El Rocio Pilgrimage
Spain’s largest religious pilgrimage attracts so many people to El Rocio a Huelva village every Pentecost in order to honor the memory of the consecrated image of Nuestra Señora del Rocio (our damsel of El Rocio). Just like most Spain’s sacred images, this image referred to as La Blanca Paloma (A White Dove) – has legendary source.
The religious journey concludes on Pentecost in El Rocio (49 days after celebrating Easter)
Connect with a fellowship for the religious journey, or simply relax and enjoy the festivities of the village on Pentecost.
An Almonte hunter during the 13th century discovered the image inside a large plant and began to take her home. However when he was tired and stopped to rest, the virgin mysteriously returned back to its origin (El Rocio). After a while, a place of worship was erected on the location of the large tree El Rocio and it turned to a pilgrimage place. Hermandades (brotherhoods) during the 13th century began to form in surrounding towns to journey to El Rocio for Pentecost.
Presently, Romería del Rocío a large festive cult attracts people from every corner of Spain. There are over 90 hermandades, some have thousands of members, both male and female, who still journey by foot, horsebacks as well as brightly designed covered wagons to El Rocio. This essential Andalucian festival is not a solemn one. In a similar mood with that of Seville’s Feria de Abril, partakers dress in nice Andalucian outfits (gipsy dresses), they sing, drink, laugh and dance as well as romance their path to El Rocio.
The entire amount of individuals present in the community on this important weekend could be as much as a million people. The weekend gets to a elated climax during the early hours on Monday morning, when Almonte hermandad members who claim that it owns the Virgin, suddenly enters the chapel and carry the image away using a float. Violent fights follow as others struggle for the privilege of carrying the image of La Blanca Paloma. The ruins as well as chaos are huge, but somehow the La Blanca Paloma is transported to every hermandad building found in El Rocio before it is finally brought back to the chapel later in the day.
Essentials: Seville, Almonte and also Huelva are famous starting points to start a pilgrimage, while Villamanrique de la Condesa (situated in between El Rocio and Seville) is also a good place to start, removing most road trekking. Accommodation in the few hotels as well as boardinghouses in El Rocio is often reserved not less than a year before the Romeria, so you may think about booking in Seville, which is 1.5hours away from El Rocio by bus.
Local attractions: El Rocio is situated at the corner of Parque Nacional de Doñana, which is the most special refuge for wildlife in Spain as well as one of the last large wetlands in Europe. The town looks down upon marshlands where you are likely to see deer as well as horses.