Except for Good Friday, the week is full of happiness, noise, cheering and applause as giant ‘tronos’ (floats), some weighing in excess of 5,000 kilos, are carried through the streets by hundreds of bearers.
Military parades and marching bands sing and play their anthems along routes through the city centre streets, which are lined with thousands of spectators. All of this loud celebration does not imply a lack of reverence, just the particular way Semana Santa is celebrated in Málaga.
Declared to be of interest to International Tourism, today people from all over the world flock to the capital of the Costa del Sol for Holy Week to appreciate and witness these spectacular events.
Guests staying at Club La Costa World are able to witness these celebrations and can travel to the centre of Málaga easily on the Cercanias commuter train, which leaves every 20 minutes from Fuengirola (though be aware a lot of others will be doing the same)! For Holy Week the service is extended allowing people to stay in the city later into the night and the early hours of next day.
Below is a highlighted guide to some of the main events that will take place during Holy Week. The times are a guide only as with the crowds who congregate in the city sometimes things can run rather later than scheduled.
One tip: processions throughout the city pass through the Alameda Principal so when you buy a train ticket make sure you select Malaga-Centro Alameda as the destination. Enjoy!
Domingo de Ramos (Palm Sunday)
It’s the first day of the Spanish Holy Week! This is the moment that thousands of people have been preparing for and building up to over the past few months. Seven Easter societies stage their processions parading a dozen shoulder-borne floats beginning at 8am. Post breakfast the place to be is near the cathedral to see the departure of ‘La Pollinica’, at around 10am, from El Patio de los Naranjos, with children bearing palms. Approximately two hours later it will pass through the Alameda Principal.
After a tapas lunch in the old town, head for the Plaza de Capuchinos for the procession of El Señor de la Soledad at about 3pm, with a Jewish guard accompanying a statue acclaimed for its detail. Later at about 4.30pm, it is the turn of the El Señor de la Salutacíon from the church of San Felipe Neri, then at 6.30pm walk over to the Puente de la Aurora bridge to admire the icons of La Salud, crossing the River Guadalmedina for the start of their official route. By 8pm it is back to the cathedral to see La Humilidad on parade inside, followed by dinner, if you are staying on, at any of many restaurants in this area.
If you have the stamina to continue make for the Esperanza Bridge for 10pm for the El Huerto parade of magnificent tronos; and finally from Calle Dos Aceras shortly before midnight, El Prendimiento which will bring its trono to rest near the Conservatorio Superior de Música.
The ‘Domingo de Ramos’ is one of the most intense days in Malaga’s Holy Week and the typical sign of the day is the palms that the penitents carry in their hands.
Lunes Santo (Holy Monday)
Today the brotherhoods showcase again spectacular parades of flowers, colour and music. Events run throughout the day, and early hours of the next, so today is also a good chance to enjoy lunch and dinner in the restaurants of Málaga.
Highlights: The transfer of Jesús Cautivo and La Virgen de la Trinidad to their processional floats on the esplanade of the San Pablo church, from 8am. Also, visit the Church of Los Mártires for the Pasíon society floats and see the candles lit at 12noon.
From the steep slopes of Calle Carrión watch the tricky descent of La Crucifición at 4.15pm, followed by El Señor de la Columna and La Virgen de la O with music, prayers and dances of the gipsy people. From about 6pm, around the cathedral, the tronos of the Pasión scoiety are in Calle Santa María and nearby Los Estudiantes parade from Calle Cister to crowded Calle Carretería.
A must see for first-time visitors to the Holy Week parades is the procession of El Cautivo as it crosses the Puente de la Aurora bridge at 10pm and towards midnight, at the Plaza del Obispo, Los Estudiantes tronos converge overseen by the Bishop of Malaga.
Late night owls can follow Los Dolores del Puente at 1.30am passing through the historical locations of El Llano de Doña Trinidad and Calle Cerrojo.
Remember, the trains run back and forth all day and into the next!
Martes Santo (Holy Tuesday)
Each year, gardeners at the city’s park create a marvellous mantle of flowers for La Virgen de Las Penas, and this can be viewed at the church of San Julián in Calle Nosquera during the morning.
Evening events start at 5.15pm in the Victoria district, with the procession of El Rocío wending its way through the Jardín de los Monos and on to the Plaza de la Merced, a popular square with restaurants and bars. In the same area, El Rescate offers a colourful parade and gothic-style Virgin on its float, at around 7pm; back on the plaza an hour later, against a backdrop of Picasso’s birthplace, the procession of La Sentencia takes place.
We’ve just reached the half way point! Six societies will parade 13 tronos beginning with La Paloma brotherhood in Plaza de San Franciso, and Sangre nearby. Paratroopers take part in carrying the trono into the church of San Juan along Calle Carretería at noon.
Afternoon parades start at 4.30pm in Plaza de Capuchinos (Los Salesianos), the church of Santo Domingo is the focus from 6pm while at 7pm spectators need to cross Puente de los Alemanes bridge for Plaza de Félix Sáenz and the cortege of the Cofradías Fusionadas. An interesting ceremony takes place at Plaza de la Aduana, close to the Alcazaba, at 8.30pm: the freeing of a prisoner.
Perhaps even more spectacular to witness is the liberation of doves on the Alameda Principal at 9.30pm and the amazing tronos of the Paloma (Dove) society. Try and nab a seat here later for La Expiración, with tronos renowned for their artistic merit.
With a bit of luck you will hear the ‘saeta’, a traditional song of the Spanish Holy Week that people sing from their balconies while the ‘tronos’ are passing under them.
Jueves Santo (Maundy (Holy) Thursday)
This is the most popular day of Holy Week, so avoid if you are the least bit claustrophobic!
However, from the port at 11am witness the arrival of legionary troops. Soldiers will lift El Cristo de la Buena Muerte onto its trono at noon and carry it throughout the procession, singing songs of courage and loyalty along the way. For the evening, from 5.30pm Calle Carretería is the place to watch the ceremony of the key. Afterwards the Alameda Principal is taken over by the ‘walking cathedral’ tronos of La Sagrada Cena and La Virgen de la Paz, at 6.40pm. A sombre cortege progresses along Calle San Agustín to Plaza de la Merced reaching it at about 9pm.
Viernes Santo (Good Friday)
Today the Passion of Christ is celebrated and the vibrancy of the week gives way to sorrow, solemnity and silence. Some 14 tronos are paraded throughout the city by 8 brotherhoods. El Descendimiento starts at 5.30pm and an hour later, at the Plaza de Arriola, songs that date back several centuries are sung. Attention moves to the cathedral at 7pm, for the sombre ‘Via Crucis del Santísimo Cristo Mutilado’.
Highlights of the evening are: 9.30pm, La Virgen de la Piedad moves along the narrow Calle Ollerías; La Hermandad del Monte Calvario leaves from the cathedral at 11.30pm. At 1am, viewers cannot fail to be moved by the mood as Santo Sepulcro’s cortége makes its way along the popular shopping street of Calle Larios, accompanied by Chopin’s funeral march. All is in darkness as crowds follow La Virgen de Servitas along this same road and back to the church of San Felipe Neri at about 4am.
Sábado de Gloria
Saturday is a day of meditation and prayer in Spanish religious tradition, so no street processions take place.
Domingo de Resurrección (Easter Sunday)
All the brotherhoods join together as one for the last day of the Spanish Holy Week and parade through the streets.
It’s a good chance to see a different procession, plenty of colours, images of the Passion of Christ and music from the marching bands.
The parade passes through the Alameda Principal (12.00 am) and finishes at the church of San Julián at 2pm.
If you are staying here at Club La Costa World during Holy Week it is recommended to see at least one procession if you get the chance. Choose this day and you might like to sample the sweet Malaga wine, with some tasty tapas, before heading back to the beaches and pools for more traditional holiday activity.