UNESCO Intangible Heritage in Spain
by Olivia Elson on Monday, November 22, 2010
UNESCO have recently been updating their ‘Intangible Heritage’ list, which recognises the value of special traditions and customs from across the globe, be they theatrical, musical, culinary…
Spain has proved rich in ‘intangible heritage’, boasting an impressive ten entries on the list. Below are just a few of the things that UNESCO has earmarked:
- Flamenco - dancing, singing and guitar-playing are all acclaimed
- Castells – original to Catalonia, these human towers are built by amateur groups, usually as part of annual festivals in the region
- The chant of the Sybil – performed in churches throughout Majorca on Christmas eve, three children parade through the church and sing a cappella, maintaining the Gregorian traditions of the island
- The whistled language of La Gomera Island in the Canaries - the only whistled language in the world that is fully developed and practised by a large community (more than 22,000 inhabitants)
- The Patum of Berga - a popular festival whose origin can be traced to medieval festivities and parades accompanying the celebration of Corpus Christi. Theatrical performances and parades of a variety of effigies animate the streets of this Catalan town to the north of Barcelona
- The mystery play of Elche - a sacred musical drama of the death, passage into heaven and crowning of the Virgin Mary. Since the mid-fifteenth century it has been performed in the Basilica of Santa Maria and in the streets of the old city of Elche in Valencia. It is a living testimony of European religious theatre of the Middle Ages.
Also on the list, but not exclusive to Spain, are the Mediterranean diet and falconry. To read more about each of these treasured Spanish traditions, as well as those of other countries, visit the UNESCO Intangible Heritage website.