Sadly, this year we will not be able to celebrate the festival in honour of the Virgin de Fátima (Our Lady of Fatima). This Pilgrimage of the Virgin, also known as the Virgin del Cerro, is normally celebrated on the Sunday after May 13th, and takes place in the town of Restábal.
On May 13, the young people of the village descend in procession from El Cerro to the church of San Cristóbal, where the virgin will stay until she is taken back to the hermitage the following Sunday.
In addition to the procession and the religious celebrations, that Sunday is always an important recreational and cultural event when neighbours and visitors camp on the hill, share a very large paella (up to 400 people) and enjoy the day together.
At the end of the day most of us end up dancing on the happy tunes of the brass band later in the afternoon.
This year I have been up there to take some photos of the ruins of the old neighbourhood of El Cerro, built in the 1940s. Franco initiated this in order to provide houses and land for the local population.
Villagers lived there for a few decades until the sixties approximately, but the lack of a nearby water supply or electricity, which had already been implemented in other parts of the village below, ultimately led the abandonment of the settlement, along with a tragic house fire that claimed the life of one of the children.
Up until the 1990s, one family still lived there much of the year, and this is still the best preserved house up there.
The new hermitage was built in 1999, with contributions from the residents of Restábal, and it welcomes the Virgin of Fátima. The ruins are now decorated by colourful and interesting street art and graffiti by young local artists.
Let´s hope the statue of Our Lady of Fátima will be able to visit the village and the church again next year.
Until then, she will take care of all Restabeños from her lofty position in the El Cerro hermitage.
For more information on the Romeria, see our blog from last year…