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Easter in Nerja 2023

Semana Santa or Holy week in English is a busy part of the year in most Spanish cities, towns and villages, Nerja being no exception to this. Although religion plays an increasingly small part in many Spaniards lives, Easter continues to be a very large public display of the religious roots of Spain with processions all over the country. Each procession has its own significance and mood and is the culmination of much work by the different brotherhoods that take such an integral role as part of each town’s celebrations.

In Nerja the ‘Brotherhood of Jesus of Nazareth’ and the ‘Infant Brotherhood of Our Father Jesus and Saint Mary of the unprotected’ are just two of the organizations that, along with others, take on important roles throughout one of the town’s biggest annual festivals, by staging processions of religious idols through the narrow streets. These events are steeped in hundreds of years of tradition and combined with the strong Christian symbolism in each ritual make for very atmospheric occasions. The combination of the crowds that line each parade route, the incense, music played by the municipal band and the pretty, narrow streets of Nerja make it a beautiful spectacle for any visitor to see whilst they’re here and offers a side to this pretty sea and sand town that you might not expect whilst lazing around on the beach.

Our top tip for Easter in Nerja

If you’re in Nerja over the Easter period a sight that you absolutely must see is the Easter Sunday procession passing through Calle Carretas. This is a street in the old town, away from the masses of tourists on the Balcon de Europa where the residents line the narrow street with red carpet and cover it with freshly picked herbs such as oregano and thyme for the procession to pass over.

Events Timetable 2023

Palm Sunday - 2nd April

  • 11:30 - Blessing of the Palms at the Chapel of Nuestra Señora de las Angustias followed by a Procession along the following route: Pza Ermita, C/ Angustias, C/ Pintada, C/ Puerta del Mar, Paseo Balcón de Europa and Church of El Salvador.
  • 12:00 - Mass at the Church of El Salvador, Balcón de Europa.
  • 20:00 - Mass at the Church of El Salvador, Balcón de Europa.

Easter Wednesday - 5th April

  • 19.30 - The procession of Jesús Cautivo & Holy Virgin Maria Santisima de los Desamparados. The route for this event is as follows: Church of El Salvador, C/ Puerta del Mar, C/ Pintada, C/ Angustias, Plaza de la Ermita, C/ Granada, Plaza Cavana Paseo Balcón de Europa.

Maundy Thursday - 6th April

  • 18:00 - Mass at the Church of El Salvador.
  • 20:30 - The procession of Jesus of Nazareth and the Holy Virgin of Hope The route is as follows: Church of El Salvador, C /Puerta del Mar, C/ Pintada, Plaza Cantarero, C/ Mendez Nuñez, C/ Bronce, C/ Angustias, Plaza de la Ermita, C/ Granada, Plaza Cavana, C/ Carmen and the Balcón de Europa.

Good Friday - 7th April

  • 18:00 - Mass at the Church of El Salvador.
  • 20:30 - The procession of the Burial of Christ and the Holy Virgin of Dolores (Virgin of Sorrows). This follows the same route as Maundy Thursday.

Easter Sunday - 9th April

  • 10:30 - Mass at the Church of El Salvador.
  • 12:00 - The procession of Christ Resurrected and Holy Mary. The route for this event is as follows: Balcón de Europa, C/ Puerta del Mar, C/Pintada, C/ Arropiero, C/ Huertos, C/ Frigiliana, C/ Carretas, C/Pintada C/ Angustias, Plaza Ermita, C/ Granada, C/ Carmen, Balcón de Europa.

More about Easter in Spain…

A little information goes a long way so we’ve put together a little rundown of terms and information that will hopefully add to the Easter experience and give you an idea of what you’re seeing when a procession goes past.

  • Floats : The floats are what make up the heart of every procession and in Spanish are called ‘Tronos’ which literally means ‘thrones’. Each event frequently has two floats, one for a statue of Christ and another for the Virgin Mary. Depending on the procession these centrepieces can be quite extravagant with fresh flowers and candles surrounding the idol. The ‘Tronos’ are quite heavy, indeed in the major cities they can weigh several tonnes meaning that they can only be carried short distances before a rest is needed for the bearers. You’re also likely to see onlookers throw flower petals over the floats as they pass, particularly during the Easter Sunday parades.
  • Costaleros : These are members of the organizing brotherhood who carry the ‘Tronos’ through the streets. They are grouped at the front and back of the floats as well as lining the sides. The lifting and lowering is coordinated via a series of bell rings and they generally wear robes that match the rest of the brotherhoods members. Sometimes, particularly during the Easter Sunday procession a blessing will be shouted out by a single Costalero to which the rest will respond by shouting ‘Viva, Viva, Viva!’.
  • Cofradias : These are the brotherhoods which form an integral part of the Easter celebrations. They own and maintain the statues and floats used over the festival period and organize the processions that take place. It is a considerable honour to be part of one of the local brotherhoods (there are several) with membership traditionally being passed down from one family member to another.
  • Brass bands : This part of the year is particularly busy for municipal brass bands that take part in many of the processions. Each float is accompanied by its own musical escort which opens the way for bands from neighbouring towns to take part. In Nerja’s celebrations organisations from Velez-Malaga are frequently included.
  • Nazarenos : These are the men, women and children dressed in robes that precede the floats often carrying a lantern or candle and sometimes going barefoot. They walk in pairs with overseers known as ‘Diputados de Tramo’ moving amongst them to keep everybody organized. The Nazarenos are often a little puzzling for visitors thanks to the pointed hat (Capirote) that they wear which is more widely associated with the Klu Klux Klan who adopted the outfit early on in the organisations history. The hoods are to hide the faces of the Nazarenos, demonstrating their shame at the crucifixion.
  • Saeta : At pre-planned points along the route of a procession Saeta’s take place, a song of the flamenco cante hondo (deep song) genre sung by an elder or particularly respected member of the village or city. In Nerja one of these will often take place on the Balcon de Europa and another mid-way along Calle Pintada. These are often particularly moving parts of the procession and well worth seeing.

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