Scenes from Semana Santa Antigua

I specifically timed my stay in Antigua to coincide with Semana Santa, the holy week directly preceding Easter.  The country as a whole celebrates the season with religious services, grand processions, and colorful street decorations, which culminate on Good Friday.

When the streets were still "empty"
When the streets were still “empty”

Similar to how local residents are currently putting the finishing touches on their alfombras, or “carpets” made from materials like sawdust, flowers, and fruits, I’m putting the finishing touches on a blog post detailing the week’s events (edit: read about my experience participating in Semana Santa; opens in new window).  In the meantime, here’s a sampling of the beautiful moments I’ve experienced this week in Antigua, Guatemala.

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Palm Sunday at La Merced Church
Palm Sunday at La Merced Church
A beautiful day for a procession
A beautiful day for a procession
Amazed by the size of their floats
Amazed by the size of their floats
One of the beautiful alfombras, most of which are made from dyed sawdust
One of the beautiful alfombras, most of which are made from dyed sawdust
No matter how many alfombras I saw, the details always astonished me.
No matter how many alfombras I saw, the details always astonished me.
Fresh grasses, herbs, and flowers were also frequently used to decorated the streets.
Fresh grasses, herbs, and flowers were also frequently used to decorated the streets.
The floral alfombras were actually my favorite since they smelled so good!
The floral alfombras were actually my favorite since they smelled so good!
Other times, alfombras were made from whatever was available.
Other times, alfombras were made from whatever was available.
Good Friday is known for having the biggest, most intricately designed alfombras.
Good Friday is known for having the biggest, most intricately designed alfombras.
Hard at work, always putting finishing touches on at the last minute.
Hard at work, always putting finishing touches on at the last minute.
In some cases, they work all night long to create these masterpieces.
In some cases, they work all night long to create these masterpieces.
For a sad day, the colors on Good Friday are still vibrant.
For a sad day, the colors on Good Friday are still vibrant.
Processions are led by members of the church.
Processions are led by members of the church.
Men, women, and children are encouraged to participate.
Men, women, and children are encouraged to participate.
These figures precede the main floats.
These figures precede the main floats.
The procession continues with the main float, depicting Jesus in different scenes and carried by up to 100 men.
The procession continues with the main float, depicting Jesus in different scenes and carried by up to 100 men.
A band accompanies the float, and walks over the now-trampled alfombra.
A band accompanies the float, and walks over the now-trampled alfombra.
A float for the Virgin Mary follows, carried by women, and also accompanied by a band.
A float for the Virgin Mary follows, carried by women, and also accompanied by a band.
destruction semana santa antigua guatemala
After all that hard work, the alfombras are simply destroyed by the procession.
Cleanup is efficient, occuring just minutes after the procession comes through.
Cleanup is efficient, occuring just minutes after the procession comes through.
Although the processions are highly attended, there are masses, vigils, and other services within the local churches.
Although the processions are highly attended, there are masses, vigils, and other services within the local churches.
On Friday afternoon, things take a more somber note.
On Friday afternoon, things take a more somber note.
jesus semana santa antigua
Even death is a beautiful thing in Antigua.

[youtube=http://youtu.be/xhPzYQk8yr4]

The streets are a pickpocket's dream and a tourist's nightmare.
The streets are a pickpocket’s dream and a tourist’s nightmare.
While there's an obvious religious theme, there's still an excuse to sell knick-knacks.
While there’s an obvious religious theme, there’s still an excuse to sell knick-knacks.
street food 2
…and eat delicious food.

virgin mary semana santa good friday antigua

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Looking for more inspiration?  You’ll find it — plus travel tips — in my complete guide to traveling in Guatemala!

Semana Santa (Antigua, Guatemala) is a festive week of the year immediately preceding Easter. Pictures & videos of the event, processions, and carpets. PHOTO INTENSIVE POST

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