La Almudena, the essence of Madrid

La Almudena, the essence of Madrid

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On the 9th of November, the city of Madrid celebrates “Dia de la Almudena”.

It is a bank holiday throughout the Community of Madrid, although it is celebrated with particular intensity in the capital, where many locals dress up in traditional costumes to participate in the events of this traditional and castiza (genuine) festivity.

The origin of this festivity comes from the legend of a miracle. It is said that in the eighth century, part of a wall called Almudayna collapsed, right at the time when a procession passed before it. This exposed an image of the Virgin of the Almudena. They say that the image had been hidden by Christians to avoid desecration after the Moors invaded Madrid. After that, the Almudena was declared the patron saint of Madrid.

Almudena Day is, without a doubt, one of the best times to visit Madrid and get to discover one of the most important celebrations for locals. On this day, a morning mass is celebrated in Plaza Mayor, which is attended by thousands of Madrilians.

When the mass is concluded, a procession begins through the streets of the city centre, until the Cathedral of the Almudena is reached, one of the most charismatic buildings in Madrid, and that is part of the city’s most precious architectural heritage. The Cathedral is located in the city centre, and its facade is part of the Royal Palace.

Numerous chulapas and chulapos (name given to locals that dress up with the traditional costume) travel to the centre of Madrid dressed up in their traditional garments and honour the festivity and exalt the atmosphere of this special day, where you see plenty of shawls and capes.

The most devoted locals and visitors accompany the patron through the processions path, which starts at the Plaza Mayor, down Salt Street, Postas Street, Espartero Street, Mayor Street and Bailen Street, to finally reach Almudena Square. Here, the Virgin will wait for a blanket of flowers in the esplanade outside the Cathedral.

You can also not miss another typical event of this festivity, as is to try the traditional “Crowns of the Virgin of the Almudena”. They are a similar pastry to that of the traditional “roscon de reyes”  (Kings’ cake), which the bakers and pastries created in Madrid in 1978 to honour their patron saint. The bakeries experience some frenetic days, just before the 6th of January. This sweet is the icing that completes a day full of celebrations and traditions

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