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Easter processions in Ibiza

Mournful, fascinating and full of tradition and fervour

Despite living in a more secular age, and on the Med's most famous disco island, religion is still alive and well in Ibiza. Living proof of this can be seen next week, Semana Santa – Easter or Holy Week – when the streets of Ibiza Town and Santa Eulalia fill with the devout and the curious as a series of religious processions takes place.

It's a time when the 'cofradias' of the island – brotherhoods entrusted by the church with the care of their religious statues – parade solemnly through the streets in an age old tradition that has remained virtually unchanged for centuries.

They're accompanied by marching bands, church officials, various different groups – women wearing the traditional black lace veil, the mantilla over a high comb, the peineta, and whole phalanxes of Roman Soldiers. Bearing the heavy weight of the statues on large floats, they march mimicking the gait of Christ in shackles on the way to the cross.

Each cofradia wears a unique uniform of different coloured robes and many have a tall cone shaped hood – a capirote – to hide the suffering on their faces and to signify their penance and a yearning to be closer to heaven. The music in minor keys, their shuffling gait and their almost sinister appearance almost transports one back to Spain's darker past.

You can witness these Holy Week processions starting on Friday in Santa Eulalia – just head for the centre of town and take your place along the streets with the crowds – on any of these days.

2nd April, 21:00 - Maundy Thursday

3rd April, 20:00 - Good Friday

5th April, 10:30 - Easter Sunday

In Ibiza town, where a new cofradia has just been inaugurated by the church authorities, bringing the number up to seven, the procession takes place on Good Friday evening, when the old cobbled streets of Dalt Vila around the cathedral are the perfect setting for such an ancient tradition.


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