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Holy Week in Antigua: Alfombras

A religious fervor of Holy Vigils (velaciones), masses (misas) and processions (procesiones) sweeps over the Catholic community throughout Lent or Cuaresma from Ash Wednesday (miércoles de Ceniza), forty days before Palm Sunday.

Holy Week, or Semana Santa in Spanish, is the last week of Lent starting on Palm Sunday and ending the day before Easter Sunday. During this time, in Antigua, Guatemala, the passion and solemnity intensifies among the faithful with almost daily processions that bring the normal daily life of the city to a standstill.

Here, part of the tradition involves the laborious laying of ceremonial carpets or alfombras in the path of processions. The devout dedicate hours to create intricate alfombras, patiently sifting dyed sawdust through wooden and cardboard templates, slowly covering the grey cobblestones with multi-colored, elaborate patterns.

Others design simpler carpets of pine needles, seasonal flowers and fruits, the aroma mingling with incense and saturating the air. Hours to make yet in minutes solemn processions slowly trample these works of art to obliteration.

My third Semana Santa in Antigua didn’t disappoint. Every day, my camera in hand, I pounded the uneven streets capturing moments of the passion. This post shows a tiny reflection of the most elaborate alfombras over those three years.

1. Outside La Merced church on Palm Sunday 2007

2. Early morning in front of Ermita Santa Lucía

3. Crowds checking out the alfombra-laden streets before a procession wipes them out

4. The results of a dedicated all-night team effort

5. All-night teamwork also produced this elaborate alfombra

6. And another

7. In front of La Merced church on Palm Sunday 2011

My next few posts will cover more of Semana Santa.

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11 responses

  1. Magnifico relato y muy bellas fotografías, colores que se entrelazan para dar un espectáculo increíble…, te felicito ¡
    Muy bueno, tienes muy buen gusto para captar fotografías en un lugar especial…
    Un saludo
    Cruz del Sur

    April 29, 2011 at 7:57 am

  2. What incredibly colorful pictures! The carpets are gorgeous! Is this a custom only found in Guatamala or other parts of Central America? I was in Costa Rica during Holy Week but did not see the carpets there. Not sure if I missed them though. Holy Week was pretty wild. Lots of re-enactments and plays done at night and those crazy fireworks during the day time! I look forward to reading your next post! 🙂

    April 29, 2011 at 8:03 am

    • Thanks! It´s an incredible time to be in Antigua. The city is famous for its Semana Santa traditions and I haven´t heard of anywhere else celebrating it so strongly. Last year I was in León, Nicaragua during this time and only saw one tiny alfombra and a small procession, so was really disappointed. I took several thousand photos this year so it´s going to take me a while to sort through them!

      April 29, 2011 at 9:39 am

  3. Claire

    amazing pic chica! Too bad I didn’t see all the beautiful alfombras on Friday 😦 Next year!

    April 29, 2011 at 8:22 am

    • Thanks Claire! You saw plenty though and next year will be just as incredible.

      April 29, 2011 at 9:40 am

  4. Pingback: Easter Costa Rica, Guatemala, Spain. « Al Gravitar Rodando

    • Thank you sooooo much Nat!!! I loved your post on Semana Santa and left a long comment!!! besooooosssss

      April 9, 2012 at 11:52 am

  5. Pingback: Holy Week Alfombra Detail: Part 1 « loca4motion

  6. Pingback: Holy Week Alfombra Detail: Part 2 « loca4motion

  7. Pingback: Holy Week in Antigua – A Close up of Alfombra Making | loca4motion

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