Holy Week in Spain starts officially on the Sunday before Easter, known as “Domingo de Ramos” (Palm Sunday) by the Spanish. It is a feast that commemorates Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem during which the crowds greeted him using palm branches, also covering his path with them.
In celebration of that event, on Palm Sunday you will see balconies throughout Andalucía adorned with palm branches. These may also be replaced with Olive branches, particularly in those places not having so many palms.
Seville is known to be the best place in Spain to see Holy Week in all its splendour and Palm Sunday is always anticipated with much impatience and enthusiasm.
The Sevillanos fill the streets from early in the morning to visit the churches where elaborate floats with Christ or the Virgin Mary (pasos) are ready to be carried around town in processions. The amazing artisan work done on every paso (carpentry, embroidery and sculpture among other) involve the most skilled people in town and help to keep alive these ancient skills.
A “church crawl” around Seville becomes an absolute delight for architecture lovers too, because the variety of styles Seville features in its religious constructions is unbelievable. Baroque, Neoclassical, Gothic and Mudejar churches can be found within walking distance from each other.
This explosion of beauty is not only visual. Easter in Seville is popular for the delicious smell of orange blossom and incense. Besides, it is fairly common that some people, moved by the beauty of the pasos and their devotion to Jesus and the Virgin, start singing prayers out loud with such passion that everybody keeps quiet and listens, allowing themselves to be absorbed in the moment.
Before leaving every church, people are given or buy a small souvenir (a sticker, a stamp of the Virgin or a pin usually). Children love to collect these and keep them as treasures.
The Sevillanos like to dress smart for this occasion which involves a great deal of socializing. So men put on their suits and ties, women turn out on their Sunday best, and even kids and teenagers are seen dressed as their progenitors.
Socializing starts first in the churches themselves where people comment on the beauty of the pasos. By noon, people tend to move towards the tapas bars which experience the busiest days of the year during this time. People of all ages gather for lunch and drinks turning the city into a great social event.
In the afternoon the processions start making their way around the city and people look for the best spots the see them. The Sevillanos know the itinerary of the different processions and they very carefully plan their route so not to miss any of their favourites.
By sunset, some people come back to the bars for drinks and later for tapas while the most devoted follow the processions until they come back to the churches after midnight.
Seville is a magical place to visit at any time of year, so as well as featuring heavily in some of our Andalucian circuit tours we also run a very special day tour to include some of our own insider secrets of Seville.