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This past Thursday I met up with Ani (my Bulgarian friend here in Spain) and we took the bus to Valencia so that on Friday we could see Las Fallas- in other words, we went to go look at giagantic, painted paper-maché works of art, which the valencianos have worked on all year to make, and then watch them go up in flames in an awesome display of firecrackers and fireworks. Click here for a better explanation about what the Fallas are.

We hung out with Ani's friends, who are all Bulgarian, so I felt oddly like I was back in Bulgaria, yet I was still in Spain! It was a lot of fun, though. We spent the day on Friday taking pictures, walking around down town Valencia looking at these marvelous sculptures.... all while knowing that they were going to BURN later at night. They're burnt one at a time, because the firefighters of Valencia have to be there to control the fire.

Some were just very beautiful, like this one, which was the biggest of all:

Many of them were like looking at 3D political cartoons, especially in the lower levels rather than the main figures of the work:

The cool thing about this is that you know they're going to burn. A lot of people think this is sad- why would they work all year to make such works of art just to burn them? But when you know they're going to burn as you're looking at them, it makes you enjoy them much more. It makes them more interesting.

The first one we saw burn was in a pueblo of Valencia called Alaquás.

I took this photo from Ani's friends' apartment:

Then we went down to watch the show. They start with fireworks...

Then they turn off the lights while the puppets await their doom...

...and all of a sudden all these firecrackers go off one after another and the thing ignites!

You can see the firefighter's water here controlling the fire- I mean, look at how close the fire is to those apartments!!!! These people are nuts!

All in all, the fallas were f***ing amazing, and if I'm still in Spain next year, I am definitely coming back again next year! Of the Spanish festivals I've been to (not that many... Carnaval and Feria en Sevilla... also los Patios Cordobeses), this is without a doubt the one I liked most.

If you want to see more photos here's my album on facebook.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 21st, 2010 07:29 pm (UTC)
That is so very cool! Thank you for posting all those pics. I have heard of this festival but I had no idea the displays were so elaborate and larger than life! Amazing work. I'm glad you had a great time. I know now it's definitely something I'm going to have to check out when I finally make it over there. Your blog is better than a travelogue. I hope you know that :)
ps: please tell me there was an exit of some kind behind you when that fire started. It looks like you were blocked in by apartment buildings on all sides. I was trying to imagine the crush of people if that fire did get out of control! Also, why are so many people wearing red in that pic taken outside your friend's apartment?
Apr. 5th, 2010 09:02 pm (UTC)
a late response but....
Yeah there was an exit... it was a whole street we were on- the falla pictured was in the middle of an intersection with apartments on all corners, so it just looks closed off.
As for the red, my best guess is that it's the color of the specific club (in Spanish I'd say peña) associated with that falla- I imagine it's similar to how in Semana Santa they have different "clubs" associated with the floats. I think it's the group of people (family and friends) who got together to help sponsor/organize that particular falla....
Thanks for the comment!
Mar. 22nd, 2010 03:55 am (UTC)
re: last comment!!
notice the fire hose wetting down the apartment house!!
--Becky's mom
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )