Seville Snapshots: Palm Sunday Processions

I packed my bag hurriedly but with purpose: I’d need sunscreen, lipstick, a street map and my camera with long-distance lens. Nothing more, nothing less. I locked the door and walked hurriedly to the bar.

After more than seven years in Seville, I was finally staying to see Holy Week, the somber processions that punctuate the spring rains and precursor to the raucous fair. My ten-day break from school usually means a trip to somewhere far away from pointy hats and heavy floats – I’ve used Semana Santa to see the Taj Mahal, sip Turkish coffee in Istanbul, to road trip through Europe’s youngest country.

But this year, I made torrijas, a typical sweet eaten during Lent, and buckled down to see the pasos. After lunch in Triana, Kelly and I took the long way to see La Estrella – one of the neighborhood brotherhoods, called hermandades. This takes planning, sturdy shoes and a lot of patience.

Carrera Oficial Semana Santa Sevilla

Friends in Spain

As a Semana Santa Virgin – bad pun, I admit it – I was intrigued and had an open mind. And after weeks without even taking Camarón with me, he was long overdue for a day out. Over 400 photos later, I’ve been convinced that Holy Week is aesthetically pleasing, albeit a logistical headache, even in the back-end of Triana! Here are some of my (untouched!) favorites:

La Estrella – from the Seville side of the Puente de Triana

Rather than crossing over the Puente de Triana, we took El Cachorro. The city’s most iconic bridge sees five brotherhoods pass over on its way to the Carrera Oficial between la Campana and the Cathedral and back home.

La Estrella is Triana’s first and one of its most beloved. The purple and blue antifaces seemed less jarring in a bright afternoon light. Seeing my first paso had all of the hallmarks – nazarenos handing out candy to kids, barefoot brothers seeking penitence while clutching rosaries, two floats and brass bands.

We watched the Cristo de las Penas pass by, the air tinged with incense and azahar mixing with doughy fried churro steam. And, in true Semana Santa, we then went to a bar, had a drink, and emerged an hour later to wait for the Virgen de la Estrella.

I’d come to discover that this is Semana Santa – waiting, pushing, waiting, drinking a beer, walking, waiting.

Penitent of La Estrella Brotherhood Sevilla

Photographing Semana Santa

Incense Holy Week

El Cristo de la Penas en su Procesion

Barefoot penitents

Kid Nazarenos

Virgen de la Estrella

El Jesús Despojado – from Antonia Día/Adriano

As soon as the band immediately behind the Virgen de las Estrella passed by, the throngs of people immediately disseminated. Like a couple of cabritas, we followed them, hatching out a semi-plan with the use of the Llamador guide and a vague idea of where some streets were.

We found a spot on the curb just past the bull ring to watch Jesús Depojado – an image of Christ being disrobed – just before the Cruz de Guía emerged from an alleyway. Brothers handed us small pictures of the images, called estampitas, as they passed by, lighting the candles they held in their hands as dusk fell.

This particular procession captivated me, from the way children dipped their white gloves into the pools of hot wax as the cirios burned down to the way the costaleros turned the float around a tight corner to cheers and clapping. 

Cruz de Guia Jesús Despojado

Wax balls Holy Week

Holy Week Processions in Sevilla

Penitence Cross Holy Week Seville

Virgin Mary Procession

Virgen of the Jesus Despojada

Cirios in Holy Week Seville

La Amargura from Placentines/Alemanes

Kelly and I found Ximena and Helen after taking the long way around Barrio Santa Cruz. Helen had found a pocket of space in the shadow of the Giralda to watch her boyfriend’s procession, La Amargura. It was past 10pm, and the lights of the buildings had been switched off.

La Amargura is a serious brotherhood whose nazarenos cannot break rank. Even with their faces covered and hands grasping their antifaces, the solemnity was evident. When the white-clad nazarenos begin filing by with their cirios lit, I gasped. It was eery, haunting.


La Amargura near the Cathedral



Just as I was crossing over the Carrera Oficial with the help of some local police and a hold up with El Amor’s procession, my mom called. I stumbled back to Triana via side streets just in time to watch El Cristo de las Penas enter into its temple.

Like a car backing up into a garage, the float was maneuvered halfway in before lurching out three times, finally entering on the shoulders of 48 costaleros after more than 13 hours of procession. I stumbled into bed well after 3am, myself having done a procession of my own for 13 hours.

Have you ever seen Semana Santa in Sevilla? Which processions are your favorites?

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About Cat Gaa

As a beef-loving Chicago girl living amongst pigs, bullfighters, and a whole lotta canis, Cat Gaa writes about expat life in Seville, Spain. When not cavorting with adorable Spanish grandpas or struggling with Spanish prepositions, she works in higher education at an American university in Madrid and freelances with other publications, like Rough Guides and The Spain Scoop.


  1. never been to any of those procesiones….while i feel deep respect it also exhausts me when i watch them on the telly, above all when some people lift up their babies and get them close to the throne, so the little ones can touch the Virgin!

    it is really interesting that it usually rains during the procesiones in Sevilla, how is it? i think, seriously, that it is a punishment of God because of so much craziness, in fact you see people literally crying if their procesiones have not come out.

    my respect Cat if you enjoy and feel the procesiones.

    • Christine says:

      I will say being there and watching it on tv are completely different experiences, not sure if I can explain it but trust me it is much different.

    • I hadn’t seen Holy Week until Sunday. I’m glad I saw it and felt moved by the devotion, though I agree that it can get excessive.

  2. Some great pics Cat!
    Kim recently posted..Sevilla SantaMy Profile

  3. There’s nothing like the near death experience of almost being run over by a giant paso! Lovely photos
    Danika recently posted..Semana Santa in Photos: Lunes y Martes SantosMy Profile

  4. Loved this intimate peek into the Semana Santa Sevillana—and major props on getting some great evening/night shots of the moving pasos! I was in Ferrol this weekend and had a lot of trouble getting even halfway decent photos in low light in the evening.
    Trevor Huxham recently posted..Lastres, Luanco, & Llanes: Highlights of the Eastern Coast of AsturiasMy Profile

    • Cat Gaa says:

      I got super lucky – my pictures the rest of the week didn’t turn out so nicely! Got some spooky snaps from the moving nazarenos though!

  5. what gorgeous photos! And what an experience. Wow!
    Wandering Educators recently posted..Leaving the Amazon Feels Like a BreakupMy Profile

  6. Nine years in Spain and I still haven’t attended a procession. I’m not good with crowds so have steerd clear.,

    Aside from still squirming to see the pointy hats though, they look simply beautiful.

    Perhaps I should go to one in a smaller village to avoid so many people.
    Elle | Spain Buddy recently posted..Asparagus soup recipe without creamMy Profile

  7. Great post. Thank you for braving the crowds to provide a local’s insight into the Palm Sunday Processions in Seville. Fascinating!
    Mary @ Green Global Travel recently posted..12 Odd Intangible Cultural Heritage Practices UNESCO ProtectsMy Profile

  8. Fascinating! I never knew it looked like this!
    Lillie recently posted..Ireland’s Kylemore Abbey: Surprising Beauty and HistoryMy Profile

  9. We have enjoyed some similar processions in Valencia this year. Thanks for showing us the Palm Sunday Processions in Seville. We loved the processions in Valencia, we will love the ones in Seville, too. :)
    Laura @Travelocafe recently posted..Maxwell Scott Leather Backpack: Review + GiveawayMy Profile

    • Cat Gaa says:

      They’re unreal in Seville, and heavily attended! Trying to get back home at 2am is a nightmare, but the ambience is worth it.


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