels to the great Cathedral of Sevilla, while carrying wax or wooden figures that represent Jesus and Virgin Mary.
The inhabitants of Malaga also have many processions where they carry lifelike, heavy wooden sculptures that explain some scenes of the Passion of Christ.
All these traditions are accompanied by brass bands, trumpets or drums that play marches and hymns in honour of Jesus and the Holy Virgin.
Dressed in gowns that even cover their heads and faces, people march through the streets to remember these sorrowful but also joyful days.

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source: el jueves

But there are more places worth visiting during the Holy Week than Andalusia.
In the Jewish quarter of Toledo, there is the procession of Christ the Redeemer. In Las Palmas de Elche, Alicante, people carry white palms during the Borriquita procession. In Valladolid, you get the chance to admire great Castilian artwork, in addition to all the processions.

The most remarkable and unique ceremonies however take place in Zamora. During the procession of the Yacente de Zamora, every Holy Thursday at night, the only sounds that break the silence of this ritual are the bells of the viaticum and the beating of the candles on the ground. Zamora even has special gastronomic traditions of Holy Week, such as garlic soup in the early morning of Good Friday, or the ‘Dos y pingada’ on Easter Sunday that is usually taken after the procession of resurrection. It consists of two fried eggs, two or three pieces of pig ham (or serrano ham) and bread.

Another special way of commemorating the suffering of Jesus Christ is done in Castro Urdiales, Cantabria. Unlike all the other cities mentioned above, the residents of Castro Urdiales participate in a representation of the Passion of Christ, from the Last Supper to the Resurrection.

semana santa front pic

source: pinterest

 

You don’t need to be religious to be part of these great ceremonies. People from many different countries come to Spain to enjoy these incredible events, so if you are interested, don’t hesitate to contact us to find out more about our religion related offers!

 

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Spain by daylight is wonderful. But have you ever seen the impressing sky by night, in one of the main areas for star watching? This incomparable beauty by night is not visible everywhere in the country, just some special places are providing the perfect conditions to see this spectacle. The best spots for enjoying the star lights are marked with the certificates “Starlight reserve” and the “Starlight destination”.

starlight cover

Source: Vantastic tours

The certificates

Starlight reserve

The conditions to obtain the international certificate “Starlight reserve” refer to light/darkness, air clearness and nature. All assigned reserves has to be protected according to the law. The aim is to preserve the astronomical conditions, the landscape and nature, the quality of the night sky and the cultural heritage altogether.

Starlight destination

For the starlight destination the basic requirements are the same as for a starlight reserve. And additionally to that, this certificate requests adapted infrastructure for tourism which is either already available or has to be provided in the future.

Places

La Palma

In the year 2012, the first Starlight reserve La Palma, one of the Canary Islands, got designated. Within the last years more and more places got prepared for observations. Moreover, rural country house accommodations which are perfect to spend the night in to watch the millions of stars were build and therefore the place has also the title of a Starlight destination. As the island is perfect for hiking, there are even some routes with astronomic viewpoints.

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Source: Starsisland La Palma

Andalusia

Jaén:Andalusia is one of the most important regions for star watching and it contains several Starlight reserves. One of the best designated places for starlight watching there is the Sierra Sur de Jaén, which lies in the East of Cordoba. The natural darkness is conserved perfectly which makes it an unspoiled place for enjoying the beauty of stars. The Starlight reserve also has some places with the designation of a Starlight destination inside. The region is supported by two associations which are specialized in astronomy and star observation. On the one hand the Hubble Astronomical Association of Martos which organizes regular public observations, courses and different kind of activities all around the same topic. And on the other the Einstein Society of Astronomy which arranges together with the Andalusian Observatory of Astronomy visits and guided observations for interested groups and teaching centres.  Sierra Morena:The second significant Starlight reserve and also the largest worldwide is called Sierra Morena and lies at the Northern border of Andalusia. It extends of over 400km along the country. The region worked for one year to make the area ready to become a Starlight reserve and a Starlight destination and to establish a high quality of the night sky. Some of the best viewing points are: Aldea de Los Guindos, Minas del Centenillo, Llanos de Espiel, Cerro del Hierro and Ermita de San Bartolomé.

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Source: Mis Cosas

Cumbres de Tenerife: In 2013 several places in Tenerife got assigned as Starlight reserve and destination like the mountain El Teide, or Ganadilla de Abona. One unique activity you can do on the island is hiking up to El Teide and watch the stars on the volcano from an altitude of 2000m through a 25cm telescope with has the option of automatic search.

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Source: Volcano Teide

Take a look at those stunning pictures. They are not even close to the wonderful view you will have if you visit any of those places in real life. To enjoy the full experience do not hesitate to contact us to receive the full information and have the best deals for destinations, accommodations and activities.

Camino de Santiago, internationally known as The Way of St. James, is one of the most important pilgrimage places worldwide. The big interest in the route of St. James Way, to Santiago de Compostela, started with the discovery of the remains of the apostle Saint James the Greater. The final destination is located in the northwest of Spain, in the region of Galicia.

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Source: TripSavvy

Santiago de Compostela

The capital of Galicia lies in the northwest of the region. Santiago de Compostela is one of the most important and most famous pilgrimage places in Europe, receiving nowadays more than 300.000 international pilgrims every year.

One of the most popular rituals of the pilgrims is getting inside the crypt to see the coffin or to pray to St. James. Due to the high number of people visiting the sight, there is a problem of capacity and sometimes you have to wait for hours to access the interior.

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Source: pbase

History

The reason why Santiago de Compostela is such an important pilgrimage site dates back to the 9th century. In 814, when the tomb with the remains of the apostle James the Great was discovered for the first time. A chapel was constructed and years later the huge Catedral Santiago de Compostela should mark the place of discovery. This was the beginning of a big boom of pilgrimage to this place.

Nowadays many non-Christian tourists discovered the routes of Camino de Santiago. There is currently a trend of people following these routes just for enjoyment, sightseeing in combination with nature, sports, or seeking for a new challenge or as a way of self-discovery.

The routes of Camino de Santiago

Various places in Spain, as well as in Europe are known as starting points for the St. James Way. Even though no official way exist, there are some main routes, followed by pilgrims. All ways heading the same final destination – Santiago de Compostela. Below find the most popular ways starting in Spain and Portugal:

The French Way (Camino Francés)

The most popular way, one with some of the deepest historical roots starts in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port on the French side of the Pyrenees and stretches over 780km until Santiago de Compostela. Over 60% of all pilgrims choose this route, which includes the major cities Pamplona, Logroño, Burgos and León.

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Source: Schatz & Schatz

The Northern Route (Camino del Norte)

Stretching alone the northern coast of Spain, this route begins in the Basque country in Irún. It is a rather less popular route compared to others. Several parts of the way require hiking, which makes it more difficult for some people. It follows the old Roman way and passes by some important cities like San Sebastian, Gernika, Bilbao, and Oviedo.

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Source: Camino Ways

The Portuguese Way (Camino Portugués)

It is the second most popular path after the French Way. This route has 3 possible starting points. The farthest one is Lisbon, followed by Porto and then by Tui, a city next to the Spanish – Portuguese border at the north.

Proof of walking

The very first pilgrims who walked the whole route proofed their accomplishment by taking scallop shell as sign with them. Nowadays, pilgrims can buy a special passport and afterwards a certificate, proofing you went by foot or by bike. The passport is used to show evidence of either walking at least 100 km or of the way or going by bike for at least 200 km. To proof the walk/ride with your passport, you have to get a stamp from churches, town halls or other official establishments on your way to Santiago. Arrived at the final destination, people can get their certificate at the Pilgrims Office. The Compostela certificate is an original religious certificate written in Latin.

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Source: Keen on Asuncion

For whatever reason you want to accomplish the walking of the route, we put together the best packages for the New Year for you. Just contact us and ask for more information. We are happy to serve you with all kind of questions you might have about our Camino de Santiago packages.

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Spain is popular for several things and activities, like for example football, gastronomy, landscape and of course also because of its extraordinary festivals. The ones you already heard about may include La Tomatina, San Fermín, Las Fallas and Carneval. But there are much more you might not heard about yet. One of the maybe craziest ones is the festival Jarramplas in Piornal.

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Source: Okdiario

Introduction

Every year on the 19th and 20th of January the inhabitants of Piornal, in the region of Cáceres in Extremadura, celebrate the festival Jarramplas for those two days. Jarramplas is the name of a devil-like character, a guy who dresses up in colourful clothes and wearing a conical mask with two horns and a big nose. He goes around the city and people try to hit him with turnips.

Piornal

Piornal is a Spanish municipality in the province of Cáceres, Extremadura. Extremadura is a region in the west of Spain, with borders to Portugal. The town is located in the community of Valle del Jerte and has a population of around 1550 people.

History

This festival is an old tradition of which its history is still doubtful. There are three different explanations for its origin, told and believed among the residents of the village. The first one says, that the Jarramplas was a Christian warrior despised by people for passing during the Muslim domination. Myth number two states that the guy was a martyr, which got killed by Jewish for not denying Christianity. The third, and the most commonly believed legend tells the story of a devil-like character, who stole and killed cattle of the inhabitants and got punished for that.

The tradition

The funnily dressed Jarramplas gets ready for his challenge from the 19th to the 20th of January every year. In the morning he puts on his costume, a colourful armor on his body and a mask, which represents the helmet. Underneath this costume the person puts on protection wear, because the aim of this festival is for the visitors and inhabitants to hit the guy with turnips.

jarramplas prodection

Source: IB Times

The chosen one is every year someone else and always a person living in the neighbourhood. His mission is to make a tour through the streets of Piornal while playing his tambourine. During his tour, the neighbours, inhabitants and tourists punish him by throwing vegetables on him. The Jarramplas tries to resist those hits and his goal is to be able to stand the punishment as long as possible.

jarramplas fighting

Source: IB Times

For the actors of this figure, it has a high importance to keep walking as long as possible, since this festival is very meaningful to the residents of the town. You can recognise the passion for this celebration among all inhabitants. It is such an honour for guys to be Jarramplas, and therefore, parents already sign up their babies for being the figure any day in the future. The waiting list is around 20 years to be able to act as the character.

The importance nowadays

Within the last few years, the festival became a huge hype and gained more interest among national and international people. Hence, the usage of turnips increased extremely during this time and it is estimated, that around 22 tons of turnips are thrown on the celebration each year.

jarramplas turnips

Source: IB Times

Due to the importance of this celebration, the organisers put a lot of effort in the preparation, which includes the design, preparation and conservation of the costume and mask; the engraving of blackjacks and tambourines and the protection of the facades of the town to withstand the rain of turnips.

jarramplas protection for walls

Source: Bloomberg

Jarramplas has become one of the most recognizable festive icons of Extremadura and the most internationally famous character of Valle del Jerte. Tradition, excitement and joy flood Piornal every January inviting the visitor to delve into the rites, stories and legends of this ancient and curious festival now turned into a Festival of National Tourist Interest.

To get the ultimate and most authentic experience of this Spanish tradition get there and attend together with indigenous people the amazing flair of the festival. If you have interest, contact us for more information and check out our tailored package for Jarramplas.

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Christmas is coming closer and cities in Spain are getting ready for this festive time already. This worldwide known and celebrated event is the most important time for the majority of Spaniards. Due to their focus on religion people are very passionate about Christmas and have many traditions and important dates during this time.

Christmas cover

Source: Madrid Easy

Typical rituals and tradition

Spanish people have lots of different traditions, rituals and celebrations during Christmas time.

Christmas markets: Christmas markets are very popular in Spain, therefore every larger city has at least one during advent time. With lots of decorations and lights they are worth a visit. People go there to buy piles of fruits, flowers, marzipan and other sweets, candles, decorations and hand-made gifts. Two of the most famous are the market in Plaza Mayor, in Madrid and Fira de Santa Llucía in Barcelona.

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Source: Time Out

Christmas village: Like the Christmas tree, the display of Bethlehem and the crib has a high importance for Spanish people. Every Spaniard, celebrating Christmas has one in them home and in Madrid, at the squares Puerta del Sol and Plaza Mayor, they put up huge cribs which are displayed to the public.

Winter wonderland: In Barcelona, the theme park Portaventure turns into a Winter wonderland in Christmas time and you will even be able to watch ice shows, go to Christmas festivals and Christmas Parades.

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Source: Portaventura

Christmas lights: What would be Christmas without beautiful decoration and colourful lights? The cities in Spain put on a lot of wonderful lights on the main roads and squares to make them shine. You can get the perfect Christmas lights experience when you go with the Christmas Tour Bus in Madrid. It drives in the evening and passes by all the main places which are decorated and lightened up.

Food: Even if you are not the biggest Christmas fan, you will enjoy Spain during this time. The food they serve for Christmas and the sweets they eat during this time are even richer and sweeter than usually. The biggest family meals take place on Christmas Eve and on the 6th of December (Three Kings Day). Typical dishes on these days include roasted lamb, roasted pig, various seafood soups, salad, and any kind of tapas. Traditional sweets are Turrón (almond nougat), marzipan, glacé fruits, mantecados (traditional powdery sweets), Roscón de Reyes (a large ring-shaped bun eaten on January 6th).

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Source: Pura Aventura

Calendar of Christmas time:

December the 8th – Immaculada (Feast of the Immaculate Conception) is the official beginning of Christmas time and is a public holiday in Spain.

December the 21st – It is the shortest day of the year and gets celebrated with Hogueras, which are bonfires.

December the 22nd – The 22nd of December is the due date of the draw of the big Christmas lottery. The first prize is called El Gordo, the fat one. On that day everybody is sitting in front of the TV with crossed fingers.

December the 24th – Noche Buena, Christmas Eve is celebrated with friends and the family. People come together to get drinks and dinner. Some kids already get a first present from Santa Clause.

December the 25th – On Christmas Day traditionally families come together and have lunch.

December the 28th – Santos Inocentes, Holy Innocents day is like April Fools’ Day. People try to trick each other with stories and jokes.

December the 31st –Nochevieja, the New Year’s Eve is celebrated big in Spain. The best places to be are definitely Madrid at the square Puerta del Sol and in Barcelona at the square in front of the fountain Fuente de Montjuïc. At midnight there is a special ritual: 12 strokes before midnight everybody starts eating grapes, one per stroke, if you fulfil that successfully, it means you have good luck in the New Year. At 12 o’clock a big firework starts and everybody drinks champagne and kisses at midnight.

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Source: Tilllate

January the 1st – Nearly the whole country sleeps on that day and needs rest after the big celebration. It is public holiday in the whole country.

January the 5th – Processions are held all over Spain in the evening and sweets are thrown from the floats to all the people who come out to watch.

January the 6th – Día de los Reyes Magos, the Feast of the Epiphany, Three Kings Day, the day when the 3 Kings arrived in Bethlehem to bring presents to baby Jesus. On this day the long waiting has an end, finally the kids get their gifts in the morning. The whole family and friends get together to have a big lunch and sit together for drinks.

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Source: El Estímulo

Not only Spain, but also Portugal has a lot to offer during Christmas time. Lisbon is the perfect example, it is as beautiful as Madrid and Barcelona during this time and all 3 cities are definitely worth visiting.

Are you ready for Christmas? Do not hesitate to contact us for further details about our Christmas packages for Barcelona, Madrid and Lisbon.

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