Holy Week in Zaragoza

Semana Santa, or Holy Week, is one of Zaragoza's most cherished and highly anticipated festivals.  It draws over 100,000 visitors to the city every year and has been designated as a festival of National Tourist Interest in Spain.


It starts on the Saturday before Palm Sunday with an opening ceremony and procession called the " Pregón", which is then followed by daily processions - 53 altogether - of the 23 "cofradias" (brotherhoods). These brotherhoods spend tons of  time and money throughout the year preparing and practicing for their beloved procession. The rows of people in each brotherhood wear tall pointed hoods and robes of solid colours (each brotherhood has a different color). 

The members of the brotherhood are accompanied by women wearing what looks like traditional black funeral apparel, lots of drummers who sometimes beat till they are bleeding, bands, and groups of men (called costaleros) who carry floats adorned with flowers and statues of Jesus and Mary. Marching together, slowly and solemnly, down the old streets of the city to the rhythm of the "tambors" (drums),  they stop occasionally for a prayer or moment of silent meditation. With the soulful music of brass bands, the deep beat of the hundreds of masked drummers, and the intense smell of insense in the air, it's an engaging, emotional and extremely moving experience.


One of the highlights of the week is the procession of the Holy Burial held on Good Friday, which holds the record in Spain as the biggest procession. It sees the culmination of an amazing amount of 3,500 drummers in one place as well as all of the brotherhoods. The Passion, the Death and the Resurrection of Christ are represented chronologically. This magnificent and meditative procession lasts a stunning six hours and winds its way through the streets to the beautiful backdrop of the old historic center.

Semana Santa is a very special week for people all over Spain and is one of Zaragoza's favorite and most celebrated holidays. If you get the chance to witness this spectacular festival, you won't regret it.