The week of Semana Santa (“Holy Week”) is considered the most important cultural and religious event in all of Guatemala. Semana Santa has a long, rich history, which began over 400 years ago as Catholicism spread throughout Guatemala due to the Spanish Conquistadors. Today, Semana Santa can be viewed throughout all of Guatemala, however, there is no city more important during this sacred week than Antigua. It can be argued that Antigua has perhaps the largest, most traditional and famous Holy Weeks in the world. Thousands of tourists flock to Antigua during Semana Santa to witness the spectacular religious processions, alfombras (“carpets”), fabulous floats and vigils. It is said to be an experience of a lifetime.
Unfortunately my trip was timed a month too early. The height of Semana Santa happens the week before Easter. However, little did I know that smaller scale celebrations start on Ash Wednesday at the beginning of Lent. Thus during my short stay in Antigua I was able to capture a glance at the magic and sensational beauty of Semana Santa.
Above is a glimpse of a spectacular Alfombra. Alfombras are made of sawdust or sand dyed in brilliant colors and carefully constructed as a work of art.