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Our Lady of the Forsaken

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This weekend, always on the second Sunday in May, Valencia celebrates its patron saint, Our Lady of the Forsaken. The city’s most insane religious procession takes place on Sunday morning, and there are a few other events to keep your eye on.

Concert, Fireworks and Dance at Plaza de la Virgen – Saturday Night
At 11pm, the Municipal Band of Valencia takes the stage at the Plaza de la Virgen for a free, open-air concert, to kick off the weekend’s festivities. It’s very pleasant, in stark contrast to the music which will soon fill the square. After they’ve finished, a short but impressive fireworks display will be shot off over the Turia. It’s visible from the plaza, but if you want an unobstructed view, you should head down to the riverbed.

After the fireworks have ended, folkloric music, castanets, elaborate costumes, and dancing fill the plaza in an interminable dance. Hundreds of falleros prance to the squealing, whistling sounds of flutes and other woodwinds. The musicians play the same song over and over, and I promise, you won’t be able to get it out of your head for days. And you will want to, desperately.

Check out our 2009 coverage of the dance & fireworks

Open Air Mass – Sunday Morning
Taking place at the ungodly hour of 5am, la misa descubierta is only for early risers, and guilt-ridden late-night party people. It takes place at the Royal Chapel, and since we’ve never gone and never will, I won’t comment further.

The Traslado – Sunday, 10:30am
This is the highlight of the festival, and one of the absolute must-see events on the calendar. Even the non-religious can’t help but be moved by the spectacle of the Virgen de los Desamaparados being carried from her Basilica to the Cathedral. It’s a very long 200 meters, from door to door, with the path being obstructed by thousands of rabid Catholics clamoring to touch the virgin, who will stop at nothing. With rose petals raining down from the balconies, true believers crying and shaking, desperate parents literally throwing their babies at the statues, the men buckling under the virgin’s weight as come perilously close to dropping her over and over… it’s a sight you can’t miss. Incredible. If you’re not sure, just check out our 2008 & 2009 coverage.

Mascletà – Sunday, 14:00
The cage is gone and this mascletà should be a great one.

Official Procession – Sunday, 18:30
It has the Virgin, but none of the craziness. This is a long, solemn and much calmer parade. The end is nice, when the bishop and important politicians walk by, with Our Lady hot on their heels, but until then, it’s just so many ladies dressed in black, and dudes in suits. The route goes like this:

Pl. Virgen, Caballeros, Tossal, Bolsería, Mercado, María Cristina, San Vicente, Pl. Reina, Mar, Avellanas, Palau, Almoina

Ronda a la Verge – Monday, 20:30
On Monday evening, there’s more traditional music on the menu in the Pl. Virgen. Grab a seat at one of the cafés, and allow yourself to unwind from a crazy weekend.

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May 7, 2010 at 9:59 am Comments (0)

Semana Santa 2010

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I hope you’re recovered from Fallas, because the next big celebration is already here. Get ready for the excitement of Semana Santa in Valencia! Sigh. Well, if we must.

As though to give the city center a break from fiestas, the main Easter week activities take place in the port-side neighborhood Cabanyal. For that reason, it’s known here as Semana Santa Marinera. Starting tonight at 8pm, and every day up until Easter Monday, there are processions and acts. It’s pointless to try and list them all — there are a lot. Check out the full line-up here.

semena-santa-marinera

But the three main processions are as follows:
Thursday, April 1st, 20:00 – Act of the Prophecy
Heralding the beginning of the festivities, the various hooded brotherhoods visit 4 churches, accompanied by bands, in this fast moving, happy & colorful parade.

Friday, April 2nd, 18:30 – General Procession of the Holy Burial
This long parade honors the martyrdom and death of Jesus; the brotherhoods act out biblical scenes from the passion, death of resurrection of JC. Don’t expect a lot of smiling, but this is an impressive parade all the same.

Sunday, April 4th, 13:00 – Parade of the Resurrection
This is the happiest parade, and why not? Jesus has risen, and we’re pretty sure he’s not a zombie! The brotherhoods will have their hoods off in honor of the miracle, and be marching along proudly to happy music. If you’re lucky, you might catch a flower.

Another highlight of Semana Santa is the beautiful beach procession at Malvarossa, on the morning of Good Friday. We went last year, so you can check out more information here.

We’re a little worn out this year from Fallas, and a recent trip to Segovia and Madrid. Don’t forget that both Friday and Monday are holidays, so get your shopping done now!

The Bells and more views from the Micalet


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April 1, 2010 at 5:11 pm Comments (0)

Granada – The Cathedral & Royal Chapel

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Our hotel, Casa de Federico, was within spitting distance of the city cathedral, and so it was the first bit of sightseeing we did while in Granada.

cathedrale-granada

The church is tucked tightly into Granada’s streets, making it difficult to judge its size from the outside. Once inside, I was completely surprised by the enormity of the cathedral. Cavernous. Massive granite columns support a roof that seems a mile away, making the chapel incredibly spacious. The organs are golden and just ridiculously huge. Despite the grandeur, though the church pulls off a serene atmosphere.

Gothic in design, the cathedral was built between the 16th and 18th centuries — a bit later than those in much of Spain; Catholicism had to be patient while Isabella & Ferdinand conquered the Moorish capital of Al-Andalus.

Speaking of the Catholic monarchs, the adjacent Royal Chapel was built to be their final resting place. Less breathtaking than the cathedral, the chapel is still worth a visit because of the sepulchers of the famous king & queen, which are engraved with likenesses of the royals. I read that the Isabella’s head appears more sunk down into its pillow because she was thought to be wiser than Ferdinand.

The Royal Chapel and the Cathedral are in the heart of the city center, close to one of Granada’s main intersections: Calle Colón and Calle Reyes Católicos. Towering there, where the streets named after them literally meet, is a statue of the famous encounter between Isabella and Christopher Columbus — a meeting which would change the history of the world.

Super cheap car rental Granada

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February 16, 2010 at 5:05 pm Comments (2)

Jan 22nd – Holiday of San Vicente Mártir

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You’ll probably have noticed that the stores in Valencia are closed again today. The reason this time is the celebration of San Vincente Ferrer, the city’s patron saint. This is a festival for just the city of Valencia — outside the city nucleus, life continues as normal.

Vinceter Ferrer Valencia

The main event of the day is a procession at noon from the Cathedral, down C/ La Paz. Appropriate to the veneration of a martyr, this is a solemn affair, not musical or lively.

Last year, we wrote a longer article about the history of San Vicente Mártir, with a lot of pictures from the parade. If you unsure about whether to attend today’s event, check it out!

Photos form Xativa

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January 22, 2010 at 8:30 am Comments (2)

Day of the Immaculate Conception

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Last year, we were taken off guard by the public holiday on December 8th, celebrating the Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception. It seems bizarre to dictate a public holiday for such a purely religious event, but this is Spain, so it’s not too surprising.

People stay home from work and stores are closed, but it doesn’t seem like this holiday incorporates much else. There’s not a mention of La Inmaculada, or any events planned around it, in today’s paper.

All Catholics are obligated to attend Mass today, and the Church has declared this to be a “solemn” holiday — so I suppose that explains why there’s no dancing in the street or mascletàs going off!

– Must Have: Buñuelos during Fallas

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December 8, 2009 at 8:32 am Comments (0)

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