UNESCO has been keeping track of the world's tangible, or physical, patrimony through its World Heritage Site list since 1972. Then in 2003 the Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage was signed, which authorized UNESCO to identify non-physical cultural expressions, too. This was to include such things as music, drama, arts, crafts and more. On this 10th anniversary of the convention, the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity has a total of 257 'cultural practices and expressions' on it, 13 of which are in Spain. These join the 44 physical places on the World Heritage Site list as globally recognized masterpieces of humanity.
Below are Spain's treasured thirteen:
Cant de la Sibil · la - Majorca, The Balearic Islands
The Song of the Sibyl is a musical liturgical drama with roots in Gregorian chants that was widespread in Europe in the Middle Ages. The Apocalyptic piece was banned by the 16th century Council of Trent, but continued to be performed in Majorca. It is performed during Christmas midnight masses in Catholic churches throughout the island.
Castellars - CataloniaThese human towers, which range from six to ten 'stories' tall, from the pinya at the bottom to the l'anxeneta at the top, can be seen at events all over the region of Catalonia. Each is a collective effort of solidarity, often 'built' as part of a passionate competition among castellar groups.
- Sixty groups operate throughout the region all year long, but most frequently from April to November.
- The Casteller competitions held during the Festa Major de Sant Felix in Vilafranca del Penedès every August 30 and at the festival of Santa Ursula in Valls, observed on the Sunday following October 21, are the events with the deepest roots.
- Coordinadora de Colles Castelleres de Catalunya
Center for Traditional Culture – a Pedagogic Project of The School Museum of Pusol - Elche, ValenciaStared at the one-teacher rural public school of Pusol in 1968, the project has successfully integrated heritage into formal education by using teachers and external collaborators to guide children to explore, in a play atmosphere, Elche's rich heritage. The children do fieldwork data collection, museography, and they teach one another and visitors not only about heritage, but about studying and exploring heritage. The project has trained almost 500 schoolchildren and has resulted in a school museum with more than 61,000 inventory entries and 770 oral files, preserving everyday life heritage and promoting the cultural mapping of local heritage resources. Between 1968 and the mid 1980s, the project remained within the boundaries of the rural district of Pusol, where the school was based, but as knowledge of the project’s values and achievements spread, the project’s operational scope grew larger, first involving the remaining rural districts of Elche’s countryside (mid 1980s) and later the city of Elche (1990s).
Cultural Association of the Lime Kilns of Morón - Morón de la Frontera, AndalusiaThe traditional practice of lime-making was a source of employment for Morón de la Frontera and a marker of its identity. When production was eclipsed by industrial lime, kilns fell into disuse and transmission of knowledge ceased. The project’s primary goals are to raise awareness of the practice and importance of lime-making and to improve living conditions for craftspeople. To this end, the Cultural Association of the Lime Kilns of Morón was established, and gave birth to an ethnographic centre and a living museum that displays the craft process in situ. Kilns have been restored and the project actively promotes transmission of techniques to new generations. Outreach activities in cooperation with lime craftspeople focus on recovering expertise and techniques for use in sustainable construction.
Festival de los Patios - Cordoba, AndalusiaEvery year in May fifty-five homes located in the historic center of Cordoba opens their doors to every traveler who wishes to enjoy the floral splendor of their courtyards.
- Competition for best patio, concerts and flamenco performances. From 8 to 19 May 2013.
Falconry - SpainSpain is the ideal destination to observe or participate in this traditional activity, which involves breeding and training falcons and/or other birds of prey to hunt in their natural environment.
Flamenco (Andalusia, Extremadura and Murcia)¡Flamenco! Flamenco is an artistic expression fusing song, dance and musicianship. Although Andalusia is the heartland of Flamenco, it also has roots in the regions of Murcia and Extremadura.
- The Badasom Festival in Badajoz (Extremadura) from 10 to 13 July, with flamenco as well as Portuguese fado.
- Festival Internacional del Cante de las Minas in La Unión (Murcia), the first week of August, .
- And November 16th is the Day of Flamenco in Andalusia.
Irrigators' Tribunals of the Spanish MediterraneanTraditional tribunals dealing with local irrigation matters. The Council of Wise Men of the Plain of Murcia, dates back to the 9th century, while the Water Tribunal of the Plain of Valencia is the oldest institution of justice in Europe. Their oral proceedings are fast, transparent and impartial. Their decision is final. In addition to their legal roles, these courts contribute to the oral transmission of knowledge derived from centuries-old cultural exchanges. They have their own specialist vocabulary peppered with Arabic borrowings. In short, the courts are long-standing repositories of local and regional identity and are of special significance to local inhabitants -- and they are something to see.
- Can be seen on Thursdays at Murcia City Hall and at the Gate of the Apostles entrance to the Cathedral of Valencia, respectively.
La Patum - Berga, CataloniaDuring the holy week of Corpus Christi, townspeople dress as mystical and symbolical figures and dance through the streets to the beat of a kettledrum called a tabal. Among the things to be seen are turcs i cavallets (Turks and knights), maces (hell), guites (mules), àligas (eagles) vells nans i nans nous (old dwarfs and new dwarfs), gegants (paper mache giants) and plens (with burning fuets on). This event has origins in pre-Christian summer solstice celebrations of the, which were adapted by the Catholic Church. Today it is not religious, but rather more a bit of popular street theater.
- From May 29 to June 2 2013