|Paso de Cristo de la Corona, by the Alcazar in Sevilla, Viernes de Dolores.|
We're now one day into Semana Santa in Sevilla - it's Lunes Santo, Holy Monday. Yesterday was the first official day of this most important of religious events all over Spain, but especially here in Andalucia's capital city. Granada and Malaga also hold notable celebrations - Antonio Banderas returns to his home city every year to act as pregon for his hermandad - while in certain other towns around the region, such as Puente Genil in Cordoba, there's a different twist on Holy Week processions, with hermanos donning biblical masks and outfits, and famous Bible figures walking through the streets.
Yesterday was Domingo de Ramos, Palm Sunday, the day when families traditionally take a paseo around Seville, wearing their Sunday best - you have to sport one new piece of clothing. I didn't make it, as the Metro was heaving and travelling or moving in heavy crowds with two small children isn't much fun. But I did see smartly dressed people heading towards the station entrance, including plenty of girls who seemed to have forgotten to put a skirt on.
If Semana Santa processions aren't your thing - or even if they are but you want a change of scene later in the week - on the two days this week which are national holidays, Jueves and Viernes Santo (though be aware that most shops are closed every afternoon during Semana Santa), you'll be pleased to hear that the state museums will be open. On Thursday and (Good) Friday, both of which are forecasted to have rain, you can visit the Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporaneo in La Cartuja (ideal, since it's situated well out of the fray of central Seville); the Archaeological and Popular Arts and Customs Museums in Maria Luisa Park; and the Museo de Bellas Artes (Fine Arts Museum) on Calle Alfonso XII - though be careful to check the Semana Santa schedules, so you don't get stuck behind a procession while trying to get into or out of the area. Some museums in Andalucia offer kids' activities and programmes - so rather than the younger members of the family being stuck in front of the TV on a rainy day (mine? never), steer them towards something educational but fun.
In Cordoba and Granada, you can see the Museos de Bellas Artes too, while in Malaga, the Palacio Episcopal, or Bishop's Palace, is currently serving as the provisional home of the city's Fine Arts Museum.
It's a great opportunity to avoid the April showers (rain on national holidays shouldn't be allowed), and go and see some of Andalucia's finest collections of paintings, sculpture, archaeological remains, and learn about this fascinating region.
Here's a complete list of the Junta (regional government) museums in Andalucia which are open this Jueves and Viernes Santo (Holy Thursday and Friday):
Museo de Almería
Museo de Cádiz
Museo de Huelva
Museo de Jaén
Museo de Málaga
Museo Arqueológico de Córdoba
Museo Arqueológico de Granada
Museo Arqueológico de Linares
Museo Arqueológico de Sevilla
Museo Arqueológico de Úbeda
Museo de Bellas Artes de Córdoba
Museo de Bellas Artes de Granada
Museo de Bellas Artes de Sevilla
Museo de Artes y Costumbres Populares del Alto Guadalquivir
Museo de Artes y Costumbres Populares de Sevilla
Museo Casa de los Tiros de Granada
Museo de la Alhambra