Easter Week in Marbella and the Costa del Sol
If you are planning on visiting Spain this week you will be in for a treat. Easter and Holy Week (Semana Santa) is an important religious date in the Catholic calendar and as you would expect from a country with such a passion for fiestas, the event is marked accordingly with typical Spanish enthusiasm and devotion.
Mirroring processions which first took place in the sixteenth century, towns throughout Spain will stage a series of processions re-enacting the ‘Passion of Christ’ by parading elaborate floats through the streets; one carrying the Virgin Mary and the other the crucifixion, to mourn and repent for the death of Jesus.
The young men who act as pallbearers (costaleros) must be physically fit, as the floats are enormous, extremely heavy and can be very painful, particularly as the parade can last for hours and many walk the route barefooted. In some places self-flagellation is practiced to atone for the suffering of Christ – although this doesn’t happen on the Costa del Sol!
Taking part is a matter of pride for all the families involved. Every year, Málaga born Hollywood actor, Antonio Banderas, faithfully takes his place alongside the pallbearers as Melanie Griffith and family proudly watch from the side lines. In Marbella, the procession starts from the San Bernabé Church and follows a route through the Old Town before working its way back to the church, cheered on by the Mayor of Marbella and other dignitaries and crowds jostling for position along the streets.
Much is made of the strange uniform of pointed hats and robes of the Nazarenos which represent the people of Nazareth – Jesus’ home town, but there is nothing to be alarmed about, they just add another level of drama to what can be an extremely moving event.
Andalusia has a reputation for staging the most extravagant Easter parades where the processions can last for several hours, with Seville and Málaga vying the crown. Needless to say, hotels along the routes are fully booked months and in some cases years in advance.
Here are some useful websites with times, routes and background information about the main processions in Marbella and Malaga.
Marbella Easter Processions
Holy Week in Malaga