Salamanca September Fair. The Golden City celebrates its most important week of the year when it honors its patron saint: the Virgen de la Vega.
Spain's Golden City
Every year since 1618, the 8th of September marks a special moment in the annual calendar of every salamantino. The Golden City, Salamanca, celebrates its most important week of the year when it honors its patron saint: the Virgen de la Vega (the Virgin of the Meadow). And why is this so important you ask? Apart from the fact that Salamanca has an important agricultural and livestock tradition (thus the meadow), legend has it that this Virgin helped the townspeople repel a foreign invasion during the War of the Spanish Succession in 1706.
The Romanesque statue of La Virgin de la Vega is permanently displayed in the Catedral Vieja, Old Cathedral of Salamanca, and once a year it is taken out to be paraded around the Old City. The procession is followed closely by townsfolk as well as people from around the province who have come to participate, some dressed in the traditional costume of Salamanca known as the traje charro. After going through the city, the procession ends at Anaya Plaza next to the Cathedral. This is where a final, emotional ceremony known as the ofrenda floral (offering of flowers) takes place. Here the Virgin is showered with carnations, daisies and garlands in a breathtakingly beautiful observance. The flowers are not immediately removed, instead they are left to adorn the plaza for the next few days.
Salamanca During Fiestas
Salamanca lives its Ferias and Fiestas in many different ways. You can take in all the activities on the street like street theater, food stalls, fireworks and arts and crafts exhibitions. However, if you prefer being indoors there are concerts, plays and night clubs that go long into the night. After the first day you will notice that there are two distinct fairs happening. There is the feria de dia (day fair) and the feria de noche (night fair). During the de day fair, restaurants, bars and cafés take to the streets by setting up food stalls put up all over the city serving up tasty pinchos (tapas) and drinks. The most popular stalls are found on Compañía Street, Plaza de los Bandos, Santa Eulalia Plaza, Las Ursulas, Anaya Plaza and La Alamedilla. Wherever you go, you will always find the pincho de feria (the tapa of the day) that includes a drink for only 2€.
Street art and theater, more food stalls, night clubs and concerts fills the agenda of the feria de noche. Buy a ticket and see any one of the number of concerts or performances held in the Salamanca's concert hall or music pavilion with headliners from inside and outside the Spanish arts scene. If you are looking for something more casual, you will find free nightly concerts from popular Spanish artists held in Salamanca's world famous town square. But the Plaza Mayor in Salamanca isn't just a place to see a concert. All throughout the week and at all hours, this place becomes the center of social life during the fiestas. When there isn't a concert, you will find friends meeting up, families sharing an ice cream cone, and just people hanging out savoring the view and people watching.
When you walk through the Plaza Mayor be sure to look at the highest point above the City Hall. You will find a flagpole with a small Spanish flag waving and at the top you will spot a silhouette of a toro bravo (fighting bull). This flagpole is called La Mariseca and it announces to the entire world the beginning of the fiestas and, more importantly, the start of the bullfights that Salamanca will host during the week. Since Salamanca is a region that lives and breathes toros, it shouldn't be any surprise that bullfights are held here. Considered to be the most important bullfights held in the province as well one of the most important bullfighting events nationally, top bullfighters will make the trip to Salamanca to participate in one these prestigious bullfights. To see a bullfight you will have to go to La Glorieta, the name of Salamanca's Plaza de Toros or bull ring.
Before you go to La Glorieta, be sure to make a stop at the agricultural and livestock fair known as La Feria Agropecuaria de Castilla y Leon. Here you will come see a vital part of what moves Salamanca—the land. Take a walk around and see all the different livestock and animals that are so important to Salamanca. You will also have the chance to visit a fair that will remind you of a typical county fair in the United States—without the rides (those can be found in another part of town).
Try to come to Salamanca during fiestas. You will find a rich and satisfying social, cultural and leisure calendar waiting for you. See you there!