This religious celebration, declared in the early 1980s of 'international touristic interest' is what the city of Zamora, Spain, is best-known for. It is the only one in the region, together with Valladolid to be awarded the highest rank.
Holy Week in Zamora means peace and soberness, only interrupted by the sound of drums and trumpets. Thousands of fraternity members take part in the procession in true acts of faith, bearing authentic works of art by artists such as Mariano Benlliure and the local Ramón Álvarez, depicting the most important events in the life of Jesus.
These 'pasos' or figures are physically carried in the shoulders of the cargadores (known in Andalusia as 'costaleros').
The pasos are set up and maintained by hermandades and cofradías, religious brotherhoods preceding the paso.
Members of the different Easter brotherhoods, dressed in their characteristic robes, parade through the streets in penitential robes. Its members wear these penitential robes with conical hats, or "caperuzos" (referred to in other places as 'capirotes'), used to conceal the face of the wearer.
These "hermanos" carry processional candles and may walk the city streets barefoot.A brass band may accompany the group, playing funeral religious hymns or "marchas" written for the occasion. The most popular ones in Zamora are those of the Merlú and the funeral march composed by Thalberg (and considered to be the unofficial hymn of the town of Zamora).
Except for a handful of brotherhoods, only male members are allowed to accompany the pasos through the streets of Zamora. The first cofradía to be founded is that of La Santa Vera Cruz, dating of the 14th century. The earliest documented references to the celebration of the Passion in Zamora can be traced as far back as 1279.
The contrast between its daytime and nocturnal processions is marked: silence and meditation are characteristic of those that parade by night and in the early hours, while music and light define the daytime processions.
- Cofradía de la Santa Vera Cruz, Disciplina y Penitencia: Founded in the 14th century, one of Spain’s oldest. 1,800 'cofrades' (or brothers) dressed in purple velvet robes. It walks the city street on Thursday.
- Hermandad Penitencial del Santísimo Cristo del Espíritu Santo: Its 850 brothers walk the streets on Friday, dressed in a monk-like white robe with hood. Founded in 1975.
- Hermandad Penitencial de Nuestro Señor Jesús, Luz y Vida: More than 900 members of this fraternity, accompany the pasos on Saturday, dressed in a monk-like white hooded robe. Established in 1988
- Real Cofradía de Jesús en su Entrada Triunfal en Jerusalén: Commemorates the triumphant arrival of Jesus at Jerusalem. Its 70 members (dressed in a white satin robe with pink satin 'caperuzo') accompany the town's children bearing palms on Palm Sunday. Founded in 1948. The locals refer to it as La Borriquita, alluding to the donkey depicted with the Lord on the paso.
- Hermandad de Jesús en su Tercera Caída: Created in 1942. On Monday, some 1,300 brothers dressed in a white satin robe and white satin conical hat with black satin cape.
- Hermandad Penitencial del Stmo. Cristo de la Buena Muerte: On Monday, its nearly 400 members walk the city streets dressed in a white monk-like robe. Founded in 1974.
- Cofradía de Jesús del Vía Crucis: Its 1,200 members go around the streets on Tuesday dressed in a white robe with a purple 'caperuzo'. Created in 1941.
- Hermandad Penitencial de las Siete Palabras: More than 850 members (male and female). Walks the street on Tuesday. Founded in 1968. White robe with a green corduroy conical hat.
- Hermandad del Santísimo Cristo de las Injurias (El Silencio): On Easter Wednesday, its 2,300 members (dressed in a white robe and red velvet 'caperuzo') and the people of Zamora swear to keep silence in the Cathedral of Zamora, Spain. Eastablished in 1925. One of THE processions, considered legendary.
- Hermandad de Penitencia del Stmo. Cristo del Amparo (Las Capas Pardas) Web: Another jewel parades the streets later on Easter Wednesday. Its 150 members, dressed in the traditional brown 'capa alistana' walk the streets to the sound of traditional instruments such as the 'bombardino', dimly lit by their lanterns. Created in 1956.
- Sección de Damas de la Virgen de la Esperanza: Its 1,000 female and 200 male members accompany the statue of the Virgin on Easter Thursday. The ladies, dressed in mourning clothes with Spanish haircombs or 'peinetas' and 'mantillas'. The men, in satin white robe and 'caperuzo' with green cape. Founded in 1960.
- Penitente Hermandad de Jesús Yacente: The Jesús Yacente brotherhood have their procession on the night of Holy Thursday, carrying an impressive 17th century statue of Christ and singing the emotional Miserere after midnight. 925 members, dressed in a white robe and conical hat, with a purple sash. Established in 1941. Another of THE processions.
- Cofradía de Jesús Nazareno (Vulgo Congregación): Worthy of special mention on Good Friday with emotional moments, such as the appearance of the Camino del Calvario by Justo Fernández (known by locals as the Cinco de Copas, since the figures on the scene are grouped like the Spanish deck card) statue and the famous reverence paid by the other 'pasos' to the Virgen de la Soledad by Ramón Álvarez on Tres Cruces Avenue – at this moment enthusiastic applause breaks forth from the crowd. Approx. 4,900 members wearing old-looking black robes and hood; founded in 1651.
- Real Cofradía del Santo Entierro: Its 2,200 members -dressed in black velvet robe and 'caperuzo'- accompany famous scenes by Ramón Álvarez and Mariano Benlliure on Easter Friday. Established in 1593.
- Cofradía de Nuestra Madre de las Angustias: Having their procession on Easter Friday, its 3,674 members (men and women) walk the streets of Zamora accompanying the two pasos, one by Ramón Álvarez. The men are dressed in a white robe with black velvet conical hat; the women in mourning clothes. Created in 1585.
- Sección de Damas de la Virgen de la Soledad: 3,000 women accompany the Virgin through the streets of Zamora on Easter Saturday, dressed in a black cape from head to toe. Second procession featuring the Virgen de la Soledad by Ramón Álvarez. Founded in 1948.
- Cofradía de la Santísima Resurrección: 500 and 1,500 women on Easter Sunday or 'Resurrection Day' witness the Virgin welcome Ramón Álvarez's image of Jesus. Founded in the 16th century. No specific robe.
- La Pasión de Zamora (Spanish)