VALENCIA, Spain – A fine-tuned annual clean-up operation in Valencia, on Spain’s eastern Mediterranean coast, helped the city return to normalcy early Monday following several days of pyrotechnic revelry in what was the 2017 Fallas Festival.
Over a million visitors – tourists and Spaniards alike – descended on the city to take in the annual burning of wooden sculptures (fallas), puppet parades and the vast firework displays that thundered through the Valencia’s streets over the weekend.
However, those streets were silent as day broke on Monday with cleaners leaving little evidence of the festivities aside from a few piles of smoldering ash, an epa correspondent who witnessed the events reported on Monday.
Sunday marked final night of the Fallas, known locally as the Nit de la Crema (Night of Burning), and crowds had clogged the streets and balconies overlooking the City Hall square to get a glimpse of the final show in which a great wooden sculpture commissioned by the local government is razed to the ground.
The correspondent said the monument, a 41 meter (134 foot) high wooden structure in the design of a giant communications tower, was an amazing feat of engineering.
It slowly crumbled into embers to the backdrop of the regional anthem.
A pyrotechnic display that preceded the showstopper moment of the Fallas was equally impressive, producing an audiovisual symphony in which 1.2 tons of gunpowder was ignited.
In the days leading up to the Nit de la Crema, revelers had been treated to other spectacles including huge firework displays and the parading of wooden puppets.
These puppets, or ninots, usually depict a satirical take on a well-known personality or politician and are the product of months-long toil by bands of artisans representing the city’s distinct neighborhoods.
The extravagant works of art, a staple of the Fallas festival, also meet a fiery end in what is considered a cathartic rejuvenation process that welcomes in the spring and blends ancient rituals associated with fire and a mordant sense of humor.
The Fallas de Valencia was recently added to the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by the United Nation’s cultural organization UNESCO.