Travel Writer Mia Lapwood reflects on her experience of La Semana Santa, suggesting it is a must to immerse yourself in Seville’s mesmerising annual religious procession

Images by Mia Lapwood

I was lucky enough to visit Seville for the second half of La Semana Santa, Spain’s holy Easter week, when processions ventured through the streets of the city. Thankfully, all sites were open during La Semana Santa so we were still able to see everything that we wanted to. Unfortunately, during my 4 day trip it rained heavily every day, causing lots of processions to be cancelled. Despite the heavy rainfall (which caused some processions to be cancelled), I had the best time in Seville; I loved it so much I’m going back in the summer for my birthday! The city is beautiful, with colourful houses lining all the streets and beautiful churches and palaces hiding around every corner. Not to mention the delicious tapas and cheap alcohol on offer.

Day One

Once we had landed, we headed straight to our Airbnb located in San Gil, a residential area in the old town with countless bars and restaurants, and beautiful architecture. It was the perfect location as it was only a 20–30-minute walk to the main attractions and close to Europe’s first ever urban garden ‘Almeda De Hercules’ which is now a popular nightlife destination. After settling in, we decided to head to Las Setas, in the city centre, which is a wooden structure that has wonderful 360° views of Seville. On the way we noticed lots of smartly dressed people gathered around bars close to a church and we realised there must be a procession happening soon. I asked a local if they knew what time it was starting, and we decided to wait the two hours to see our first procession! During the wait we were eavesdropping on a Spanish family teaching their son about the procession who went on to explain aspects of the procession to us. It was lovely to be able to practice my Spanish and everyone around us was lovely and thankfully spoke a bit slower when explaining to us! Unfortunately, after queuing for 2 hours, the procession was called off due to the rain. As we were leaving the area, we walked around the back of the church where we saw all the ‘Nazarenos’ lined up, covered by dresses and hoods with only their eyes on display. The style of dress originated from a desire to repent sins without revealing your identity. I was really happy that we were able to at least see the Nazarenos lining up, giving us a glimpse of what was to come. We continued walking to Las Setas, however when we arrived it was still raining so we decided to save going up the structure for another day. Instead, we went into some local tapas bars and enjoyed tapas and cheap drinks before heading back to the Airbnb.

I was really happy that we were able to at least see the Nazarenos lining up, giving us a glimpse of what was to come

Day Two

Despite waking up the next morning to pouring rain, we walked to Plaza de España, one of the most incredible spaces I have ever seen. I was enthralled by it the entire time I was there and have decided that I want to get married there! It is an incredibly beautiful space with 4 bridges over the moat connecting the buildings together. The buildings are in a huge semi-circle with a large fountain in the centre. If you are in Seville this is my top recommendation! 

On our way back we headed into a small tapas bar – ‘La Despensa Del Arenal’ – before heading to another restaurant whilst we waited for another procession which was subsequently cancelled, again due to the weather. We stopped off at multiple bars on the way home to avoid the rain and tried the famous ‘Orange Wine’ which is sweet aperitif that is a speciality in Andalusia. I personally prefer dry wine, however I did enjoy it and when I’m next in Seville I will be ordering another glass! 

Day Three

On our third day, we walked to Real Alcazár de Sevilla, a historic royal palace with beautiful gardens. However, when we arrived, we discovered tickets had sold out. I would recommend booking this before you arrive in Seville as it is extremely popular. The royal palace is located in Santa Cruz which is the Jewish and Artistic quarter in Seville. Santa Cruz was full of ceramic shops and of course multiple tapas bars as well as the famous orange trees. We bought tickets to Casa de Pilatos, which were only €10 and definitely worth it! It is a beautiful palace with gorgeous gardens, tiles and stunning Roman and Greek Statues. The gardens here were one of my favourite sites in Seville. After this, we left the palace and went for a walk where we stumbled across people waiting for a procession. We decided to give it a shot and waited for the procession with our fingers and toes crossed! Thankfully the sun stayed out and the procession took place. The procession is one of the best experiences I have ever had. The procession was a stunning site and we found it extremely emotional, even though neither of us are religious. The procession lasted over an hour with hundreds of Nazarenos walking past us, followed by a band and then 2 ‘pasos’ (floats with religious sculptures) which are extremely heavy and held up by members of the brotherhood, ending with more Nazarenos carrying huge holy crosses. The floats were ginormous and genuinely stunning. Even if you aren’t religious, I would highly recommend attending La Semana Santa. 

The procession was a stunning site and we found it extremely emotional, even though neither of us are religious

Later, we headed for some tapas before going to a flamenco show. The dancers and singers had my attention the entire show as they transported me through a whole range of emotions. Whilst I thoroughly enjoyed the performance, I felt that it was targeted towards tourists as there were no locals in the audience. After the show we had some tapas at Perro Viejo which was a lovely restaurant with delicious food. It was more expensive than the other restaurants that we had been to but still much cheaper than UK prices and 100% worth it. Whilst we were there, we realised a night procession was happening right outside, so we ran to the door to watch. It was an extremely narrow street, so spectators were squished right up against the walls as they watched the procession. Illuminated by candlelight, the procession followed the same structure as the other one we watched. I felt that the night procession was more moving and emotional so I would recommend seeing both processions. 

Day Four

On our last day, we bought tickets to go to the Palacio de Las Dueñas, only €10 per ticket and 100% worth it! It is a renaissance-style palace with Gothic and Moorish influences. You can go inside the palace and see inside different rooms as well as being able to walk around the different patios and gardens. There is a souvenir shop at the end where I bought a handmade replica of a tile I had seen inside the palace. After Las Dueñas, we headed towards Las Setas where we stopped for lunch and drinks in the square. Whilst Las Setas is a cool structure, the square surrounding it was disappointing as it had some ugly buildings which didn’t fit with the rest of Seville’s architecture. We bought tickets to go up (€15) and were told to wait inside a cinema room. Before letting you walk around the structure, they show you a video of Seville, which in my opinion was a waste of time as we just wanted to go out and see it for ourselves. Las Setas does offer amazing 360°  views of Seville. However, walking around the structure doesn’t take long, even when you stop for photos and take your time to enjoy the views. Despite this, it was a nice way to end our trip as we got to look at everything we had been to visit. 

Seville is one of the best cities I have been to, and I am especially grateful that I got to visit during La Semana Santa. My top recommendations are Plaza de España and both Casa de Pilatos and Palacio de Las Dueñas. Seville truly is an amazing city to visit, and particularly special during La Semana Santa.  

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