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Nerja thanks San Isidro
The day dedicated to San Isidro, patron saint of farmers and laborers, is a colourful and popular affair where you'll see many of the things that you'd associate with picture postcard Spain. Women in vibrant flamenco dresses and men riding beautiful Andalusian horses dressed in their finest traditional clothes with wide rimed cordobes hats are everywhere, giving visitors the best chance of the year to see such a sight in the town.
The day revolves around local farmers giving thanks to San Isidro and asking for good fortune in the coming year.
Isidore the laborer was a man born in Madrid in 1070 who was known for his compassion to animals and the poor up until his death at the age of fifty nine. He was canonized in 1622 by Pope Gregory XV and is a figure celebrated all over Spain and indeed the world from South America to the Philippines. Madrid took him to be the cities patron saint and each year puts aside the 15th of May to honor him as do many spanish cities, villages and islands.
In Nerja the celebrations begin the night of the 14th with the party starting at the Nerja Caves at around 21:30 however this is just a precursor to the next day. On the 15th the day begins with the religious aspects of the event. A mass is given in the church of El Salvador on the Balcón de Europa at 11:00. This typically includes performances from the Peña Nerjeña choir and locals will make offerings to the saint. This is followed by tributes in front of the church by a number of local groups. From here, the procession or Romeria de San Isidro begins. A statue of the saint is put on a simple cart normally decorated by flowers and pulled by oxen to the Nerja Caves. It's accompanied by hundreds of people from the town including carriages, carts, horses, oxen and tractors with local farmers coming in from neighboring villages. All are brightly decorated for the occasion which more often than not enjoys perfect weather.
The procession is approximately 3km long and can take three to four hours to reach its destination. It generally reaches the caves at around 14:30 with a formal timetable of events starting an hour or so later with various awards given to horsemen, carriages and floats. From here the party begins, going on well into the night. The evening will start off with a relatively traditional feel and slowly move over to more modern music with one big, open air, dance floor.
It's worth knowing that during the two evenings of the 14th and 15th there is a regular bus service operating to and from the caves. Times for these are not set in stone but usually buses are operating between 22:00 until 07:00 on the evening of the 14th and from 10:00 until 01:30 on the 15th, so theres no need to stress over designated drivers and parking if you want to take full advantage of the party atmosphere. If you'd like to see the San Isidro parade you'll find it's an ideal excuse for a quick getaway. Why not take a look at our rentals pages and maybe you'll find a great deal covering the festival period.
Monday 15th May
- 11:00 Mass in the El Salvador Church on the Balcon de Europa.
- 12:00 Performances outside the church followed by the procession or Romeria.
- 14:00 Arrival at the caves.
- 15:30 The “Verbena” (open air dance) begins at the Caves.
- 17:00 Prizes awarded to procession participants.
- 18:30 The Verbena continues.
- 00:00 Midnight – End of the Verbena