Spain is an interesting place to find yourself during the Holy Week that precedes Easter (Semana Santa). The weather is usually glorious (which not always can be said about the rest of Europe) and Spanish Easter customs in many regions have preserved their traditional and unique form.
Although Barcelona is not as famous for its Easter processions as Andalusia or La Rioja, where you can witness hoards of self-flagellating penitents, it’s most definitely worth having a look even if you are not religious.
Easter processions in Spain are organized by Hermandades and Cofradias (Brotherhoods and Confraternities), which are lay organisations established to promote Christian charity or piety. In Barcelona the umbrella organisation is called Consell General de Germandats i Cofraries de la Arxidiòcesi de Barcelona.
On Good Friday there are usually two independent processions, which start from two different parts of the city and eventually meet in front of Barcelona Cathedral.
The one we attended (organised by La Hermandad de la Macarena y la de Jesús del Gran Poder) started at the Església de Sant Agustí church on Plaça Sant Agustí in Raval and consisted of more than 300 participants and musicians!
A crowd of tourists, photographers and onlookers impatiently waiting for the first members of the procession.
The arrival of the horse guard caused a bit of panic among some of the more delicate members of the audience…
Finally the first brotherhood has arrived…
Dressed in traditional nazarenos (penitential robes), which consist of a tunic and a hood with conical tip (capirote), they most definitely demand respect.
The tradition of the penitential robes originated in the Middle Ages when people could demonstrate their penance while still concealing their identity. These members of the brotherhood carried processional candles.
And here we can see the first float arriving from the square with the heads of the brotherhood leading the way.
These elaborate floats adorned with flowers and made for religious parades are called pasos and are a traditional and integral element of every Easter Procession in Spain.
Jesus carrying the cross.
The smell of incense and and a slightly bored altar boy…
And right after the float we can see the first group of musicians playing bagpipes (gaitas) and drums.
After the musicians, the cheering crowd welcomes the first group of cross-carrying shackled penitents.
After that a group of women wearing traditional Spanish mantillas – black lace veils worn over the head and shoulders over a large comb called a peineta.
The whole La Rambla was packed full of people…
And the last brotherhood, wearing green nazarenos preceding the final float.
The last float portraying Virgin Mary surrounded by candles.
A spectacle most definitely worth attending!
- Procession organised by La Hermandad de la Macarena
- Start: 17.00 Església de Sant Agustí in Plaça Sant Agustí, 2, Raval
- At 20.00 procession meets with the procession of Nuestra Señora de las Angustias in front of Barcelona Cathedral
- Finish: at 22.30 in Església de Sant Agustí
- Route: Plaça Sant Agustí, La Rambla, Carrer Santa Anna, Portal de l’Ángel, Carrer dels Arcs, Plaça Nova, Avinguda Catedral, Boters, Pi, Plaça del Pi, Carrer Cardenal Casañas, La Rambla, Carrer Hospital and Plaça Sant Agustí.
written by: Ania
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