The Plaza de la Virgen is one of the core places in Valencia, in part because it celebrates the Virgin Mary of the Homeless, and is probably the most celebrated patron saint of the city. The celebration continues for an entire weekend, and is really quite amazing to behold. I have to say that I am continually amazed at the cultural roots of Valencia, and how deep they go into the society here.
My daughter and I arrived at the Plaza de la Virgen early enough to watch the entire parade, which lasted for an hour and a half. Upon viewing the pictures, you can probably tell why. Thousands of falleras and falleros, marching bands, church representatives, local dignitaries, and clerics entered the parade at the cathedral doors, preceding a statue of the Virgin Mary that was walked through the streets.
Groups from all over the Valencia region took part in this celebration, whether it was in one of the other events earlier in the day like the Children’s Mass, or in a different event. The number of people involved is truly staggering.
The costumes are traditional, and quite colorful, as you can see. Seeing families dressed up and walking through the streets adds to the somewhat surreal nature of the final event. Here, though, that is pretty normal, and nobody really thinks twice about it. After all, this culture loves a good costume event! I’m not even going to pretend that I understand what the different dresses, hats, robes, and suits mean, but the variety is tremendous. The colored silk brocades of the fallas costumes certainly made for a festive celebration!
All of the participants, and spectators, lining up for the parade.
This mural, hanging from the basilica, is made entirely of dried flowers.
And so it begins. And for the next hour and a half, there is no stopping the procession!
The applause when the virgin finally emerged from the cathedral was pretty intense, and a bit contagious.
Those flecks in the air are rose petals being showered down on the statue of the virgin.