There are not many things as serious as Easter in Seville. Year after year, the solemn processions surprise visitors with their size and intensity. The floats, the crosses, the sorrowful music, the sacred songs, the penitents in their traditional robes and the representations of the Virgin and Christ paraded through the streets on golden flower covered thrones. It’s impossible to imagine Holy Week in Seville without seeing it for yourself at least once in your life. So, why not make it this year?
What you need to know about Holy Week in Seville
Holy Week in Seville is, together with the Feria de Abril, one of the city’s main spring events and has been declared a Fiesta of International Tourist Interest. Its solemn processions date back to the late 16th century, when the religious fraternities decided to profess their faith by processing in the street.
In Seville there are more than 60 fraternities which celebrate the life and passion of Christ by carrying pasos, or floats with religious icons, aloft through the streets as a sign of their penitence. Each fraternity usually carries two floats, one of Jesus Christ and one of the Virgin Mary, carried on the shoulders of a group of some fifty men called costaleros, or float bearers, accompanied by crosses, large candles, candelabras, Nazarenes, groups of musicians and an enveloping aroma of incense.
All the processions in Seville’s Holy Week follow the Carrera Oficial, The Official Path, a route through some of Seville’s most famous streets leading to the Cathedral of Seville.
Holy Week in Seville is also famed for its culinary traditions, including bacalao, garbanzos con espinacas, patatas viudas and sopas de ajo. Those with a sweet tooth will love torrijas, slices of fried bread drenched in milk and honey. Irresistible!
Guide to Holy Week in Seville 2020
Here are some of the most popular processions in Holy Week in Seville, together with other major traditions.
Friday of Sorrows
On the Friday before Palm Sunday, it is traditional to visit churches to see the floats ready and waiting to get Holy Week under way. It is the first day that some fraternities start to process through the city neighbourhoods, including the Hermandad de Pasión y Muerte and La Corona.
A number of fraternities get going from first thing in the morning, including the Hermandad de Torreblanca, La Milagrosa and El Divino Perdón, not to mention El Cerro, which spends most time processing of all the fraternities: almost 14 hours!
This is when Holy Week in Seville officially begins. The streets in the historic city centre fill with chairs, and thousands of people accompany the holy images in the processions, together with drums, Nazarenes and costaleros. The first fraternity to set out is the Hermandad de la Paz, followed by the Cofradía de la Borriquita, Hermandad de San Roque, La Estrella and La Amargura. This is also the day when palm fronds are blessed at mass.
Holy Monday in Seville
The processions on Holy Monday recall passages from the life of Christ. The fraternities processing include Santa Genoveva, La Redención, La Vera Cruz and Las Aguas.
Holy Tuesday in Seville
The processions on Holy Tuesday evoke moments from the end of Jesus’ life. In some neighbourhoods they also celebrate the arrival of spring too. The fraternities processing include La Hermandad del Dulce Nombre, La Candelaria and La Santa Cruz.
Holy Wednesday in Seville
The first processions on Holy Wednesday began in the early 20th century. You’ll see the Hermandad de San Bernardo, La Sed, El Buen Fin, La Lanzada and Las Siete Palabras processing today.
Maundy Thursday in Seville
Maundy Thursday is the day of Jesus’ Last Supper. In Holy Week in Seville people visit churches in the morning, and services are held in the evening. Women wear a black mantilla over their head and shoulders in mourning. Some of the city’s oldest fraternities process on this day, including La Hermandad de los Negritos, La Exaltación, Las Cigarreras, Monte-Sion and La Quinta Angustia.
The early hours of Good Friday are known as la Madrugá, one of the most thrilling moments of Holy Week in Seville, with impressive moonlight processions. It’s when the oldest fraternities process. One of the most dramatic processions is El Silencio, when no talking is permitted. Other leading fraternities processing include El Gran Poder, La Macarena, Los Gitanos, El Calvario and La Esperanza de Triana.
Good Friday in Seville
Good Friday is a day of mourning in Seville: flags fly at half-mast and people go to mass. In the evening there are commemorations of the Passion and Death of Christ. Fraternities processing include El Cachorro, La Sagrada Mortaja, La Carretería and La Cofradía de San Buenaventura.
Holy Saturday in Seville
Holy Saturday is when believers wait for the resurrection of Christ. No mass is held on this day. The following fraternities take to the streets: Hermandad del Sol, La Trinidad, Los Servitas, El Santo Entierro and La Soledad de San Lorenzo. El Santo Entierro holds the shortest procession in Seville, at two and a half hours.
Easter Day in Seville
Easter Day commemorates the resurrection of Christ, as Jesus emerges from the tomb. The only fraternity to process on this day is the Hermandad de la Resurrección, whose image of the Virgin Mary is the only one in which she is not weeping. By mid-afternoon, Holy Week in Seville is all over.
Check out the times and routes for each procession on this website.
Holy Week in Seville is much more than a religious celebration: it’s an ancient tradition that completely transforms the city for a week. There’s no better time to visit the Andalusian capital. Book your holiday apartment in Seville as soon as possible, because accommodation goes very quickly for this time of year.