Cover picture © Credits to Sara Romo
Cover picture © Credits to Sara Romo
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Easter Monday at Salamanca's riverside - a "traditional" party

2 minutes to read

In Salamanca, Spain, every year the locals feast the end of Easter by going to the riverside. Families usually go to the further side of the river Tormes, which is actually the quieter one. However, following the tradition, students tend to remain next to the ancient city wall, feasting crazily. Wondering which tradition is this?? Here we go!

The monk King

In 1543, King Phillip II, son of Charles V, arrived in Salamanca to marry a Portuguese princess. He was only 16 but already a deeply Catholic believer, a very severe one. Therefore, he felt horrified when he saw that in Salamanca, one of the best Universities in the world, the gem of his Kingdom, was full of prostitutes! Fancy ones, old ones, there were hookers to "suit every pocket". He knew he could not forbid it or do something to control it - the prostitutes were too popular already, and the city was full of young students with bursting hormones. Nevertheless, he tried to save the souls of these loose Catholics by banishing the prostitutes from Salamanca...at least in the Easter period. Thus, every Easter they would leave the city and temporarily live across the river Tormes.

Of course, the prostitutes needed someone to look after them. Someone who would also take care of their "spirits" and guide them mentally. And this is how one of the most appreciated jobs within the Church was created: the “padre Putas”, or in English...the Priest of the Prostitutes. 

Picture © Credits; Daniel Hernández Diosdado
Picture © Credits; Daniel Hernández Diosdado

The “Monday of the Waters”

A new tradition was born then. Every Easter Monday, when the period of grief was over and people were able to sin again, the priest would take the prostitutes back to the city. The students, very looking forward to their return, would cross the river on boats to get them back. The boats were nicely decorated- probably to draw the attention of the ladies. People from all over Salamanca would come down to the river to watch the show, and the party was on. There were lots of alcohol and food, and… well, we do not have to know everything that happened there back then. 

Salamanca's Riverbank
Salamanca's Riverbank
Tormes, Spain

The feast today

Every Easter Monday, starting at 3 pm,  people go down to the river. For the students it is still one of the biggest parties of the year;  they come down to the river to drink and eat. The favourite delicacy consumed during the celebration is the traditional hornazo, a dough filled with chorizo, sirloin and boiled egg. Yes, eggs were considered to be in the meat category in the past centuries and therefore they could not be eaten during Easter time. Thus, every bakery had them available straight after this holiday and they could be found in a variety of forms. If the weather is good, there is music everywhere. People dance, play football or volleyball, and have fun in general, until the sunset. It could be said that the intention of the monk King has officially failed; in the end, he only managed to give the people of Salamanca a new reason to party and celebrate! 


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The author

Sara Rodriguez Romo

Sara Rodriguez Romo

I live between Salamanca, in Spain, and Marvão, in Portugal. A passionate traveller, I have visited over 30 countries in four continents. Currently I am doing a PhD in Greek Mythology and working with horses, doing rides in the nature.

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