The footprints of the ‘duende’ of San Fernando
Before he died, José Monge Cruz laid the first stone to what is his own altar today, a two-storey colonial house full of hundreds of his photos where his songs play over and over. La Peña de Camarón de la Isla opened in 1995, is maybe the greatest reference to the singer and songwriter in his birthplace, San Fernando, which still builds its identity around the memory of the soul of flamenco.
20 years after his death, the route around all of the places related to Camarón continues to be a pilgrimage for followers who want to see his legacy. The Peña, a kind of museum where even his disciples interpret it, is about the maximum representation of what Camarón de la Isla means for the 96,894 inhabitants of San Fernando and those who go there as tourists.
The route around the city is a stroll through the history of a single person. Number 29 of calle del Carmen, in the Callejuelas district is where it all began. A humble house in a fisherman’s district with beautiful views of the sea, this was the birthplace of the sun of a gypsy blacksmith who would later reinvent flamenco. A few streets away is the Church of el Carmen, where he was baptised, and his father’s forge where he spent a large part of his childhood and is now a symbol of the racial rhythm of the cantaor.
The route of San Fernando would not be complete without la Venta de Vargas, a place to enjoy the southern Spanish rich gastronomy and also to take a look at a true museum of flamenco art. Here José Monge Cruz became Camarón de la Isla, when his voice was revealed in 1959. He was just eight years old and this place is considered the place where his career was catapulted.
Opposite, there is the monument that Antonio Aparició Mota sculpted in bronze when the artist was just 27. The figure is not just an ode to Camarón, but also the symbol of San Fernando, full of shells and oyster shells representing its culture.
When Camarón died, the Isla was said to have been left orphan. The mausoleum in the city’s cemetery is the painful reminder of that afternoon one 13 July, when the artist died of lung cancer. But far from being left orphan, the legend continued to grow and the ‘King of Kings’ of gypsies lives on in the streets of the city.
Images: Vocento Mediatrade, David Ibánez Montáñez
On the social media
Did you like it?
Thanks for voting!