If you are in Madrid for Semana Santa, you could not be visiting at a better time. Semana Santa is a week that attracts people from all over the world to take part in the Easter celebrations. Whether you are religious or not, this is a spectacular week. Try going to one of the concerts held in churches around the city or simply join the crowds to watch the processions go by. The week is sure to be great fun with an amazing atmosphere. Don´t forget that seeing the processions is just as important as trying some of the local delicacies that are traditionally eaten at this time of year!
The week leading up to Easter (from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday) is full of street processions and sacred music in Madrid. Religious icons are taken from different churches and paraded around the city. Those who bear the heavy weight of the statues on their shoulders take enormous pride in doing so – it is a great honour to be a part of the processions. The most famous procession is the Christ of Medina (Cristo de Medinaceli) on Good Friday (19th April) that starts at Jesús de Medinaceli Church and passes through the main streets of Madrid.
Other famous processions throughout the week include the Yeomen of the Guard (Alabarderos), the procession of silence and Jesus of Nazaret (Jesús Nazareno ´el pobre´). Be sure to look up which processions you would like to see throughout the week so that you don´t miss any.
There will also be concerts playing sacred music, held in churches like Basilica of Nuestra Señora de Atocha, the Pontifical Basilica of San Miguel and the Parish Church of Santa Cruz.
On Easter Sunday (Domingo de Resurrección, 21th April), you can go to Plaza Mayor and see the famous Tamborrada – a show with hundreds of tambourines and drums. Well worth going to see!
You´ll also be pleased to know that on Easter Sunday in Spain too, chocolate eggs (huevos de chocolate) are commonly given to friends and family as a way of wishing them a happy Easter!
One of the best ways to really embrace a new culture is to try the traditional food. What better way to learn more about the culture of Madrid than to try the local delicacies that are eaten at Easter. Some of the most famous and delicious foods include:
- Torrija (bread soaked in milk with cinnamon which is fried and sprinkled with sugar – very similar to ´French Toast´. It can even be soaked in wine!)
- Soldaditos de Pavía – crispy fried cod
- Flores de Semana Santa – sweet treat fried in the shape of a flower
- Potaje de garbanzos a la madrileña – chickpea stew with potatoes, cod, spinach and hard-boiled eggs
The time and effort that that is put into the religious celebrations throughout this special week is astonishing – there really is an incredible display of colour, food, decorations, lights, costumes and religious icons. Semana Santa in Madrid is a must! You will not be disappointed.