View of the Roses Gulf (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
At the southern end of the Gulf of Roses is L’Escala, a seafaring town and long-established fishing port, specialising in red fish (sardines, herrings etc.) and salted anchovies.
The town is renowned for its anchovies and ancient ruins of Empuries and it is host to several festivals throughout the year.
The older centre of the town still retains the character of a typical Spanish working town with its bustling narrow streets and good selection of shops, bars, cafe’s and restaurants. There are two small, popular beaches in the old town that add to the overall charm and atmosphere of the area.
Sardanas are the local dance. It is one of the few national dances that is actually danced by the townspeople themselves rather than by a group. An orchestra known as a “Cobla” accompanies the dancing. The participants stand in circles and by listening to the cues given by the music know what step they should be dancing at any given time. Sardanas look deceptively easy to dance! The dances take place every Wednesday evening at 10pm during the summer at the beach at Riell’s and spontaneously groups of people form into circles. Everybody is invited to participate in the dancing..
The Landing of the Three Kings – 5th January The Three Kings arrive by sea are eagerly met by the local children. The Kings disembark onto the main beach and then ride through the town on horseback. That night the children all go to bed hoping that when they wake up in the morning the Three Kings will have left them some gifts, however if the child has not behaved well during the year he may find he has been left a lump of (edible) coal!
Dia de Sant Jordi (Saint George’s Day). April 23rd: Sant Jordi is the patron saint of Catalonia and the day is celebrated throughout Catalonia. The legend has it that when the famous dragon was slain, a rose grew from its blood. To celebrate the victory over the dragon Catalan men give the woman they love a red rose on Sant Jordi’s day. In return women buy their loved ones a book. Over recent years the Catalan custom of buying books on Sant Jordi’s day has become fairly international and in many countries of the world April 23rd is known as “International Book Day”.
Triumirat Mediterrà is a market that is held in L’Escala in June. What makes it special is the fact that the whole market is “set” in 30BC. Traders are dressed in Greek or Roman dress, the Tavernas sell drinks that would have been available at that time and all products must be compatible with the era. During the days leading up to the market there are plenty of related activities and many restaurants offer a special Roman meal, serving similar food to that which the Romans at that time would have eaten. On the day of the market activities include several gladiator fights and an auction of slaves.
La nit de San Joan – June 23rd. It is a night when people build bonfires and have firework displays. Families and friends get together for a special meal traditionally accompanied by “cava” (champagne) and “coca”, a type of cake.
Festa del Carme July 16th This is the day on which the town pays homage to its senior citizens. There is a boat parade which brings many of the town’s “elders” to the beach from where they are accompanied by their grandchildren or other relations to the church for a celebratory mass, followed by more festivities lasting all day.
Gegants Giants and Capgrossos originate from the Corpus Christi processions. Nowadays many Catalan towns have “giants” which are brought out on high days and holidays. There is an annual “giant” meeting in early September every year in which all the local “giants” come to L’Escala for the day and parade around the town. These are L’Escala’s “giants”, Pere and Maximeta. Here they are standing either side of the church door behind a “carpet” of coloured sand made on the day of the Festa del Carme. The Catalan insignia is represented in a sea full of fish and with small groups of people dancing Sardanas.
The “Festa Major” from the 2 to the 6 of September where the Sardana, the traditional dance of Catalonia, is enjoyed with a special passion. Other interesting festivities, although of a more tourist character are the Festa de la Sal, annually in October where the visitor can see the traditional offices related to fishing industry, – in which also participates the population. Another is the Festa de l’Anxova where everyone will be able to taste the internationally acclaimed anchovies of L’Escala.
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