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Semana Santa

Semana Santa

Throughout seven days, Andalucia is surrounded by a spiritual halo. Semana Santa is a tradition which is repeated year after year; a time when the devout and curious jointogether to participare in the procession and converge on the streets and squares which take on the ambience and mystique of an open air temple.

Málaga's Holy Week celebrations were declared to be of interest to International Tourism in 1965 and they have also obtained the regional stamp of approval "Fiesta of National Interest". Thousands of visitors from across Spain and abroad come to follow the processions throughout the city's historic centre.

Jaen capital is yet another Andalusian city that has a certified "Fiesta of National Touristic Interest" and as in every other corner of the province, jinienses (residents of Jaen) believe their particular processions are without a doubt the most beautiful in all of Spain.

Like so many others, the Holy Week processions in Huelva are certified as "Fiesta of National Touristic Interest" and thus touted as one of the best in Spain (we'll leave that to each visitor to decide). Locals undoubtedly rate this as one of their biggest and best festivals (after the carnival perhaps?).

Processions take place throughout the province along with Passion Plays as well. There is one more special claim to fame by the provincial capital in that no where else in Andalucia can you experience Semana Santa with the Alhambra in the background.

Semana Santa is celebrated in Córdoba capital and throughout the province with numerous villages having obtained the government stamp of approval "Fiesta of National Touristic Andalucia".

Semana Santa in Cádiz province is celebrated with great fervour and passion. The provincial capital, Cádiz, holds tremendous, extravagant processions - on par with those of all the other provincial capitals in Andalucia. Certain towns make an extra effort at Semana Santa and are, therefore, worth a special visit. These are: El Puerto de Santa María, Jerez de la Frontera, Arcos de la Frontera and Chiclana de la Frontera.

We hear a lot about Holy Week in Seville and a few other provincial capitals like Huelva and Málaga, but very little about Almería. You might be surprised then to learn that Almería deserves more than a short visit at this time of year. In fact, like so many towns and cities throughout Andalucia.

In most towns and cities throughout Andalucia, during Semana Santa (Holy Week), groups of penitentes, also called nazarenos, accompany their statues of Jesús and Mary as they’re carried out of their church and around the town. They are dressed in robes and pointy hoods, with mournful brass bands.

Holy week processions throughout Andalucia may differ according to the traditions of each city or town. However, there is a general order to most, starting with a large cross, cruz de guía, that is followed by a group of participants bearing lanterns.

The “Nazarenos” are the members of the “cofradías” who participate in the processions. They are also known as the “penitentes” (penitent ones).

The aftermath of Holy Week in Andalucia is something most tourists never see. Many locals are also able to avoid actually experiencing the devastation left behind as crowds and procession bearers abandon historic city centres to go home and get some rest after a hard week's parading.

If you really want to understand Semana Santa in Andalucia, then you need to learn about the groups of people who are at the heart of it all - the cofrades or members of cofradías, the religious associations that care for the images of Christ and Mary that are used in the processions and that meet throughout the year for various activities and to plan the next Holy Week celebrations and events in their local area.

Strictly speaking this is a religious festival, but for most of the week, solemnity isn't the keynote - there's a lot of carousing and frivolity, and bars are full day and night with entire families, from grandparents to babes in arms staying up until three or four in the morning.