Parades and Human Castels at the Festes de Sant Roc

tarragona-sant-roc

The religious festival of Sant Roc commemorates the patron of Cós del Bou, a small street, adjacent to the large square of Plaça de la Font, once one of the main hubs of old Tarragona.

Walk past and you can’t miss it; draped in the yellow flags on run across by red wavy wavy (denoting the sea status of the city) is a street on which all kind of trade flourished less than ten years ago. A friend pointed to the now new restaurants and bars which have muscled their way in to all the main streets of the old quarters pointing out the ghosts of a butchers shop, a haberdashery, a shop selling fishing rods. As a remnant of this bygone age is the religious festival of Sant Roc , the local patron saint of this area, which also compasses the Baixada de la Peixateria around the corner.

On the day of the Virgin Mary, a national holiday for the whole country, a procession takes place headed by a cannon and the zoomorphic Dragon of San Roc, a red painted beast belching fire whose first reference dates back to 1426. They are followed by ths Gegants, tall effigies of king, queens, devils, the Moorish knights and damsel,  the sun and moon whose origin dates back to medieval days when they were used to illustrated stories of the bible to the crowds. Their size allowed everyone to see the stories unfolding.  Some of the Gegants taking part at the parade, the Gegans vells (old giants) date back to the 19th century, and are a treasured heritage of this city. Effigies of San Roc and the Virgin Mary close the procession scored by the bands of bagpipes, drummer and strident grallas.

The day is sealed by a great display of  Human Castles; this time it was the turn of the the local  Colla Jove  competing against a group from Torredambarra, with the crowds below holding their breath as they watched the castellers climbing up each other reaching the third storey of the surrounding houses.

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