Feeds:
Posts
Comments

In 711 the Moors crossed the Gibraltar strait and came to Hispania, conquered the Iberian Peninsula and for almost eight centuries the Muslims govern the area (except for Asturias and Galicia). During these years the Islam was a wide spread religion across Spain. Due to the Islam influence today we can find several cities, sites and places inspired by Islamic heritage.

The heart of the Muslim empire was in southern Spain which is nowadays called Andalusia. The name of the area also comes from the Arabic term Al-Andalus, which means Muslim Spain and which was the name of the occupied territory.

The Islamic period preserves a rich and varied heritage, especially during the Almohad Caliphate period in the 12th century. In this time Seville or earlier Isbiliya become in the capital city of Al-Andalus and several other city in the area strengthened and gain potency.

The almost eight hundred year of conquering of the country not only brought few beautiful mosques and book to Spain but several much more.

  • Gastronomy

One of the biggest influences of the Muslim occupation was on the cuisine, a tradition which fortunately continues today. The gastronomic costumes have survived for over thousands years and still part of the everyday Spanish life.

When the Moors came to Spain brought several new type of fruits and spices and when settled down they have started to plant the plough fields. Many of these products are the basic ingredients of today’s Spanish cuisine and include most spices and produces such as saffron, apricots, melons, artichokes, eggplant, carob, sugar, aubergines, grapefruits, carrots, coriander and rice.

spices

Different type of spices used in the Spanish kitchen

However, the Moors not only brought ingredients but several typical dishes and cooking methods to the Iberian Peninsula. One of the most famous and well – known dish in Spain, which can best symbolises the Spanish cuisine, the Paella comes from the Muslim ages. The main ingredients of this typical food are rice and saffron which weren’t known in Hispania before the Moor occupation. However, we should also mention other excellent platters such as the Arroz con Leche (Rice pudding), Pinchito Moruno Andaluz (a dish normally made with chicken, saffron, cumin and coriander), salt crusted baked fish and several other.

In today’s Spanish kitchen a favoured cooking method which is also due to the Moorish occupation is to coat different vegetables and fishes in flour and then fry it in oil. Another really important method is to salt fishes or vegetables and soak them in vinegar for a long time. A typical example for this is the Boquerones en Vinagre which means anchovies in vinegar.

 

food

Paella Valenciana (in the middle) and other different typical Spanish food       (Tortilla de Patatas, Pimiento Padrón, Jamón Ibérico, Croquetas, Queso Curado)

  • Architecture

The Islamisation of Spain transformed their socio-cultural and economic structures from poverty and darkness into prosperity and enlightenment. This has brought certain advantages in the architecture and art. Several region in Spain but especially Andalusia started to evolve and produced some of the world’s most fascinating architectural monuments including a number of palaces, mosques and gardens. They have started to achieve heights with stretching the buildings as well using new ornaments such as the horseshoe and multifoil arches. These new innovations are well visible in the Great Mosque of Cordoba, Al-Zahra (is the ruins of a vast, fortified Moorish medieval palace-city) or in the Alhambra Palace in Granada.

mosqeu cordoba

The inside part of the Great Mosque of Cordoba

alhambra

The Alhammbra Palace in Granada

  • Universities

The earliest universities in Europe, the madrasas or Islamic universities have been created from the 11th century. The first madrasas that was opened in Al-Ándalus was the University of Malaga and later several other cities such as Granada and Zaragoza opened their own universities. From the beginning up until the 16th century the teaching language was Arabic and the universities were dedicated to medicine. Only Cordoba, which in that times was the centre of culture, arts and the empire had three universities, 80 schools and a library with 700,000 manuscripts.

madrasa

Madrasa de Granada

  • Language and Vocabulary

Since Hispania was under Moor occupation for more than 800 hundred years the language also has been influenced by the ancient Arabic language. The current Spanish language is a result of the evolution of the ancient Castellan and Mozarabic languages. Several words and phrases comes from the Arab and a good example is Andalusia which was the heart of the Moor Empire and the name was in the era Als-Andalus. But we can find more than hundred Arabic origin words in the language. Just to mention a few: aceite (oil), zanahoria (carrot), naranja (orange), almohada (pillow) and so much more.

book

Book with Arabic writing

  • Islamic heritage routes across Spain

Ruta de al-Mutamid

The Route of al-Mutamid starts in Lisbon and embraces the south west cost of the Iberian Peninsula up until Seville. The original route goes through in 11 cities and offers a mix of Islamic heritage sites, gorgeous monuments and natural beauties including Sagres which is the most south western point in Europe, Albufeira, one of the most famous holiday site in Portugal, Huelva, Seville which is the home of several beautiful Islamic heritage monuments and several other fascinating cities and sites.

Ruta de al-Mutamid

The map of the Route of al-Mutamid

albufeira

The coast of Albufeira

Ruta del Califato

The Caliphate Route is an Islamic heritage route combining historical – monumental heritage with beautiful landscapes and great attractions. The path goes in the southern part of Spain, in Andalucía from Cordoba to Granada. During the way travellers will go through in three provinces: Cordoba, Jaen and Granada and can enjoy the main attractions of the way. Some of them are the Great Mosque of Cordoba, the Sierra de Moclín natural park, Alhambra Palace in Granada.

Ruta del Califato

The map of the Ruta del Califato

sierra de moclin

The Sierra de Moclin natural park

Ruta de los Almoravides y los Almohades

The Ruta de los Almoravides y los Almohades is a 400 km long path runs through in the province of Malaga and Cadiz in the south part of Spain. This cultural route begins in Tarifa, a south close to the Gibraltar and runs up until Granada. The tour uncover coasts, countryside, mountains, towns and cities in the area. Visitors can discover magnificent landscapes, legendary monuments and castles, traditions and heritage during the way. The tour ends in Granada, which gives home for several important Islamic heritage sites such as the Alhambra which is UNESCO World Heritage site since 1984.

Ruta de los Almoravides y los Almohades

The map of the Ruta de los Almoravides y los Almohades

cadiz

The city of Cadiz

If you get interested for the Islamic heritage, Spanish cuisine, fascinating architectures and history of Spain our Islamic Heritage packages are the perfect for you! For further information feel free to contact us!

map islamic heritage

Map of the cities which are home of several important Islamic heritage sites

Advertisements

Honeymoon or in Spanish so called “Luna de Miel” is one of the most eagerly-awaited once in a lifetime vacation thus everybody is seeking for an unforgettable experience during this time. Whether you’ve dreamed of a beach honeymoon or lusting for exotic escapes, after months of planning you and your couple are awaiting for a luxurious, all – inclusive resort. We rounded up the 5 most luxurious hotels across Spain so you can start to organise your well – deserved post wedding holidays.

1.Hotel W – Barcelona

The hotel W is located in the cost of the city in the Barceloneta so it offers the best views of Barcelona’s shoreline. The hotel is designed by the world famous architect Ricardo Bofill and nowadays one of the most emblematic building in the city. In the hotel you can find Spain’s first Bliss Spa, a restaurant on the second floor with unparalleled views of the city, a rooftop bar and several different facilities specialised for honeymooners. As well couples will love the view of the city and the see, from the rooftop and all of the rooms and suites.

Hotel W Barcelona

Hotel W – Barcelona

w suite

WOW Suite – Suite

2. Hotel Alfonso XIII. – Seville

If you are looking for a honeymoon surrounded with history than the Hotel Alfonso XIII in Seville, is the perfect choice for you. This historic building has been built in the 20th century to accommodate international dignitaries at the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929. Nowadays it is one of the most romantic and luxurious hotel in Andalucía. Visitors can find 3 restaurants, spa, outdoor swimming pool and a lounge. As well the hotel offers special honeymoon suites for their guests.

sev

Hotel Alfonso XIII. – Seville

sev2

Grand Deluxe Room

3. Princesa Yaiza Suite hotel resort – Lanzarote

This great luxury hotel is located in the town of Yaiza in Lanzarote, and has a 5 star category. The Hotel Princesa Yaiza Suite Resort offers six different pools, one of them is a freshwater pool, to live new experiences. All of its rooms are elegant and luxurious with Canarian colonial style.

The hotel also include several first – class restaurant, bars, as well a private golf court. Their spa facilities are excellent for everyone who is seeking for recreation. From several type of massages to different pampering bathes you can find everything in their offers.

lanz

Princesa Yaiza Suite Hotel – Lanzarote

lanzsuite

Suite Real

4. Hotel Hacienda Na Xemana – Ibiza

Discover a new way to enjoy your honeymoon in Ibiza. The Hotel Hacienda Na Xemana propose you and your fiancé a luxurious, calm and memorable stay. The La Posidonia Spa is a place dedicated to your physical and spiritual well-being. The hotel invite you to experience a world of sensations, both for the mind and the body. Enjoy the best Ibizan sunset with your love from your room to complete the experience.

infinity pool

Hotel Hacienda Na Xemana – Infinity Pool – Ibiza

ibiza

Suite Na Xamena

5. Hotel María Cristina – San Sebastián

The recently renovated Hotel Maria Cristina was first opened in 1912 and played an important role in the historical and cultural life of San Sebastian. Visitors can experience a highly exquisite hospitality in all around the hotel. The rooms are decorated with a sophisticated range of greys and whites which makes the guest feel the high luxury, tranquillity, style and technology. All of the facilities are offer a sensational variety of services to create an unforgettable stay. During your visit don’t forget to discover the Dry Bar, which is an elegant space where you can enjoy afternoon tea, classic and exclusive cocktails, and a wide variety of traditional Spanish tapas and main courses.

sanseb

Hotel María Cristina – San Sebastián

sanseb2

Terrace Suite

If you want to learn more about Spain’s fascinating places, cultures and traditions, be sure to follow the across Spain travel chronicles blog!

mapa

map locating the above mentioned cities

 

Semana Santa, also known as Holy Week, is one of the most important events in the Spanish calendar. From Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday, thousands of people flock to attend the numerous processions that take place all over Spain. However one of the most important parts of the Semana Santa celebrations, is of course the traditional sweets and pastries. Below we have created a list of the most typical traditional treats, as well as the best bakeries to buy them!

Delicious Desserts

1) Torrijas

This original yet traditional dessert is based on a slice of bread soaked in milk, breaded in egg, fried in extra virgin olive oil and flavoured with syrup or, in this case, sugar and cinnamon. Simple yet delicious, they can come in many different varieties. For those who are lactose intolerant you can replace the milk with a coffee syrup, they can be caramelized for extra sweetness, and you can even bake them to make them a little lighter. A truly versatile yet traditional treat!

torrijas

home-made torrija

2) Monas de Pascua

Monas de Pascua are one of the most essential Holy Week desserts. The recipe is a very traditional one all around the country but is particularly special in places such as Murcia, Valencia, Catalonia and Castilla la Mancha. Today La Mona de Pascua is decorated with a chocolate glaze, almonds, chocolate eggs, colourful feathers and cartoon characters. It’s so popular that Catalonia’s bakeries can expect to sell 600,000 of this festive speciality by Easter Monday.

monas de pascua

mona de Pascua cake

3) Buñelos de Viento

The Buñuelos de Viento are a very typical dessert around Easter time, but are actually still popular all year round. A light and fluffy dessert that you’ll love every bite of, it’s a very simple recipe to make. The base is made of a choux dough that is then fried and coated in a mixture of sugar and cinnamon. You can even sprinkle them with icing sugar, cinnamon, or fill them with custard or cream, to enjoy them however you like!

buñelos

buñuelos de viento

4) Pestiños

Pestiños are a typical dessert from southern Spain, from Andalusia to Murcia or Extremadura, although they first originated from Arab countries. The traditional recipe is made with a dough that includes orange, cinnamon and sesame as well as sugar, strength flour and white wine. The recipe is actually very simple – and the tradition is to make them with your family or among friends, as with this desert it’s not just the end result, but the process that goes with it.

pestiños

Easter pestiños

 

The Best Bakeries

1) La Mallorquina, Madrid

La Mallorquina is often considered the most famous pastry shop in Madrid and is located on the corner or Calle Mayor in Puerta del Sol. It’s been in business for more than 100 years, making it one of the oldest pastelerías in the city too. It was founded as a café by Mallorcan man Juan Ripoll in the mid-1800s who gave it its name, which in English means “the woman from Mallorca”. The shop has two stories and a large seating area upstairs where you can relax and watch the passers-by in Sol, while enjoying a delicious pastry with a coffee. The best-selling products here are the Neapolitan cream and the chocolate palm, but during Semana Santa you’re sure to find some delicious Torrijas and Buñuelos de Viento.

la mallorquina

La Mallorquina, Madrid

2) El Riojano, Madrid

Next on the list is El Riojano, Also located in Madrid’s Calle Mayor. Riojan man Don Dámaso de la Maza opened this bakery in 1855 but before opening his own store he worked as Queen Isabella II’s pastry chef, and to this day El Riojano still serves pastries to the Spanish royal family! The Elizabethan era décor along with the showcases full of scrumptious pastries will be sure to catch the eye of any visitor, despite the café’s small size. It also boasts an array of Semana Santa specialities, which include buñelos, torrijas, Monas de Pascua and much more.

el riojano

inside El Riojano, Madrid

3) Pastelería Hofmann, Barcelona

Located in the Borne neighbourhood of Barcelona, next to the Basilica of Santa María del Mar, Hofmann is a centrally located French-inspired boutique which opened in 2008. The delicious sweets and pastries here are freshly baked every day, made from the best quality raw ingredients while respecting the traditions of the classic pastry. Some seasonal sweets found here include the traditional torrijas, monas de Pascua and buñelos – but what makes Hofmann unique is their seasonal edible animals! Chickens, eggs, cows, sheep and other farm animals all ready to be eaten.

hofmann

inside La Pastelería Hofmann, Barcelona 

4) La Pastisseria Escribà, Barcelona

The Escribà Pastry Shop is considered to be one of the best bakeries in the city. It has multiple stores located around Barcelona, where you will find an assortment of cakes, sweets and pastries which are all unique. This pastry shop was founded in 1906 and still remains as one of the most outstanding in Barcelona, due to its creativity and original concepts. Escribà particularly stands out around Easter time and this is down to their beautiful and original Monas de Pascua. Their little chocolate designs are nothing short of works of art and are definitely worth trying this Semana Santa.

escriba

La Pastissería Escribà, Barcelona

5) El Cachorro, Sevilla

This bakery and confectionery is a family business that, for almost six decades now, has traditionally made traditional Sevillian sweets. However during Holy week, they produce desserts such as pestiños fried in olive oil and bathed in honey of flowers, to give that old-fashioned touch to Holy Week as well as chocolate torrijas as a novelty. They follow ancestral recipes and use only the best raw ingredients in the market, to preserve the traditional qualities.

6) Pastelería Acueducto, Segovia

With a team of professionals under the command of Miguel Sanz, the Pastelería Acueducto offers its clients dedication and the best ingredients in each of its products. Continuing with its philosophy of combining tradition and modernity, this renowned confectionery boasts a variety of delicious desserts including yemas, buñuelos and empiñonados to all those who cross their doors during Semana Santa.

pasteleria acueducto

La Pastelería Acueducto, Segovia

If you want to learn more about Spain’s fascinating cultures and traditions, be sure to follow the across spain travel chronicles blog!

map

map locating the cities mentioned

As Las Fallas festival is just around the corner, it is important to know where the best traditional telas, costumes, accessories and outfits can be bought. To make the search easier, we have come up with the lists of the top Valencian dressmakers in Valencia.

valencia-parade (1).jpg

Las Fallas Annual Parade

1) Alvaro Moliner

Alvaro Moliner Llorens is truly a leader in the traditional Valencian costume industry. Since 2006 his company has had the responsibility of creating the costume for the Fallera Mayor de Valencia at the opening of the Ninot Exhibition, which over the years has become one of the most anticipated parts of the event. The company has even become so successful that it has opened a store in Alicante to offer a specialised service for the Bonfires of San Juan. Despite having such a huge reputation for the best quality dresses, they offer an outlet in their store which means that almost anyone can own one of their breathtaking costumes at an affordable price. Better yet, the company has a deal with El Corte Inglés, making their products much more widely available. Álvaro Moliner reinvents himself every day, and continues to create innovative initiatives which are always promoted on social media.

alvaro moliner

some of Alvaro Moliner’s beautiful pieces

2) Rafael Catalá

With origins dating back to 1770 and located in Albuixech (Valencia), Rafael Catalá is a designer, manufacturer and distributor of high quality fabrics, aimed at sectors such as haute couture, decoration, ornamentation and fashion in general. The company is arguably the biggest name in Valencian telas and for 8 years has been given the great opportunity to dress the Falleras Mayores of Valencia, who are some of the most important representatives during the Las Fallas festival. Their fabrics have dressed some of the most important people in the country, which even includes the nuptial costumes the Infanta Cristina and Princess Letizia. The company also makes a variety of beautiful customised products, which include upholstery, fabrics for decoration, curtains, sofas, fashion, luxury fabrics, silk fabrics and high quality fabrics.

rafael catala

Las Falleras Mayores wearing beautiful Rafael Catalá dresses

3) Aguas de Marzo

The Aguas de Marzo store, dedicated to the making of Valencian regional costumes, is the result of the dedication of a lifetime to the Valencian clothing and a family tradition since 1948.  These two sisters and their time work tirelessly to deliver the highest quality products with unbeatable customer service. Each of their products is carefully prepared and handmade to perfection. They also have a wide range of the best fabrics and brands at their disposal. They primarily create Valencian costumes for women of the 18th and 19th century – but also cater to dance groups, for men from Xaragüell and Torrentí, children and even babies. As well as their stunning costumes, here you will also find a variety of accessories, including stockings, pololos, cuppers, petticoats, dressings, combs, shawls, blouses, pants, belts, vests, handkerchiefs, blankets, and hats. You can even order your own personalised shoes!

aguas de marzo

Aguas de Marzo is known for its high quality customer service

4) Indumentaria Valenciana Pinazo

Founded in 1887 as a Valencian Fallas stage decorating company, Indumentaria Valencia will soon celebrate 55 years of dedication to Valencian clothing. The making of all of their costumes is done in an Artisan fashion and crafted to the highest quality. One advantage of this company is that they give you the option to purchase any costume you have rented from them. Their expertise in customised outfits mean that you can create the costume of your dreams, or you can rent one of their beautiful pre-made creations. Their products are well recognised for their high quality fabrics and components and stunning patterns. They also cater to traditional costumes for men and offer a variety of accessories which include dressings, combs, tablecloths and blankets.

pinazo

a customer having her tailor-made Pinazo dress fitted 

5) Indumentaria Valenciana Alan

Indumentaria Alan is a Valencian company dedicated to the sale and craftsmanship of traditional Valencian costumes, with more than 30 years of experience in the sector. Their professional and personalized treatment and advice is a one of the great things about shopping here, as well as good prices and the highest quality. Here, you can have suits and dresses tailored to suit your needs specifically, or you can buy one of their pre-designed outfits. They have clothing to suit men, women and children as well as all of those necessary accessories: dressings, combs, shoes, blankets, handkerchiefs, blankets, blouses, scarves, brooches, etc.

indumentaria alan

the great variety of stunning fabrics on offer at Indumentaria Alan

6) Tejidos Dalila

Dalila was founded in 1948 by Salvador and Casilda. It is a purely family company with more than 60 years of experience, and today prides itself on its first-class customer service, highest quality products and unbeatable prices. They have maintained their family character while also adapting to the changing times over the years. It is currently the third generation of the family who dedicate their daily effort to the world of Valencian clothing and accessories. With experience and professionalism, they continue to offer the best advice both to those who are new to Valencian clothing, and those who already have extensive experience. Their products include dressings, complements, petticoats, fabrics, mantillas and a host of components of the Valencian costume.

tejidos dalila

the beautiful window display at the Dalila store

If you enjoyed this article, make sure to follow the Across Spain Travel Chronicles blog for more posts about Spain’s most beautiful locations and rich culture. Also, don’t hesitate to contact us at across spain to find out more about our 2019 Las Fallas Packages.

map

Valencia, the home of Las Fallas festival

As well as beautiful holiday destinations, rich culture and fascinating history, almost everyone knows Spain for its incredible fiesta culture. A whole variety of celebrations take place across the country all year round, meaning no matter what time of year you visit, there is more than likely a festival to take part in! Here we have listed some of the biggest and most popular Spanish fiestas throughout the year, to make your planning a little easier.

1) La Vijanera

Where? Silió, Molledo, Cantabria

When? The first Sunday of the year

This traditional festival was originally celebrated in a number of other areas in Cantabria, but today only the village of Silió has continued the traditions. With its origins in Roman traditions, this festival involves locals wearing lots of different masks, animal skins and brightly coloured clothes to play the roles of different symbolic characters in an open-air performance. It also includes a summary of the important events of the previous year called “Las Copas”, which are narrated sarcastically in verse. Finally, La Vijanera ends with the capture of the bear by “los zamarracos” (the star characters of the whole tradition), which is supposed to ward off bad spirits and bring in the new year with good energy. A more recent feature of the festival includes a photography competition, to find the best photos taken of the celebrations.

1 la vijanera

the “zamarracos” in their costume

2) Jarramplas

Where? Piornal, Cáceres, Extremadura

When? 19th-20th January

The Jarramplas festival in Piornal involves a man dressed in a monster-like costume covered in colourful ribbons and a mask running around the streets while playing a drum. Meanwhile, local people bombard him with turnips. Jarramplas must for as long and as far as he can, and the festival only ends when he can’t take anymore. The origins of the festival are uncertain, however the eldery of Piornal often tell the story that Jarramplas was once a cattle thief, and villagers got their revenge by throwing vegetables at him. The most exciting moment of the festival is in the early hours between the 19th and 20th, when Jarramplas bangs his drum as the twelve strokes of midnight ring out and the shower of turnips is at its heaviest.

2 jarramplas

Jarramplas being pelted with turnips

3) La Tamborrada

Where? San Sebastián, Basque Country

When? 20th January

San Sebastián’s most important festival, La Tamborrada begins at midnight on 20th January when crowds pack the Constitution Square, while the mayor raises the city’s flag to mark the start of 24 hours of non-stop drumming. During the festival more than 15,000 residents who form more than 100 bands actively take part. Not only is La Tamborrada the city’s largest party, it is also a symbol of what it means to be a Donostiarra (the name given to a person from San Sebastián) and a way for citizens to get together and celebrate their identity. This bizzare event dates back hundreds of years; when Napoleon’s army took over the city and French troops would march around banging their drums, when local women began to bang on their water buckets to mock them.

3 la tamborrada

bands gathered in Constitution Square

4) Carnival

Where? Santa Cruz, Tenerife, Canary Islands

When? Late February, the week leading up to Lent

Although Carnival is generally celebrated nationwide, you will find the craziest parties in Tenerife’s capital; Santa Cruz. The Carnival celebrations held in Tenerife are potentially the biggest party in Europe, as they are very similar to those in the infamous Rio Carnival. The carnival is centred around pageants and contests – such as the crowning of the Carnival Queen – where girls in incredible sparkly costumes and feather headdresses take to the stage. Highlights of the Santa Cruz Carnival also include the Mogollones, (live street parties with Latin and salsa music) and the Grand Parade, full of extravagant floats and costumes.

4 carnival santa cruz

a Carnival Queen contestant in a magnficent dress

5) Las Fallas

Where? City of Valencia, Community of Valencia

When? 15th-19th March

Every year, the city of Valencia attracts thousands of visitors to celebrate the region’s largest festival, Las Fallas. The focus of the festival is the hundreds of giant paper-mache dolls called ninots (that have been carefully and beautifully created over months) which are placed around the city for people to admire. However, on the last day of Las Fallas, all of this hard work is undone as the ninots are set on fire! Attendees also have the chance to see the incredible firecracker displays which take place at 2pm at the Plaza del Ayuntamiento every day leading up to and during the festival, which create an amazing audio experience. Better yet, festival goers can also enjoy a variety of other activities such as bullfights, music, parades, paella contests, flower offerings, and beauty pageants around the city.

5 las fallas

a beautifully made ninot in Valencia

6) Wine Battle

Where? Haro, La Rioja

When? 29th June

Ever year on St. Peter’s Day, locals and visitors alike take part in the famous Wine Battle, just outside of the town of Haro (one of the most important wine-producing towns in Spain) in the Riscos de Bilibio hills. The unique event celebrates the saints of San Juan, San Felices and San Pedro. On the morning of the 29th everyone attends a Mass before heading to the hills, where the battle begins. To take part, you must arrive wearing all white with a red handkerchief around your neck, and the aim of the battle is to make sure everyone leaves drenched in the reddish-purple wine. A good idea is to bring a plastic container (like a jug or a bucket) with you so that you can collect some of the wine and take it home! The fight stops at noon, where the party continues back in Haro with street stalls, live music and dance.

SPAIN-TRADITION-TOURISM-FESTIVAL-BATTLE-WINE

crowds during the winte battle

7) San Fermín

Where? Pamplona, Navarra

When? 6th-14th July

San Fermín is arguably one of Spain’s best-known festivals, as it is when the famous bull-running takes place! The festival kicks off at noon on the 6th of July with a firework display called el chupinazo. It is then followed by the bull-running (known as los encierros), where participants dress in all white with a red handkerchief tied around and are chased by the bulls through the streets of Pamplona. If you don’t fancy taking part in the running, it is also common for people to watch it take place from a balcony. Bullfights also take place every afternoon during the festival once los encierros have finished. However, this festival is not just all about the bulls, there are a variety of other activities organized by neighbourhoods, gastronomic clubs and sports clubs.  The meaning of the festival is to honour the city’s first bishop and patron saint, San Fermín.

7 san fermin

the bull running through the streets of Pamplona

8) La Tomatina

Where? Buñol, Community of Valencia

When? The last Wednesday of August

Often considered “the world’s biggest food fight”, up to 20,000 cram into the small town of Buñol to take part in La Tomatina, which involves participants throwing tonnes of tomatoes at each other. Before the fight officially starts there is also a challenge for one person to climb a greasy pole to try and reach the prized ham at the top. At 11am trucks deliver a huge amount of unripe tomatoes to the town, and then the beginning of the fight is signalled by the firing of water cannons. After exactly one hour of chaos, the chaos stops and the cleaning process begins. This crazy festival has been celebrated in Buñol every year since approximately 1945 in honour of the town’s patron saints, however nobody knows for sure the origins of the festival. There are many theories and old tales, from a local food fight among friends many years ago to once disgruntled townspeople attacking city councilmen with tomatoes during a town celebration.

Spain Tomato Fight

people throwing tomatoes at each other

9) Feria de Abril

Where? Sevilla, Andalucía

When? 2 weeks after Holy Week

For one week during the spring, life in Sevilla totally revolves around the April Fair. More than a thousand “casetas” (tents) are set up in the fairground area which become the second home of locals and visitors, a place where people come together to have fun and party until the early hours of the morning. The fiesta officially begins with the illumination of the city’s breath-taking main gateway, made of thousands of multi-coloured bulbs. Throughout the fair traditional Andalusian dress is worn, with men wearing typical farmworker clothing and women beautiful flamenco or gypsy dresses. At this lively event you will find horse and carriage parades, the famous bullfight, flamenco dancing in the streets and plenty of food and wine. The festival then closes with a spectacular firework display on the last day. The fair originiated in 1847 as a cattle fair, but over time the festive atmosphere took over the business side and it is now the main event in Sevilla’s social calendar.

9 feria de abril

women in traditional Andalusian dress

10) El Colacho

When? Sunday after the Feast of Corpus Christi, mid-June

Where? Castrillo de Murcia, Burgos, Castilla y Leon

Once a year in the small town of Castrillo de Murcia, El Colacho (also known as the Baby Jumping festival) takes place. Recognised as one of the strangest ever festivals, babies born during the last year are laid on mattresses in the middle of the street. Then, in front of the excited crowd, a masked man dressed in red and yellow who represents the devil leap over the babies. Similar to a baptism, the ritual is believed to cleans the babies of sin and protect them from disease and misfortunate. Then, the babies are sprinkled with rose petals and return to their parents. The act dates back to the 1620s and is a blend of Catholic and Pagan rituals which is meant to represent triumph of good over evil. Traditionally it only included babies born in the town, but in recent year people from all over the world have come to have their child take part!

10 el colacho

man jumping over the babies during El Colacho

11) Festivals of the Moors and Christians

When? Usually late spring, 4th-6th May 2019

Where? Alcoy, Alicante, Community of Valencia

Every year, the Moorish occupation and Spanish re-conquest of the Iberian Peninsula is celebrated throughout Southern Spain, however the most spectacular celebrations can be seen in the town of Alcoy. On the first day of the festival townsfolk take part in huge, colourful parades which weave through the streets. They spend a great deal of time putting their costumes together, with many people opting to dress as a Moor as their tribal dress is so colourful and exotic. Day two is St. George’s Day, where the religious aspects are remembered. The day ends with a beautiful firework display and the burning of some Valencian fallas. The most exciting part of the festival takes place on the last day, as there is a furious re-enactment battle. The two armies flood the streets for hours and depict the Moors seizing the castle, only for the Christians to later re-gain control and win the battle. The festival is based on true events which occurred over 700 years ago during a famous battle held in the city in 1276, between the Christian ruler and the Moorish captain Al Athrak.

11-moors-and-christians.jpg

man dressed as a Moor on a horse

12) Ourense Carnivals

When? Lent/beginning of spring

Where? Ourense, Galicia

Some of the oldest and most unique and spectacular festivals (entroidos) in Galicia take place in the province of Ourense, in the towns of Xinzo de Limia, Verín and Laza. One of the highlights are the Peliqueiros, characters who take to the streets with song and dance dressed in bright costumes and elaborate masks. Each town has its own traditional characters and traditions, however Laza is one of the most unique. Here residents will take part in a flour battle, as well as throwing ants which have been covered in vinegar (to make them angry and bite) at each other! The festivals also have a large focus on food and drink, so make sure to try some typical Galician gastronomy while you’re there. The origins of the Carnival are linked to celebrations marking the arrival of spring.

12 orense carnivals

the Peliqueiros running through the street

If you enjoyed this article, make sure to follow the Across Spain Travel Chronicles blog for more posts about Spain’s most beautiful locations and rich culture. Also, don’t hesitate to contact us to find out more about our 2019 Festival Packages.

map updated

map locating all of the festivals