“What is Easter?” is probably the most frequent question I am asked when it comes to Seville. And I can understand why: apart from the Cathedral, the Alcázar and other hidden gems, this gorgeous city is very well know for its Holy Week celebrations.
Semana Santa in Seville is both my favorite highlight and moment of the year. The incense smell is everywhere, the only music you’ll hear are the marchas and the city is full of action and people from all over the world.
Regardless of your religious attitude, don’t think twice and come to experience the best Spanish festival!
Did you know that Semana Santa dates vary from year to year? That’s right! Holy Week is a moveable feast that goes from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday.
You should have a look at the dates of the next Semana Santa if you plan on travelling to Seville and participating in this awesome event.
During Semana Santa Sevilla becomes a living performance of mourning and grief. And the amazing thing is that even though the procesiones are acts of public penance for the nazarenos (and the whole brotherhood) and a sign of devotion for Sevillanos, foreigners enjoy them every year, not being sometimes even religious themselves.
As a rule of thumb, every procession has the same structure. And despite the fact that at first sight the processions might seem repetitive, have a closer look to find out the distinctions between them.
Pasos, Costaleros And Nazarenos
What is Easter without a paso? The Semana Santa in Seville wouldn’t have much sense because it is the most important element of a procession. As the processions represent the Passion of Christ, the paso is a scene with many life-sized and very lifelike figures (up to 13!) describing one of the events in the story.
Each paso is carried by the costaleros who hold the beams upon their shoulders and necks. They are, as a matter of fact, the most important members of the procession.
And I cannot forget the nazarenos, whose clothing – especially the capirote, represents one of the most popular symbols of the Holy Week. Their duty is to keep company to the pasos and to show repentance to the crowd.
The brotherhoods, also known as hermandades or cofradias, are associations whose members are Catholic laypersons. They are in charge of putting together the processions, which is the most important event of the year. That’s why hey spend months preparing the occasion and making the necessary arrangements for it.
One of the essential tasks they carry on is agreeing with the rest the route each one will follow. With more than 60,000 people parading in Sevilla, Semana Santa celebrations would be a chaos without respecting a meticulous preparation and logistics.
What is Easter? When do processions take place? During 7 days, from Palm Sunday to Easter, 60 brotherhoods perform processions.
Obviously, Easter activities must follow a very strict schedule. Each hermandad wants to play a role in the celebrations and not cast a shadow over a fellow one.
A detailed list with the names of the brotherhoods processioning each day, the time of the exit from and entrance to their home church and the clothing of their nazarenos will help you choose. Just one piece of advice: don’t try to see everything, it’s absolutely impossible!
What To See, Where And When?
As you can imagine, there are a lot of processions happening simultaneously in different parts of the city. Don’t panic if you’ve looked at the schedule and couldn’t decide where to start!
I have selected 3 highlights per day. You’ll know exactly what procession look for, where you should see it pass and when you should be there.
Once in Seville, you’ll soon realize that the streets are completely flooded with people. Actually, it can be a bit stressing and tiring if you are not prepared to deal with such an amount of people. But don’t stress, knowing the situation in advance will help you enjoy the Semana Santa.
Follow some simple tips that I have learnt myself after several years going all over Seville’s city center. You’ll savor one of the most genuine events in the world and conclude that navigating the streets is a piece of cake!
Glossary Of Terms
What is Easter? Is it celebrated everywhere in Spain? Holy Week is the most important religious festivity of the year. In Seville, you’ll have the chance to enjoy a unique festival, where the most extravagant and spectacular procesiones occur.
As Semana Santa and everything surrounding it constitutes a unique universe, here you have a glossary with some of the most frequent words that you’ll hear or read while being here. Each one has a short explanation to give you an idea of what the rest is talking about.