One of the best times to visit Spain is during the Semana Santa, also known as the holy week. This important period takes place during the last week of Lent, which runs from March 20 to March 26, 2016. The holy week is a Catholic festival and is marked by events and festivals all over the country. Spain is famous for its festival culture, and the festivals and events taking place during the Semana Santa are some of the most important in the Spanish calendar. So to help you decide where to celebrate this year, we have put together a list of our favorite events and festivities taking place this Easter holiday across Spain:
At the end of March when the weather is warm in Madrid, the city kicks off its religious celebrations. Events begin on Palm Sunday and the city has two processions to choose from, when the religious statue of Santa Maria Inmaculada Madre de la Iglesia paraded from the Basilica Pontificia de San Miguel Church and into the surrounding streets. Holy Wednesday is another important day during the week, and at around 7:30pm on Holy Wednesday Madrid’s Archbishop will take part in the Via Crucis or “Stations of the Resurrection”. Another highlight takes place on Maundy Thursday when large images of Virgin Maria Santisima de la Esperanza and Jesus del Gran Poder are brought to the main door of the church at Calle Toledo.
The capital of Spain’s Costa del Sol comes alive during Holy Week, which is also known as Passion Week in Malaga, with street parades and processions. The city also has military parades and celebrates the week with lots of noise, applause, and crowds, most of which cheer on the many enormous thrones and floats that are paraded through the streets of the city. In fact, the floats are so large that they are too tall to keep in the church and are stored elsewhere. More than five million tourists travel to Malaga during Passion Week to celebrate the very traditional festivities held in the city.
Seville is known for having some of the country’s largest celebrations, with a series of elaborate floats, penitents in pointed hoods, and live music filling the streets during the week. Everything begins on Palm Sunday when La Hiniesta comes through the church in Plaza San Julian. Other highlights throughout the week include a candle-lit ritual in the old Jewish quarter of the city on March 22nd, Las Cigarerras crossing San Telmo bridge on March 24th, and the climax of the whole week on March 25th (Good Friday) when Triana and Macarena, the Virgin’s of Seville, appear around the city and from the church.
Much of Barcelona’s festivities during Holy Week revolve around the city’s impressive cathedral, beginning on palm Sunday when people attend the church with palm leaves in their hands. One of the most important moments for the people of Barcelona during the festival is Good Friday. On Good Friday the city closes down, and comes alive with people in and around the cathedral. Festivities usually start at 4pm and continue into the night with processions and activities occurring outside and in the square of the cathedral for most of the evening until about 10pm.
One of the oldest Semana Santa celebrations in the country is held in Salamanca. The celebrations in Salamanca are breathtaking and known for being the most traditional. Held in the historic city center in areas of the city such as Casa de las Conchas and the University Square, the events are some of the most emotional and spiritual found in the region and include a lot of color, art, and music in their festivities. Brotherhoods dress in their traditional robes and carry statues through the streets to the sounds of drums and traditional music, making for an event that is both exhilarating and sombre.
All of the celebrations in the beautiful city of Cuenca take place with the backdrop of the stunning hills, cliffs, and seascapes that surround it. All of the festivities take place outdoors and are very focused on musical celebrations. Various concerts are held around the city throughout the week with a religious theme, and nine processions take to the streets on Good Friday, when more than 30,000 people come to watch and pay their respects.
In Granada, 32 brotherhoods participate in the Holy Week celebrations that take place from the Albayzin Quarter to the Sacromonte Hills. The festivities include processions, carvings, and religious statues. On Holy Wednesday the Cristo de los Gitanos is an incredible and moving sight, surrounding by fire and candles. On Maundy Thursday the Cristo de Silencio begins, a silence which is only broken by drumming. On Good Friday, the oldest brotherhood takes part in an exciting procession where people represent religious and historical figures. Finally, on Easter Sunday children of the city carry ceramic lanterns that make a jingling noise through the streets in a parade called the Procession of the Facundillos.