© iStock / Tiago_Fernandez
© iStock / Tiago_Fernandez

Idanha-a-Velha: a historical city and a psy-trance summer festival

3 minutes to read

Idanha-a-Velha is located at the district of Castelo Branco (Portugal), near the border with Spain. It was founded in Roman times, and it has been recently awarded as one of the Historical Villages of Portugal. Nearby, there is a lake. Every two years, a very popular festival is held there: the Boom Festival. It is a psytrance festival, and though this sounds like madness, it has been extensively awarded. Even the UN has asked them to work with them in one of its programs! So... let us find out more about this particular region!

Idanha-a-Velha: between history and legends

The old Idanha was founded in the first century AD. It may not seem so nowadays, but at its peak, thousands of people lived here. Why? Because of its strategic location at the crossroads between the ancient capital of Hispania, Mérida, and Guarda. In fact, nowadays, these old roads are amazing GR that you can walk. It feels like traveling back in time!

© iStock / Fotoeventis
© iStock / Fotoeventis
Idanha-a-Velha
Idanha-a-Velha
Idanha-a-Velha, 6060, Portugal

Visigoth King Wamba also ruled from Idanha-a-Velha, and there is a local legend about him. A Moorish king fell in love with his wife and tried to kidnap her because she loved him back. Therefore, he built a tunnel under the Tagus and took her to his castle on the other side of the river. Wamba, furious and offended, went there disguised as a mendicant, and from the inside, he opened the gates for his army. He brought his wife back and sentenced her to death. He attached her to a wheel that would be sent from his castle, downhill, all the way to the river. She was not thrilled about this, so she set a malediction: no vegetation would ever grow again on the path that she would follow. They say that this malediction is still on!

© Wikimedia Commons / Nekkas
© Wikimedia Commons / Nekkas

Idanha-a-Velha was so important that it became a bishopric. Pope Damasus was born there, for instance. Anyway, the cathedral, which later turned into a mosque under Moorish rule, dates back to this time. Afterward, many Portuguese kings tried to preserve it by giving its inhabitants lots of advantages, but it had become too dangerous to stay there. So the Templars took it. They built their famous tower upon a Roman temple dedicated to Venus. When they fell in disgrace, Idanha-a-Velha went back to the Portuguese king, and, since then, little by little, it became less of a city and more of a village. Because of its beauty, it has been awarded as a Historical Village by the Portuguese Government.

Cathedral of Idanha-a-Velha
Cathedral of Idanha-a-Velha
R. da Sé 7, 6060-041, Portugal

The Boom Festival

© Flickr / Global Stomping
© Flickr / Global Stomping

In 1997 a very special festival was born: Boom Festival. From the beginning it was different: it is self-sustainable -no sponsors-, and super green (it has been repeatedly awarded because of that). There are many stages, with different kinds of music. Each year there is a different theme, but every time the purpose is the same: to explore the effect that music has on us, using, for example, natural hallucinogens. However, it is more than that: you will find an art gallery, yoga classes, fire performances, meditation groups, workshops… And the landscape around is amazing: it takes place next to a lake where everybody can enjoy a bath in the midst of the Portuguese summer heat. No wonder it has become one of the biggest psytrance Music Festivals of the World!

© Flickr / Global Stomping
© Flickr / Global Stomping

If you want to be one of the thousands to attend it, hurry up and get your tickets! Also, there are plenty of other things to do nearby: a visit to the historical villages of Monsanto, Idanha-a-Velha and Penha Garcia, walks in the historic roads, the International Taejo Park and many more! What else can you ask for?  

Boom Festival
Boom Festival
6060 Idanha-a-Nova, Portugal

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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