One Day Each Year, these Botanical Masterpieces are Produced Through Faith, Family and Fun.
As we entered the square in front of Girona Cathedral, Gemma, our guide drew our attention to a floral tapestry in progress. Floral tapestry? Yes, floral tapestry, which turned out to be a new WOW we were about to discover.
It was our good fortune not only to be in the gateway to Catalonia’s Costa Brava (at the invitation of Patronat de Turisme Costa Brava, Girona), in the company of a charming and knowledgable guide, but it was the Sunday of the Catholic Celebration of Corpus Christi. In Girona, this meant, among other things, the assembly of floral tapestries in front of, and around the imposing 14th century gothic cathedral and the near-by basílica de Sant Feliu.
The tapestry directly in front of the cathedral’s 90 steps was in progress when we first arrived, but when it was completed, the sand, greenery and colorful flowers had been lovingly shaped into a depiction of The Last Supper.
Other tapestries were abstract creations, using a variety of materials as beds for the artistic placement of the blooms. The process was fascinating to watch. The first step involved drawing the plan with chalk on the ancient cobblestones of how the tapestry would look when completed. Then the foundation of natural items – sand of varying shades, mulch, fresh grass clippings, herbs and flower stems – was carefully composed as a canvas for the addition of petals and whole flowers that gave the entire work its eye-popping finish. No part of the flower was wasted. Everything was pressed into service to create the masterpieces.
Traditionally, the tapestries are begun in the morning, and disappear without a trace by nightfall. Families and groups of friends gather to let their collective creative juices flow, and produce something unique and pleasing to the eye for everyone to enjoy. As we observed groups of children and adults at work, it was obvious that they enjoyed the process as much as the rest of us would soon enjoy the results.
Corpus Christi isn’t the only celebration where flowers take center stage. The Historic City Center and medieval Jewish Quarter are the main venues for Girona’s Temps de Flors (time of flowers), an annual flower festival, which sees the city festooned with profusions of colorful floral decorations.
This Girona tradition began over 60 years ago, and is held from the second weekend in May through the third weekend. During this period, historic sights such as the cloister connected to the cathedral, are dressed in festive floral arrangements and open at no charge to the public.
I would recommend visiting Girona at any time of year, but if you can arrange your trip to coincide with either Corpus Christi and/or Girona Temps de Flors, you will be in for a WOW you’ll never forget.
Disclaimer: Our visit to Girona was generously hosted by Patronat de Turisme Costa Brava, Girona, however, all opinions are entirely my own.