Bunol is a small town 40 km away from Valencia. It is an example of a place which has received the reputation of a tourist centre for rather a short period of time.
There are hundreds of places like Bunol on the territory of Spain. The main occupation of mostly rural population is cultivating and processing grapes, olives and almonds. But there happened an event in the past which brought fame to Bunol. It was a sort of festival, called “Tomatina”.
According to one version the history of the festival began with the fight at the square of Plaza del Pueblo in 1947. The young people of the town organized a scuffle there and used tomatoes as means of fighting. Aggression changed into merry-making. They liked the fighting and next year decided to do it again. But the dictator Franco, who was the leader of the country that time, prohibited it as immoral. The citizens had a sense of humour and understood the absurdity of the decision. They organized “the funeral of the tomato” and the funeral procession was going along the streets of Bunol. At last the government allowed the festival.
Since that time once a year Bunol looks like “a great barrel of tomato juice”. Last Wednesday in August every year thousands of tourists come to Bunol from Germany, France, Great Britain and other countries in order to take part in “tomato” fighting.
The population of the town is a little bit more than 9000 people. In August it increases 5 times. By 10 o’clock some big trucks with tomatoes are usually at Plaza del Pueblo. At 10 o’clock sharp the shot from the water cannon starts the “tomato fighting” and everybody fights for himself.
As it is accepted in Spain, any great holiday, even the most extravagant one, is held under the serious pretence. The “Tomatina” festival is dedicated to St. Luis, the protector of the town, and to maiden Maria.
The “Tomatina” festival lasts for a week. Spanish musicians take part in it. Parades and fire works are the essential part of it.