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Semana Santa
Carpets  click to see the other page
Easter (Semana Santa, the Holy Week) in Antigua, Guatemala.  The normal population of Antigua, 40,000, increases to 100,000 on weekends, when people come from Guatemala City to spend the weekend, eat in restaurants, etc, but it swells to over 500,000 at Easter (update:  530,000 in 2016 and expected 570,000 in 2017, Prensa Libre & INGUAT) ... the processions and the carpets they walk through, are a sight to see, totally unique in the world.
This is an "anda", an Easter procession float,carried by 80 men, on Good Friday morning ... click for a larger image.

"Viernes Santo", a procession several blocks north of here, in a part of Antigua with the most elaborate saw-dust carpets.  Some people say they started working on their carpets at 9 p.m. the previous night.  They were finishing them about 6 a.m. and people have been walking around the streets to admire them since 4 or 5.  Now, it's about 7 a.m. and the procession is about to destroy them.  To see a vast number of carpets, click here.

A smaller "anda", a float carried by 40 women, followed the large "anda" just above.

The women's float, however, had to walk through carpets that the bigger float ahead just destroyed

Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, leads the procession.  He president over the trial of Jesus and ordered his excution ... click to see a large image
This procession was headed by the Roman army and, here Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, who presided over the trial of Jesus and ordered, supposedly reluctantly, his execution.  You can read more about it.

Click to see a much larger image ...
The Easter float walks through the carpets.  It is carried not only by 80 men, 40 on each side, but as you can see, by lots of people under it.  They all take shifts through the procession, so each "anda" ends up by being carried by hundreds, even thousands of people, who pay for the honor.

Here's a view of an Easter "anda", a float, on Palm Sunday morning, carried by 80 men, passing in front of our house, taken from the roof of one of our apartments ... click to see a large image
A different "anda", on Palm Sunday morning, passing in front of our house.  It is the size of the red house behind it, which actually is quite a large building.

This is the Palm Sunday (Domingo de Ramos) procession passing the house at Easter.  The house used to be the orange-yellow building to the left, now white, with hanging lamps, partly obscured by a tree.  You can click on the image and will be taken to another page, where you can see an animated view of the procession, but because it is a large file, it may take a while to load.  There were many processions during Lent.  On Palm Sunday, there were two.  Wednesday, there was a children's procession.  Jueves Santo, Holy Thursday, there were two more.  On Easter Friday, Viernes Santo, the big procession of La Merced started at 6 am and passed our house at 6:30, winding its way along the whole town.  The morning procession was all in purple, but by the afternoon, with Christ already dead on the cross, the clothes changed to black.  The morning procession destroyed hundreds of elaborate carpets made of sawdust, flowers and vegetables that people have been making the previous night.  No problem, people started making new carpets, ready for the three processions that started at 3 or 4 in the afternoon and returned back to base well after midnight.  Most of the floats are followed by mobile generators, so they can be illuminated while traversing Antigua. Saturday, two more processions by women only and another on Easter Sunday!

The procession is followed by the BIG CLEAN-UP.  The Municipal workers and trucks sweep and clean the streets so that a few minutes after the procession passes, it is spotless.  Remember that many processions go around and around for 10-12 hours or longer, so the clean-up is a BIG job.  You can see how a set of carpets disappears and the street is back to normal.  The file is large ... it will load soon!


This is the same procession, Semana Santa 2003 (the animated view takes a moment to load!).  This was carried by 80 men and one little boy.  Click here to see the float that followed, carried by 40 women.

Click to see our photos of Semana Santa Carpets
This page was last updated on 02/21/19