Easter scenes throughout the year

Slow,sombre processions with a drum beat marking each footstep as hundreds of penitents dressed in long robes and pointed hoods parade impressive images of Christ and his followers mark Easter week in Spain.It is a time of high emotion, drama and amazing spectacles throughout the country and the Alicante province is no different.Many followers carry crosses to symbolise the Crucifixion while others shoulder massive sculptures featuring the Passion, the Last Supper, the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. 

The processions are funereal until Easter Sunday when they become more joyous with livelier music, a brighter atmosphere and sweets for the children. 

Easter Sunday is also a time for feasting after 40 days of penitence during Lent. Roast lamb is traditionally eaten on Easter Sunday or Monday while special Easter cakes are widely distributed, many of which are brightly coloured or contain chocolate eggs. If the weather is fine, a lunchtime paella filled with seafood, chicken or rabbit may be enjoyed. 

The best places to see the Easter processions in this region are Alicante city, Orihuela and Crevillent, although every town marks this important feast in the Catholic calendar.  

Easter in Alicante  

Historic Orihuela and its she-devil    

Orihuela has some of the finest and largest processions during the Easter weekend as the historic city centre streets create an impressive backdrop to the spectacle.The Easter parades in Orihuela date back to the middle of the 16th century with the creation of four brotherhoods whose duties were to bury those who died homeless and sentenced by the courts. To undertake these tasks, they begged for alms during a procession on Easter Friday. Over the next 200 years, more brotherhoods joined the procession along with local merchants. After the Civil War, they became even more important and more elaborate until it became a major tourist attraction with visitors coming from all over Europe. 

Processions are held daily throughout Easter week but the two most significant ones are the Silent parade on Easter Thursday and on Easter Saturday when the unique 17th century artwork by Nicolás de Bussy called La Diablesa - or she devil - is paraded through the streets.  

The grotesque She-Devil is paraded during the Triumph of the Cross but,unlike the other statues, she is not allowed to cross the threshold into church. The unique devilish figure has horns on its head, a winged body and breasts. 

Elche palm trees

Elche, city of palms and processions  

The most impressive procession is on Palm Sunday as the city’s palms are woven into elaborate symbols and carried by participants. However, on Good Friday and Easter Sunday, large parades are held around the Basilica and picturesque old city centre. The Holy Week festivities date back to the end of the 16th century. Today, there are 33 processions with 31 brotherhoods and 6,700 participants. As well as Palm Sunday, other grand events including the Good Friday general procession and the Easter Sunday procession when people throw pieces of coloured paper covered in Easter images, called Aleleuyas,  from the balconies as the procession passes.It has been estimated tha more than 1,000,000 Aleluyas are made for this parade.  

Alicante cathedral

Works of art in Alicante  

Thousands of people take part in Alicante city’s Holy Week processions.As in many other important Spanish cities, great works of art depicting Easter scenes are paraded throughout the streets and around the cathedral. Alicante is also proud to be home to works of art by the 17th century sculptor Nicolas De Bussy, which takes centre stage on the procession. One of the finest events is on Easter Sunday when Christ’s Resurrection is celebrated from the San Nicolas cathedral. Many of the city centre and beachside restaurants will be serving special Easter menus during the weekend.  

Creative traditions in Crevillente  

The famous carpet-making city of Crevillente is another fantastic place in the Alicante region to celebrate Holy Week. Its origins date back to the 17th century and is a time when tradition and religion combine. One of the most fascinating sights is the procession of magnificent larger-than-lifesize statues depicting Easter scenes are paraded through the historic streets. Some of the exquisite works of art are by the 18th century sculptor Francisco Salzillo from nearby Murcia and the late Valencian sculptor Mariano Benlliure,who is considered a grand master of 19th century realism. The dramatic splendour of the Holy Week festivities are another great reason to visit the Alicante province. However, if is not possible, you can still feel the splendour of the occasion throughout the year at special museums dedicated to Easter, which are open throughout the year.    

Palms at Easter

Orihuela Easter Museum

An old Gothic church is the perfect setting for the Holy Week museum filled with artefacts and magnificent statues over four floors. It is no wonder that the museum has been declared of International Touristic Interest as it has a marvellous diplay of sculptures, thrones,banners and candles depicting the Passion, Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ. Here you will find works by great artists such as Salzillo, Bussy,Balaguer, and Sanchez Lozano. The museum allows visitors to find out more about the history of these magnificent works of art.  

The museum is open on Tuesdays to Saturdays from 10am to 2pm and 4pm to 7pm, also on Sundays from 10am to 2pm.

Crevillente Easter Museum

Many of the amazing artefacts on show during the Holy Week parades can be seen at this modern new museum near the Our Lady of Belen parish church.Over four floors, there are 20 of the 30 statues used in the parade. This is a great chance to get a close look at these fabulous works of arts – the expressions of many of the characters‘ faces are exquisite, depicting pain,sadness and then joy at the Resurrection. The works of sculptors such as Mariano Benlliure, Antonio Ruidavets and others are on display. Visitors are able to relive the final few days in the life of Jesus Christ. Also on show are other crafts such as  embroidery and banners which form part of the celebrations. 

Entry is free and it is open from Tuesdays to Fridays 6pm-9pm, Saturdays 10.30am-1.30pm and 6pm-9pm, plus Sundays and bank holidays from 10.30am-1.30pm.