Monday, March 28, 2016
Spain is noted for quirky traditions and festivals but Valencia's Las Fallas Festival probably ranks up there in terms of overall quirk. During Fallas every March, the city's streets are filled with firecrackers, gunpowder and towering monuments called ninots. The celebration welcomes spring and honors St. Joseph's feast day on March 19 with a daily fireworks show, locals dressed in traditional Valenican costumes and setting the handcrafted art of the ninots ablaze all at once, on March 19.
Ninots are created by neighborhood teams who spend months and sometimes the entire year, designing the monuments from papier mache, wood, plaster and cardboard. They are usually satirical or fanciful figures and out of the 350 odd ninots created, one, the ninot indultat (pardoned figure) is spared the fire by popular vote. The saved monuments are displayed in the Fallas Museum and walking through its halls is like wandering around an animated wonderland. Every saved monument from the last 80 years is showcased and it's overwhelming to look at all the creativity and skill in one room. Going through the museum requires hours but I only had 30 minutes on my tight itinerary. That didn't stop me from choosing my faves out of a sea of magical innovation:
I like the fluidity of this mermaid and the cuteness of the baby mermaids floating around her.
I was drawn to the drama of this figure but it wasn't until I left and looked at the photo that I realized that this is Eve being tempted by a devil.
I thought this monument of Mick Jagger, complete with tight, bulging pants, was hilarious. I can't imagine why a team of Valencian artists decided to work on a life-sized Mick Jagger for nearly a year but they did and were rewarded by a saved ninot!