Holy Week or Semana Santa as its called in Spain attracts hordes of visitors and locals alike. The main ‘holiday’ days are jueves santo and viernes santo – Easter Thursday and Easter Friday, unlike in the UK where the main ‘religious days’ are Good Friday and Easter Monday.
Probably Sevilla is the most well-known city for processions, then Malaga but Granada too has much to offer. In fact almost every church and chapel throughout Andalusia has a procession throughout the local streets.
Semana Santa in Granada was declared of International Tourist Interest in 2009. The processions are enormous floats depicting the Virgen Mary or Jesus Christ or sometimes both are incredibly ornate, valuable and extremely heavy. These ‘floats’ are carried through the streets, many with staging and seating along them. Some seats can be booked well in advance, there are others on Calle Alhóndiga where you can take a seat and pay the ticket collector.
Usually each church has its own procession and starts and finishes from the same church. That is why there are so many different processions, one church, one procession. If you’re not sure where to go find a church, you’ll soon know if there is going to be a procession or not by the activity going on. They are always in the afternoon, except on Easter Sunday when they are in the morning.
There is lots of activity before Holy Week so if you see a church open go in and see the incredible floats up close.
Where are the Holy Week Processions in Granada
As you can imagine with so many churches having their procession in the same week it is all arranged with military planning. Each one must keep to their given time and route. In Granada they promenade through Calle Angel Ganivet, Puerta Real de España, Recogidas, Alhondiga, Jaudenes, Marques de Gerona, Plaza de las Pasiegas and Holy Cathedral Church, leaving from the Gate of El Perdon.
As you can imagine this creates absolute bedlam in the city both walking the streets and for traffic. The crowds are controlled by the police and gates are used to allow access between processions. It can take a while just to cross a street!
The Best Holy Week Processions in Granada
My Spanish friend a local to Granada tells me the most spectacular sites are those on Thursday and Friday because they process through the Albaicin and Carrera del Darro the most emblamatic and beautiful parts of old Granada.
If you have to make a choice the Aurora and el Cristo de los Gitanos are some of the best and the real star is el Silencio y Santa Maria de la Alhambra on Easter Saturday which leaves from the church of the Alhambra.
Where to Stay in Granada (not the city) for Holy Week
Having stayed in the city centre once and only for two nights, I would not do it again. I found it frustrating, noisy and far too busy.
My advice? Stay outside the city, especially on the Thursday and Friday, the busiest days. The city centre gets booked up well in advance for this week. As parking is always bad in Granada, just imagine what it is like this particular week. Buses have to use alternative routes, taxis too. One idea could be parking at the airport and taking the bus from there. Personally, I park on the north side of the city and take a tram or a bus in.
Two suggestions of lovely places to stay around twenty minutes from the city itself, and which feature in my Only Spain Boutique Hotel portfolio are:
If you want to stay in the city then the little, central Hotel Boutique Gar Anat is a great choice or a bit further away from the main streets the lovely, little La Posada de Quijada is an uphill, back street delight.