Updated: Jan 23
Lugo is a Roman City through and through. The Lucenses love to celebrate their history
and one of my favourite fiestas is Arde Lucus (also written as Arde Lvcvs).
This celebration of all things Roman and Barbarian is held on the third weekend in June
(unless some official randomly decides the first weekend in July would be better… as
happened one year after a number of people had booked to visit us!).
My favourite thing about Arde Lucus is the way everyone gets into the spirit of the
occasion. There are barbarians stalking the streets with painted faces and Roman
senators in robes and purple sashes drinking coffee. Lepers beg for alms, acrobats
perform incredible acts of balance and stalls line the streets. And then there are the
Roman legions. Each Legion has its own uniform, which provides a wonderful touch
of colour to the streets as they march past. The Pretorian guard, dressed all in black,
is in charge of the Roman gates, the only entrances to the old town. They may
allow one in unchallenged but a group of Celts seeking entry may have to show their
Preparations for the fiesta begin early. The ‘Chinos’ shops start to sell Roman
costumes from April onwards but the re-enactment groups will have been practising
their moves for much longer…
In the Plaza Mayor the Pretorian guard fight a tribe of Celts trying to take the city.
The battle is ferocious. The guards form a tortoise (Tortuga) with shields held over
their heads but the Celts are stronger and more determined and come away
In another square, a battle goes on between gladiators, fighting for their freedom.
Swords clash but thankfully no blood is spilled despite the violence of the
A Celtic wedding meanwhile is going on in the village set up just outside the walls
where Celt stalls sell (real) swords, furs and arm bangles. In the plaza de
constitución, a blacksmith is fashioning nails and chains, a stonemason is sculpting a
large column of granite, and an old lady is sitting cleaning an animal fur.
In the evening there is a march past around the Ronda da Muralla, the road which
encircles the walled old city of Lugo. The march goes on for a while as each legion
and each Celtic tribe marches past. The Roman ladies look beautiful in their finery,
their senator husbands resplendent in their robes of office.
The best place to watch this spectacle is from the top of those Roman walls themselves where cradling an artisan beer from the nearby Aloumiña brewery, one can imagine the scene 15 metres below might, just might be real.
There are many more weird and wonderful Galician festivals to be found in my
Galician memoir: Plum, Courgette & Green Bean Tart.
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