Crowds of people lined the streets of Madrid on Tuesday night to greet protesting coal miners, who had walked for nearly three weeks from the pits where they eke out a living.
The miners, angry about huge cuts in subsidies, arrived in the Spanish capital with their hard hat lights glowing.
They planned to march along major avenues to the Puerta del Sol, the city's most emblematic square.
One group of about 160 walked all the way from the northern Asturias and Leon regions, as many as 400 kilometres (250 miles) away; about 40 made an almost equally long trek from Aragon in the northeast.
Their complaints include a 63 percent cut in subsidies to coal mining companies struggling to maintain a share of the Spanish energy market against gas-fired electrical plants and renewable energy sources, while fighting to hold their own against cheaper imported coal.
Coal miners make an average of 1,200 euros (1,470 US dollars) a month, according to The General Union of Workers (UGT).
Today there are 8,000-9,000 coal miners in Spain, whereas 20 years ago there were nearly 30,000 in Asturias alone.
Besides cuts in subsidies to the coal companies themselves, the new conservative government has enacted austerity-minded cuts in spending for miners to learn new professions and for school grants for their children in the generally poor mining regions where they live.
A much bigger rally of miners and their supporters travelling to Madrid aboard hundreds of chartered buses is scheduled for Wednesday.
Before setting out for Madrid, miners clashed with Spanish police in Leon.
Miners used homemade rockets and slingshots against police, barricading a highway and a rail line in the northern town of Cinera on 19 June.
At one point, some 80 officers firing rubber bullets were repelled by hundreds of miners and forced to retreat.