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Experience Holy Week in Tarragona

Experience Holy Week in Tarragona

Tarragona will bring out its most religious side during one of the most revered times of the year, Holy Week. These are days brimming with tradition, when young and old alike take to the streets to enjoy the most outstanding processions of the extensive programme. Every year, thousands of people join in this liturgy that commemorates Jesus Christ, following the Christian religion.   

Easter is one of the most deeply-rooted festivities throughout Spain, which also extends to Catalan cities, Tarragona being one of them. From BusPlana, we provide you with the schedules of the regular lines, which you can check on our website, to travel to Tarragona from any of the surrounding towns, such as Vila-seca, Salou, Cambrils or Valls, among others. In addition, as we are the official airport transfer, you can buy online the official tickets for transfers from Barcelona Airport to Costa Dorada.  

Origin of this tradition  

We know that one of the most iconic images of Holy Week are its processions, with the floats accompanied by Nazarenes and penitents who follow their path to relive the different stages of the Passion of the Christ, from the Stations of the Cross (Vía Crucis), his death and his subsequent resurrection.  

But what is its origin? We must go back to the Ancient Ages, to the 2nd century AD, when a celebration of the passion, death and resurrection of Christ began to take place. But it was not until the 4th century that the commemoration of the Last Supper, when Jesus met with his disciples for the last time before his death, was established and eventually became Holy Thursday. As well as Crucifixion Friday, the fifth day of Holy Week, known as Good Friday, which commemorates the day on which Jesus was imprisoned and crucified, leading to his death.   

Initially, in the Middle Ages, religious events took place inside churches and other temples, and it was not until the 16th century that processions began to take place. At that time, pilgrims took to the streets for the Stations of the Cross (Vía Crucis), which was an act of piety, prayer and meditation. Over the years, this tradition intensified, including the processions during Holy Week.   

This liturgy has been consolidated to the present day, to the point where the different brotherhoods (cofradías and hermandades) work every year to offer this magnificent liturgical act to residents and visitors throughout Spain.  

When is Holy Week?  

To find out when Holy Week is, we cannot be guided by the usual calendar, as each year the dates vary, around the months of March and April. This considers when the spring equinox is and when the next full moon is at the beginning of spring. The fact that it varies according to the lunar cycle is because Passover was governed by it. Thus, Easter or Resurrection Sunday will always be the next Sunday after the first full moon since the spring equinox.  

Holy Week always begins on a Sunday, Palm Sunday, and ends on the following Sunday, Easter or Resurrection Sunday. This year, 2024, it is celebrated from Sunday, 24th of March, until the following Sunday, 31st of March. It should be noted that in the case of some autonomous communities, such as Catalonia, the celebration is extended until the 1st of April, Easter Monday, the second day of Easter, to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  

The programme in the city of Tarragona  

During these dates, the narrow streets of Part Alta district of Tarragona become the stage for the different processions organised by the city.  

As part of the Holy Week programme, the first procession is that of the Friday of Sorrows, on 22nd of March, starting and finishing in Plaça de la Pagesia; the blessing and subsequent procession of palms and palmones, on the morning of Palm Sunday, and the procession of the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem and the Stations of the Cross of the Blood, in the afternoon.  

On Holy Tuesday, the Procession of the Nazarenes takes place, with the three processions of The Cyrenian, Jesus Natzarè and Jesus is stripped of his garments, a group of penitents with the cross around their necks and the Sant Crist.  

Likewise, on Holy Wednesday the Procession of Sorrow takes place, with five floats corresponding to the Rosary of Sorrow: The Prayer of Jesus in the Garden, The Flagellation, The Ecce-Homo, The Cyrenian and Jesus of the Passion and Sant Crist.   

Holy Thursday, which this year is on 28th of March, includes a series of masses dedicated to the Holy Supper in different churches in the city, such as parish church of Santíssima Trinitat, church of Natzaret, church of Sant Agustí, church of Sant Llorenç and Cathedral of Tarragona, among others.   

One of the most important events every year is the Procession of the Holy Burial, which will take place, as is tradition, on Good Friday, 29th of March, at 7.30 p.m., from church of Natzaret. This event is one of the most solemn and multitudinous in Tarragona and is characterised by the fact that the Roman soldiers, known as “Armados de la Sangre”, collect, church by church, the different mysteries (scenes representing the passion of the Christ up to the crucifixion). It should be noted that this event has been declared a "Heritage Festival of National Interest" by the Generalitat de Catalunya.  

The route includes streets and squares of Part Alta district, such as Portal de Sant Antoni, Pla de Palau, Pla de la Seu, Carrer Major, Baixada de la Misericòrdia, Plaça de la Font, Carrer Portalet, among many others, until returning to Plaça del Rei at midnight.   

Finally, on Holy Saturday, 30th of March, the Procession of Solitude will take place at 6 p.m. through the streets of the old quarter.   

In addition, throughout the month of March, Lent, the weeks leading up to Easter, is celebrated with a series of masses and Stations of the Cross. There are also performances, such as this coming Saturday, the 16th, with the XXXV Holy Week Sacred Concert by L'Àncora Choir, in Church of Sant Llorenç.   

Remember that, with the regular BusPlana lines, you can get to Tarragona from any of the surrounding towns, such as Vila-seca, Salou, Cambrils or Valls, among others. You can check all the schedules on our website. Moreover, as we are the official airport transfer, you can buy online the official tickets for transfers from Barcelona Airport to Costa Dorada.  


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