“The Splendour of a 16th Century City” the promotions proclaim and it truly is! For a few days each year at the end of July the City of Tortosa is transformed as it recalls its past in a Festival that has been accredited as a “Festival of National Tourist Interest” .
In the 17th century Tortosa was a prominent city in the Kingdom of Aragon. Enriched by its strategic position near the mouth of the River Ebro where it controlled freight passing in and out of the territory, it became an important administrative hub and the centre of a large Diocese of the Catholic Church. Its position about half-way between Valencia and Barcelona also made it a convenient stopping point for travelling nobility, princes and kings. Those glory-days are recreated in the festival when the city becomes a stage for a seemingly never-ending stream of parades, entertainments and bizarre characters which amuse and enthral as you stroll the ancient streets below the castle.
Throughout the festival there are are a number of “pay-to-see” shows but it is as good, if not better, to simply wander the streets and castle to soak up the atmosphere and you are guaranteed to come upon something you didn’t expect – perhaps even a live gargoyle that has climbed down from its station on the castle!
Of course, a festival wouldn’t be a festival without a plethora of drinking and eating options, and this festival doesn’t disappoint! Sooner or later, the smell of sausages, steaks and slabs of ribs will persuade you to rest your rear on a bale of hay in one of the many taverns whilst perhaps the hurdy-gurdy, lute, trumpet and drums provide the musical backdrop.
If I’m not convincing you that it’s worth a visit take a look at the video. Then be sure to scroll down to get the link to the programme.
The 2012 programme for the Renaissance Festival 20th, 21st and 22nd July