Tourist Guide to Segovia Uncover Spain’s Hidden Gem



Fiesta de Santa Águeda in Segovia

Segovia is a city where women have a strong position and tradition. Proof of this is the Fiesta de Santa Águeda, or women’s festival, which is celebrated on the first Thursday of February in the district of Zamarramala.

The Fiesta de Santa Águeda commemorates an event from 1227 when the women of Zamarramala helped to recapture the Alcázar de Segovia from the Muslims who had occupied it. According to legend, these women dressed in their best clothes and went to the gates of the Alcázar, where they began to dance and sing, attracting the attention of the guards. At this time, the men of Zamarramala stormed the fortress and took it over. For this act, the women received a number of privileges from King Ferdinand III, such as the right to wear monteras, head coverings symbolizing power, and the right to elect two alcaldesas, or mayoresses, who ruled the district for a whole year.

The Fiesta de Santa Águeda begins on Thursday morning when the women of Zamarramala meet in the church, where a mass is held and the monteras are consecrated. Then, they proceed in procession to Segovia, where at the Plaza Mayor they receive from the city authorities the bastón de mando, or command staff, which authorizes them to exercise power for one day.

After this act, the women go to the Alcázar, where they pay homage to Saint Frutos, the patron saint of the city, and present the Matahombres, or Man Killer, award to a person or institution that has distinguished itself in the defense of women’s rights. On the way back, the women collect peaje, or toll, from all the men they meet, who must give them money or kisses to pass.

On Friday, the women of Zamarramala organize the quema del pelele, or burning of the dummy, which symbolizes the man who does not meet women’s expectations. This dummy is dressed in clothes that the women received from their husbands or partners, and which they did not like. The dummy is carried in procession through the streets, and then set on fire in the square in front of the church. After this act, the women enjoy tajada, a piece of bread with chorizo cooked in wine, which is served with a glass of wine.

On Saturday, the women of Zamarramala participate in the jurje de bandera, or oath to the flag, which is organized by the Paso de la Hoja brotherhood, or Leaf Turn, which turns a page of the book each year, on which is a drawing of Saint Frutos. The women swear an oath to the flag, which is kept in the church, and then take part in the baile de las alcaldesas, or mayoresses’ dance, which is performed on the square in front of the church. They dance with monteras on their heads and canes in their hands, accompanied by music from the dulzaina and tamboril.

The Fiesta de Santa Águeda is a festival that shows the strength and pride of the women of Zamarramala, who inherited courage and determination from their ancestors. It is a festival full of colors, music, and joy, and it impresses with its originality and significance. It is a festival that is part of the history and identity of Segovia, and it invites you to get to know it up close.

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