Holy Week in Málaga

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Holy Week in Málaga
A procession in Holy Week
Official name Semana Santa en Málaga
Type Cultural, Religious, Historical
Significance Commemoration of the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus
Begins Palm Sunday
Ends Easter Sunday
2018 date March 25 - April 1
2019 date April 14 - April 21
2020 date April 5 - April 12
Frequency Annual

Holy Week in Malaga (in Spanish Semana Santa en Málaga), is the annual commemoration of the Passion of Jesus Christ that takes place during the last week of Lent, the week immediately before Easter. It is one of the main cultural events, religious and tourist attraction of Málaga.

During Holy Week, 42 brotherhoods (cofradía) make 45 processions through the streets of Málaga showing realistic wooden sculptures narrating scenes of the events of the Passion of Christ, or images of the Virgin Mary showing sorrow.

Holy Week in Málaga was declared in 1965 Fiesta of International Tourist Interest of Spain.[1]


Nazarenes of the section of the Virgin of the Brotherhood of the Holy Transfer


A characteristic common with the rest of the Holy Week in Spain is usage of the nazareno or penitential robe for some of the participants in the processions. This garment consists in a tunic, capirote (a hood with conical tip) used to conceal the face of the wearer, and sometimes a cloak. The fabrics normally used in these garments are velvet, damask, satin or twill. The Nazarenos of some brotherhoods also can wear gloves, scapulars, stoles and the tunic fastened with cincture or belts of espartos. The exact colors and forms of these robes depend on the particular brotherhood, in Malaga normally the colors of the Nazarenos of the section of the Christ and the Virgin are different. Usually the nazarenos carry candles and they go before the thrones.

A banner embroidered with the shield of the brotherhood from Vineyards


The majority of the brotherhoods carry a significant number of insignia in the procession that are carried by nazarenos:

  • Cross guide (the so-called Cruz de Guía - Guiding Cross) is carried at the beginning of each procession and is responsible for guiding it.
  • Banner (the so-called Guión) is an emblem of the cofradía in the form of folded flag, that carries in the center embroidered in thread of gold and silk, the shield of the brotherhood.
  • Senatus is the name with which it is known to an emblem that serves to recall the time of the Roman Empire in which the Passion of Jesus Christ passes. It bears the letters SPQR, which is an acronym for the Latin expression Senatus Populus Que Romanus (Senate and people of Rome).
  • Book of Rules (in Spanish Libro de Reglas) is a book that contains the norms and rules of the Brotherhood.
A standard embroidered with a painting of the Virgin of Grace
  • Standard (the so-called Estandarte) is an insignia, sometimes embroidered in gold thread and luxuriously decorated, with a painting of the Christ or Virgin of each brotherhood.


Some processions are accompanied by women who wear mantillas. It is formed by a black dress, a sign of mourning and pains, is accompanied by a mantilla, lace or silk veil or shawl worn over the head and back. The peineta, similar in appearance to a large comb, is used to hold up the mantilla.[2]


Before the throne are placed a group of six or eight acolytes dressed in vestments, many of them wearing dalmatics; the ceroferarios who carries the ciriales or processional candlestick; and the thurifers who carries the thurible where incense is burned and it is dispersed.

Throne of the Virgin of Great Power, where the canopy is visible with the bambalinas, the candelería at the front and the arbotantes on the corners.


The thrones, in others places called pasos, are enormous platforms where are located the sculptures that depict different scenes from the gospels related to the Passion of Christ or the Sorrows of Virgin Mary. Each brotherhood usually exhibit two thrones, the first one would be a sculpted scene of the Passion, or image of Christ; and the second an image of the Virgin Mary, known as a dolorosa.

The structure of the thrones, known as cajillo, is richly carved in wood, silver, bronze or nickel silver and some gilt with gold leaf. In each of the corners of the cajillo is placed the arbotantes (candelabra) or lantern to illuminate the image or sculptural group that is located in the upper part of the cajillo.

A throne butler rings a bell after the bearers' rest

The thrones of Christ are adorned at the top with carpet of flowers such as carnations or iris, or a mountain of corks, while most of the Virgin's thrones are covered by an ornate canopy secured to the cajillo by 12 or 16 palio bars. From the front, back and sides of the canopy hang the bambalinas, velvet or mesh draperies embroidered in gold, plate and silk. In front of the image of the Virgin is placed the candelería, a set of candlesticks which are placed in a stepped layout.

Thrones are carried on the shoulders of men and women, called men of thrones or bearers, through long bars or beams called varales, which usually measure between 8 and 14 meters long. Each throne has 6 or 8 varales depending on the size of the throne. Depending on weight, some can weigh up to 5 tonnes,[3] a throne requires between 120 and 270 portadores (beares) to moved. Each person can carry between 20 and 40 kilograms of weight,[4][5] during the time of the procession, from 6 to 14 hours.

At the front of the throne’s varales there is a big bell. This is rung with a hammer by the Throne Butler (the chief of the Throne Men) to guide and stop to rest the bearers.[4]

Christ of the Souls of the Blind (c. 1649) attributed to Pedro de Zayas, Royal Merged Brotherhood


The sculptures are located at the top of the throne and are the central axis of each brotherhood, most of the sculptures are carved wood (or recently, polychrome), often life-size or somewhat smaller. Some of these carvings are great works of art with centuries of antiquity,[6] although unfortunately during the burning of churches and convents in the 1931 riots, a great number of these sculptures were destroyed, between them the great majority of works of Pedro de Mena.[6] After the Civil War, authors such as Mariano Benlliure, Francisco Palma Burgos, Castillo Lastrucci or José Navas Parejo began to make new sculptures to replace the destroyed works.

These sculptures are in their respective churches and chapels during the rest of the year where they receive worship.

Cape of the Virgin of the Solitude, Congregations of Mena

The images of Jesus are situated on the first throne, which represents a biblical passage of the Gospels: triumphal entry into Jerusalem, Jesus carrying the cross, Jesus crucified, descent from the Cross, etc. Depending on the scene depicted the carving of Jesus may appear alone or accompanied by other statues related to the biblical passage. Some images of Christ wear tunics, smooth or richly embroidered over much of its surface.[6]

In the second throne is located the Virgin of Sorrow, mostly alone but sometimes accompanied by sculpture St. John the Evangelist. The statue of the Virgin usually is of a mannequin, with only the hands and the head carved. The body and arms are covered with luxurious dresses embroidered with gold and silver thread as well as colored silks.[6] Around the head is placed a veil and usually carry a crown or halo. In the back is placed long capes embroidered in gold and silver thread and taking forms that are generally inspired by vegetable motifs, in Malaga these capes can reach up to 8 meters in length.[6]

Drums belonging to a band



Most of the thrones are accompanied by marching bands. Each procession usually has 3 bands, the first band, a drum and bugle band is located behind the lead cross. The second band walks behind the first float, this band is usually of bugles and drums, military band or concert band with woodwind instrument, brass instrument and percussion. Finally, the throne of the virgin is only accompanied by a concert band. Many of these bands are created by the brotherhoods themselves, a few being made up of personnel of the Armed Forces.

These bands play processional marches during processions, most of these marches have been created to accompany the movement of the thrones. It is a tradition that the Marcha Real is played at the departure and entrance of the images in the home churches or chapels of the confraternities and once it is played, everyone pays respect to the anthem (military, police and fire personnel out of formation salute when it is performed).


As throughout the Spanish world, and especially in Andalucia, during the processions saetas are sung to the sculptures. The saeta is a religious song, generally improvised and without accompaniment, which is usually sung from a balcony or on the street. It is a melody of free and full of lyricism. It recalls the style of cante jondo typical of the musical tradition of flamenco.

The Route[edit]

Brotherhood' house[edit]

This is the place from which the great majority of the corporations begin their processional route, because the dimensions of the thrones do not allow them to begin the procession at their associated churches.

It is also where they keep the heritage throughout the year, occupying many positions in their museum during the rest of the year.[7][8][9][10]

Official Route[edit]

Marqués de Larios Street, one of the streets that form the official route

In Holy Week, the official route is made up of those streets that share each and every one of the brotherhoods.[11]

Official route

During Holy Week, the brotherhoods of Málaga leave their temple or brotherhood' house, to go to the official route that begins in the Alameda Principal and follows the Larios roundabout, Marqués de Larios street, Constitution Square and Granada street.[5] This route has a distance of about 850 meters. After this route, the brotherhoods continue their own journey returning to their brotherhood or temples of origin, or enter the Cathedral to establish their penitence station.

The Association of Holy Brotherhoods of Malaga places on the official route around 16,000 chairs and several grandstands, among which stands out the Constitution Square.

The Rostrum of the Poor[edit]

At the end of Carretería Street from Málaga, at the confluence with the Santa Isabel Hall, there is a staircase which at Holy Week becomes a natural tribune to witness the processions of Malaga. Some brotherhoods are expected there with great enthusiasm and popular fervor. It is called this because it is free and in contrast to the Official Rostrum, located in Constitution Square where the authorities are sat.[12][13]

Of the 45 processions participating in Holy Week, 28 pass through this place.


Some brotherhoods make a penitential station inside the Cathedral of Malaga. There are 15 cofradías that enter the Cathedral. The remaining corporations do not station in the Cathedral due essentially to the large size of their thrones, which prevents them from trespassing the access gate to the temple.

Previous Days[edit]


Prior to Holy Week, especially the Friday of Sorrows and the Saturday of Passion, some brotherhoods make processions. These brotherhoods are usually historical confraternities of neighborhoods very far from the center, as the Brotherhood of the Sorrows from Puerto de la Torre or Brotherhood of the Sorrows from Churriana, or young brotherhoods that still do not belong to the Brotherhood' Association, so even they can not go through the official route.

Transfer of Christ of the Good Death by Legion, Holy Thursday morning


The transfers are small processions in which usually only one throne of reduced dimensions which carry the two sculptures of the brotherhood. They aim to move the statues of their temple to the Brotherhood' House. They usually take place the week before Holy Week, although some brotherhoods carry out during Holy Week.

Some of these transfers are well known and awaited with great expectation, such as that of Jesus Captive who visits the patients of the Civil Hospital or the Christ of the Good Death on the morning of Holy Thursday made by the Legion, they arrive by boat to the port of Málaga,[14] from there they move to the Church of Santo Domingo to transfer the Christ of the Good Death to his throne, which is in the brotherhood' house next to the church.[15][16]

The Days of Holy Week[edit]

During the days of Holy Week, 41 brotherhoods, belonging to the Brotherhoods Association, carry out 45 penitential processions through the streets of Malaga, the following list shows these cofradías by day and order of passage by the official route.

Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, Pollinica
Jesus of Solitude leaving the Cathedral
Virgin of the Great Pardon, Prendimiento

Palm Sunday[edit]

The first day of the Holy Week is also the day that more brotherhoods process, nine brotherhoods take the street from different neighborhoods of the city.[17][18]

Virgin of the Sorrows of the Bridge
Jesus, the Captive

Holy Monday[edit]

In Holy Monday, six brotherhoods procession through the streets of Malaga.[24][25]

Virgen of Rocío, known as the Bride of Malaga
Our Father Jesus of the Sentence

Holy Tuesday[edit]

Six other brotherhoods participate in this day in the processions parades through the streets of Malaga.[12][32]

Throne of Virgin of the Dove
Jesus The Rich
Virgin of Sorrows

Holy Wednesday[edit]

This day some of the oldest and most traditional brotherhoods participate in the processions.[33] 7 brotherhoods with 15 thrones in total take the streets of the city.

Virgin of Peace
Our Father Jesus of Mercy
Our Lady of Hope

Maundy Thursday[edit]

Holy Thursday is another day where some of the most popular and historic brotherhoods take part.[37] 8 brotherhoods participate this day.[38]

  • Brotherhood of the Holy Cross (Hermandad de la Santa Cruz). The first procession is the brotherhood of Santa Cruz, which begins at 15:00 from the Church of San Felipe Neri. It only has a throne, Our Lady of Sorrows in her Protection and Mercy.[16]
  • Brotherhood of the Holy Supper (Hermandad de la Sagrada Cena). The first throne represents the Last Supper of Jesus with his apostles, being one of the heaviest thrones of Christ of the Holy Week. In the second throne is located the Virgin of Peace.[16]
  • Brotherhood of Vineyards (Hermandad de Viñeros). This brotherhood was founded by viticulturist of Malaga in the year 1615. The sculptures correspond to Jesus of Nazareth of Vineyards, Jesus carrying the cross, and the Virgin of the Transfer and Solitude.[16]
  • Congregation of Mena (Congregación de Mena). It is one of the most popular brotherhoods, the Christ of Good Death is accompanied throughout the procession by the Spanish Legion while they sing El novio de la Muerte (The Bridegroom of Death).[14][15] The image the Virgin of Solitude is carried on a second throne.[16] It is one of the biggest and most covered of the processions, with full-blown media coverage given to the Legion and its veterans attending the rites.
  • Brotherhood of Mercy (Hermandad de la Misericordia). From the church of the Carmen In the neighborhood of El Perchel the Brotherhood of Our Father Jesus of the Mercy depicts,Jesus' fall with the cross, and Our Lady of Great Power. The Procession is accompanied by the Spanish Air Force.
  • Brotherhood of Zamarrilla (Hermandad de Zamarrilla). The Brotherhood of the Christ of Miracles, shows Jesus dying on the cross, and the Holy Mary of Amargura is known as Zamarilla[16] due to the legend of brigand Zamarilla who fled from the guards he hid under the cape of the Virgin getting to escape, as gratitude he placed to the Virgin a white rose which turned red. Since then, the Virgin's image carries a red rose on her chest and is known as the Virgin of Zamarrilla.[39][15]
  • Archconfraternity of Hope (Archicofradía de la Esperanza). This brotherhood, which dates back to the 16th century, is one of the most popular of Holy Week.[16] The Walking Nazarene image on the first throne, the work of Mariano Benlliure, shows Jesus carrying the cross and every year makes the blessing to the people of Malaga in the Constitution Square. The Virgin of Hope, also known as the Queen of Malaga, is a work of the 17th century attributed to Pedro de Mena is carried on one of the largest and heaviest thrones. During the procession a carpet of rosemary covers the streets where it goes.[40][15]
  • Christ of the True Cross (Cristo de la Vera Cruz). Belonging to the Royal Merged Brotherhood, the Christ of the True Cross is the oldest brotherhood of the city, dated in the 16th century. Its silent procession, the last of the night, is a unique feature of the festivities.[15]
Brotherhood of Descent
Holy Transport
Virgin of Solitude of Brotherhood of the Sepulchre

Good Friday[edit]

The cofradías that participate in this day usually are cofradías of serious and funeral court.[41]


Easter Sunday[edit]

The procession of the Resurrection of Jesus and the Virgin Queen of the Heaven is the last procession of Holy Week. This procession is organized by the Brotherhoods Association and in it all the brotherhoods attend.[43][44] The floats depict the meeting of Jesus and his Mother after He had been raised from the dead. Their presence signals the end of Holy Week celebrations in this city.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Padilla, Brenda. "Holy Week in Málaga". www.andalucia.com. Retrieved 22 March 2017. 
  2. ^ "Processions and saetas. Here are 10 things you should know about Holy Week in Andalucia". Retrieved 31 March 2017. 
  3. ^ "Culture, faith and art: the Holy Week in Malaga". blog.visitacostadelsol.com. Retrieved 27 March 2017. 
  4. ^ a b "Malaga: Holy Week (Semana Santa) in Malaga". www.tripadvisor.co.uk. Retrieved 23 March 2017. 
  5. ^ a b "The route of the processions during the Semana Santa (HolyWeek)". www.malagacar.com. Retrieved 25 March 2017. 
  6. ^ a b c d e "Art". Retrieved 2 April 2017. 
  7. ^ "Treasure-Museum of the Brotherhood of the Expiration". Retrieved 31 March 2017. 
  8. ^ "Museum of the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchre". Retrieved 31 March 2017. 
  9. ^ "Museum of the Brotherhood of Students". Retrieved 31 March 2017. 
  10. ^ "Museum Archconfraternity Step And Hope". Retrieved 31 March 2017. 
  11. ^ "Holy Week Processions in Malaga: A Must-See During Your Easter Holiday". www.sunsetbeachclub.com. Retrieved 27 March 2017. 
  12. ^ a b c "Holy Tuesday in Málaga". www.malagaturismo.com. Retrieved 24 March 2017. 
  13. ^ "Holy Week in Málaga. Basic guide to make sure you don't miss anything". blog.visitacostadelsol.com. Retrieved 28 March 2017. 
  14. ^ a b c d e f g Trillard, Amy. "Semana Santa in Málaga, Andalusia: the processions of Holy Week". www.spain-holiday.com. Retrieved 28 March 2017. 
  15. ^ a b c d e "Holy Thursday". Retrieved 30 March 2017. 
  16. ^ a b c d e f g "The Legion lands in Malaga. Maundy Thursday". www.lovingmalaga.es. Retrieved 30 March 2017. 
  17. ^ "Palm Sunday in Málaga". malagaturismo.com. Retrieved 22 March 2017. 
  18. ^ a b c "Palm Sunday in Málaga". www.lovingmalaga.es. Retrieved 27 March 2017. 
  19. ^ "Historia de la Real Cofradía de Pollinica" (in Spanish). Retrieved 27 March 2017. 
  20. ^ "Holy Week processions get off to a fine weather start". www.surinenglish.com. Retrieved 27 March 2017. 
  21. ^ Gordon, Sara. "Antonio Banderas given a star welcome as he returns to Spain to lead traditional Holy Week celebrations in Malaga". Retrieved 22 March 2017. 
  22. ^ Banderas, Antonio. "Málaga's Holy Week by a "Throne Butler"". www.antoniobanderas.me. Retrieved 22 March 2017. 
  23. ^ "Málaga Holy Week 2017: Palm Sunday". www.visitcostadelsol.com. Retrieved 27 March 2017. 
  24. ^ a b c "Holy Monday in Málaga". www.malagaturismo.com. Retrieved 23 March 2017. 
  25. ^ a b c d e "Holy Monday in Málaga". www.lovingmalaga.es. Retrieved 27 March 2017. 
  26. ^ "An unforgettable week, Semana Santa in Malaga". www.clublacostaworld.com. Retrieved 28 March 2017. 
  27. ^ "Nuestra Señora de los Dolores" (in Spanish). Retrieved 28 March 2017. 
  28. ^ "The German's Bridge". www.malagaturismo.com. Retrieved 28 March 2017. 
  29. ^ "Sotogrande, home to artists such as the sculptor Luis Ortega Bru". Retrieved 28 March 2017. 
  30. ^ a b "La semana santa malagueña no se ve, se contempla". Retrieved 28 March 2017. 
  31. ^ Ortega Nuñez, Lola. "It is Easter in Málaga, Spain". Retrieved 23 March 2017. 
  32. ^ a b c d e f g "Holy Tuesday in Malaga". www.lovingmalaga.es. Retrieved 28 March 2017. 
  33. ^ a b c d "Holy Wednesday". www.malagaturismo.com. Retrieved 29 March 2017. 
  34. ^ a b c d e "Holy Wednesday in Malaga". www.lovingmalaga.es. 
  35. ^ Martín, Montse. "Free, thanks to El Rico". www.surinenglish.com. Retrieved 28 March 2017. 
  36. ^ "Treasure-Museum of the Brotherhood of the Expiration". Retrieved 29 March 2017. 
  37. ^ "Holy Thursday in Malaga". www.semana-santa-malaga.com. Retrieved 30 March 2017. 
  38. ^ "Málaga Holy Week 2016: Maundy Thursday". Retrieved 30 March 2017. 
  39. ^ "Traditions and legends - Zamarilla the Bandit". www.caladelmoral1990.blogspot.com.es. Retrieved 30 March 2017. 
  40. ^ "Holy Thursday in Malaga". Retrieved 30 March 2017. 
  41. ^ a b c d "Good Friday". www.malagaturismo.com. Retrieved 31 March 2017. 
  42. ^ "www.caladelmoral1990.blogspot.com.es". Royal Brotherhood of Our Father Jesus Christ of the Holy Sepulchre and Our Lady of the Solitude. Retrieved 31 March 2017. 
  43. ^ "Easter Sunday". www.malagaturismo.com. Retrieved 31 March 2017. 
  44. ^ "Easter Sunday in Malaga". Retrieved 31 March 2017. 

External links[edit]