Celebrating Dia de la Paloma On The Streets Of Madrid

We first learned of the fiesta when we discovered the mercado San Anton that we had planned to explore that August morning, was closed for the day, as were all other food markets and shops.

We switched plans and went in search of Madrid’s origins instead, at the San Isidro museum (a little gem that’s home to a few Roman mosaics and the remnants of a miraculous well where Madrid’s patron saint is believed to have called forth water!).

It was a local, walking her dog in the still sleepy square outside, who suggested we return later in the day to take part in the celebrations. By afternoon La Latina was transformed. Much of its main roads closed to traffic and taken over by bars and food stalls.

Up on Calle la Paloma, just off the Gran Via de San Francisco, the devout were lined up in front of the Iglesia Virgen de la Paloma trying to catch a glimpse of the portrait of the Virgin all decked up for the evening parade.

The simple painting was supposedly found, discarded in a corral, by a group of children sometime in the 18th century. It was bought off them by Isabel Tintero who hung it on her front door. It became a neighbourhood tradition for passersby to offer prayers to the portrait on her door and seek intervention in their troubles.

The steady increase in the number of her devotees necessitated the shifting of the Virgin. Initially to a small chapel and by 1912 to a dedicated church on a street named after her. Isabel Tintero is immortalised in the name of the perpendicular street directly leading to the iglesia.

The five day La Paloma fiesta, celebrated each year between August 11 – 15, is said to be the most traditional and liveliest of all Madrid festivals. We discovered how lively when we returned after early dinner to find the parties in full swing. The entire city seemed to have sashayed on to the streets, high on laughter and on fun. And beer. There was a lull as La Paloma passed by on her grand parade, accompanied by senior Madrileños in traditional costume. Only to pick up again to carry on into the wee hours of the morning.

The soundtrack of the following video is original and unedited.

My favourite of the evening 🙂

Happy fiesta to my Spanish readers!

And wishing all my Indian – and Pakistani – friends, ‘freedom’ in every sense of the word. Happy Independence day!

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Madhu is an Interior designer turned travel blogger on a long sabbatical to explore the world. When not crafting stories on The Urge To Wander, she's probably Tweeting @theurgetowander or sharing special moments on instagram.com/theurgetowander

53 thoughts on “Celebrating Dia de la Paloma On The Streets Of Madrid

    1. Thank you Gilly. That’s from our 2015 visit! The fiesta was indeed fabulous. As were the churros. Glad I finally got down to publishing it and on the right date 🙂

  1. The video really gives a great sense of the occasion, especillay the little charmer in the red top dancing on mum’s shoulders. And the food photos make me want to haul myself out of bed for breakfast, which won’t be half as exciting. A good image of the serendipities of travel that overturn plans!

    1. Indeed, this was such an unexpected treat and more than made up for the disappointment of missing the market. Thank you Meg. Hope you have a beautiful weekend.

  2. I put my congratulations up on Facebook yesterday but now wish you personally a very belated happy Independence Day. The book Freedom at Midnight was very graphic and well researched but didn’t tell half the story. India has gone from one success to another. Congratulations!

  3. Oh what fun. The video is great. I loved the little curly-haired girl dancing on her parent’s shoulders. And your photos are wonderful too.

    1. I can imagine how much you miss them. We enjoyed Madrid so much more on this second visit (in 2015). Would love to return for a longer more leisurely visit someday. Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment 🙂

  4. Happy belated Independence Day to you, Madhu! (tomorrow will be Indonesia’s — in fact there are four Asian countries that celebrate their independence in August). I’ve never heard of this festival before, but from your video and photos it surely seems quite a spectacle! Oh the ever-growing list of things to see in Spain. 🙂

    1. Indeed. Spain captivates me endlessly. This was our third visit and I am still yearning to return. Madrid especially warrants more time than we have allowed it so far. Would be great to have a whole uninterrupted week there next time 🙂

      Much belated Independence wishes to you too Bama! Here’s hoping our respective countries are much ahead in the ‘freedom for all’ front by the time the next one rolls around.

  5. Great video,Madhu! I would love to witness festivals in Europe for they are very festive,vibrant and colourful. It’s fantastic that you returned to La Latina in the afternoon 🙂

    1. It was such fun Kat. We were glad we returned in the evening too.

      Just discovered you are travelling to Portugal in September. We’ll be there between 21 Sept to the first week of October as well. DM (on Twitter) or email me your itinerary if yoor dates coincide. Would be great if we can catch up halfway across the world even if we don’t manage it here 🙂

      1. I can imagine. I was just thinking of a brief 8mm footage by my mother of Nehru’s visit to Karachi. (Just the cars, no close-up). Late 40’s? Early 50’s. I think Jinnah was still alive. When was the last visit of head of states between India and Pakistan? It would be time for a major reconciliation I think. (No need to wait for the century to be complete!) 😉

    1. This is a flashback from our 2015 visit Brian. Have so much to catch up on owing to my hap hazard blogging schedule through the past couple of years.

  6. Its always a wondefrul experience to become a part of the local festivals and thats what makes travelling worth. This must have been a great experience. I am also happy that your blogging frequency is increasing

    1. The fiesta was indeed a fabulous experience Anindya.

      I worked out a content calendar last week determined to post twice a week, but with all the demands on my time, that resolution went out the window the very next week! Trying hard to get back on the wagon 🙂

  7. An incredibly happy, fulfilling and meaningful set of photos Madhu ~ so much spirit in these photos, and I think it is a genuine nature that comes from tradition and strong, beautiful beliefs that accompany the happiness. Wishing you well.

    1. It was such a privilege to be able to participate in the tradition and celebrations Randall. Thank you for your lovely comment. And welcome back 🙂

  8. I thought I’d missed this one, Madhu. I was on my way to Shropshire for a non-special wedding anniversary (but they all are 🙂 ) whilst my daughter was in Krakow, meeting Polish family. It was a holiday there too. 🙂 You have to love the spontaneous way that dancing breaks out and I love those proud oldies, strutting their stuff. 🙂 And we all want to take the little dancing queen home!
    Where are you now?

    1. That dancing queen stole our hearts 🙂

      Belated anniversary wishes to you both Jo. Ours was on the 20th. I clubbed it with an invitation to review a wildlife resort, so not quite as unspecial as usual 🙂 Any chance of your returning to Portugal in early October?

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