Holy Week in Seville
Visiting Andalusia was at the top of my travel list since I moved to Barcelona. Easter holidays seemed like the best time to go to avoid the summer heat and watch spectacular celebrations of the Holy Week, Semana Santa, leading up to Easter Sunday.
I was warned about the crowds, about booking my accommodation in advance and strong religious expression and passion that come as a part of the package when in the south of Spain during that special time of the year. To be fair the latter encouraged me even more to spend Easter in Andalusia so I could not wait until my short spring holiday!
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Seville was the city were I started my trip and the place where I could experience Semana Santa up-close with its famous processions, mournful sounds of trumpets, burning candles and stylish Sevillians.
On Maundy Thursday, as the sun was beaming high in the sky, the streets filled with many locals dressed in black to show mourning. I was particularly excited to see women wearing mantillas, consisting of a high comb called peineta and covered with a lace veil. Some of them used fans as the temperature was raising and others held rosaries in their hands. The tradition was coming to life!
Watching the processions left me thinking that I have never seen anything that could compare to the intensity of it all. Nearly 70 cofradias, the church brotherhoods, take part in this amazing spectacle carrying beautifully decorated floats with life-sized status of Virgin Mary or Jesus placed on top of them.
The processions taking place over night were my main highlight. It was when the Virgins of Macarena and Triana made their grand appearance at La Madrugada, very early in the morning on Good Friday. Squeezing through the crowds and observing the anticipation and excitement of local people was incredible.
Few friends told me about nazarenos, the penitents, walking in front of the floats and among the brass bands, holding candles and incense. These are the people dressed in robes and capes, wearing cone shaped head gear that makes it difficult to recognise them so they can express the remorse behind their disguises.
I agree that it is a slightly sinister look but but they have nothing to do with Ku Klux Klan and I found it more captivating rather than scary. They are certainly one of the symbols of the Holy Week.
I would certainly recommend spending Easter in Andalusia to anyone looking for a memorable and very unique experience. If you are still not convinced just add warm weather and tasty food into this holiday mix and picture yourself eating tapas in one of those small and lively squares as the sun is setting down. Ah.. bliss!