Semana Santa in Seville, Spain

The trumpet music, the smell of incense fills the air, and the march of the brotherhoods through the city streets. It’s Semana Santa (Holy Week) in Seville, Spain.

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During Semana Santa (Holy Week) more than seventy church brotherhood Nazarenos will dress in their penitential robes complete with pointy capirotes and march through the streets of Seville Spain. Their ceremonial wardrobe is designed to hide their identities as worshippers seeking atonement for their sins.

Although this outfits might remind my American friends of the Ku Klux Klan, I assure you that it has nothing to do with that racist group. It actually represents something positive and dates back centuries before.

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Many will watch the procession of Semana Santa from their windows and balconies above, successfully avoiding the packed streets below which play host to thousands of well dressed, faithful observers. All are hoping to catch a glimpse of the large and religious statues that will soon pass by.

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Seville’s señoras in their formal black attire don artfully fixed lace mantillas atop their heads to walk in the religious processionals. These dramatic headpieces are worn by believers of the faith and symbolize the veiling of the physical in order to illuminate the beauty of God.

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The smell of incense fills the air and a brass band plays a sharp tune to announce the start. All that can be heard is a slight shuffling of feet from dozens of Costaleros ("Sack men")  who carry the weight of cumbersome religious statues, or paseos, which depict scenes of the crucifixion or the likeness of the Virgin Mary.

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Semana Santa in Seville Spain is an experience not easily forgotten by foreigners and visitors alike. Yes, the streets are crowded and the hotel prices spike but the whole city becomes alive. And no matter ones personal beliefs a kind of religious encounter can happen if you let it.