Festival de San Mateo

The Sunday right after our group trip to Segovia, I had the opportunity to experience a local Spanish festival in the cliff-side town of Cuenca with a company called CityLife, which organizes trips around Madrid, Spain, and a few other close countries.

The festival is a celebration of the Spanish history, and more specifically, it is a celebration of the day that Alfonso VIII conquered the city of Cuenca against the Moors during the reconquest. Like most festivals in Spain, it involves a lot of food, music, and various other shenanigans.

We drove into Cuenca around noon through a road that involved the bus driver taking hairpin turns on the side of a mountain and driving on the edge of the road. To say that I was hanging onto my seat the whole time is an understatement. Upon arriving in the city, though, we were greeted with one of the most stunning views of Cuenca’s famous hanging houses and the mountains.

We eventually made our way down into the old town city center which was filled with wooden barriers and gates in preparation for the big event of the day: a miniature running of the bulls. A few friends and I found a nice spot in the sun on the steps of the cathedral that sat on the edge of the plaza where the event was to take place and waited. It was really interesting to see all the people from the city and all of their traditions as we waited. One interesting thing that I noticed is that almost everyone was eating sunflower seeds.

Originally we had thought that this “mini” running of the bulls was just going to be a short thing, and then everyone would be on their way to celebrate the festival, but it actually turned out to be more than an hour-long ordeal. We eventually decided to head over to another part of the city and look for some place to eat. Of course since everyone was at the festival, absolutely nothing was open, so we ended up wandering around the city and admiring the layout and the house designs. Finally, as we began to see people meandering out of the main city plaza, we started to see some restaurants start to open for lunch. We chose a restaurant with a “menú del día” and enjoyed some traditional food from Cuenca.

After lunch we went back to the main plaza for yet another “mini” bull run, and this time we got a little more excitement! We decided to find a spot near a little café on the edge of the plaza, and the café had some bars over the doorway to keep the bull from running in. After seeing a huge crowd of people walk past the bars to stand on the edge of the plaza, we decided to follow along so that we could view the event better. Of course, we didn’t notice that the bull started to come our direction and before we knew it, it had run within inches of us and we were scrambling back into the safety of the restaurant.

After getting our excitement for the day, we decided to get some ice cream and sit around on the cliffs overlooking the city. It was a nice relaxing end to the day, and the view was amazing.

bullrun cliff city


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