The best part of traveling is not the sights you see, but the people you meet.  We were blessed to have Sevillan friends who introduced us to their beautiful city and showed us how they celebrate Semana Santa with its traditions that date back to the 16th century.

The festivities start on Palm Sunday and conclude on Easter morning. More than 50,000 people wear traditional robes to parade in one of the 50+ processions, which celebrate the passion, death and resurrection of Christ.

The processions are organized by Catholic brotherhoods (confradias).

Each procession has a designated route. Each procession has two or three pasos (floats), one or two of them representing a scene of the Passion, and the other one an image of the Virgin Mary.

One of our friends took us to Iglesia Colegial San Salvador to see some of the pasos that are part of the processions.

Note: this is NOT the main cathedral of Seville!

The image of Jesus is by Juan Martinez Montanes in 1615.


Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.

Watch this paso on youtube:

Watch for this paso later…

Our friends invited us to a special family lunch on Thursday of Semana Santa.  The food was delicious!


Our friends took us to watch the processions.  We found lots of people lining the street, hours before the procession was to start.  It was a social, family event!

Waiting for the procession with our friends!

Waiting for the procession with our friends!

Waiting for the procession.

Holy Wednesday.

Watching from balconies...premium locations!

Watching from balconies…premium locations!

Each procession has an order to it:

A great cross (called Cruz del Guia) is carried at the beginning of each procession to open the way. A musical band follows or precedes the paso.

The music is beautiful!!!

The music is beautiful!!!

Listen to the music here:



Then come the nazarenos who are members of the brotherhood. Nazarenos are dressed in a robe, with a tall pointed hat to hide their identity.

The Nazarenos.

Nazarenos de la Exaltación(Los Caballos)

A group of altar boys, dressed like priests and carrying either chandeliers or incense follow the Nazarenos.


Next comes the paso.  You have to be there to feel the emotion in the crowd. The crowd is reverent, expectant. There is a hush that comes over the crowd as the paso goes by.

The paso.

The paso: “Sagrada Columna y Azotes”.

A number of penitents follow the paso. They carry wooden crosses to make public penance. The penitents wear the habit and the hood of the brotherhood, but their hood is not pointed.

The penitents.

The penitents.

The costaleros are the most important members of the processions.They carry the paso by supporting the beams upon their shoulders and necks.  Each one supports a weight of about 100 pounds for up to 8 hours!  There are about 40 costaleros per paso.  The pasos weigh about 4000 pounds. The costaleros also lift, move and lower the paso, unseen beneath the velvet skirts of the paso. The costaleros consider it a great honor to carry the paso.

The costaleros.

The costaleros.

Costaleros watching the procession, taking a much deserved break.

Costaleros watching the procession, taking a much-deserved break.

Our friends took us around the city to watch other processions.  It was a huge blessing to be with locals who knew where to go and how to squeeze through the crowds to find the right place to wait for the procession!



Cute kid watching the processions!

Cute kid watching the processions!

The night time processions were stunning, with the candlelit pasos. The atmosphere was…well, you need to experience it first hand to understand!




If you would like to learn more about Semana Santa and the Cofradias, try the sites below.  They were helpful as I did research for this post. Thanks also to Ana C. for her help!



A big thank you to our friends from Sevilla!  We will always remember our wonderful week in your beautiful city!!