If you will be Spain during Semana Santa, expect to be blasted into the past and completely taken away by the festivities. Around the world Semana Santa it is also known as Easter or Holy week and it is a time of celebration of the Passion of Christ. To many, Easter is the time of year when a cute white bunny rabbit hides tasty chocolates around town. However, in Spain they still maintain many of the 15th century traditions during Semana Santa which makes it for a slightly more somber occasion. Somber it might be, but for those who have never experienced these passionate, traditional religious ceremonies it will surely be something special! Holy Week, much like the name suggests, is a week long festival. Each day of the week revolves around different aspects of the Passion of Christ, so we have written a weekly plan of what you can do to join the festivities from the 20th – 27th of March.
Palm Sunday (Domingo de Ramos)
This is the first day of the Semana Santa processions. Palm Sunday honours the icon of Cristo de la Fé y del Perdón and Santa María Inmaculada Madre de la Iglesia and simulates Jesus Christ’s coming to Jerusalem. The procession is held at the Basilica de San Miguel and will continue through the streets around 4 in the evening. You will find that many of those who are taking part in the ceremony will be wearing some very severe outfits – these clothes are similar to those worn in late 14th century.
Holy Wednesday (Miércoles Santo)
on Holy Wednesday you have two events to choose from. The first is the Via Crucis which is lead by Madrid’s Archbishop as they travel down the Points of Resurrection . The procession starts at Parraquia de San Ramon Nonato church (near Metro Puente de Vallecas) at 17:00 and travels through 14 Stations until its final stop around 21:00 at the Seminario Conciliar de Madrid (10 min from Metro La Latina)
The second takes place in the historic part of Madrid – The Austrias. You’ll find the procession of The Brotherhood of Nuestro Padre Jesús de la Salud y María Santísima de las Angustias, which begins at The San Jerónimo el Real (7min walk from Metro Banco de Esp.) church at around 17:45 and continues through the evening.
Holy Thursday (Jueves Santo)
One of the more amazing events of the Holy week is at 19:30 when the members of the Colegiata de San Isidro church (close to Metro La Latina) presents the massive images of Virgin Maria Santísima de la Esperanza and Jesús del Gran Poder on top of a beautiful altar carried by “monks” dressed in traditional clothes. It’s so special because the altar is so heavy, the men monks have almost have to crawl to carry it – proving their dedication to the Saints above.
Good Friday (Viernes Santo)
One of the more eerie processions of Semana Santa is the Procesión del Silencio (Procession of Silence). You will notice that those in the parade are in some of the most traditional outfits you have ever seen. Not only are they completely covered in black and white cloth (including their faces) but, as the name suggests, they are completely silent. The parade begins at The Church of Santísimo Cristo de la Fé around 19:00
Holy Saturday (Sábado Santo)
At the Corpus Christi Monastery you can see the procession of the Nuestra Señora de la Soledad (5 min walk from Metro Almendrales) around 16:30.
Easter Sunday (Domingo Santo)
This is the most important day of the Holy week. The city will gather in Plaza Mayor to witness the the Tamborada del Domingo de Resurección, which means the Drums of the Sunday of the Resurrection. The Plaza is filled with brotherhoods as they rhythmically bang on hundreds of different drums to simulate the earth tremors from the day of Jesus’ death on the cross.