Seville is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Its mixture of sun, architecture, and culture is second to none. But if there is something that makes Seville unique is Semana Santa, where religious processions take over the city and turn it into an extraordinary explosion of faith and art. However, if you don’t know any local, knowing what to do and where to go during that particular time could be very difficult. Here you have our recommendations to discover all the secrets of Seville’s Holy Week.
For an unexperienced visitor, the best place to see the Cofradías (Brotherhoods) would be Plaza Nueva. There is plenty of space and it’s a very popular square in the city, so you won’t have any problems finding it. Seville gets really crowded during Semana Santa so avoid the narrow streets. They might be more appealing but they could be suffocating.
There is a part of the itinerary followed by the Cofradías that is closed for the average public and can only be enjoyed by those who book a seat. This is a more comfortable way of experiencing the Semana Santa but certainly not the most charming.
To understand how the itineraries work you must now that the Cofradías leave their churches and follow a previously designated route to the Cathedral. Afterwards they make their way back. Sometimes it’s better to wait until the last part of the route to have a better view and experience. For that, try to find a nice spot at Plaza del Triunfo to see the Cofradías leave the cathedral and start their way back.On Thursday night Seville stays awake for the Madrugá, when the processions leave their churches for a whole night of pilgrimage. It could be a life changing experience but in order to really appreciate it we really recommend hiring a guide. There’s so much to see that you will need help and guidance. Otherwise, it could be frustrating. Another option to enjoy the Madrugá is, again, following the Cofradías on their way back. Get up very early and see how the first rays of sun illuminate the tired faces of the Cofrades on the last part of their journey. No emotional experience is completed without music and this special week has its own very particular soundtrack. Every Brotherhood hire the most amazing voices to sing for them. These pieces are called Saetas and they are frequently responsible for the most breathtaking moments of the processions. The Cofradías hire traditional bands too. They walk with them the whole route playing marches, some of them are religious but others have a military origin. However, you will find some Cofradías that don’t take any band with them. Those are the Hermandades de Silencio, that can be translated as Silence brotherhoods. They could be the most impressive ones. The atmosphere that surrounds them is startling and austere, only broke, in some cases, by the sound of the oboe, clarinet and bassoon. These three instruments play Música de Capilla for them. Of course, the main characters of Semana Santa are the carvings of the Virgin and Jesus Christ, that elevate the processions to the category of moving master pieces. The Pasos, the sort of thrones that every brotherhood prepares to carry their sacred images, are works of art on its own and are always adorned by incredibly beautiful flower arrangements, chosen carefully by the Prioste. If you want to avoid the crowds and appreciate every detail of these beautiful Pasos, you can visit them in their corresponding church the day or even the morning before the procession. Maybe this Holy Week can look dark or sad, but it’s not. Obviously there is a serious and emotional side, but there is also a festive vibe that strikes Seville and its inhabitants. During processions kids ask the Nazarenos, the people who participate in the processions, for wax from their burning candles to make huge balls to play with. The Nazarenos also give kids little prayer cards and candy. The Hermandad de Panaderos, which could be translated as Baker’s brotherhood, distributes bread, obviously.
On Thursday and Friday lots of women wear their black lace mantillas. They do so because they are grieving Jesus Christ’s death. However, the result is a strange, fantastic and elegant catwalk. On Thursday afternoon you can also find the soldiers of Macarena making their way around the city before they accompany the virgin during Madrugá.
As you can see, during the Holy Week Seville is bizarre, touching, celebratory, majestic and solemn. The atmosphere is surprising to say the least, but has to be look at with respect and an open mind. Centuries of traditions meet with faith and emotions.
Finally, we wanted to share with you our favorite brotherhoods: San Gonzalo, La hermandad de Veracruz, Santa Marta, San Pedro, Los Estudiantes and La Amargura. And of course, one last tip: make sure you try torrijas and pestiños, the typical sweet treats of the season!
PS: and some tips about Feria de Abril!