Monday, February 13, 2017

Planning a Trip to Seville during the Spring Festivities (PT. 1 of 2)

Spring is just around the corner and here in Spain, that means time to start thinking about the spring festivities, which includes Semana Santa and Feria. Now, it is argued that Seville takes the cake for these two festivities, which tends to attract many tourists from around the world. I've been asked a lot from travelers, "should I visit Seville during Semana Santa/Feria?" So, here's a some advice and information you should consider before booking a trip during the two most important Sevillano festivities.

Let's first start off with Semana Santa, also known as "holy week." Let me note that if you have no interest in going to Semana Santa and are booking a trip to Seville (or Andalusia in general) in April, be aware that holy week is an entire week so watch out for those dates. The ceremonies start the Sunday before Easter Sunday, also known as "Domingo de Ramos."

Everyday there is a schedule of when a "hermandad," or church brotherhood organization comes out, which starts off with a large cross, dressed in sacred memoriblia, narzarenos (no, it is nothing related to the hate organization we know as the KKK in the US), followed by the band, and finally the"star," el paso, which resembles some part of the Catholic bible. The hermandad comes out of their home church, parading down a certain route and eventually making its way to Plaza de la Campana, Calle Sierpes, and the Seville Cathedral (also known La Carrera Oficial, or The Official Path). The holiest day of Semana Santa is called La Madrugada, which is Thursday night before Easter all the way into the wee hours of Friday morning- this is when the two most well known pasos come out, La Macarena and Jesus El Gran Poder. If you're staying in Seville and want to see either of the two cofradías well, I strongly recommend getting there at least two hours before they come out of the church since they both attract the largest crowds.

The positive side of visiting during this time: It's a very unique experience for anyone that isn't from Spain or Andalusia for that matter. Even if you aren't a religious person, you can appreciate the centuries-old tradition that Seville so dearly holds and the cofradías are truly beautiful. A lot of locals get emotional when they see the paso, kissing it as it passes by.

The downside of visiting during this time: Sevilla during this week is honestly a pain to navigate- getting from point A to B on a normal day would take 10 minutes but in Semana Santa it could take up to an hour to get to if there is a cofradía passing through. If this is your first time visiting the city, you will find that a lot of places are closed during this time and iconic places like the Seville Cathedral will be impossible to see properly. The famous Calle Sierpes and Plaza de la Campana, two very touristy areas in Seville center, are closed off since it's a private area which certain members that have tickets have access to- therefore, tourists are not allowed into this area (unless you know a sevillano insider, of course).
Visiting Seville in Semana Santa/spring time? Here are some delicious seasonal bites you should try:
  • Torrijas: These are very similar to french toast but instead of covering it in maple syrup, they make it with honey or plain with sugar....yum! Can be found at any local panadería, or bakery.
  • Espinacas con garbanzos/Spinach with chickpeas: very moor-inspired dish consisting cooked spinach (sometimes put in the food processor) with chickpeas, accompanied with bread-very tasty and healthy!
  • Pestiños: fried honey-glazed pastries, again, can be found literally at any traditional bakery in Seville.
  • Garbanzos con bacalao/Chickpeas with cod fish stew: Yummy stew eaten in Andalusia during lent and especially delicious on chilly days! 

Have you visited Semana Santa in Seville as a tourist? What was your experience like?

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