Traditional Easter celebrations are at the heart of Spain’s cultural and religious history but in Murcia they have an especially poignant significance.
Caravaca de la Cruz, in the north-western area of the region, is the fifth Holy City of Catholic Christianity (Rome, Jerusalem, Santiago de Compostela and Camaleño are the others), and in 1998 it was granted the privilege of celebrating a jubilee year in perpetuity.
The first following that papal declaration was in 2003, and the next Jubilee Year of the Santísima y Vera Cruz is in 2024 (they are held every seven years).
Pilgrims and other spiritually-minded tourists will be able to pay their respects at the mediaeval Santuario de la Vera Cruz basilica as well as many other popular places of worship throughout the Murcia region.
In the meantime, from this Sunday the cultural and religious focus will be on annual Easter traditions in the capital city and throughout Murcia’s Costa Cálida resort areas.
Holy Week (Semana Santa in Spain) continues until Easter Sunday (9 April), with town streets filled with the sounds of drums and bugles and the aromas of flowers and incense as ornate thrones are carried by bearers in processions winding their way through crowds of people sharing their passion, devotion and (especially in the case of first-time visitors) awe at the mesmerising spectacle.
Full details about the varied activities and schedules for this year’s Holy Week in the main towns around Murcia are available on the regional tourism ministry’s website.
In the lead up to Easter this year, four of the region’s Holy Week celebrations were officially named as “Festivals of International Interest”. A total of 26 celebrations throughout Spain – including Cartagena, Jumilla, Lorca and Murcia – received the distinction from the general secretariat of Spain’s ministry of industry, tourism and trade.