Our Airbnb host generously invited us to watch a Mascletà from a balcony on one of the beautiful buildings right on the government center (Plaça de l’Ajuntament). The Plaça de l’Ajuntament, which is directly in front of the City Hall of Valencia in the old part of the city, is where the largest of the mascletàs are held. This was quite an opportunity for us given that the crowds are usually so thick anywhere close to the mascletà that we wouldn’t normally have a chance to actually see much of the mascletà. Now, perched on our fifth floor balcony, we had a tremendous view of the whole plaza and most importantly the mascletà.
Below us there were bands playing, people singing and Valencians in their traditional costumes all making up a colorful mosaic within the massive crowds. The excitement and anitpicaption was palpable.
A mascletà is a traditional Valencian fireworks display that uses both the sight of exploding rockets and the rattling sound of mortars to stimulate the observer with a
choreographed and rhythmic display of sights and sounds. This is not your usual 4th of July display but something quite different and it can be heard all over the city.
Hung from ropes at about 8 feet the mascletà starts off slowly and builds to a deafening crescendo of exploding rockets, lots of smoke, deep reverberations and absolute excitement. Watching it from a balcony was a thrilling experience and one we hope to repeat.
At two o’clock in the afternoon each day of the Las Fallas festival the major falleras (think of them as the Queen and Princess of Las Fallas) exclaim over the speaker system; “Senyor pirotècnic, pot començar la mascletà!” (“Senor pyrotechnician, commence the mascletà!”) and with this command more than five minutes of thunderous gunpowder and exploding masclets (fireworks) begins. What a spectacle!
We waited on the balcony as the crowds dispersed before we could get out of the building but it was all worth it. What a show and we are honored and very grateful to our host for the opportunity because that really is the best way to see a mascletà!
Salut from these valencianos,
Ted and Julia
3 thoughts on “The Mascletà”
Interesting that it is during the day. What is the origin of Las Fallas, do you know?
Yes, because it is not so much a ‘light show’ as it is a ‘noisy and rhythmic composition of sound’. In fact, the larger ‘firecrackers’ became so loud that it became a health concern. The city had to put limits on the noise they could generate. Even so, the balcony we were standing in did very noticeably shake with the explosions.
The origin is pretty ‘dicey’ with no one really knowing how it started. They feel reasonably certain that it has something to do with “spring cleaning” when the old torches were taken down and replaced. This was tossed in a pile with old and broken furniture, farm implements etc. and then burned. This then became an indicator that winter was over and spring had arrived so reason for celebration. Later competitions between towns for the biggest fire became popular and effigies and/or political statements became part of the burning celebration. Finally the church and city government got involved and it became what it is today. That’s about as good an explanation as I have been able to find.