Carolina: Cruising Past 70: Our Lifestyle Adventures: Stumbling Upon Malaga's Lenten Procession

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Our Lifestyle Adventures: Stumbling Upon Malaga's Lenten Procession

the Malaga Lenten Procession
We did not intend to, but we were there when they were happening! It was Holy Week on March 29 to April 4, 2015, and we arrived at the Malaga International Airport on March 28! Spain is noted for its daily penance processions during Passion Week, starting on Palm Sunday all the way to Easter Sunday. And the day trip to Malaga, site of one of most famous of the rituals in the countryside, was just a bus ride away from our Costa del Sol base in Benalmadena.
my granddaughters among the flowers along Alameda in Malaga
rows of chairs waiting for the faithful
So we made the pilgrimage to the “capital city” in Costa del Sol, population, 566,913. We walked from the Malaga Bus Terminal to the tree-lined Alameda, the main thoroughfare where there are also many flowering plants. Then just a mile from the Plaza de la Constitucion, we stumbled upon all the preparations: five rows of chairs arranged along both sides of the street, many food kiosks waiting for the crowds, and permanent shops all open, expecting the large congregation that afternoon.

the Malaga men in purple roves and pointed hats
the Malaga women in black dressesand veils
The Malaga processions have, for 500 years, evolved differently from the other city processions. They are festive with lots of noise and cheer, the crowd applauding their favorite “trono”.  These are the elaborate thrones and floats, some weighing as much as 5,000 kilos, carried by more than 250 of members of the Nuestra Senora de la Esperanza. Male penitents were dressed in long purple robes, often with pointed hats, while female penitents in black followed, carrying candles.

the Malaga Cathedral
We were so lucky because we perched ourselves at a table of in one of the Spanish tapa bars in the Old Historic District. We didn’t know it when we chose the place, but we were right on the procession’s route. We got front row pictures! It was also close to the Malaga Cathedral, a Renaissance church constructed from 1528 to 1782, which was one of the stops for the ritual. But we had finished our picture-taking there, including the bright yellow Malaga Palacio beside it before the procession started.
the yellow Malaga Palacio
churros con chocolate
When the end of the procession left, we started our walk through the District. We stopped at a little bakeshop where there were different ensaymadas, very different from how I knew them back in the Philippines. We feasted on tasty churros and hot, thick Spanish chocolate instead. Nearby were stores for colorful souvenir items and uniquely Spanish scarves that I thought would be appreciated by my BFFs. Vendors spread their artsy wares out over bright-colored tablecloths laid out on the sidewalks.
sidewalk vendors

Museo Picasso Malaga
We chanced upon a sculpture of Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), a favorite son of Malaga, who co-founded the Cubist movement and invented constructed sculpture, in front of the Institute de Picasso. Right in the middle of the district was the Museo de Picasso but we did not have the time to look inside. At another plaza few steps beyond the Historic District, the Plaza de la Merced features his birthplace, the Casa Natal Picasso. At the center of the same Plaza stands a towering obelisk in honor of General Torrijos, a hero of the Spanish War of Independence in 1814 and the restoration of the Constitution in 1817.

Plaza de la Merced
Then we walked towards the direction of Alcazaba, the famous Moorish fortification built by the Hammudid dynasty in the early 11th century, But we could only go as far as the Romano Teatro beside the fortress. Encased in glass, the underground remnants were visible from above the plaza floor. But everywhere we turned, the long procession was making its way along the roads. We satisfied ourselves with just pictures of us with Alcazaba as the backdrop from this little plaza we found.

It was beginning to be late in the afternoon and could no longer find a clear way back to the Malaga Bus Terminal. The processions had drawn mammoth crowds who had filled all the streets between us and the Terminal. Fortunately, we were able to find a taxi whose driver was willing to take us back to Benalmadena for 500 pesos! So much for cheap bus rides! Passion Week processions are definite crowd magnets in Catholic Spain. We were lucky to have witnessed this famous Spanish ritual of the Holy Week on one of our day trips.
the Alcazaba at the background

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