Festivals - Cabra's Gypsy Pilgrimage

The devote congregation during the service © Michelle Chaplow
The devote congregation during the service © Michelle Chaplow
Gypsy Festival Cabra © Michelle Chaplow
After the Service the congregation take the Virgin de la Sierrra from the Church and parade her around the grounds. © Michelle Chaplow

The “Romería Nacional de los Gitanos”, or National Gypsy Pilgrimage” traditionally takes place the third Sunday in June and attracts not only gypsies, but also “payos” (non-gypsies). In fact, this event which was founded in 1969 by Jose Córdoba Reyes, draws participants from across Andalucia, Spain and even beyond national borders with the aim of both uniting gypsy communities and bridging the gap between gypsies and non-gypsies. Incidentally, Jose Córdoba, the founder, has been awarded the title of “Hijo Predilecto de Cabra” (or Favourite Son of Cabra) – supposedly the only gypsy in Spain to hold such a municipal title. In 2019, this event will take place on 16th - 17th of June.

Two sisters, visiting the  gypsy festival from Malaga. © Michelle Chaplow
Two sisters, visiting the gypsy festival from Malaga.

This “romería” is known to be a particularly colourful and fervent pilgrimage in honour of the “Virgin de la Sierra” (María Santísima de la Sierra), the patron saint of the town of Cabra. In Gypsy tongue she is known as the “Majarí Calí”. In her honour expect all manner of song and dance – according to reports some even rip their clothing as a display of their enthusiasm as the procession progresses to the Santa María Hermitage. The hermitage is located on the top of the hill called Virgin de la Sierra at the end of the CP-15 a few km east of Cabra. Since the road is narrow and parking limited arrive early in the morning before the processioni arrives for the best experience.

This is a great day out for the whole family.  © Michelle Chaplow
This is a great day out for the whole family.

This event is also known as the Romería de los Gitanos de Cabra, the Córdoban town where all the action originates. It is organised by the Gypsy Diocese of Córdoba and the tourist department at the Cabra Town Hall helps with organisation and publicity, commissioning special edition posters to promote the pilgrimage every year.In addition to supporters from as far away as Cataluña and Santander, regular pilgrims include members of Málaga’s El Cautivo Catholic Brotherhood and Seville’s Cristo de los Gitanos Brotherhood.

Flamenco in this beautiful Baroque Hermitage Chruch, Virgen de la Sierra.  © Michelle Chaplow
Flamenco in this beautiful Baroque Hermitage Chruch, Virgen de la Sierra.

In 1999 the regional government declared this celebration to be of interest to tourists. Of special interest to those who love local cuisine: there is a giant paella for all those who participate in the Romería de los Gitanos.

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