Like many cities in Spain, Zamora
has a traditional parade of Gigantes y Cabezudos. For those
unfamiliar with this typical pastime, the “Giants” are around
four-meter-tall figures made of a frame covered with customary
clothing and a head and hands of papier-mâché and plaster of paris,
oftentimes imitating ancestral characters from peasants to kings
and queens. A person underneath carries them throughout the parade
and makes them dance to folk music. Oftentimes, their arms hang
free so that when they are dancing they dangle to and fro bringing
the giant to life and creating a very realistic imitation of jotas
and other popular dances. The Cabezudos are gigantic heads (of the
same materials as the giants) placed on the shoulders of people
creating a humorous grotesque effect. They also wear traditional
garb and joyfully dance around more freely.
When the Gigantes and Cabezudos take to the streets, people come in droves and the city comes to life.
This antique tradition is over 400 years old as there are documented accounts of the Giants accompanying the Corpus procession in 1593. There are four of them and possibly in the 17th century they established the names they still go by today: El Turco (the Turk), La Negra (the Black), El Español (the Spaniard) or El Abuelo (the Grandfather) and El Ramón. They allegorically represent the four corners of the globe: Asia, Africa, Europe and America.
Every year, the association TRADIMUPO is in charge of making our giants dance to the music of dulzainas (a kind of antique oboe) and drums during the Corpus procession, the city Festival of San Pedro and whenever the occasion requires their presence.
In 2005, a new association CAPITONIS DURII was founded with the same purpose of promoting the Gigantes and Cabezudos. Their Giants represent historic figures that participated in the infamous Siege of Zamora (El Cerco): Doña Urraca, Arias Gonzalo, El Cid and Bellido Dolfos.
Among the activities they organize, they perform a recreation of the Siege of Zamora using their Giants and local actors.
on the same day as the Corpus procession, the Tarasca
(or Tarasque) also parades through the streets.
They interpret the “Tarasque”: the battle of Saint Martha with the evil dragon in Provence, France. The town hall commissioned the creation of the beast to the famed local religious artist Ramón Álvarez. The work was completed and delivered to the city in 1886.
Over time, the work came to be forgotten until in 1999, the town hall authorized its restoration to the Agrupación Belenista La Morana. Nowadays, the festival of Saint Martha has returned to its entire previous splendor and the terrible dragon even blows smoke through its jaws making its presence that much more horrifying.
“The Trout Uprising”
A large crack in one of the walls of the Iglesia de Santa María La Nueva reminds us of a blight on the history books of our town in 1158. What is known as el Motín de la Trucha began when a noble’s servant fought with a plebeian over the last trout at the market. In the end, the proletariat rose up against the aristocrats and burned the church they usually attended… with the nobles inside… and the door closed and locked. Legend has it that the Holy Spirit abandoned its custody of the church and disappeared through this crack to protect itself from destruction.
“The Bust of Stone”
La Cabeza de Piedra relates a sad legend of an impossible love… the protagonists: Don Diego de Alvarado and his lover Doña Inés Mansilla… he, a young bankrupt noble, and she, the daughter of a wealthy aristocrat of the city who would not allow them to marry. To win over his beloved, Don Diego decided to break into the Cathedral and steal the gold and treasures within that were to be used to complete its new constructions. When he tried to escape through a window, it mysteriously closed itself in layer after layer of stone, trapping his head and choking him to death. The stricken Doña Inés ensconced her grief in an enclosed convent. Thus ends the sad story of Don Diego whose petrified head can still be seen on the south side of the Cathedral.
Nativity Scene Route
The first known belén (nativity scene) was a live representation of the birth of Christ created by Saint Francis of Assisi in 1223 A.D. During a visit to the Holy Land, he was overwhelmed while praying in the cavern where Jesus was born. After returning from Terra Sancta, the idea occurred to him of reenacting the birth of Jesus in a cave in Greccio, Italy. To do so, he invited the local inhabitants to take part in the coming of the Lord. Since then, it has become a widespread tradition in Christian families to recreate the scene in their own way.
In Zamora, like many other places in Spain, the great tradition carries on. Institutions, parishes, shops, hospitals and individuals preserve this custom to the delight of locals and visitors during Christmas with the most noteworthy being those of the Iglesia de la Encarnación (Now a regional government building of the Diputación de Zamora), the Cathedral and the Town Hall of Zamora which recently has been assembled in the museum Centro de Interpretación de las Ciudades Medievales. The tradition is so widespread that in 1999, enthusiasts founded the Agrupación Belenista la Morana whose principal objective is to promote the “science” of making nativity scenes. This organization is in charge of putting together the nativity scene found in the Diputación de Zamora and the Town Hall. The Amigos de la Catedral Association is the owner and author of the magnificent “Neapolitan” crèche in the Cathedral.
The Municipal Tourists Office can provide a document revised yearly with the location and hours of the Nativity Scenes which can be visited in the city. Useful information:
Agrupación Belenista La Morana:
- Tel. 636 501 866.
- Email. firstname.lastname@example.org
Asociación “Amigos de la Catedral”:
- Tel. 618 166 813.
- Email. email@example.com
The Iglesia de la Magdalena on the inside, a must see...
The magnificent sepulcher it houses. A mysterious lady buried in an elaborate sepulcher full of symbols. Around 1200 A.D. this marvelous work was created, perfectly combining the Christian doctrine with profane traditions. Pay special attention to the angels: they expose the main themes of the tomb
A moment... a place...
A place to find yourself and to lose yourself, to relax and imagine… Wander down to Pelambres beach on the other side of the river crossing any one of the bridges of the city. From there you can contemplate the Duero, the walls, the mills, the Cathedral… in short, the history of the town.
The most natural. "The river banks"
Yet another part of the city for the enjoyment of walkers and athletes with long footpaths beside the ever flowing river: on one side, from Olivares to La Aldehuela, passing through Los Tres Arboles; on the other side, from Cabañales to Pelambres beach. Go under the bridges, cross the walkways to islands in the center of the river, listen to the murmur of the water passing through waterwheels and… to get your strength back, stop by any one of the outdoor restaurants along the way.
Recipes and typical dishes of Zamora:
ARROZ A LA ZAMORANA
- 300 grs of rice
- ½ pork snout
- One pork ear
- 100 grs of ground pork
- 100 grs of jamón (salt pork)
- Two bay leaves
- Olive oil
- Two cloves of garlic
- Clean the pork snout and ear thoroughly and cut into small pieces. Cut the ham into small pieces, too.
- Boil the ear and snout in a pot full of water, a little olive oil and a pinch of oregano. Boil slowly until they are tender. Keep the water for later.
- Stir-fry the jam and ground pork in a pot with a bit of olive oil until they brown. Add the rice and paprika, sauté for one minute and add the ear and snout along with the same water used to boil them (three parts water per one part rice). Add salt to taste and let boil, adding more water if necessary, until the rice is done.
BACALAO A LA TRANCA
- 1 ½ Kg. of Codfish
- 10 ó 12 garlic cloves
- Olive oil and paprika
- Soak the pieces of codfish in water for 48 hours, changing the water four or five times (depending on its thickness)
- Once the soaking has removed most of the salt, put the codfish in a pot, cover with water and put the pot on the stove. When it comes to a boil, remove it from the stove and take the fish out of the pot with a spatula or fish slice and place in a baking pan, taking care the piece stays together with the skin side on the bottom. Pour olive oil over the fish to taste and at least two ladlefuls of the water used previously to boil the fish.
- In a pan, heat abundant olive oil and fry the garlic in slices. Before they brown, remove the pan from the stove so that it loses heat, stir in the paprika and pour over the codfish.
For the dough:
- 100 ml White wine.
- 100 ml olive oil.
- 200 ml water.
- A pinch of salt.
- Abundant oil to fry.
- Powdered sugar.
For the cream filling:
- 1 L of milk.
- A lemon peel.
- Three egg yolks.
- 10 T of sugar (approx. 250-300 g).
- 4 T of corn flour.
- A pat of butter.
Prepare the dough in a bowl mixing the olive oil, wine and water first. Hand beat until creamy and, without stopping, gradually add the flour and a pinch of salt little by little until the dough doesn’t stick to your hands. Then roll into a ball and let sit in a cool place for an hour. Flatten the dough with a roller and cut into thin strips (about 12 cm wide). Roll into flutes or even better use molds to maintain their shape and deep fry. Let sit on paper towels to absorb the excess oil. Take out of the molds carefully so as not to break them and fill with cream filling. Cover with powdered sugar.
For the cream filling:
Put ¾ L. of milk in a pot with the lemon peel and bring to a boil. In a bowl, mix the remaining ¼ L. of milk with the yolks, sugar and corn flour. Stir thoroughly until a smooth paste without lumps is obtained (all the ingredients can be beat together in a mixer). Slowly stir this paste into the boiling milk, continually stirring. Lower the heat and stir until it comes to a boil 3 or 4 minutes. Remove from heat, add a pat of butter and continue stirring every so often to avoid a crust forming on the top. Let cool before filling the rolls.