The festivity of La Tirana can be seen as a symbol of multiculturalism and multi-ethnicity. This festivity, composed by mythological and historical components, makes every ethnic group sing and dance under the cult to the Virgin Mary, a renewed and updated image of Pachamama. The singers and dancers are not only human beings, but also animals and creatures from heaven and hell, such as bears and demons.
An overview of the festivity through the observation of the religious dances and what they are representative of, highlights the idea that every living thing (including society and nature) worship Pachamama/Virgin. This subordination to the life-creating force also allows the pilgrim to have a “face-to-face” dialogue with “la china.”
The Town of La Tirana
The town of La Tirana, located in the heart of La Pampa del Tamarugal, is within the commune of Pozo Almonte, at 72 kilometers southeast from Iquique, and has around 800 inhabitants during the ye
ar. It is a small desert town which was founded in 1565 and was populated by the 18th century. The old town church was built in 1765, but it was destroyed by an earthquake by the end of the 19th century. The current church dates from 1886, and every July, it welcomes more than 200.000 visitors who come to the Virgen de La Tirana festivity. This rekindles the biggest religious, popular and joyous event in the Norte Grande.
The route to La Tirana begins in Iquique by taking Route A-16 across the desert up to Route 5 North Pan-American Highway. Once on the highway, move south up to the La Tirana junction, which is properly signalled. It is worth mentioning that the town is about a 45 minute drive on an asphalt road, therefore, much previous preparation for the trip is not needed.
La Tirana has a very particular weather, with temperatures that change drastically at from day to night time. During the morning and afternoons, the temperature can reach up to 35°C, whereas at night time it can fall to -4°C. It is advisable, then, to be prepared for these weather conditions, which, due to the geographical location of the place, are stable all year.