Easter in Salamanca: One night during Holy Week

For all of the Spanish speaking countries of the world Semana Santa is a serious business, but in the UNESCO World Heritage city of Salamanca it is the most important date in the religious calendar. Penitents, or cofrades, take part in a week of processions, carrying centuries-old sculptures of Christ and the Virgin Mary from each of the different fraternities into the Plaza Mayor. The parades are either accompanied by bands of musicians or are solemnly silent, and can last for up to seven hours. Despite the unsettling nature of some of the scenes, not least the barefoot, hooded penitents who bear the weight of heavy crosses and chains, women and children also emerge smiling from underneath these robes. As the Pasos make their slow entrance into ancient doorways, a huge round of cheers and applause usually ensues, and the tension ends as followers enter the cathedral to begin one of many services that take place in the lead up to Easter Sunday.

A FRATERNITY AND THEIR FLAG

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CROWNS OF THORNS AND CROSSES

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THE WEIGHT OF THE CROSS

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BAREFOOT AND CHAINED

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FOLLOWERS OF THE PASO

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LEADING THE PASO

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PENITENTS ARRIVE IN THE PLAZA MAYOR

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BEARING THE WEIGHT OF A PASO

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IMPOSING HOODED PENITENTS

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THE PASSION OF CHRIST

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HOODED PENITENTS

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YOUNGER PENITENTS CELEBRATE

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