We arrived in Seville during Holy Week! Now Holy Week is a HUGE deal in Spain and it's the biggest deal in Seville. I didn't plan on purpose to be in Seville during this time, but when I was planning our trip and it just worked out that way. I thought this was either going to be really good or really bad. I LOVED it, my husband and oldest son (the introverts) not so much. During Semana Santa (Holy week) there are several different brotherhoods that parade through the city from their churches to the main cathedral with floats of Jesus and the Virgin Mary. These processionals start in the afternoon and go until 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning. The city is jammed up and a walk that takes 10 minutes can take 90. It's incredible to see though.
The processionals start with hundreds and some have thousands of penitents. These are men dressed in robes and hoods carrying either a big cross, candles or incense. Each processional is a different colour depending on which church they come from. At first we were taken aback by the sight of a penitent as they look so similar to the KKK, but penitents pre-date the KKK by centuries. They conceal their identities in these robes so that only God knows who's inside. After the line of penitents comes the Passion float depicting Jesus in some stage of the time leading to his death. More penitents follow and then the float of the Virgin Mary. Under each float (which weight around 4500lbs) are 30-50 men carrying it through the streets. It is a great honour to be chosen to carry a float. They rest every 20 minutes for a few minutes at a time. What an experience it was to be there during this time!
This was the first time we saw a penitent walking in the streets to get to his church.
We ran into our first processional on our way to a flamenco show. It should have been a 20 minute walk, but it took us 2 hours. Luckily we left early and made it just in time.
You can see the feet of the men underneath the float carrying it. Also people on their balconies throwing rose petals on the float.
We really enjoyed this authentic flamenco show at Casa de la Guitarra. We didn't know what he was singing, but they sang and danced with such emotion and expression.
We got out early the next day before any processionals had started to see the Seville Cathedral. It is the third largest church in Europe after St. Peter's in the Vatican and St. Paul's in London. It is the world's largest Gothic church.
The tomb of Christopher Columbus carried by four kings.
The magnificent high altar. It's the largest altarpiece every made with 44 scenes from the life of Jesus and Mary and 65 feet tall. It was carved from walnut and chestnut, and blanketed by gold leaf.
We climbed up the 330 feet Giralda bell tower. Saw some awesome views of the city and cool to be up with the bells.
After lunch the processionals started and we ran into several. It was really cool being amongst the locals and seeing how important this was for them. We even saw people crying in the streets.
Found the old walls of the city.
It was another experience seeing the processionals at night. The candles all lite and the children gathering wax balls from the penitents.
The next day we checked out the Santa Cruz district with it's "kissing lanes".
European buskers are awesome!
We found our way to Plaza Espana. One of the most beautiful areas of the city.
We walked back along the river. This is Torre de Oro Tower above built in the 13th century by the Moors.
When we got back to our Air bnb there was a processional just one block over. I had to go watch! The boys were processionaled out and went up to our apartment. A lovely local man had brought a stool and when the men under the float rested he motioned for me to use his stool to get a great shot right in the middle of the street. Awesomeness!
Say tuned for the white villages of Andalusia in my next post.