With just 9000 residents Buñol (Pronounced: Boon-Yol) is a town located in the province of Valencia, Spain. Lying aside the Bunol River and surrounded by various mountain ranges in an area of around 112km², it is situated 38km west of the provincial community capital city of Valencia. This predominantly agricultural town also has a small industrial economic base but despite archaeological evidence that indicates civilization in Buñol goes back over 50,000 years, the town itself remains non-descript with limited historical sights. Nevertheless there are touristic elements to the town that make it worth a visit.
The Parque de San Luis is a fantastic place to spend some time in the western section of town. The views of the river are spectacular, and it is the perfect place for a picnic lunch or an afternoon siesta. There is a decorative chapel nearby, as well as the open-air auditorium, Auditorio Municipal San Luis.
This auditorium is tucked into the trees, so that the natural setting adds to the ambiance of all the events. The auditorium was established in 1987 and while it was constructed in a half round shape, it can accommodate more than two thousand people in ascending seats. There have been numerous musical events held at the Auditorio Municipal San Luis since it opened, and it is a wonderful place to learn more about the local culture.
The Castillo de Buñol is full of history and it can be found in the center of town on a hill between the Borrunes ravine and a moat. The castle was constructed during the 13th century and there are now two museums on the grounds. At the Archaeological Museum, visitors will find artifacts all the way from the Paleolithic times and the Ethnological Museum is decorated like a 19th century home. Should you visit Bunol during the summer will want to see one of the musical concerts that are held in the courtyard.
The walk along the Buñol River from the park will eventually see you reach Cueva Turche. This cave is unique and interesting to explore, and many locals enjoy bathing in the water of the river pool. If you are lucky, and there has been recent rain, there is also a waterfall nearby to the cave.
Not everyone enjoys spending time in cemeteries, but the Masonic Cemetery holds quite a bit of Buñol's history. More than two hundred of the tombs are those of Freemasons and their tombs can be found by looking for the Freemason symbol of a compass and scale enclosed within a triangle. Although, there are a few other Freemason symbols including a book, dragons, an olive branch, owl, clasped hands, and more.
While there might not seem to be much to do in Buñol, this town comes to life every August when the La Tomatina Festival takes place. This popular festival began by accident on the last Wednesday in August in 1945 during a parade in People's Square. There was a parade taking place with musicians, giants, and large heads, and a few youngsters made one of the participants fall, hitting everything that got in his way. The crowd became angry and began throwing tomatoes that they found on a nearby vegetable stand.
The tomato throwing continued for a few years until it was banned in the early 1950s. The festival was once again permitted after enough locals and others protested in favor of La Tomatina in 1957 and the La Tomatina Festival has since gained in popularity exponentially. There is now a limit on tickets that are released for this event and is set at a maximum of twenty-two thousand.
Everyone arrives at La Tomatina in clothing that they do not mind throwing away. Some people will wear white t-shirts that show off the brilliant red of the tomatoes, while others will sacrifice nothing other than their oldest clothes. A bathing suit underneath is a great choice, as everyone is soaked from all the juicy tomatoes and the water hoses. With shoes, flip-flops are not advised as they will come off your feat easily, so closed sports shoes are the best choice, but make sure they are old and you are ready to throw them away after the event. Swimming goggles are often worn but not a necessity although they do help keep the tomato acid out of your eyes. Anything else should be left in a safe place outside of the festival area, so that it does not get ruined from the tomatoes or the water.
The festival will begin at approximately eleven in the morning when one hundred and twenty tons of tomatoes are dumped on the ground in various positions. The next hour is spent grabbing tomatoes, crushing them slightly, and then tossing them at everyone else. When the hour is up a firework shot is heard, and all tomato throwing must cease (or so it's supposed to be)
La Tomatina is an intense experience that will provide everyone with a hilarious way to spend part of their day in Bunol and while everyone might think that the adults are the only ones that can have all the fun, think again as the kids can enjoy the tomatoes as well. Any child between the ages of four and fourteen can participate in the child's version of La Tomatina on the Saturday before the big event. It is a mini-Tomatina, and children also need to wear old clothes and most likely. This is held inside a fenced area in the main street and parents will always be seen taking pictures of their kids and laughing alongside the fence.
Whilst all may not appreciate what Buñol offers outside of La Tomatina, no one will be able to resist the exuberant fun and frivolity of this town's annual fiesta and the opportunity to throw tomatoes at people for an hour.
It might be a crazy tradition, but it's a lot of fun to be experienced with a huge amount of people.
La Tomatina - My Day With The Tomatoes
Being in the thick of the action is just part of the job. PP Travel's Colin "Bomber" Dale discovered all of this and more, venturing to Spain this week for the "sport" of tomato throwing at Bunol's annual La Tomatina - the world's biggest food fight.
6 Unusual Facts about La Tomatina
Here are some unusual facts about La Tomatina, the great tomato fight that is held in August each year in the Spanish town of Bunol.