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"San Isidro, the patron saint of Madrid: A Rooted Tradition"

Updated: May 16

San Isidro Madrid

San Isidro Festival

The festivities in honor of San Isidro Labrador are the highlight of Madrid's calendar. Celebrated around May 15th, these festivities are a blend of pilgrimages, street parties, attractions, and shows that capture the essence of Madrid's culture. The epicenter of the celebration is in the San Isidro neighborhood in Carabanchel, with the iconic Pradera de San Isidro serving as its heart.

The history of these festivities dates back to 1619 when the Plaza Mayor was inaugurated coinciding with the celebration of San Isidro.


One of the most rooted traditions of the San Isidro festivities is the pilgrimage on May 15th, where devotees come to drink the "holy water" that springs from a nearby spring near the hermitage of San Isidro. This celebration is combined with the custom of enjoying picnics in the meadows, accompanied by the traditional "rosquillas del Santo" (Saint's doughnuts) and typical drinks such as "chicos" from Valdepeñas and lemonade.

During these dates, there are also important bullfights in the bullring of Las Ventas.

History of the Saint

San Isidro Labrador, revered as the patron saint of Madrid, is a legendary figure. Born in Muslim Madrid around the year 1080, his humble origins as a laborer on the lands of various landlords, especially the Vargas, earned him the devotion of the people of Madrid and a reputation for his alleged miracles.

Married to Santa María de la Cabeza, San Isidro lived in Torrelaguna, possibly raising his son. Although his existence is shrouded in legend, tradition attributes a series of miracles to him, from rescuing his son from a well to multiplying food. His reputation as a mediator for obtaining spring rains made him a protector of crops and an essential figure in the lives of farmers of the time.

Over time, the veneration of San Isidro transcended the borders of the Iberian Peninsula, reaching even the lands of the Americas during the colonization period. His legacy lives on in the traditions and festivities that commemorate his life and work.

Art and Literature, Goya and Galdós

The legacy of San Isidro has also left an indelible mark on Spanish art and literature. Francisco de Goya, one of the most prominent painters in Spanish history, immortalized the festivities of San Isidro in his work "La pradera de San Isidro" (1788), capturing the festive essence and unique atmosphere of the celebration.

On the other hand, the celebrated writer Benito Pérez Galdós, in his work "Mayo y los Isidros," evokes the tradition of traveling to Madrid during the San Isidro festivities, highlighting the cultural and social importance of these celebrations in the life of the Spanish capital.

And while you enjoy the San Isidro festivities, why not take the opportunity to explore Madrid with the Spain Walking Tours apps? These apps will immerse you in the history and culture of the Spanish capital, allowing you to discover the city on your own schedule and in your own way.

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