Considered as the patron saint of farmers and although his festival is celebrated in many towns with processions that bless the fields, it’s in Madrid where he is venerated the most, with a festival dedicated to him that is becoming increasingly important.
The saint’s incorrupt body is located in Madrid, the city where he was born in around 1082, in the old cathedral of la Real Colegiata de San Isidro. The visit to his sacred remains is what originated the pilgrimage around the chapel built as a tribute to him, located in Pradera de San Isidro, painted by Goya in a painting with the same name. Every year, the amount of attendants is huge to the point that you need plenty of patience to deal with the large crowd that has gathered there since first thing in the morning. In the afternoon, the procession with images of San Isidro and Santa María de la Cabeza take place from the Colegiata de San Isidro to the district of La Latina and the Plaza Mayor, a return route that ends with the hymns of the Virgin of the Almudena and of San Isidro.
This happens on the festival’s biggest day, May 15th, but both the days prior and after this date have a large programme with different festive, cultural and gastronomic events. Some of the best places during this festival are Plaza Mayor or Las Vistillas, as well as the aforementioned Pradera de San Isidro that offer traditional entertainment such as giants, cabezudos (large papier-mâché heads), operettas, or the Regional Houses Festival. Other activities that are less linked to folklore are the concerts of David de María, Pablo López or Carlos Rivera, as well as the 30-year tribute to La Unión or the Rock Villa de Madrid Awards.
A series of leisure activities that do not rival the main one in the programme: the bullfighting of San Isidro, that lasts for almost the whole month of May with fantastic line-ups on the most important days. Bullfighters such as Enrique Ponce, Juan José Padilla, Miguel Abellán or Morante de la Puebla will attempt to leave out of the main gate during these days in the Monumental de Las Ventas bullring.
Both to go to Pradera de San Isidro and to the Las Ventas bullring, Victoria 4 offers all the amenities of a 3-star hotel located in the centre of Madrid, very close to the Puerta del Sol. From there, you can easily take the metro to the bullfight on Line 2 or the bus that will leave you close to the festivals on the southern bank of the Manzanares river.