On Thursday, April 9, 2009, I hopped on a bus and headed to Sevilla, the city with the most elaborate and numerous Semana Santa processions in all of Spain. Thursday night, or what is known as the "madrugá" is the most famous night in Sevilla, and hundreds of thousands of people come from all over Spain and Europe to witness the numerous processions that begin early Thursday afternoon and continue throughout the entire night and well into Friday afternoon.
I arrived in Sevilla around 8 pm on Thursday evening, went to an acquantaince´s piso to grab a quick bite to eat and went out to the streets at 10:00 pm. We did not return to the piso until 7:15 am Friday morning. We saw a total of 8 processions throughout the night, all extremely beautiful, but extremely long and slow moving. Some processions had as many as 2,000 "nazares"...which meant that if you stood in one location to watch the procession pass, you would have to stand for over 1 hour and 30 minutes to see it from start to finish. We saw a few processions in their entirety, but mainly just ran around the city of Sevilla trying to see the ornate saints/floats and listen to the accompanying music. Once we saw what we wanted to see, we navigated through the crowds to find the next procession.
While I think the solemn and reflective nature of Semana Santa has largely faded away and become more of a social ocassion, it is still an incredible way to celebrate Holy Week and Easter. The people who carry the statues of the saints, who come in penance, who come playing music for the ears of God, and who come to reflect on the sacrifices of those who have come before them, continue to keep the beauty and solemnity of Semana Santa alive, or at least, visible.
All in all, throughout Semana Santa I saw processions in Cádiz, Ubrique, Sevilla, and Chipiona. All were beautiful and very distinct, but Sevilla had without a doubt the most elaborate celebrations. However, it also had the most people, most tourists, and most chaos. Did I mention it took my friend and I over 2 hours just to return to the piso, which on any other day should have only taken about 20 minutes walking? The verdict: It was a wonderful experience to go to Sevilla and I wouldn´t have missed it for anything, but if I am ever back in Spain for Semana Santa, I think I will stick to the smaller pueblos and avoid the crowds.