Semana Santa in Spain is a special time, with celebrations and festivities just about every where you turn. When I found a fantastically priced trip last November to Spain during my Spring Break which happened to coincide with Semana Santa I knew I had to go back! Holy Week leading to Easter Sunday is basically a time of “vacaciones” for Spainards…or in other words 10 days of shut down where people will spend time with family, go to mass, and celebrate Easter. It is an especially religious time for this Catholic country where you can see processions of religious brotherhoods and fraternities (some which date back to the Middle Ages) several times a day. These daily processions each represent different points of the story of the passion of Christ and each have their particular meaning and significance. To see one of these procesiones de Semana Santa for the first time can be an interesting experience for those not use to it. Being from the United States, where we associate robes and hoods with the Ku Klux Klan, it may take a minute to get past that and see the ancient symbolism behind it.
You’ll find that most processions are quite somber and people gather in silence and reverence to watch them. Many come together to carry large, heavy relics through the street, usually of the Virgin Mary and Jesus. The music is On the find day of Easter it is more joyful, and women will wear the white mantillas instead of black, celebrating the resurrection. I was able to travel to Salamanca and Valladolid to experience Semana Santa there and see the historic sites. People line the streets about 1/2 hr. before the procession begins to get a good view. The video gives a taste of what these are like.
Of course, lots of historic sites to see in Salamanca, including the University and Cathedral. Travelers Warning: Shops and many restaurants really DO close down for a siesta, or descansa (break), in the middle of the day. I found even in Valladolid a museum that did this. Plan accordingly.
I was in Valladolid on Holy Thursday and the procession focused on the stations of the cross. Notice the narration as the procession continues, telling the story of the passion.
It was great being back in Spain during this special time, seeing my favorite sites and friends I hadn’t seen since coming back in 2012. Walking down Gran Via and looking at all the shops, and Plaza Cibeles.
Plaza Mayor and Mercado de San Miguel!
Enjoying the treats that one can only enjoy during Semana Santa, such as torrijas (Spanish bread pudding!).
My friend Jenn enjoying torrijas!
I didn’t really even get an opportunity to enjoy any of the museums this trip, which I have been to a number of times, but one can just spend days captured by the sights, sounds and smells of the streets of Madrid. I ended my trip with a walk around the Palacio Real and a trip with my friend Isabel out to the Palacio Aranjuez.
Should you have the opportunity to get to Spain during Semana Santa, definitely make the effort to get outside of Madrid to say Seville, Granada, Valladolid or Salamanca to see the processions. The processions in Madrid can be very crowded, more so than normal, and overwhelming. I recommend staying at the Hotel Rincon in Madrid, which is the perfect location along Gran Via. In Salamanca, I stayed at the Eurostars Las Claras, which again had a nice location in between the train station and the center of town where everything was. My favorite hotel was the Hotel Felipe IV in Valladolid, which had a lovely breakfast buffet and great location to town again.
Buen viajes, gnomies! Colleen
Ever been to Spain during Semana Santa? Let the gnome know!