Holy Week in Extremadura

Spain is completely transformed during Semana Santa (Holy Week, or the week of Easter), with celebrations and processions that are filled with intensity and emotion. Day and night, the streets are filled with an eerily somber beating of the drums, masses of colorful flowers, centuries-old religious sculptures, and a highly moving atmosphere. The top destination for Holy Week – without question – is Andalusia. But for those who want a full Holy Week experience from a road less travelled (and less crowded), Extremadura may be an ideal alternative.

This province in Western Spain has a rich offer of Holy Week spectacles and processions. For example, the towns of Plasencia, Trujillo and Jerez de los Caballeros boast some of the most important religious imagery in Spain. Other remarkable events include the Living Passion of Oliva de la Frontera, in which the village inhabitants participate in a grand reenactment; and Los Empalaos de Valverde de la Vera, which is a religious ritual that has been carried out since the 16th century. Here are a few other highlights that are deserving of an extra-special mention.

Cáceres: somber beauty in a spectacular city

The Cáceres Holy Week mainly takes place in the historic center of the city, which itself is a World Heritage Site. The medieval aesthetic gives this Holy Week a special charm that, along with elaborate somber processions and the valuable statues on display, make this one of the most unique Holy Week celebrations in the world. The high point is Holy Wednesday night, when the statue of Black Christ on the crucifix is taken out of the church to traverse the city streets. The crucifix is from the 14th century, and this procession is – miraculously – conducted in absolute silence.

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Mérida: Holy Week amidst the Roman ruins

Holy Week in Mérida sees about 30 statues taken out in procession around the city, the majority being master works crafted centuries ago by sculptors of great renown. The celebrations are even more remarkable for their unique setting – processions and other rituals take place among the ancient Roman ruins of the city, including the Roman Amphitheatre, the Temple of Diana, Trajan’s Arch, and the Roman bridge.

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Badajoz: unrivalled artistic heritage

The Badajoz Holy Week celebrations date back to the 16th century, when the city collected a vast array of religious artworks that today are of great historic and artistic value. During Holy Week, many of these works – namely the statues – are brought out for the procession near the Cathedral, giving onlookers a chance to marvel and the artwork and the centuries-old tradition. The moment the people of Badajoz most look forward to is when the patroness of Badajoz is taken out from her shrine and carried in procession around the Plaza de la Soledad.

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Your Holy Week tour in Extremadura

These are just a few of the highlights from Holy Week in Extremadura – we can help you choose a perfectly customized itinerary for your group. We’ll also make sure you get the most of your time in Extremadura, a region with much to offer in cuisine, culture, natural beauty, and more. Get in touch today to start planning!

 

© Photos from Extremadura Turismo

Katharina Giesler

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