Story and photos by Barbara Angelakis
additional photos Manos Angelakis

Andalucia Village and Olive Groves

Authentic Andalucía

Located in the southern part of the Iberian Peninsula with coasts fronting both the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, lies the second largest  autonomous region in Spain: Andalucía. It is best know for gifting to  the world Flamenco; Bullfighting; and its own adaptation of Moorish  architecture and arts that were developed through nearly 800 years of  occupation by invading North African Muslim tribes. Andalucía’s  gastronomy is internationally renowned for its distinctive wines; olives and olive oil; Iberico hams and cured pork products.

In the center of the polygonal area between the capital city of Seville to the west, Malaga to the south, Córdoba to the north and Granada to the  east, lies the very heart of Andalucía. Here are towns that cling to the hillsides and take fierce pride in their history and traditions. Thanks to the generosity of the Spanish Tourist Board and Junta De Andalucía  (Andalucía Tourist Board) we were invited to attend Easter Week in the  eight towns of Baena, Carmona, Osuna, Puente Genil, Priego de Córdoba,  Alcala la Real, Lucena and Cabra, to follow the “Caminos De Pasión”  trails and to experience the traditional foods eaten during Easter week.

Andalucia Women with Mandillas

Each of the towns on the circuit has its own individual style... subtle  differences, but important to the participants as a source of local  pride. The processions are organized by Brotherhoods of Men, Women, or a combination of both, with each establishing its own ritual. Many of the Brotherhoods have existed for hundreds of years but new ones continue  to form choosing to recreate different aspects of the Easter drama. Some of the Brotherhoods are affiliated with local churches and are  seriously religious in nature; others are more secular and seem to exist as social organizations for camaraderie and town esteem... all are  highly family oriented and full of good cheer. Each Brotherhood wears a  different color tunic and style of hat, some wear masks, most carry  candles. All the parades are joined by hooded penitents often wearing  black robes and sometimes even marching barefoot on the  sharp-pebble-covered streets of the old towns. The floats and statues  are bedecked with embroidery, jewels, precious antiquities and flowers... white for purity, purple for suffering.

Andalucia Baena Colinegri Drumming

We began our visit in Baena where the action starts before dawn and literally wakes the town with the  staccato beating of drums. Men march in small groups -- sometimes in  pairs of friends or father and son -- and dressed in historic garments with helmets topped by colorful feathers of the wearer’s choice. These  drummers are meant to represent the exuberant crowds of Jews that were  arriving in Jerusalem to celebrate Passover. Seemingly lost to history  is the explanation for the competition between the Coliblanco (white  tail) and Colinegro (black tail) attached to the back of the helmets.  Later in the day the various Brotherhoods take turns parading their  sacred statues through the tiny winding and often steep streets. This  tradition has remained unchanged from the Baroque period to modern  times.

Andalucia Carmona Paso through City Gate

Carmona has the distinction of having the oldest historic icon to be paraded in Andalucía   “Señor de la Armargura”€ created by Jorge Fernández Alemán in  1521. Two of the original four arched stone gates to the ancient walled  city are still standing and watching the massive floats being maneuvered through the narrow city gate as the sun was setting was a very  emotional moment. The crier was shouting step by step instructions to  the unseen handlers as the crowds held their breath until the sides and  top of the gate was cleared by mere inches. Once through, the music  blared as the crowd applauded and cheered.

Andalucia Osuna Carying the Paso

Osuna is geographically located halfway between Seville and Granada and their  celebrations are influenced by traditions from both cities. The floats - called pasos - carrying the religious icons and statues are held either in the style of Seville -- crossbeam method - or Granada -- taking the  enormous weight directly on the shoulders; a number are a combination of both. Some are even carried from underneath the platform.

Andalucia Grenada-style Paso Lifting

Whistles sound frequently or bells are rung, to allow the carriers to rest the  floats on the ground due to their enormous weight and resounded to once  again lift them in a synchronized fashion. Sometimes the music keeps the beat for the carriers as they progress down the pebbled covered narrow  streets shifting their weight from side to side as throngs of devoted  bystanders cheer them on.

Andalucia Biblical Figures adjusting crown

In Puente Genil traditional biblical figures dramatize passages from the Old and New Testaments.  The costumes have identifying names and are accessorized according to  who they are, so that each figure can be property acknowledged. Some of the costumes are centuries old and have been carefully maintained to pass on to the next generation. In Puente Genil the Easter Week celebrations are known as  “la Mananta”€ or “it feels inside— and Jesus of Nazareth is their Patron Saint adding another level of devotion to an already sacred procession.

It was very moving to see how each figure wearing the heavy costume and  mask was attended to by their brothers adjusting their clothes, setting  right the heavy wigs or guiding them through the crowds in a respectful  and tender, loving manner -- inspiring to see the care given as if to the actual historical figure.

Andalucia Priego de Cordoba

Priego de Cordoba’s Easter celebrations tend to be characterized by solemnity and religious  fervor. Penitents take center stage in the many different parades with  great attention being paid to acting out the drama based on strict biblical references. Religious rituals have been honed over the  centuries that culminate on Good Friday by townspeople following the  float carrying Jesus of Navareth up to Calvario hill for the blessing of the “hornazo”€ a hen-shaped pastry with a hard-boiled egg in the center.

Andalucia Women Carying Paso

Alcalá la Real is notable for its extremely steep hills that lead to La Mota Castle, an  imposing guardian over the town. The activity centers around the main  square and the broad boulevard that is decorated for Easter with flowers and banners. Here the festival fever is a combination of religious  devotion and good natured revelry. Notable were the brotherhood that we  saw that wore colorful costumes of red boots, white stockings, red  britches, green coats with red accents and helmets topped by flowers.  While women are now allowed to participate in the parades, here we saw  an entire “brotherhood”€ of women wearing lavender tunics, leading a  procession up towards the Castle... a rather daunting climb.

Andalucia Lucena Holding Candle

Lucena offered a festive air with almost everyone in the town - young, old, and all in between - carrying their own lit candle, making for friendly  confrontations and conversations. The streets were coated with candle  wax but many times we saw the wax from the dripping tapers gathered and, once cooled, handed to the children to collect along with the memories  of the special day. Lucena currently boasts sixteen brotherhoods,  several of which have existed for over four hundred years. Here the  pasos are carried to the beating of a drum which along with the  thousands of lit candles adds a special excitement. 

Andalucia Cabra

Cabra presented another view of the pageantry since we were there for the nighttime  festivities. Cabra’s Easter celebrations date from the late 15th century and represent many of the features we observed in the other  towns, such as the parade of the Jews and the Christians to the sound of drumming, with the trumpets known as abejorros joining in. Some of the pasos carrying the precious religious icons were created in the 17th and 18th centuries. The music was vibrant and rich adding a memorable element to the already emotional celebration.

Andalucia Marching Band

Music played an important role in the processions in all the towns we visited with the marching bands and drummers adding immeasurably to the strong  sentiments evoked. Most enjoyable was seeing the gathering together of  families of all ages contributing to the action or standing on the  sidelines cheering in support of their neighbors participating in the  activities.

For more information on La Semana Santa (Holy Week) please visit:

Caminos De Pasión

Junta De Andalucía

Tourist Office of Spain




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