I'm happy to finally be able to blog some of my shots (which are a couple of thousands in total) from Valencia. This year I was lucky enough to be in Valencia during the days of Las Fallas and visit the city (where I used to live) again after 7 years.
It was a nice experience to see the changed and unchanged things in the city after 7 years. Maybe because of the side effects of living in a rapid changing city like Istanbul, Valencia seemed quite same for me after all those years.
From the very first moment after leaving the airport I noticed that how I miss this city, walking down the streets, peaceful parks, the smell of azahar flowers (orange blossoms), sitting in Plaza del Virgen and watch people passing by, drinking sangria in a small bar, wandering on the malvarrosa beach and so on..
The only major difference for me is to see the city in Las Fallas days of course. (I couldn’t have a chance to stay in Valencia for the Fallas when I was living there.). Las fallas transforms the city into a fascinating carnival of day parades and nightlong revelry.
Each year, the city celebrates the beginning of spring with one of its biggest festivals: Las Fallas. Tapas, drinking and fiestas throughout the city follow into the evening.
One of the most characteristic thing about the city in Fallas time is the smell of gunpowder. Everyone throws firecrackers to literally everywhere. Even 3 years old children! The streets begin to feel like a war zone. And this things make the exact same sound as teargas grenade guns which riot police uses. In the first days of festival when I was walking on the street it reminds me the same feeling of being inside a protest in Istanbul.
Las Fallas has numerous origin stories. My favourite one is the burning of parots—overhanging structures used to give light that were no longer needed as the days grew longer in springtime. But most falleros trace its beginnings to a celebration of Saint Joseph, the carpenter guild’s Saint’s Day. Valencian carpenters would mark March 19 by cleaning their shops and burning the old wooden cinders out on the streets. Neighbors often pitched in. As early as the 18th century, the wooden scraps were dressed up as figures known as ‘ninots’ in small morality plays, often incorporating neighborhood gossip or critiques of local government policies. By the late 19th century, these figurines and monuments evolved into the centerpieces of a more sustained, day-long street festival, with artists who specialized in building them. After 90s they started to build fallas with polystyrene which is more malleable and cheaper. Which makes it easier to build monuments multiple-stories tall and with greater variety and detail.
Nowadays, neighborhoods decorate their streets with lights and create their fallas—giant polystyrene handmade figures from popular culture that are paraded on floats down the city's streets.
And the reason of why they are burning fallas?
During the festival, everynight (except the last one which is nit de la cremà—the night of the burning) there is a fireworks display. And the night before the last one the festival culminates in an impressive firework display called Nit del Foc, or "Night of Fire."
Huge amount of fireworks covers the city with fog, especially Turia's old riverbed which is now a verdant sunken park.
During Las Fallas, many people wear their casal faller dress in regional and historical costumes from different eras of Valencia's history
Music is all around in the city during las fallas.
On the final night of Las Fallas, around midnight on March 19, all fallas are burnt as huge bonfires.
In a few hours the city turned into this;
And in less than 24 hours everything turned into normal suprisingly like no festival happened! It was the time for me to hang around and take some photos of "calm" Valencia..
That's all folks! Actually during my visit to Valencia I have also had a chance to visit Sagunto and Albufera. Hopefully these will be in the next posts. cheers, mg.