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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.

01 cover santiago

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.

jarramplas cover

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.

christmas 1

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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Opera in Spain

Spain is famous for the art of opera. A lot of places here offered inspiration for compositors and nowadays cities provide the perfect features and precious venues for the performance of national and international plays. If you are passionate about these classical music performances you should definitely visit the venues of Sevilla, Barcelona, Madrid, Valencia and Bilbao.

opera 1st pic modificado

Source: Spain Premium Magazine

Sevilla:

Some of the most famous interprets of internationally popular operas have been inspired by this beautiful Andalusian city, therefore it is also known as the “city of opera”. The character Don Juan Tenori, for example was created by Beaumarchais and influenced the operas of Mozart and Rossini.

Teatro de la Maestranza

Presenting the first performance in 1991 and hosting the Sevilla expo one year later, the theatre Teatro de la Maestranza gained a lot of cultural and touristic importance for the city. The programme does not only include worldwide known operas, but also symphonic concerts, soloist recitals, international stars, classical ballet, modern dance, flamenco and chamber music. In the year 2005 the building got refurnished and equipped with the most modern techniques to assure the high quality of the performance. Due to the renovation it is nowadays considered as a state-of-the-art theatre.

Teatro de la Maestranza sevilla

Source: a.i

Barcelona:

The capital of Catalunya, Barcelona is famous around the world due to a wide variety of different offers. One of it, is it’s exceptional architecture, which is also reflected in its theatres Gran Teatre del Liceu and Palau de la Musica Catalana.

Gran Teatre del Liceu

Built in 1847 by the architect Miquel Garriga i Roca, it is one of the oldest and most important opera house worldwide. Reconstructed with the old plans after a big fire in 1994, it is now certified with ISO-14001 standards for the environmental Management system. You can visit it during a tour or enjoying one of the famous operas, dance performances or symphonic music.

Palau de la Musica Catalana

The incomparable theatre Palau de la Musica Catalana was designed in Catalan Art nouveau. Marked by sculptures, mosaic, stained glass and ironwork it looks like a magical music box when daylight is shining through the coloured windows. It received the title of UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997 because of its stunning design.

Palau de la Musica Catalana barcelona

Source: Ticketea

Madrid:

Inaugurated in 1850, the Teatro Real got built under the order of Queen Isabel II and is know the most important place for operas in the capital of Spain.

Teatro Real

With the practical situation in the city centre, it has one of the most beautiful locations in Madrid, between the Plaza de Isabel II and Plaza de Oriente in front of the Royal Palace. It has a special importance in Madrid, protecting and promoting the Spanish artistic heritage with its programme including national and international operas, music and dance shows.

Teatro_Real_de_Madrid

Source: Wikipedia

Valencia:

The coastal city in the east of Spain, offers a combination of historic old town and buildings constructed in contemporary art. The theatre Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia is one of its modern flagships.

Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia

The Valician architecht Santiago Calatrava designed the theatre in 2005. The idea of Santiago was to reflect water and the sea in a modern style. The building has floating structures surrounded by more than 60.000 square meters of gardens, pathways and 11.000 square meters of water in reflecting pools.

El_Palau_de_les_Arts_Reina_Sofía,_Valenciaç

Source: Wikipedia

Bilbao:

Situated in the North of Spain, the capital of the Basque country is known for the Bilbao Association of Friends of the Opera (ABAO-OLBE), which features every year an opera season programme including one of the most famous international performances. The main venue for operas in Bilbao is the Euskalduna conference centre, located in the heart of the city.

Euskalduna conference centre

The building was opened in 1999 and designed by the architects Federico Soriano and Dolores Palacios. It won the Enric Miralles award for architecture at the 6th Spanish Architecture Biennial in 2001. Besides operas organized by the association ABAO-OLBE it also hosts different economic, business, academic, political, institutional, social and cultural events and orchestras.

bilbao opera

Source: BiDC

Spain is always a good idea, when you are interested in musical culture. The cities above perfectly combine opera performances with the great architecture of the theatres.

With the recently launched opera packages of us you will have the ultimate experience of the most important sites including one of the best operas.

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The capital of Spain does not only offer great architectural monuments and a lively day- and nightlife, but also a huge variety of typical gastronomic options. If you are coming because of the delicious cuisine or not, you should definitely not miss to spend some time in one of the historic taverns of Madrid. You will find most of them in the centre of the city, in public places like Plaza Mayor or Plaza Santa Ana.

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Source: Andaremos

 

Sobrino de Botín

The Guinness Book of World Records mentioned Sobrino de Botín once as oldest restaurant in the world. It went through several generations and carries a lot of history in the exterior as well as in the interior. The philosophy also reflects its past and the cuisine is kept traditional with regional products. The legendary restaurant is since back then located close to Plaza Mayor in Calle Chuchilleros.

2_Sobrino de Botin

Source: Wikipedia

 

La Cruzada

Also called the “mother of all Madrid taverns”, La Cruzada was founded in 1827 and you will find it in Plaza Oriente. Back then it was a meeting point for intellectuals and also the Spanish king Alfonso XII used to go there. The whole tavern is coloured in red, which in the 19th century used to mark taverns offering quality wine. Nowadays it still serves great wines as well as Spanish food like croquettes or stews.

Casa Alberto

Going to the street Calle de las Huertas, located close to Plaza Santa Ana you will see the next tavern, which ran through a number of generations and was opened in the same year as La Cruzada, in 1827. Casa Alberto belongs to the most ancient bars of the city. The local government even granted them a plaque in the streets. The cuisine differentiate from the others, it serves avant-garde dishes with a typical regional touch.

Los Galayos

Founded in 1894 under the name “Cevecería Rojo” the tavern starting with only a small bar, offering tapas and aperitifs. Los  Galayos adapted to the needs of habitants and tourists and offers now two terraces and five dining rooms. Perfectly located at Plaza Mayor, you can enjoy the typical Spanish cuisine on the terrace, while having an impressive view of the historical square and the colourful building Casa de la Panadería.

3_los galayos

Source: Redmago

 

Casa Labra

Casa Labra, famous for its croquettes, was opened in 1860 and is located close to Plaza de Sol in Calle Tetuán. The historic building has an ancient façade and an old-style interior, which is divided in a bar and a restaurant. The kitchen focuses of traditional dishes offering a wide variety of tapas.

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Source: Fotomadrid

 

Lhardy

The originally French bakery, Lhardy was established in 1839 by the French man Emilio Huguenin Lhardy, in the street Carrera de San Jerónimo, next to Plaza de Sol. Today it is divided in a shop on the ground floor, selling pastries, cold cuts and food to go, and a fine restaurant with a lot of different salons on the second floor. The cuisine nowadays is a creative and tasty mix out of the Spanish and the French kitchen.

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Source: Wikipedia

 

Having lunch, dinner or just a snack in one of the typical, legendary taverns in Madrid is always worth it. It will give you an additional insight into the past and a feeling of being part of it. The flair, the food and the location is perfect to enjoy some time of your stay there.

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