What is Semana Santa?

 

Holy Week  (Semana Santa) are the seven days leading up to Easter Sunday.  There are some important days leading up to Easter like Holy Thursday and Good Friday. Celebrations in Spain began around the 16th century. People would present scenes from the story of the Passion of Christ by walking in processions. Today, these celebrations certainly happen in the many regions of Spain.

What will you see?

Pasos

 

 
 
 

Pasos are huge extravagant floats that make their way through the crowds in the processions. Each float is a representation of the story of the Passion of the Christ. What’s beautiful about these sculptures is that some are over 300 years old and are masterpieces dating back to the 16th century.

Pasos

 

 
 
 

Pasos are huge extravagant floats that make their way through the crowds in the processions. Each float is a representation of the story of the Passion of the Christ. What’s beautiful about these sculptures is that some are over 300 years old and are masterpieces dating back to the 16th century.

Costaleros

 

 
 
 

Costaleros carry the pasos on their shoulders during the parade. The name comes from the white protective garment (el costal) they wear on their heads. These people are locals and members of the church’s brotherhood. Normally there are between 20 to 40 Costaleros per float and practice all year round.

How do different regions celebrate?

 

Andalusia and Castilla de Leon are the regions that have big celebrations. The cities in the region celebrate differently. Because of that, it’s important to know where you can celebrate during your time off. Find out which region’s festivities appeal to you more.

Andalusia

 

Andalusia attracts many tourists during Holy Week. These seven days are packed with processions of religious passion using decorated floats. There is also entertainment from brass bands that walk through streets from their parish church to the cathedral and back. With the long-standing Easter traditions, you won’t experience a similar celebration elsewhere. The most unforgettable Semana Santa festivities happen in Sevilla, Málaga, and Cordóba. Therefore, these cities witness crowds from everywhere to watch the festivities.

Sevilla

 

 
 
 

Sevilla has the biggest Semana Santa celebrations in Spain. Many people from all over the world travel here because it’s currently an internationally famous event. In Sevilla, La Madruga (Early Rise) is surely the most important event of Holy Week. This is a tradition that begins at night on Holy Thursday and continues into the next morning on Good Friday. This is when all of the processions make their way to the Cathedral.

Malaga

 

 
 
 

In Málaga, festivities involve religious praise but also tribute to military soldiers, veterans, and their families. The floats are carried by hundreds of church members including Nazarenos wearing purple robes and women wearing mantillas. Each float depicts a scene from the Passion of the Christ. There is not shortage of entertainment with crowds cheering in the street with live music playing in the background

Cordóba

 

 
 
 

Even though Córdoba is a smaller celebration there are still many processions happening throughout the week. If you plan on going here you will not be disappointed with the beauty of the city. In Córdoba, there is a focus on the brotherhoods that organize processions, many of them historical. A brotherhood is a group of members from the same parish who are the ones that walk with the pasos in the processionals.

Castilla y León

 

Castilla y León takes a a different approach than the celebrations in Andalusia. Cities such as Salamanca, Segovia, and Córdoba, celebrate the Passion of Jesus Christ in a more solemn way. In fact, these are some of the most serious processionals held in Spain.

Salamanca

 

 
 
 

Salamanca is home to some of the oldest Easter traditions in Spain. The earliest celebrations date back to the 13th century. During the week there is a total of 22 processions with different pasos and religious wooden sculptures. Since Salamanca is home to one of the biggest universities in Spain, some of these processions are performed by the Brotherhood of the Students at the University of Salamanca.

, pulvinar dapibus leo.

Segovia

 

 
 
 

The beauty of Segovia and the solemnity have made Holy Week here a major tourism spot. The Alcazar, aqueducts, palaces, and the cathedral all make this an interesting place to celebrate. During the week brotherhoods parade through Segovia. The old town and its neighborhoods, such as San José and San Millán, are just some of the locations where it takes place.

Ávila

 

 
 
 

Ávila has been holding its Easter week celebrations since the 16th century. It takes place in a unique environment around the monumental wall and inside the old town. You wont hear cheering since Ávila’s celebrations are characterized by the silence of thousands of people who ponder at the different processions. On the morning of Easter Sunday the last procession takes place where hundreds of rockets are thrown.

Want to celebrate in Madrid? Here’s how. 

 

Finally, if you’re in Madrid during Semana Santa you still can participate in the festivities. During the week there will be around 20 processionals in the city. The two most noteworthy are Cristo de la Fe y el Perdón on Palm Sunday and Nuestro Padre Jesús de la Salud, the Wednesday before Easter.

Above all is the Tamborrada, a celebratory drum festival to bring Holy Week to a close. This happens in Plaza Mayor to celebrate the Resurrection.

Looking for a sweet treat after?

We recommend to find some torrija. This is a dessert made from bread soaked in milk with cinnamon. Remember to relax and enjoy all the city has to offer during the week and don’t miss out some of the many traditions held here in Madrid.

 

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