In the ten days between the Friday of Sorrows and the Sunday of the Resurrection, a total of 29 brotherhoods and a Section of Penance walk the streets of Cádiz. In total there are 52 steps and more than 10,000 people in procession. Both the images and the passages they pass through are authentic heritage jewels, some of which are more than 5 centuries old. As an Andalusian, Holy Week in Cádiz has a number of characteristics common to those of the rest of the region: color, music, the very passion of Andalusia is clearly reflected in Holy Week itself. But there are also several factors that make Holy Week special and different here.
We must start with the geographical position of Cádiz, a peninsula surrounded by the sea on all four sides with the exception of the isthmus that connects it to San Fernando (another island by the way) and the two bridges that connect it to Puerto Real . It is difficult to walk more than 10 minutes through the streets of downtown Cádiz without bumping into the sea, whether in the form of a beach or a balcony. The Holy Week tours are no exception and there are many brotherhoods and herndadas who have their penance station near the Cathedral by the sea. On many occasions they also coincide with the sunset, which allows you to enjoy unique images that cannot be seen in other cities. The light of Cádiz is different and Benito Rodríguez Gatiu, biographer of the great Ortega Bru, says that the image maker of San Roque spent several days in Cádiz observing how the light fell on objects to create the majestic Christ of forgiveness.
The city of Cádiz leaves all who visit it enchanted: its shape, its small size, its layout, its mixture of architectural styles resulting from its long existence of over 3,000 years make the city a treasure to be discovered at every step , at every corner, every square, every street has its history and Holy Week accompanies the visitor in all those places.
The vast majority of the temples are located in the historic center, the part of Cádiz of greatest tourist interest, a secluded area easily accessible on foot, practically flat and in which hotels and unique accommodations abound. For this reason, Holy Week is the ideal time to discover the three millennia old city which, when spring arrives, puts away the mask and pito (traditionally used for Carnival) and takes out the hood and the incense (which are used for Holy Week).
In addition to the city itself, Holy Week in Cádiz is characterized by impressive and sometimes unknown images. We must start from the assumption that during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries the city was the main port of Spain with America, which made Cádiz a rich and prosperous city where merchants and artists from all over Europe came to embark for the Americas. . Many have left their mark here with priceless images. Unfortunately, the city has also suffered attacks such as that of the Anglo-Dutch fleet in 1596, the tsunami of Lisbon in 1755, the attacks of the radicals during the Second Republic and the subsequent Civil War who got fat with images, heritage of brotherhoods and temples. of the city. The oldest claim that the Nazarene of Cádiz himself was thrown on a pyre lit by the radicals in the preludes to the Civil War and that some brave inhabitants of the Santa María neighborhood pulled him out of the flames by dragging him by the hair.
His head and his hands were then hidden in a bucket at the bottom of a well on Calle Botica for months until it could be recovered and restored. Every Good Friday morning, el Greñuo, as the Lord is known to him in Cádiz, passes in front of that house on Calle Botica as a sign of gratitude. A great heritage was lost, perhaps the most precious and oldest, but fortunately another part was saved that continues today. The oldest image of Cádiz is the Lord of Sentence, in procession on Holy Wednesday and dated to the end of the 15th century. For antiquity and quality, two works by Jacinto Pimentel should be mentioned: the Christs of the brotherhoods of Humility and Patience and Columna, both of the seventeenth century. You just need to see them to realize their age, value and quality. But if there is a Christ in Cádiz that arouses the interest of all, regardless of their faith, it is that of the Good Death that is venerated in the church of San Agustín and that on Good Friday parades in the dark, with the only light of the its four aces.
Much has been written about this carving: we talk about its perfection, its forms, its posture. Some even indicate the possibility of studying anatomy given the technical perfection achieved by its author. But no one knows for sure who he was. He is one of the mysteries of Holy Week in Cádiz, or perhaps even of the history of the city. The theories are hundreds, even if one of the most commented and famous, even if not confirmed, is that it was the work of the well-known Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Álvarez del Pino justifies this hypothesis with the very high amount that appears on the receipt of the engraving: “In that document it is established that the Crucifix cost 300 gold ducats”, which provides another important key for Álvarez del Pino: ” Martínez Montañés, who we can consider as the Andalusian reference of the time, charged 2,000 reales de vellón for a sculpture; the difference of up to 300 gold ducats is astonishing. ”It is not unreasonable given the constant presence of Genoese, Venetians and Italians generally in the history of Cádiz, attracted by the potential of the city as a seaport with America Another illustrious and famous name linked to Holy Week in Cádiz is that of Joseph Haydn. The famous composer was commissioned to compose his “Siete Palabras” from Cádiz. It is controversial whether it came from the cathedral itself or from the Oratorio de la Santa Cueva in via Rosario. At that time Haydn was already one of the most famous composers in Europe, which shows the economic power and influence of the city in those years. Even today, every Good Friday, this work is performed in the Oratorio de las Siete Palabras, an unsurpassed composition and environment to be enjoyed together. Cádiz is Baroque, its period of splendor indicates it and this style is present in many buildings in the city, including, of course, its temples. Within the baroque in Cádiz, the Rocalla is opulent, a style that is not exclusive to the city but which plays a special role here, especially in the temples of El Carmen, San Francisco, the church of the Pastora de Sagasta and Santa María.
The sound of Cádiz at Easter
In Andalusia, Holy Week cannot be understood without music. In Andalusia, music is part of our essence and flamenco, one of the hallmarks of Andalusia, is also very present during Holy Week. Historians place the origin of flamenco in the triangle formed between Seville, Jerez and Cádiz and flamenco in Holy Week has a name: the saeta. They are short and improvised compositions that are sung from the street itself or from the balconies. A saeta is a deep and sincere prayer that is born from within the soul and which expresses devotion and love for a Christ or a Virgin in the form of a song. When a saetera or a saetero sings, everyone is silent. Santa María is the flamenco district of Cádiz par excellence and you can enjoy the return of the Nazarene in its church at dawn on Good Friday, when the sun begins to rise, listening to saetas dedicated to the Regidor Perpetuo and his mother, Nuestra Señora de los Dolores , it is a unique experience.
Carnival, undoubtedly the great festival of the city, also surrenders to the charm of Holy Week in Cádiz and there are not a few who sing carnival songs in February and saetas in April. But music is not just saetas. The Cofrade music bands are themselves a vast world that moves many emotions and draws crowds, and Cádiz is fortunate to have one of the best Trumpet and Drum bands in Spain, Rosario de Cádiz, which bears the name of the city and its Holy Week throughout the national territory. Without detracting from other bands in the city such as Polillas, Salud or Ecce Mater.
In recent weeks a concert of processional processions was held at the Gran Teatro Falla and in less than an hour and a half the capacity was sold out. This can help you get an idea of the attraction this music has.
The perfect excuse to “eat” Cádiz
The year 2019 began with an article in the New York Times newspaper that placed the city of Cádiz among one of the must-see destinations of that year. Among the arguments, together with the architecture and beauty of the city, he pointed to a hitherto little known reason beyond the Andalusian borders: its gastronomy. In Cádiz you can eat very well (here our article dedicated to the gastronomy of the Province of Cádiz) and a visit to the city during Holy Week is the perfect excuse to take a look. A good place to start is the food market (it does not open on public holidays such as Holy Thursday and Good Friday). There you can find freshly caught fish, as well as shellfish and other seafood. Right next door you can start the day with some good churros, like the ones from La Guapa or La Marina cafeteria. Afterwards it is difficult to choose a place to eat tapas, there are many and very varied. Of course, the tapa is always accompanied by a good sherry wine or a manzanilla from Sanlúcar.
Holy Week also has its classics, such as the empanadas of Casa Hidalgo in Plaza de la Catedral, an ice cream from the Italian ice cream parlor that opens every year just before Easter. Torrijas are a typical dessert of these dates that are also found in pastry shops and pastry shops in Cádiz, as well as donuts for Holy Week. In the coming weeks, the Holy Week of Cádiz will receive the Declaration of Festival of National Tourist Interest, which will undoubtedly serve to publicize this festival and this cultural expression so deeply rooted in this land, but which is in the shadow of other festivals of the city and other Holy Weeks in the area.
Source: cadiz turismo