The approach to Holy Week in Málaga is different to any other city. The unique features of its 45 processions provide a full range of experiences. Find out how to enjoy this week to the fullest, when the city transforms like at no other time of year.
At the heart of the celebration are the brotherhoods themselves, some of which have histories dating back more than five centuries. They take the statues from their stands and parade them on an official route through the historic centre. Some of them also go inside the Cathedral as part of the procession.
The most notable feature of Málaga's Holy Week is how they carry their platforms (called “tronos”, or thrones), with external rods that are held up by hundreds of men and women in a common effort. In addition, Nazarenes, musicians, altar boys and military corps make up an essential component of the street procession.
Palm Sunday sees nine processions go out, with the iconic Pollinica brotherhood parade in the morning, accompanied by Nazarene children. Following changes made in the 1980s, many of the brotherhoods now go out in the evening, including Dulce Nombre (Sweet Name), Humildad y Paciencia (Humility and Patience), Salutación (Salutation), Ecce Homo, Salud (Health) and Virgen de Lágrimas y Favores (Virgin of Tears and Favours) - which is one of the three processions organized by the Combined Brotherhoods throughout the week. Closing out the day are two classical brotherhoods: the Huerto (Garden) and the Prendimiento (Arrest).
Holy Monday is the day on which the main devotional icon - Jesus the Captive, from the La Trinidad neighbourhood - is processed along the streets. Also featured are the very popular brotherhoods of Gitanos (Gypsies) and Estudiantes (Students), as well as the Virgen de los Dolores del Puente (Virgin of the Pains of the Bridge), which provides a touch of solemnity, together with the brotherhoods of the Crucifixion and the Passion.
Holy Tuesday is the day when another iconic statue, the Virgen del Rocío, called ‘the Bride of Málaga’, is paraded. Alongside the classic brotherhoods of Estrella (Star), Rescate (Rescue) and Sentencia (Sentence), are the brotherhoods of Las Penas (The Sorrows), whose Virgin wears a cloak made of natural flowers, as well as the most recent one, Nueva Esperanza (New Hope), which is the first brotherhood to came from a neighbourhood outside the historical ones.
Starting on Holy Wednesday, more classical processions take over, including the Combined Brotherhoods - which take out four of their six sculptures -, the Dove, Jesus ‘The Rich Man’ - which portrays the release of a prisoner-, Sangre (Blood), and the particularly extravagant brotherhood of La Expiración (The Expiration). New brotherhoods have also been added, namely La Mediadora de la Salvación (The Mediatrix of Salvation) and the Salesians.
On Holy Thursday, the processions of classical brotherhoods continue with Esperanza - Dolorosa (Hope - Pain), marching atop the most emblematic sculpture, La Misericordia (Mercy), Zamarrilla, La Sagrada Cena (Sacred Supper), Viñeros and the Congregation of Mena, whose Christ is accompanied by The Legion. There is also the sober procession of Vera+Cruz, the last of the ones organised by the Combined Brotherhoods, and that of the Santa Cruz (Holy Cross).
On Good Friday, there are processions from almost all the historic neighbourhoods: La Victoria (Love and Mount Calvary), Malagueta (the Descent), Trinidad (the Solitude of St Paul) and Molinillo (the Pietà). The silent brotherhood of Dolores de San Juan (Sorrows of Saint John) and the iconic brotherhood of El Santo Sepulcro (Holy Sepulcher), the city's official brotherhood, set out from the historic centre. The day ends with Virgen de Servitas, which is paraded along the streets in the dark as its brothers pray.
After a Holy Saturday with no processions, Holy Week ends on Easter Sunday with the procession of the Risen Christ, organised by the Association of Brotherhoods on behalf of all the brotherhoods in Málaga.
Departures and arrivals; crossing the bridges; under the trees of the Alameda; along Larios Street; in the silence of the Cathedral; down narrow streets... Each brotherhood puts on a unique display in different parts of the city.
The smells also define Easter Week in Málaga, starting with the most typical: incense. But there is the smell of flowers used to adorn the sculptures: carnations, roses, tulips and hyacinths, and the flowers that fall from balconies as an offering to the images.
The fabrics of the robes - tergal, velvet, ruan cotton and satin - also smell. Other typical aromas include freshly extinguished candles and the sea air in the vicinity of La Alameda and the Cathedral. And then there is the odour of the wood of the newer sculptures, which are ungilded. And, of course, when Holy Week comes early, the scent of orange blossoms is added to the mix.
The best way to understand Holy Week in Málaga, along with the sights, is by listening and paying attention to the different sounds. Each brotherhood is accompanied by the type of music that befits its style, ranging from the splendour of symphonic bands to horns and drums or musical ensembles, the sobriety of ronco drums and the refined chapel music. And silence, which is also music.
Processional music is a highly developed art form in Málaga. In fact, the city has among the most active music bands in Spain, many belonging to and maintained by the brotherhoods themselves. Málaga was also the birthplace of a style of processional music involving horns and drums, first played by the band of the Royal Firefighter Corps, created in 1911, and whose sounds spread quickly thanks to very popular marches composed by Alberto Escámez and Pascual Zueco Ramos, such as ‘Cristo del Amor’ or ‘La Soledad de San Pablo’, respectively.
No discussion of band music is complete without Perfecto Artola, a composer from Levante who ended up in Málaga and decisively revitalised the processional music of the city with more than thirty marches dedicated to various Holy Week themes. His work revived the style, which is now fully consolidated with works from numerous composers.
Beyond marches, Holy Week has other sounds, such as the bell used to order the raising or lowering of the sculpture, or the bells carried by the Nazarenes to set the pace of the procession. Other sounds may be less perceptible but are equally indispensable to understand Holy Week: the creaking of the sculptures, the clicking of the canopies, the saetas - songs whose origin has been lost to the sands of time - or the songs that come out of the cloistered convents. Or the dry sound of a church gate as it opens or closes…
In short, Easter Week in Málaga is a week to be experienced at every corner, at every church, at every bend and at every crossroads. To feel through the flavour of the traditional foods associated with the festivities, such as cascarúos lemons, torrijas, the evening stews and cod.
This week is best felt on the street, immersed in the atmosphere alongside locals and visitors; waiting for brotherhoods in their neighbourhoods when they return at dawn. Thrilling to the vivas (hurrahs) and applauding the processions; staying silent when the music plays, or watching an austere brotherhood pass by. A Holy Week open to all and free of charge. You just have to blend in and let it carry you away.
In this section
History of Holy Week
Málaga's traditional Easter processions were first held when the Catholic Monarchs entered the city in 1487. The conversion of the city's...
Art of the brotherhood
Imagery The explosion in imagery in the early Baroque period generated an almost exclusive dependence on Granada, with Pedro de Mena at the head,...
We present the different brotherhoods according to the holy days: PALM SUNDAY - POLLINICA. Royal Brotherhood of Our Father Jesus at His Entry...
Music of the Brotherhoods
THE SAETA Sounds are an essential part of Holy Week in Málaga. There’s even room for flamenco through the saeta, a specific style of singing,...
Traditions and legends
As a complete feast, Holy Week is surrounded by legends that walk in parallel with the documented history. These are popular traditions that bring...
The Districts and their Brotherhoods
It is in its respective neighbourhood where a brotherhood is most authentic, since it is among its people, neighbours, brothers and devotees who go...
The Holy Week cuisine is among the most delicious and diverse in popular culture, and Malaga shares in Andalusian, Mediterranean and Spanish...