Semana Santa in Spain is the name for Easter week. Unlike most of the fiestas in Spain, 'Semana Santa' is not focused on raucous celebrations, but rather, it's the time that people ask forgiveness for their sins, and do their penance. This page tells you in more detail, what to expect during the Semana Santa festival in Madrid.
Semana Santa Parades With A Difference
You'll see processions of sombre looking people trailing through the streets for hours over the Easter weekend. There will be groups of men bearing the weight of large stretcher-type constructions, that have effigies of the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ on top of them. These 'stretchers' are heavy, and the men carry them for hours, in a swaying motion, and in silence, with only the rhythm of a slowly banging drum. It is quite spine tingling to observe.
Following the Semana Santa parades will be groups of people dressed usually in black, or in pointed hoods. The hats are replicas of the hats given to the 'guilty' during the Spanish Inquisition. There's a famous painting of the Spanish Inquisition in the Prado museum.
Semana Santa In Madrid
The Semana Santa festival in Madrid is based on religious beliefs. There will be sombre parades, and the people will visit church. There is still plenty to see, but it's important to remember to respect the customs and beliefs of the people, and to watch in relative silence. This is a moving fiesta, whether you yourself are religious or not.