Semana Santa, Pablo Picasso – marvellous Málaga!

It’s the the southernmost large city in Europe, with a population of more than half a million making it the sixth largest in Spain – Málaga is where we headed.

Parking our motorhome in the car park at Plaza Mayor near the airport, we took the train – which was fun, clean, efficient and cheaper than trains in the UK for the equivalent distance.

IMG_7212IMG_7201Málaga was buzzing for Semana Santa (Holy Week), an awe-inspiring procession that’s been a tradition since the 15th Century. Málaga itself is a very good-looking city with many fine old buildings and traffic-free areas, some narrow old streets and some wide grand tree-lined avenues. People were lunching outside, people were waiting at the edge of the streets for the processions that were due in a few hours, and people were happy.

IMG_7213Excellent musicians busked, and a couple of other interesting characters broke down the rules and tried different tactics to raise money… IMG_7207IMG_7217

We headed first to the Picasso Museum, housed down a lovely narrow street (the one with the big-nosed pirate and embracing men, above) and here to celebrate the fact that the great artist was born in the city in 1881.

IMG_7227Sadly, no photographs were allowed inside (it was the rules – and we know you thought this was one of the revered artist’s creations above, but in fact our son Daniel, aged five, was inspired to draw some of his own art, without our guidance, and we think it’s mighty fine. Watch out Damien Hirst, there’s another slightly different D Hurst on the block now!). pablo-picasso-quote-every-child-is-an-artist

Daniel’s little brother Darley, aged three, kept going on about “camels” and it was only after a while we realised he meant the many female nudes Picasso painted…! Darley does love animals.

11088547_868023226598446_8995820580658478671_nMálaga celebrates Picasso proudly, and consequently it felt an arty place, a city that welcomes artists: here art and artists matter.IMG_7311

Next, we wandered to the 14th Century Gibralfaro castle with its amazing views from 130 metres high. Then we wandered back down to town for some tasty tapas.IMG_7284

And then it was time to see some of the Semana Santa show. It’s an annual week of huge processions, a Catholic commemoration of the final period in the life of Jesus, covering his visit to Jerusalem and leading to the crucifixion. It’s seen on the streets of almost every Spanish city and town during the last week of Lent.

IMG_7306One bizarre feature is the wearing of the penitential robe for some of the participants in the processions. This garment consists of a hood with a conical tip used to conceal the wearer’s face. The colours and forms of these robes depend on the procession. They were widely used in the medieval period for penitents, who could demonstrate their penance while still masking their identity. Many carry candles or wooden crosses while walking barefoot, and in some places carry shackles and chains on their feet as penance.
la-palomaThe other main sight you see is the magnificent “thrones” depicting scenes  related to the last days of Christ. Some are so massive they need hundreds to carry them, every slow step accompanied by sombre loud drumming.
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But in Málaga – arguably Spain’s best place to see Semana Santa – it’s all a little more celebratory, with clapping appreciative crowds accompanying the giant thrones as they’re carried through the streets. Along with the applause, hundreds of candles and the sweet aromas of incense and flowers fill the air.
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It was all quite astonishing – and a great reminder to us that people can create amazing things, whether a lone artist or a fervent crowd. Go for it, get out there, create wonder and some considerable astonishment!
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