Virgen del Carmen

Virgen del Carmen

If the Virgen del Carmen is safe anywhere on the Costa del Sol it would have to be Marbella. There the image of the Virgin is kept 12 metres underground in a vault. Thankfully, she sees the light of day every July 16 on her own very special day, one that is celebrated up and down the Coasts of Andalucia.

One week before the Virgen del Carmen processions there is a mass held in her honour with a choir that sings and a prize at the end for the oldest retired fisherman in town.

Like many large cities, Málaga has absorbed what once were nearby villages. Therefore, some of Málaga’s seaside neighbourhoods continue to carry on the customs handed down to them by the fishermen and their families who established them.

Religious Virgins are hugely popular in Andalucia; they are normally handcrafted from wood and porcelain and spend 99.9 per cent of the year in glass-covered alcoves at the local church. Most are dusted down and placed on flower-decked thrones at Easter-time when they are lovingly and solemnly borne through the streets. The Virgen del Carmen, however, has her own special day.

Several villages though-out the municipality of Vélez-Málaga celebrate the Virgen del Carmen, patron saint of fishermen day. On July 16th you will find processions over both land and out into the sea in Torre del Mar  (in the Las Melosas neighbourhood), Caleta de Vélez, Benajarafe and Almayate.

Every year on July 16th Virgin del Carmen Day is celebrated in Nerja in honour of the town’s maritime tradition. Whereas some towns hold a draw to choose the boat that will carry the image of the Virgen del Carmen out to sea, in Nerja the town actually has a special boat that has been designed just for Virgen del Carmen Day. The man who designed this boat was Jose Calvente, also known as Pepe el Califate

Barbate is well known for its maritime traditions and a strong fishing community. Not surprising, the patron saint of the town is the Virgen del Carmen. What was once a yearly tribute to the Virgen del Carmen has evolved into the annual “féria” which, of course, involves not just a day, but a whole week of drinking, dancing and general partying.