Jesus and the Virgin Mary rank high, too, but the two most important religious figures in Valencia are a pair of Vicentes. San Vicente Martir met his grisly fate here, while a thousand years later San Vicente Ferrer would become one of the city’s most influential sons.
On the second Sunday of May, Valencia celebrates its patroness, the Virgen de los Desamparados (Our Lady of the Forsaken), with a lethargic and low-key event. Subdued worshipers calmly line the Plaza de la Virgen, offering whispered prayers and privately reflecting on their faith as their beloved icon passes quietly by. (Are you detecting any sarcasm, here? Because I’m laying it on pretty thick.)
Decorated with a symmetrical grid of orange trees, the Plaza del Patriarca is home to a couple of Valencia’s most historic buildings: the Real Colegio Seminario del Corpus Christi and La Nau, both of which date from the 15th century.
Valencia doesn’t get a lot of time to recover from Fallas before the next big holiday rears its pointy head. Easter Week is celebrated throughout the city, but the main events happen in the city’s beachfront districts. The Semana Santa Marinera fills the streets of Cabanyal with processions, Jesus statues, flying flowers, marching bands, and brotherhoods in scary hoods.
One of the most important events of Fallas is la Ofrenda, when tens of thousands of traditionally-clad falleros and falleras converge on Valencia, bearing flowers for the massive wooden figure of Our Lady of the Forsaken in the Plaza de la Virgen.
We tend to get so wrapped up in Fallas fever, that we forget about festivals happening in other places. Luckily, we have friends to remind us. This year, one such friend took us to Castellón for the Romería a la Magdalena: an eight-kilometer pilgrimage in which seemingly the entire city participates.