Castillo Monumento Colomares de Benalmádena

El Castillo de Colomares de Benalmadena, or simply Castillo de Colomares.  Built in 1987 by Dr. Esteban Martin, the castle was completed in 1994, and is meant as a monument to the great explorer, Christopher Columbus, and his discovery of America.  The castle overlooks the Alboran Sea, and while it was never a residence, its magnificent views offer a beautifully picturesque background for this interesting monument to the world’s most famous early explorer.

Colomares Castle
Castillo de Colomares

 

Dr. Esteban Martin had spent time working in the United States as a surgeon and grew increasingly frustrated with the international depiction of Columbus as a Genovese Italian who is heralded more for being an Italian, rather than for the support he received from Spain, which immortalized his memory to begin with.  The last straw came during a Columbus Day celebration, when Dr. Martin decided he could no longer stomach how Columbus was idolized and remembered.  Dr. Martin decided to leave his job in the United States, and with the help of two bricklayers, put together a structural representation of the accounts of Columbus’ travels that had previously only been put down in books, intended to be a book carved in stone.  While Dr. Martin had no architectural knowledge or training himself, he started looking into the plans for building the Castillo in the early 80s until he was able to start construction in 1987.  Construction occurred on the castle until Dr. Martin ran out of funding, but what he and his masons had accomplished was nothing short of remarkable.  Even when he had run out of money to continue construction, Dr. Martin took to old books to try and find Castilian phrases and references that might someday still be incorporated into his living monument to the great explorer.  He had a great passion for Spanish history, and wanted to preserve it, in a version that he believed was most correct, as much as possible.

Colomares Castle

In years past, the castle has been used as a reptile center, and falconry, but today serves only as a monument to Christopher Columbus.  The entire castle itself looking like something out of a fairy tale with its ornate decoration and varying architectural styles, it acts like a storybook brought to life in a tangible structure.

The Castillo de Colomares covers nearly 5000 square feet or 1500 square meters, and has become known as the largest monument in the world that is dedicated to Christopher Columbus, and it is a major tourist attraction for visitors to the Malaga region.  All around the exterior of the Castillo are carvings that pay homage to the Catholic monarchs who accompanied Columbus on his journey, as well as various depictions of sea life and representations of the ships that comprised Columbus’ fleet.  For example, after searching for a financial backer to fund his desire to search for a passage to the East Indies via the West, the Italian Columbus sought support from Spain.  The Catholic Monarchs there, as well as Queen Isabel, supplied Columbus with the support he needed, in exchange for the ability to use Columbus’ route and future fleet in order to enter into the booming spice trade with Asia.  To pay homage to that commitment and that support, the designer of Castillo de Colomares placed bronze shields on the exterior as a perpetual sign of gratitude and recognition, carved with the names of the Catholic Monarchs, Hispanic and Andalusia, who supported Columbus’ expeditions – both the first, and the following four journeys he set out on, continually looking for a shorter way to get to the East Indies, by sailing west instead..  The bow of a ship, an homage to the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria, is carved into one of the turrets of the castle.

Castillo Monumento Colomares

Initially, Columbus was intending to land in Japan, but as he had sailed west from Spain, he first ended in what he termed, San Salvador, or Our Savior (Jesus Christ).  The natural wildlife of the island included an abundance of iguanas, so San Salvador was referred to by the natives as the “Island of the Iguanas.”  Around the castle are carvings of iguanas, but also the small chapel constructed in the castle was built as an homage to that first “rest stop” for Columbus’ fleet.  In fact, that chapel, which measures just under 2 square meters, was labeled by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s smallest church!

While Columbus’ remains have been moved several times over the last five centuries, and they currently remain where they have been for over 100 years – the Cathedral of Seville in Seville, Spain, the Castillo de Colomares contains a small mausoleum that was constructed in the hopes that someday Columbus’ remains might be moved to reside within.

Within the castle are ornate stained-glass windows and more carvings adorning the walls which represent the three most prevalent religious cultures during the 15th century – Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.  The castle’s architectural styles also reflect those that were popular throughout Spain during the time of Columbus, namely Bizantine, Romanesque, Arabic and Gothic, which contributes to the ornate lattice work, detailed spires, and pointed arches that can be found throughout.

How to get To Colomares Castle.

Getting to the Castillo is easy.  From Benalmadena, it is just a quick trip south to Carretera Costa del Sol, followed by a 10 minute walk or short bus ride to the front of the castle.  Unfortunately, there isn’t any other close parking, but the walk is easy and the bus is inexpensive.  Taxis are also available.  Admission prices are under 3 Euros per person, and student and senior rates are available.  Group rates are also available, and professional tour guides are always on hand to explain the architecture of the castle.  The Castillo’s open hours vary slightly depending on the season, but it is typically open 10am-2pm, and also 4-6pm in Winter months, 4-7pm in Autumn months, and 5-9pm in Summer months.

Top 10 Beaches in Spain

Spain is one of the most popular European countries know for their ‘Beach culture’. It has an amazing assortment of different types of beaches offering unique experiences on both its eastern and western coastlines.

From the majestic Mediterranean coves, blue crystal clear waters and beautiful white sandy beaches, to the alluring Atlantic Ocean with rocky shores propped against picturesque landscapes and the sparkling black sand beaches with ash covered hills of the volcanic Canary Islands, Spain has it all.

Here is a list of the Top 10 beaches in Spain that will help you choose the perfect beach destination for your next escape.

 

Calo Des Moro – Palma de Mallorca

Calo Des Moro - Palma de Mallorca , Top 10 Beaches in Spain
Calo Des Moro – Palma de Mallorca

Mallorca (Majorca) is the largest island of the Balearic Islands in Spain. Just like the other islands here, the blue waters are crystal clear and the clean white sand invites you to soak in some spectacular views as you lay beneath the Mediterranean sun.  Calo des Moro is a pristine piece of beach that remains protected and unspoiled by development thanks to a foundation that has been looking after it for the last 15 years. They claim that it is ‘One of the last paradises of Mallorca’. The beach is only about 30m long and 10-20m wide, situated 6 km from Santanyi in the southeastern part of Mallorca. You can reach the beach easily by following road signs; don’t be alarmed by the ‘Private Property’ sign, as this area is privately owned but open to the public.The seawater glistens between the rocky cliffs that are covered with pine trees. The sandy spaces are not that many and are interrupted by rough rock, which is ideal to sit and stare at the sea or you can leave your belongings here if you’re going in for a dip in the shallow waters. The weekends are busier with locals and travelers alike making a beeline to the beach, as it is also an excellent bay for snorkeling and diving.  Due to its small size and lack of regular beach facilities you may need to plan ahead before heading here, taking with you all beach essentials.  Also remember the beach is unguarded and there are no beach restaurants etc. like seen at other more commercial beaches on the island..

Playa de Comte – Cala Comte Beach, Ibiza

 Platges de Comte - Cala Comte Beach, Ibiza
Platges de Comte – Cala Comte Beach, Ibiza

The island of Ibiza in Spain boasts of a multitude of beaches and popular among-st them is the beach of Cala Comte (Cala Conta) on the west coast. It is a relatively smaller beach, 800m long with several small coves. There are two stretches of sand, a rocky coastline on the western side and sand dunes on the other.  A smaller cove at the far eastern end is an unofficial nudist area.

The beach has clear turquoise blue water mostly because of the constant flow of currents in the Mediterranean Sea. The shallow water and golden sand is perfect for children to enjoy, while another rockier ledge leads to a more private and sheltered cove where the sea is a little deeper and so it is advised that only experienced swimmers venture here. There are a few landmasses that stick out of the water just off the coast that many people like to swim out to and you can enjoy some snorkeling here as well.

Since the sand is limited here it can get very crowded especially in the summers, so either come early in the morning or later in the afternoon and then stick around for sunset. The beach has various amenities like loungers, parasols, restaurants, bars, toilets, showers, lifeguards, access for the disabled etc. The tide comes in around 7 pm and has been known to take with it people’s belongings if they’re not careful.

The beach is easily accessible by cars and taxis all year round; there are also public buses from San Antonio and ferries departing from the San Antonio Harbour throughout summer.  Since Cala Comte is on the west coast it is one of the best beaches on the island to watch the sunset especially from the few beach restaurants that offer you a panoramic view; crowds of people gather here and boats too drop anchor just off the coast to catch the soothing sights of the sun setting over the western horizon.

 

Playa de Ses Illetes – Ses Illetes Beach, Formentera

Playa de Ses Illetes - Ses Illetes Beach, Formentera
Playa de Ses Illetes – Ses Illetes Beach, Formentera

Formentera is an island just off the southern coast of Ibiza and is one of Spain’s Balearic islands. The beautiful white sandy beaches and clear turquoise waters of this island are the main attraction here and is what contributes to that Caribbean feeling that the island is famous for.

Ses Illetes (Illetas) is the most popular beach located on the western side of the island and is sheltered by dunes. It is very close to the main port of the island called La Sevina where the ferries from Ibiza will drop you off and so it is also the most frequented beach. Getting there is as easy as following road signs and there is a free parking area for your cars, bikes or cycles, you can also use the public bus service from the port.

In spite of being located in a ‘conservation area’ the beach still has plenty of amenities, several restaurants and water sports. However the restaurants are few and it is advisable to have a reservation in peak season.

This beach attracts a pleasant mixture of people, families with young children enjoy the safe and shallow waters, day visitors from Ibiza flock to the sand here to unwind after a hectic party, the rich and famous stop by in their flashy yachts to savour some fresh seafood that the beach restaurants are famous for and the locals of the island who just want to make the most of their weekends.

The northern end of Playa Illetes is the most peaceful part of this long beach and is an official nudist reserve.  As this beach faces the west, it is also a recommended spot to watch the sunset.

 

Playa de Cofete – Morro del Jable , Fuerteventura

Playa de Cofete - Morro del Jable
Playa de Cofete – Morro del Jable

 

Fuerteventura, the second largest of Spain’s Canary Islands, sits in the Atlantic Ocean closest to the African coast of Morocco. Even though this almost desert like island has dry barren land of mostly rock and stone, it has some of the most impressive beaches in all of Europe with over 50 km of white and golden sand. There are over 150 beaches, enormous sand dunes and a subtropical climate with cool island breeze all year round makes it a great holiday destination.

The beach of Cofete located on the coast of Jandia in the southern part of the island is a stunning 5 km stretch of soft white sand and crystal clear waters. Getting there can be a little tricky as there is a 20 km long track that only allows for single file traffic in some places. This narrow path has some steep drops to the side in some areas and the journey is best done in a jeep or four-wheel drive vehicle.

Since this is one of the wider beaches on the island and because it is not very easily accessible you should be able to find a relatively secluded spot for yourself even in peak season. It is a popular beach with naturists who remain undisturbed while they are here.

Even though tourism on the island picked up only recently, the island already has a well-developed infrastructure. So when you’re here you can look forward to Golf Courses, a Zoo, a Water Park and various Marine Excursions. You can go surfing, windsurfing, kite surfing as well as diving and recreational fishing which is known as ‘Big Game Fishing’ off the coast of this island. So if you’re a sports enthusiast, adventure lover or traveling with kids you will be guaranteed one of the best island experiences with something for everyone.

 

Papagayo Beach, Lanzarote (Playa de Papagayo)

Couple of people in turquoise ocean water on Papagayo beach, Lanzarote, Canary Islands, Spain
Couple of people in turquoise ocean water on Papagayo beach, Lanzarote, Canary Islands, Spain

Lanzarote is the easternmost island of the Spanish Canary Islands located in the Atlantic Ocean just off the southern coast of Morocco in Africa.

It is known as the island of eternal spring because it enjoys perfect weather all year round making it a popular holiday destination. Like the other Canary Islands, Lanzarote is Volcanic in origin but despite this there are several beautiful white-sand beaches such as those at Papagayo.

The beaches of Papagayo are a collection of smaller, fine white sand that are separated by high cliffs, forming a number of sheltered bays and it is tucked away in the ‘Los Ajaches Nature Reserve’, which is an area of volcanic hills on the island.

Papagayo will mesmerize you with its still, crystal clear, emerald green waters. It is the perfect place to swim, sunbathe and snorkel as you can enjoy the beauty of the depth of the sea. It is protected from winds by the volcanic hills that are characteristic of this island making it one of the safest beaches here to go swimming. Naturists (nudists) also favour these sultry sandy shorelines and can enjoy areas that are reserved exclusively for them.

The beach of Papagayo can be accessed by a rather bumpy dirt road or by the coastal pathway that charges a small fee per person. You can also get there by a Water Taxi from the harbour of Playa Blanca, which is the more popular and commercial beach area on the south of the island. Approaching the Papagayo beach from the water is a spectacular way to drink in the beauty of this beach.

Since it is far from any of the main tourist spots on the island and offers very few beach services, you are advised to pack what you may need in advance to enjoy an uninterrupted day on these pristine shores.

 

Playa de Cavalleria, Menorca

Playa de Cavalleria Playa de Cavalleria
Playa de Cavalleria Playa de Cavalleria

Minorca (Menorca) is one of Spain’s Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea. This is a more laid back island as compared to the others and is known for its long, endless beaches made up of sandy crescents, rocks, bays called “calas” and dark green pine trees that fringe this coastline.  Playa de Cavalleria is a 500 m long beach in the central north coast of the island and is 9 km from Es Mercadal, located between Punta des Vernís and de Ferragut.  The sand here is a golden brown and gets its dark hues from the red rocks surrounding the beach. In the northwestern corner of the beach the colour of the sand is darker, almost red and many people rub their skin with this sand because of its rich mineral properties. The water is relatively shallow with a sandy bottom, good for snorkeling and the nearest seabed is of great interest to divers. The northernmost tip of the island is where you will find the lighthouse ‘Cap de Cavalleria’ that stands 94 m above sea level. The cliffs here rise to 80 m above sea level and promise spectacular panoramic views and is the best spot to enjoy the sunset; there is a trail from the beach that you can use to get to the top. This beach is located in an area subject to nature conservation restrictions and hence there are no restaurants or beach bars and water sports here. The parking lot is a 15-minute walk from the beach. Even though the beach is not very commercial people from all over the island come to visit, so it is very popular despite its remote location. Besides the beach and the lighthouse when you’re here you can also visit the ‘Port de Sanitja’ an area colonized by the Romans.  You can also visit the Eco-museum.

 

Playa de Rodas – Rodas Beach, Cies Islands Pontevedra

Playa de Rodas - Rodas Beach, Cies Islands Pontevedra
Playa de Rodas – Rodas Beach, Cies Islands Pontevedra

The Cíes Islands are located off the coast of Pontevedra in the northwest region of Spain’s Galica province and just north of Portugal.

The beach of Rodas on the northernmost island of Monteagudo is 1200 m long and is regarded as one of the best beaches in the world. The landscape you will notice is almost picturesque; framed with tall pine trees, pale sandy shores, backed by small natural sand dunes and the majestic beautiful emerald coloured, crystal clear seawater.

The Cíes Islands are a part of the ‘Galician Atlantic Islands National Park’ that protects the land and the surrounding sea, and is only open to the public in summer. There are no hotels on the island only a campsite, a few restaurants and many hiking trails. There are no cars or bikes allowed here either. Visitors are limited to 2,200 a day in order to preserve the area and people often come here to go hiking or bird watching.

During Easter week, at weekends in May and throughout the summer, there are regular boat services from Vigo, Baiona and Cangas de Morrazo. If you plan to stay the night at the campsite prior booking is essential and can be easily be done on their website, do read carefully and follow their instructions in order not to be disappointed.

When you’re at Rodas you can avail of all of their services like beach bars, restaurants, toilets, lifeguards, healthcare facilities etc. to ensure that all your needs are taken care of. Scuba diving and sailing are also permitted but prior authorization and documentation is required.

The Romans referred to the Cíes islands as ‘the islands of the Gods’, and even today their beauty remains unchanged so you can enjoy a paradise-like experience when you visit.

 

Playa del Cañuelo in Bolonia, Cadiz (Bolonia Beach)

Bolonia Beach cadiz andalucia spain
Bolonia Beach cadiz, andalucia, spain

The beaches in the south of Spain are a popular choice especially among Northern European tourists. The province of Cadiz in the southernmost part of Spain has its coastline directly opposite the northern part of Morocco which lies on the African continent.

The beach of El Cañuelo in Bolonia (Bolonia Beach) is close to Tarifa, which is a small coastal town in the province of Cádiz on the Atlantic shore. The beach is near the Camarinal Lighthouse.

This remote kilometer-long stretch of golden sand, crystal-clear waters is rich in marine life, making it an excellent spot for snorkeling and scuba diving. The strong winds from the east make it a popular choice for water sports such as windsurfing, kite surfing, fly-surfing etc. There are also areas reserved for naturists (nudists).

A popular choice for weekend getaways and relatively quieter during the week the beach is relatively a traffic-free haven with no thoroughfare to the beach and so it is literally off the beaten track, something most modern travelers are increasingly in search of.

The large sand dunes to the north and military land here ensure that it will always remain unspoiled by commercialization. When you’re here you can also visit the ruins of the ancient Roman town of ‘Baelo Claudia’, considered to be the most complete Roman town ruins in Spain.

You can also avail of the regular beach amenities including hip juice bars, beach bars and restaurants that serve fresh seafood all of which can be enjoyed against a beautiful and dense mountain range, which makes it all the more appealing.

Playa del Silencio – The Silent Beach Asturias

Playa del Silencio - The Silent Beach Asturias
Playa del Silencio – The Silent Beach Asturias

 

Asturias is located in the northwest of Spain between Galicia and Cantabria on the Atlantic coast and is known for its rugged coastline.

Del Silencio beach in Asturias is renowned for its landscape of rock formations, cliffs and meadows. It is 330 m long and 32 m wide when the tide is out and the beach is made up mostly of boulders and gravel. The water in the bay here is calm and very good for snorkeling.

The beach aptly named ‘Silencio’ promises silence and tranquility, as it is not commercial or easily accessible; it may also be referred to as Gaviero. You can get to the beach from the village of Castañeras on foot or by car following the road signs; however there isn’t much place for parking at the beach and hence it would be a better bet to park in the village nearby. It’s a long walk uphill but will be well worth it to see the coastline of Cudillero with its high cliffs and spectacular islets that will take your breath away quite literally.

The beach frequented by naturists is non-commercial with none of the usual beach amenities available. At high tide the beach completely disappears and you will have to admire it from the top of the cliff, while the rocks on the western side of the beach make good fishing spots.

This isolated beach is very popular and gets quite crowded in summer when families come to enjoy the sea as the waves here are not very rough. However there is no sand and mostly gravel and tiny pebbles on the beach so do come prepared.

 

Playa de Laga – Laga beach, Pais Vasco

Laga beach at Cantabrian coast
Laga beach at Cantabrian coast

The Basque Country (Pais Vasco in Spanish) is an autonomous community in northern Spain known to have their own distinct cultural identity independent from the rest of the country.

Laga Beach located in a town called Ibarrangelu is in the province of Biscay on the west coast of Spain. The beach is near the ‘Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve’ and is framed in the shade of the green mountains of Atxarre and Ogoño on either side.

It stretches out to about 574 m of fine golden sand and is the most famous beach on the Bay of Biscay for water sports and windsurfing. There is a surf club and a surf school here as it is the main beach for surfing in this area; the waves are short and intense with both right and left-hand peaks.

The beach offers a wide enough sandy expanse to accommodate plenty of sunbathers and there are also many secluded areas that you will find between large rocks and tide pools where you can get away from the crowds. The eastern area of the beach is the most crowded.

You can also indulge in other water sports like sailing, canoeing or kayaking when you’re here. Many adventurous people also go paragliding from the Ogoño rock near by. The Beach has many facilities like showers, an open-air bar, a first aid post, drinking fountains and a large car park that makes it very popular amongst travellers and locals alike.

The natural colours of the deep blue sea, golden yellow sand and emerald green mountains and hills translate into a picture-perfect backdrop for a beautiful day at the beach.

Feria De Abril , Seville April Fair 2016

Lights go on, loud Sevillanas music is integrated in all of the local party playlists and thousands of emblematic flamenco dresses embellish the streets of Capital city Andalucía. Spanish people have an eye for organizing mind-popping events and festivities, and the Seville fair is one of them. Two weeks after Easter, preparations start and everyone that’s involved will do what’s in their abilities to make sure this big event will be as prestigious and above all as festive as possible.

Feria de Abril de Sevilla 2016

Origin of The Feria de abril de Sevilla

To introduce you to this collection of happiness and colors, it’s good to expound what exactly this spring festival is about. To begin with, the origin of the festival goes back to the days of 1847. Originally organized as a livestock fair it took approximately one year to sense some transformation in regards to the festival, and step-by-step little sparkles of festivity started to transform the ambiance of it all. Success started arriving, and the event reached its peak during the 1920’s, and this is what made it exactly what is today.

 

Feria-de-Abril-de-Sevilla-2016,-spainadvisor

But what is it exactly that makes the festival so extraordinary, and what happens in this week of joy and delight? The week has its own time scheme, and everyday serves a particular purpose while holding a specific range of activities and things you can do or explore:

 

  • Monday is referred to as “fish day”, and on this evening fish will be eaten traditionally. After dinner people go and watch the thousands of lights being switched on at the entrance to the Feria. When people are done romanticizing next to exotic light decoration around them, it’s time to grab a fresh bottle of cherry wine and start the party.
  • Tuesday is the first day of the horseback parades and also the beginning of people wearing the traditional Spanish flamenco’s and of course the “El traje corto” suits. It’s a real spectacle seeing all these people dressed in these sensational costumes, and it adds this little spark of enchantment to the whole phenomenon of drinking and partying.
  • The rest of the week does not have a specific time schema or ritual bound to it, however that doesn’t mean the that the following days are less important. People are carried by beautifully dressed horses to al different kinds of places, and the whole occasion makes it look like, for a moment, we’re back in history

 

Sevilla Aprill fair , horses

If you want to visit the festival, make sure you plan some of your activities beforehand. A lot of festivities will be busy and booked before you’ve even arrived, and some of the big parties that are taking place are only accessible by private invitation. However, even looking around can already be a completely inspiring and satisfying experience. The things you’ve seen in romantic Spanish movies are being played on a real life screen right in front of you, while you can enjoy a delightful sip of some of the region’s most luscious and sweet wines. This will be an adventure you’ll probably never forget.

Sevilla April Fair 2016

 

San Isidro Festival 2016 – Fiestas de San Isidro Madrid

Fiestas de San Isidro in Madrid

For those who dare and love adventure, for the fun lovers, there is the world’s largest event which is the heart throb of all the youngsters as well as the old. San Isidro Festival in Madrid is the most awaited festival for the bull-fighters and the bull-breeders. Bull fighting is one of the main features of this occasion that sells all the nights over there in Madrid in advance.

If anyone wants to experience a festival of glitz and glare with a modern as well as the vintage traditional look, he/ she must plan to visit the annual festival of San Isidro. One can find the fascinating anecdote of Madrid’s traditional dress, “chulapo” which is worn in captivating colors. So, grab all this fun and eye catchy scenes of tradition and festivity by visiting the venue on 15th of May every year.

Historic Background of San Isidro Festival

This fiesta of San Isidro Madrid starts with full bloom on the 10-day i.e. 10th of May and lasts till the 19th of May. The most enthusiastic day of this festival usually falls on 15th of May when a public holiday is declared by the government and is popular by the name of Madrid’s Patron Saints Day. This is the day when Madrid bursts into sparkles of colors and costumes, when the native people celebrate the city wide fiestas of its saint San Isidro.

Madrid is the real Spanish melting pot as it is the center of culture and economics where this festival activities sputter to a start with the week but its celebrations lasts for long almost a week. Here every day is a fun gala for the general public, an event where they can chill around forgetting all the tensions of life at least for a while.

 

The Most Enthusiastic Day

Some of the dynamic features of this festival include the following;

  • Breath taking Bull fight
  • Traditional Costume parade
  • Midday Mass
  • Family food festival
  • Open air Dancing Ball
  • Carnival of Big heads and Giants
  • Stunning wine parties under Fascinating Fireworks

 

Specialty of the Festival

Thanks to the typical chotis dance which is considered as the cultural hallmark of Madrid. One can find each and everyone involved into himself and entertaining with the open air street dancing in the traditional ‘chotis’ style. The history of this dance relates back to 1850 from Vienna when all the people are supposed to be enjoying dancing up to their lives.

 

Traditional Pastries

Not only dancing and gaming fun is the only thing to enjoy rather there is a full treat for the food lovers by arranging a food carnival of its own kind. It includes the mouth-watering traditional pastries for its guests. Some of the traditional recipe includes the following;

  • Las Listas
  • Las Tontas
  • Las de Santa Clara
  • Las Francesas

The ingredients are basic, they mainly consist of sugar, wheat flour, eggs, yeast, lemon peal, olive oil and anise.

Enjoying Day-drink on the Streets

Besides the rides and games, fun freaks can entertain themselves with the day-drink on the streets, ”Paseo de 15 de Mayo”, where all the streets are given names according to the festival.

In short, there is much to enjoy at this festival, plan a trip to Madrid this year in May and do not miss the plethora of fun and festivity.

San Fermín Festival, Pamplona 2016

As summer and winter gears up in their hemispheres, wise globe trotters seek to take full advantage of the weather in July. Individuals whose New Year resolution have been to live their life a less ordinary, San Fermin festival in Pamplona will offer them ample opportunities. Running with the bulls is one event during the fest that is worth doing once in your life. If you wish to run right in front of the horny friends like some do, you will surely experience adrenaline rush, but also it is a good way to get trampled. Note, in case you fall down during the run, choose to stay down. Allow the bulls trample over, till someone notices and picks you up. Well, getting trampled is less dangerous than actually getting yourself gored to death by the charging bulls.

If you don’t want to get little bumped, watch the Running of the Bulls that is how the event is named, from a balcony for rent. While San Fermin festival is not only about getting knocked down by the bulls at the Dead Man’s Corner (carefully chosen name, indeed), Chupinazo, Riau-Riau, Struendo, Pobre de Mi, Saint Fermin procession and fireworks will heal your slightly beaten up body after the race.

San Fermin Festival - Running of the Bulls
People are running in street during San Fermin festival

History of The San Fermín Festival

The San Fermin festival, held in Pamplona, Spain calls for the celebration of life, shared history, family and religion. The fiestas are celebrated every year continuing from 6th to 14th July in the region of Navarra. Although, the festival is celebrated in the honor of San Fermin, the patron saint of Navarra, the religious aspect has taken up a secondary role in the last few years. These days, the fiestas are seen as the gathering of people hailing from different parts of the world to party and have fun.

The celebration of the fiestas dates back to two different events of the medieval period. This includes commercial secular fairs held during summer, wherein cattle merchants came to the city with their animals for bullfighting. This was specifically documented in the 14th century. And on the other hand are the religious ceremonies that were held on every October 10th to honor the saint. Well, it is in 1591 that these two events were culminated and transferred to 7th July. This marks the commencement of the San Fermines.

Bulls and people are running in street during San Fermin festival
Bulls and people are running in street during San Fermin festival

Single Day Events in the Town

Chupinazo: This is the opening of the festival marked by setting off a rocket (pyrotechnic chupinazo) at 12.00 noon on 6th of July from the city hall balcony. Since 1941, this tradition is being carried out to officially mark the beginning of the celebration.

Riau-Riau:

It a mass activity taking place on the same day (6th July). In here, the council members of the city parade from the City Hall to the chapel, which is dedicated to Saint Fermin. You can expect a spectacular view while the participants dance to the Astrain Waltz. This ritual was introduced by Ignacio Baleztena Ascarate in 1911.

Saint Fermin Procession:

Held on 7th July, the procession of thousands of people accompanying 15th century Saint Fermin’s statue hits the key day of the festival. The statue is usually accompanied by street entertainers and political as well as religious authorities, which includes the city mayor. You can witness Jota (a traditional dance performed for the saint) and the gigantes dance and twirl when Maria, the cathedral bell, rings.

Struendo:

If you are all set to go haywire and shout until your heart is out, participate in this 50 years old event. People gather at the Town Hall at around 11.59 pm to make as much of noise possible for hours. They beat drums (of course, not beating their own drums), whistles and bowls to celebrate.

Pobre de mi:

It is a mournful note, meaning ‘Poor Me’ that is sung in the City Hall Plaza on 14th July at midnight after nine days of fun and partying. It is a kind of ritual done to mark the closing of the festival and hence ‘Poor Me’ is the note.

Pamplona Navarra Spain - S Firmino fiesta band playing drums in front of the famous coffee IRUNA frequented by Hemingway Spanish school of samba fortaleza
Pamplona Navarra Spain – Firmino fiesta band playing drums in front of the famous coffee IRUNA frequented by Hemingway Spanish school of samba fortaleza

Daily Events during theSan FermínFestival

Running of the Bulls:

It has become an internationally acclaimed event and a subject to many documentaries and movies, where the bulls run through the old quarter’s street. The Encierro (the Running of the Bulls) takes place every day during the event (7th to 14th July) at the corral in the Calle Santo Domingo. As the clock strikes 8 in the morning, the bulls charge behind the participants (runners) for 825 meters.

Even though the run usually lasts somewhere around three to four minutes, the time is sufficient for you to seek EMT (Emergency Medical Treatment). However, don’t tease these horny friends as they can actually change their directions and run after you. And the rest would be history! Be excited, but not so much that you compel the bull(s) take things personally and put up a fight with you.

Apart from being right on the field and getting almost to the death bed, you can choose to enjoy the spectacle from above (from a balcony, of course). But, for that you might have to pay 75 Euros or so, which is worth spending. Fast, furious and dangerous; this is one event in the world, which you shouldn’t miss as it is likely to be outlawed in the future.

Traditional Sports:

Be a sporty and become a part of the exhibition and competition of the Basque rural sports occurring in the Plaza de los Fueros every morning. Sports include, wood cutting, hay bale lifting and wood cutting.

Bullfight or Fireworks or Both: Your Choice Of Course:

Between July 6th and 14th, every afternoon a bullfight takes place, wherein six bulls that are driven to the bullring at the time of bull running are killed. While this might not be a treat to the eyes, fireworks held every night at the Citadel Park is a sight to die for.

Opening of San Fermin festival
Opening of San Fermin festival

How to Get There?

Pamplona has an airport connected to several cities, including Madrid and Barcelona. Close by, there are international airports like Bilbao or Zaragoza. There are direct flights from Madrid to Pamplona with Iberia airlines,  so the most recommended way is to fly internationally into Madrid Barajas airport, and from there change flights directly to Pamplona.  Otherwise you can also take the bus or the Renfe train from Atocha station into Pamplona, which takes approximately 3 hours.  Also, you can get to the town by train, bus or car from Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao and San Sebastian, etc.

Moros y Cristianos festival in Alcoy 2016

Can you name one festival on earth that doesn’t only take place in one particular city, but generates festivity and joy throughout a whole nation? In Spain it’s possible! The Moros y Cristianos Festival is an event celebrated mainly in the Spanish province of Valencia, but one that also finds home in villages and cities in other regions of the warm and sunny country.  The festival memorializes the ancient fights between the Moors and Christians during the Reconquista period, and carries a lot of historical value because of this. It lasts for a number of days and exists out of parades, presentation of medieval fashion, music from the same period of time, battles between the former “rivals” and fireworks.

 

History takes us back to the year 711, the time period in which Tariq ibn Ziyad was the leader of a very vigorous army in Gibraltar. Despite his noted strength he got defeated rapidly by forces King Roderick’s army. A 700 year hundred battle between both Christian and Islamic parties found its beginning, and even though the Moors lacked the significant ability to protect their own territory, the whole war lasted until the late days of 1492. The Christians had won. This is the reason the event is still being celebrated by this very day.

 

Locals dress up like either Moors or Christians and re-enact the former battles between both parties. The biggest implementation of the festival takes place in the city Alcoi at the end of April. There is live marching band playing marches moras music and the Spanish people once again expose their unconditional love for fireworks. Also streets are decorated extensively and Red Cross flags are hanging at every street corner. There is an unexplained connection between the Spanish people and their historical siestas. Such passion and enthusiasm can’t be found anywhere but in-between the Mediterranean palm trees of the Spanish East Coast. Missing the event is no option, and people of all ages will make sure to be present the days the festival takes place even if this means traveling from the other side of the country. Preparations for the festival start almost a year beforehand. Fundraisers are being held and everyone contributes to make sure the festival is nothing but one big success by the time the last days of April arrive.

 

If you’re interested in visiting Spain and being a part of this enormous spectacle (whichever place in Spain you chose as your city of residence) be aware of the fact that the corresponding traditional costumes are pricey and that it isn’t always easy to get your hands on a proper one. Also, there are enough hotels available in the celebrating villages and metropolises but you have to be on time with booking. The events are always extremely popular, and if you don’t decide quickly, somebody else might take your wanted place. It’s also important to look up the dates of the event before booking, every city has a different timetable, and even though dates can be close, it’s not the same in every city.

 

How to Get There?

Close to Alcoy there are two international airports, one in Valencia and the other in Alicante.  There are direct flights into Alicante and Valencia from London, with Ryanair, Iberia, Easyjet, British Airways.  From Valencia to Alcoy its an easy ride by car, all you have to do is take the A-7 highway south direction directly from Valencia to Alcoy.  Its a total of 110 km which should take you one hour and 20 minutes to get there.  From Alicante it is evern closer.  You just take the A-7 north direction.  Its only 60 km away around 50 minutes distance.  You can also take the train, and actually it takes less time to take the train from Valencia then it does from Alicante because the train goes in a straight path from Valencia.  It takes two and half hours by train from Valencia Estacio del Nord station to Alcoy.  From Alicante even though its closer it takes almost 4 hours.

Hogueras de San Juan, Bonfires of Saint John

While the sun reaches the northernmost point of the equator, people get to the San Juan beach to celebrate with roaring bonfires, friends, drinks and foods. If you have been planning to experience a surreal scene, then you can be a part of the Bonfires of Saint John fest in San Juan. Who knows, you can even get lucky enough to see some pagan gods on this night.

Bonfires being the theme of this night, men, women and children spend most of their time in making the effigies that is to be burned. According to tradition, you can throw yourself over a bonfire three times to get cleansed and purified unless you burn yourself away in the very first attempt.

The Bonfires of Saint John is a traditional festival celebrated across the globe during Midsummer taking place on 23rd June, St. John’s Eve. This is customary in cities of Spain. And the largest celebration is organized in Alicante, wherein this festival is marked the most important. On the other hand, the celebration in Portugal occurs in Porto and it called the Festa de Sao Joao do Porto. The bonfires are popular in Catalan-speaking regions such as Catalonia and in the Valencian Community.

A street puppet bonfire sculpture for the Bonfires of Saint John Festival
A street puppet bonfire sculpture for the Bonfires of Saint John Festival

History

The Midsummer’s Eve festival has its roots in the ancient celebration of welcoming summer. Bonfires were lit to get rid of the evil spirits that were believed to roam when the sun took the southward fork. While these mythologies keep you mesmerized and a doubtful, you will get good stories to pass onto your next generation.

The Bonfires festival in Alicante came into being in 1928. It was Jose Maria Py who came up with the idea of combining bonfires with Valencian tradition, named ‘fallas’ or ‘falles’ in Valencian. And now this festival is recognized as the most important event in the Alicantinian society.

Both natives and globe trotters flock in the San Juan beach as well, located near Alicante to view the bonfires. The summer solstice looks magical as the fire purifies, water recuperates and people rejuvenate.

 

Events to Witness

The Bonfires commence on 19th June with the ‘Set Up’ when street ninots, archways and monuments are lined up in the streets. This is followed by ‘desperta’ occurring at 8.00’o clock. A great deal of noise could be heard all over the city awakening the neighbors. Also, you get to witness the spectacle of fireworks.

It is not the end yet as in the night between 23.00 and 6.00 street parties are conducted in the districts of the city. Dance and drink continue to keep the night lively. Aside, the Street Band Parade, the Prize Giving Parade and the Flower Offering Parade that takes place on 21st and 22nd June, respectively. However, it is 24th June that marks the closure of the Bonfires of Saint John festival followed by magnificent display of fireworks.

But then, this doesn’t cease the partying spirit of the natives as the Bonfires commissions continue with a number of events throughout the year. This includes musical and dancing competition in autumn, Christmas carol competition in December, Beauty of the Fire Contest in May and so much more.

Clothes to Wear

Three types of traditional clothes are worn. The Beauties and the Honor Ladies’ costumes are made of a band in the hair, a small lemon blossom bunch, two hangings, a white round mantilla, a black velvet waist, a black apron braided with jewelry, a petticoat and much more.

On the other hand, the common women costumes should be made of a cross with a black ribbon, a waist made in colors, a long skirt, a white apron, white stockings and a white piece named manteela.  The men are supposed to wear a cotton, white shirt, a scarf in the neck and head, a blanket with pockets, white stockings, a long sash and full white trouser known as zaraguelles.

A street puppet bonfire sculpture for the Bonfires Puppet Festival
A street puppet bonfire sculpture for the Bonfires Puppet Festival

Things to Do

Aside from being a mere spectator of the celebration, opt for camping for a single night on the San Juan beach as it serves as the best campsites in Spain. You can quickly take a splurge in the sea in the midnight as that is also supposed to be a way to do away with the evil spirits around you. As a ritual, the people wash their feet and faces thrice, so that their three wishes are granted. So you just wait for your turn and watch a genie suddenly appearing to grant your wishes. Of course, only if you think so.

Continuously munecos and dolls are burnt, so much so that the entire night sky gets covered with thick smoke. While the Colossal-like bonfires take larger shape, San Juan beach gets noisier with music. Originally, the effigies represented Judas Iscariot, but that has become secondary to enjoyment as bonfires made today have no religious relevance.

If you could take some time-out, then visit Puerta de Tierra a hub of so many attractions. Also, witness the fountain in the International Convention Center District. Take a stroll to visit the museums featuring modern art. Museums, art, architecture and festivals will take you close to the Spanish-based culture in San Juan. There you can also experience African culture.

Make sure you reserve the night and bring plenty of drink to spend an adventurous night on 23rd June in San Juan. Carry sweater as it is likely to get little cold there.

Bonfires of Saint John is a magical night when your wish can turn real. In Spain, it is celebrated with bonfires. A kid buns his notebooks after the school year has finished
Bonfires of Saint John is a magical night when your wish can turn real. In Spain, it is celebrated with bonfires. A kid buns his notebooks after the school year has finished

How to Get There?

There are flights to Alicante airport, including Ryanair, Norwegain, British Airways, Easy Jet, Iberia, Cimber Sterling and much more. Bus n V-6 connects the Alicante airport with the city. It leaves from the stop in every 20 minutes. If you are travelling from Madrid or Barcelona to Alicante, then you can even think of boarding a train. Suburban train can also get you from to the city from Elche in half an hour.

You can avail tram services as well. They are quite enjoyable and reasonably priced. The city boasts direct ferry links as well, serving as exist to Ibiza and Palma de Mallorca. Once you have reach Alicante, take a bus or tram to reach San Juan beach.

Fiestas del Pilar, Zaragoza

With an enriching history of 2000 years, Zaragoza, situated by the serene Ebro river, is one of the greatest places of historical and artistic significance in Spain. Warm and inviting, this place offers a spectacular view of Bassilica-Cathedral across the banks of the river, along with other impressive tourist spots and captivating landscapes. When you are there, don’t miss the opportunity to take a stroll through the fascinating Primo de Rivera Park or visit the Calle Alfonso, sited in the heart of the city.

In Spain, Fiestas del Pilar (The Pilar Festival) attracts a huge number of people, not only from different parts of Spain but across the globe. To get a taste of Spain’s festive flavor, take part in the Pilar Festival, which is celebrated on the 12th of October, every year. The streets of Zaragoza enlivens with loud throbbing music, crackling fireworks, flower trails, parades of hundreds and thousands of people and outstanding theater performances in the honor of the patron saint of the city, the Virgen del Pilar. The deity is paid respect with plenty of flower showers, while the history of Spain is relived and celebrated across the roads. Trails of orchids, roses and lilies find their way up to the Plaza de Pilar to be offered to the female patron saint of Spain.

The exact roots of this world famous festival date back to 40AD when St James, one of the apostles landed to this city to introduce and spread Christianity among the Pagan population. During his journey, on the eve of January 2nd, it is believed that Virgin Mary descended on a marble pillar to ask him to build a church on the very ground upon which he was standing at that time. Immediately a church was ordered to be built, though initially it was very small but later on magnificent bigger churches were built over the centuries. Today, marvelous Basilica del Pilar, designed and built in 1681, dominates the landscape of that serene place.

If you’re interested in visiting Spain and being a part of this outstanding spectacle then be ready to hit the streets wearing the most colorful outfit you have. The streets will help you witness bull fighting, traditional flamenco dance and folk music like never before. Also, powerful plays and theaters dominate this Spanish celebration by inviting popular actors and actresses to entertain the crowds.

When and where to go

The El Pilar festival starts from 12th October and lasts for around 9 days during which the city gets decked up with thousands of revelers, sparkling fireworks and heavenly music. Zaragoza is the place where the event takes and it is the fifth largest city of Spain. Loaded with stunning Roman artifacts, enclosed towering castles and multi-domed Basilica de Nuestra Señora de Pilar by the Río Ebro river, this age-old Europe city offers enough reasons to pay a visit.

How to reach

Zaragoza airport is situated 10km west of the city with regular flights to/from flights from London, Milan, Lanzarote, Brussels, Paris and Seville. Train and bus routes are also available.

Fiesta de San Miguel, Lleida

September is the month of Fiestas and patrias in San Miguel. In this ‘autumn’s best of cheer’ month, the fun-loving people steep up for the party-hearties. The amazing and subtle weather enables the worldwide travellers to participate in Fiesta de San Miguel Lleida that is held between 25th to 29th September. Its celebration time coincides with the Autumn festival of Lleida, which makes the festival even more happening. However, it is held annually mainly to make merry for bidding adieu to the harvest season.

History

Fiestas de San Miguel is one of the oldest agricultural festivals that started off mainly to show honour to the unofficial second patron saint of the city. The programme includes extravagant procession that starts on 25th of September and continues up to 1st October.

Dance and Fireworks during the Event

The procession consists of displays and gives ample opportunities to all those who want to go crazy with dancing. People can be a part of the festival by joining the easy to learn ‘sardana’ dance. The ‘fire’ or the Flamenco dance, which is another important part of the procession, imitates the flow and the flames’ flair. The rhythm of madness has no full stop and one can experience it when he will visit San Miguel during this festive mood. Accompanied with the sound of guitar and claps, the dance becomes a fusion of romance and entertainment.

Do you want to dance with the sticks? Then, Ball Dels Bastons should be your preference. It’s a Catalan folk weapon dance where the dancers wore ornaments and red ribbons. The tunes of the tabor pipes make the dancers move in accordance with the rhythm. During this time, the Lleida city becomes packed with people taking part in both small and big events where culture remains the centre.

With the enrapturing sight of the fireworks, San Miguel has got it all. A look at the night sky when the fireworks are displayed can take one to a fairy world. The visitors gather at ‘Fire on Blondel Avenue’ and ‘Big night of Beasts’ with their caps and scarves to witness it while protecting their heads from this amazing event at the same time.

Numerous theatrical dramas are also arranged to entertain the audiences. One of such famous drama is ‘Lo Marco’ where the protagonist is the local dragon. Parading through the main routes of Lleida, the people in the attire of evils in the procession attract the attention of the passersby.

In short, Fiesta de San Miguel is an expression of the tradition of Spain celebrated in Lleida that ultimately ends with the setting up of the new cultural manifestations.

How to Reach the Destination

Those who are comfortable in trains can take the train to Lleida from Reus railway station. As Lleida is situated on the AVE train route, the people living in both Madrid and Barcelona can easily reach the destination. From Madrid, you can take train and land on Lleida within 3 hours, whereas from Barcelona, Lleida can be reached through the direct train trip and that too within 1 hour.

Festes de la Merce , La Mercè Festival Barcelona

With stunning and giant human towers, amazing fireworks, and dancing devils, Barcelona celebrates its vibrant annual event- Festes de la Merce from 19th-24th September every year. It is one of the most razzle-dazzle festivals to give something extra to the party-goers. This huge fiesta is actually a unique combination of the traditional culture of Catalonia community of Barcelona and the modern artistry. Though Barcelona is the home of different festivals, La Merce is regarded as the biggest street party of the city where the pulsating creations of the castells are upheld.

Human Tower La Mercè Festival Barcelona
Human Tower La Mercè Festival Barcelona

History Of La Mercè Festival

The festival was first started off as an honorary procession to Barcelona’s patron saint, Virgin of Mercy in the early 18th century. According to the legends, though this saint has played a great role in the Christian’s liberation in the early part of the 13th century, yet she is remembered mainly for the role she played in 1687. When Barcelona was badly fighting against the plague of locust, the city prayed to the Virgin of Mercy and sought her assistance to overcome the infestation. Virgin of Mercy appeared and saved the entire city from the deadly locust. A wave of happiness flows through the city and Virgin of Mercy became the patron saint of Barcelona.

La Mercè Festival Barcelona
La Mercè Festival Barcelona

Fun at Festes de la Merce

La Merce is the fire-iest and the noisiest festivals of Spain that calls people from around the world to take part in its performances, fireworks, and music. Some of the events that will compel you to break the ice and join the festive mood are as follows:

  • Human Towers or Castellers: Watching the people climbing on the shoulders of others to form the tower or the castells at Placa Saint Jaume and then falling again on the back of each other will make you hoot with laughter and also cheer louder with the crowd when the child at the top of the tower raises his hands.
  • Giant Parade or Gigantes: When you see the giant figures of kings, queens, and nobles are parading and dancing in front of your eyes, you will definitely not be able to resist moving your feet with the rhythm.
  • Sardanes Dance: The dancers of this Traditional Catalan dance form a circle by holding arms of each other and create an ambiance of enjoyment where everyone automatically forgets his/her pains. Lift your arms when they will raise theirs’ in the air to enjoy this blissful moment to the most.
  • Fireworks and Correfoc: La Merce is incomplete with the Correfoc, so don’t miss it. In this parade, the people disguised as devils let off the big sound of fireworks. These devils light up the sky with the awe-inspiring fireworks. If you are planning to see it with your kids, make sure that they are standing at a safe distance from the parade as the dragon in the parade releases fire to add to the fun.
Ball de Diables (Devils dance) Group on Correfoc (Firerun) performance
Ball de Diables (Devils dance) Group on Correfoc (Firerun) performance

How to Visit Barcelona

As the city is situated near the railway station, train route is the most preferable option. Go to Macanet-Massanes station and catch the train to Barcelona from terminal 2. If you want to travel in a low-cost airplane, then visit Reus International Airport.