Each September, Granada pays homage to its patron virgin, la Virgen de las Angustias (translated to mean Our Lady of Sorrows). With a series of activities, concerts and food fair, the festival is celebrated with much vigor in the Andalusian city. The religious festival is still seen as an important part of the city’s culture and tradition.
History of the Festival
Granada’s devotion to the Virgen de las Angustias dates back to the times when the Christians reconquered the city from the Moors. But it was not until September 20, 1913 when the virgin was canonically crowned and declared patron of Granada. Since then, locals have carried out the tradition of decorating the faÃ§ade of the Iglesia de la Virgen de las Angustias (church dedicated to the virgin) with flowers — offerings from the devotees of Granada.
How the Festival is Celebrated
Today, the festival is still dedicated to worshipping the patron virgin with feasts, concerts and flowers. As the festival coincides with the official arrival of the autumn season, rows upon rows of food stalls selling typical autumn fruits and sweets are on display.Â Many stalls offer local products like Acerola cherries, jujube, khakis, without forgetting the pomegranate, representative of the city.
A special torta (pie) is also eaten during this festival. The torta, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, is made up of cabello de angel (caramelized fibres from fruits). It’s on sale at most of the food stalls at the Craft Fair.
The celebrations take place on the last weekend of September, although a series of activities and concerts are usually launched on the Wednesday prior to that, with the aim of strengthening andÂ give greater importance to the feasts of Our Lady of Sorrows.
The Craft Fair, located at Puerta Real, also kicks off on Wednesday. Here, you’ll find close to 20 bandstands each selling various specialties such as leather, glass, ceramics, textiles, metalwork, jewellery, silverware or binding, among others.
The concerts then take place on the last weekend of September.Â The weekend begins with a performance by Dance City Regional Group, which plays at the Craft Fair. At Teatro Isabel la CatÃ³lica, you can also catch the show ‘Tango’, featuring tenor JosÃ© Manuel Zapata and singer PasiÃ³n Vega.
Finally, on Sunday at 12:00pm, an orchestra band will take to the streets, leading a parade that carries the figure of the virgin through the streets of downtown Granada. The parade is a rather solemn one, with devotees following the trail with lit candles. Starting from the Cathedral, the parade will pass through major streets like Gran Via and Puerta Real before ending at the Iglesia de la Virgen de las Angustias.
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Photo credit: all photos by Nellie Huang