Posts Tagged With: zamora

Capas Pardas and La Virgen

Capas Pardas

After watching the Cofradía del Silencio, I met with Isabel and we planned to go to see the “Capas Pardas.” This is another procession that she likes a lot but doesn’t actually enjoy watching. While beautiful, this procession moves at an incredibly slow pace. It begins at midnight and ends at probably four in the morning. Where we were, it took until 1am for them to arrive, and we didn’t bother to stay and watch them pass. It was too cold and we were still tired from Via Crucis.

The full name of this procession is Hermandad de Penitencia del Santísimo Cristo del Amparo. This procession is very different from the others, which is what makes it special. The 150 cofrades wear a capucha (a regular hood) instead of the capirotes (the pointed hood). Their tunics and hoods are all of a brownish-grey color (parda), and the hoods are elaborately decorated in the style of Aliste, a nearby town. In other processions, a band will announce the arrival of the procession, but in the Capas Pardas, matracas (rattles) serve the same purpose. Each person goes very slowly, stopping after every few steps. They walk with their head down, carrying a lantern (farol) that illuminates only the middle of their body.

Best/only picture. You can see a bit of the detail on the capucha

Best/only picture. You can see a bit of the detail on the capucha

As the procession was passing us in the Plaza San Ildefonso, the “Vía Crucis” were read. These are the fourteen stages of the story of Jesus carrying the cross. You can read about them (in Spanish) here. This procession only has one paso, called Cristo del Amparo. It is from the 17th century and the creator is unknown. At the end of the procession, they sing “Miserere castellano” in the Plaza San Claudio.


Capas Pardas

Las Estaciones del Via Crucis

Cofradía Virgen de la Esperanza

The next morning (Thursday), I caught the middle part of this procession as it passed through the Plaza Mayor. Isa’s apartment faces the plaza, so it makes it very convenient to watch the processions when you have just woken up. The procession started at 10.30am; however, it wasn’t until 12.30, when the music was at its loudest, that I woke up and went downstairs and out onto the balcony to take a few photos. As an example of how small Zamora is, a friend of Isa’s dad saw me on the balcony and called to tell her father that his American guest was on the balcony in a t-shirt (the horrors!). I was also barefoot, but he couldn’t see that. Objectively it was a bit cold, but I couldn’t feel it at all. (I hate when people tell me to dress warmer when I’m not cold).

This procession is known for the imagen of the Virgin Mary crying for Jesus. The cofrades are all men. Following the paso are the only women, wearing all black with a peineta espanola (the comb holding up the veil). They are called damas de luto (women in mourning) and dress as they did for funerals in ages past. The lace veil that they wear is called mantilla and it means both lace and shawl in English. In reference to this procession, the booklet on Zamora’s Semana Santa also says the hood is called caperuz. This is the most common name in Zamora.


Virgen de la Esperanza

Categories: Culture, Holiday, Spain, Travel | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Cofradía del Silencio

This procession was the one that I was able to best document photographically, so it was fortunate that this procession even happened.  It had been raining when Isa and I went for a walk along the other side of the River Duero at about six and we feared that the rain wasn’t going to stop before the procession started at half past eight.

I had to attend this Cofradía (also called Real Hermandad del Santísimo Cristo de las Injurias) by myself because Isa had an appointment with the dentist. The most important part of this procession happens in the beginning at the Plaza de la Cathedral. Therefore, it was important that I arrived in advance. The only real way to take good photos is to be in the first row, so I arrived an hour before the procession was set to start.

All lined up and ready to go an hour beforehand

All lined up and ready to go an hour beforehand

Already, most parts of the plaza were filled 2-3 people deep. I spotted one strip along a wall where it seemed I could potentially get into the front. Here, where there wasn’t much space between the yellow fences and the wall, people were standing against the wall in a single row instead of being pushed up against the fence. There was still some space available, as long as someone was willing to slide over for you.

I made my way in to where there was the biggest space. I smiled at my neighbor who smiled back, but who then had me move to his other side because “it would be better.” Probably better for him as I might have blocked a bit of his view. He was between me and the archway where the procession would enter. On my other (left) side, were two older women sitting on portable chairs. We stood against the wall, occasionally watching the preparations, until a wave of people came to join us in this area. It was now important that we stand against the fence to save our spots.

I watched as they moved the incensarios (censers) from the church to the staging ground. I saw some cofrades putting on their caperuzos. As darkness finally settled over the plaza, the last of the cofrades exited through the archway to my right.

The Story Continues…

Categories: Culture, Holiday, Photography, Spain, Travel | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Vía Crucis

Tuesday Isa and I were planning to go see the Cofradía de Jesús del Vía Crucis. Isa likes this procession because the image of Jesus is beautiful. Besides that, one of her friends was a cofrade in the procession, so, if we went early enough, we would be able to see him putting on his garb. The procession was supposed to start at 20.15, but unfortunately, the procession was cancelled because of rain. As the processions last for a couple of hours (at least) and there is no quick cover for the pasos, the processions will not happen if there is even a hint of rain. Sadly, this year, Semana Santa fell in March instead of in April, which means much more rain than usual. The procession of the Vía Crucis was not the only one to be cancelled.

There was another procession set to start at midnight, but we did not attend this one either. Instead, we were watching Spain play France. It was a very important game, as the week before Spain had tied Finland 1-1. If they did not win, Spain would have to go through a much more challenging route to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Rio.

Spain 1-0 France! (con las cervezas)

Watching Spain play in Zamora is different than watching them play in Barcelona. For one, Zamora has much more pride in the national team of Spain than Catalunya does. For example, my most-Catalan friend did not even watch the game, as she prefers the Catalan national team. Part of this is because Madrid and Castilla y Leon (where Zamora is located) might be considered the parts of Spain the most “neutral.” Catalunya, the Basque Country, and Galicia in the north have very unique identities separate from Spain (Galicia less so than the other two). Andalucia in the south has a greater Islamic influence and they speak in a fashion that even some native Spaniards have trouble understanding.

We watched the game in an Irish Pub (really, Irish Pubs are everywhere). In Barcelona, the most common beer is Estrella Damm, a locally produced beer. In Zamora, however, the most common beers are Heineken and Cruzcampo. This means that when you order a caña (whatever is on tap), you get Estrella Damm in Barcelona and Heineken in Zamora. Besides that, if you order a clara in Barcelona, they serve you half beer/half lemon (which is Fanta de limon). In Zamora, you have to order caña con limon to get the same thing. A clara, instead, is half beer/half gaseosa, which is a bit like sprite: carbonated water with a citrus-y taste.The most common gaseosa in Spain is La Casera.

(L to R) Torta del Duero (Tosted bread, cheese from Zamora, strawberry reduction)
Hamburgesa de Buey (Buey is castrated bull)
Montadito de bacon, pimiento, y cebolla caramelizada (bacon, red pepper, caramelized onion)

We had a combination of cañas and cañas con limon. Isa’s friend José Isaac (or Isi), called me “La American Pie” because I finished my drink before he did. His favorite movies are the seven American Pie movies, and his goal is to one day attend a party like those in the movie. The game itself was interesting, but the best part was that Spain won 1-0. (You can read a reverse-order description of the game here.) Next we stopped at Afterwork La Parrilla, a bar for tapas y copas. We ordered some tapas and wine. Hamburgesa de buey, una torta del duero, montadito de bacon, pimiento, y cebolla carmalizada. This was in preparation for Vía Crucis.

Continue reading

Categories: Culture, Holiday, Spain, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cristo de la Buena Muerte

The Second Procession

After the first procession I saw, Isabel and I headed for a quick dinner with her friends. We went to a bar where we ate a bunch of tapas, and only paid five euro each person. The next procession was due to begin at 12:00 midnight, and only one of Isa’s friends was strong enough to brave it with us. This procession was to end at the Plaza de Santa Lucía, where the brothers would then sing. This is one of Isa’s favorite processions, and so far it has been my favorite as well.

We arrived a little bit after 11, and already the standing room in the plaza was becoming full. A few feet was left between some plastic yellow fences and the walls, leaving the rest of the space open for the procession. Even at 11, we were lucky to find a spot in the front line. We made our own line across the opening of a street. It turned out to be the best possible place to watch the entrance of the procession.

Hermandad Penitencial del Santísimo Cristo de la Buena Muerte

We knew we had a long, cold wait ahead of us, and had prepared by buying pipas (unshelled sunflower seeds) to snack on. It is a traditional way to pass the time while waiting during Semana Santa. The procession finally reached us at 1 am. With silence from the crowd, each brother entered quietly with his head down, wearing tan robes and sandals, and carrying a large candle. Some of the men walked barefoot, whereas those who carried Jesus wore black leather loafers or boots. Four or five photographers ran and crouched in front of us to photograph the procession as it ambled toward the plaza. All but one was shooed away to make space for their entrance, and he was the one who shot me a look of sympathy when the battery in my camera died. The entrance of the procession had just arrived and the singing had not yet begun! Such was my luck!

(Earlier in the night I had seen that I had three out of four bars of battery, and it was not until my camera did the same thing a few nights later that I realized my battery might not have been dead after all. If I had fiddled with it a bit more, I might have been able to bring it back to life.)

The brothers carried in a image of Jesus on the cross, tilted at about a thirty degree angle. It was made in 1585 and is attributed to Ruiz de Zumeta. While the other cofrades lined the plaza, the men carried Jesus to the center, where fifteen men began to sing their haunting song, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem.” (You can see a youtube video here). When the finished, a torrent of black-clothed photographers was unleashed to move about the plaza. The brothers then continued with another song, and then sang as the entire procession left the plaza.

It was late, it was cold, but it sure was worth it!


Cristo de la Buena Muerte on Wikipedia

Jerusalem on Youtube

Categories: Culture, Holiday, Photography, Spain, Travel | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Semana Santa in Zamora: The First Procession


I was invited by my friend Isabel to visit her in her hometown of Zamora for Semana Santa (Holy Week). Zamora, in Castilla y Leon, along with Seville and Málaga in Andalusia, are the towns most famous for their celebrations during this week. In Zamora, there are seventeen processions, beginning with the first one of this year on Thursday, March 21st at 20.00 and ending with the last one at 9.00 on Easter Sunday (Domingo de Resurrección), March 21st. There are two to three processions per day, and each one is enacted by a different Cofradía (brotherhood or guild) and takes a different route through the city. The earliest of these Cofradías (San Cipriano) was founded in the fifteenth century.

These processions are attended by masses of people lining the streets along the route and are covered extensively on TV. Thousands of people come to Zamora just for Semana Santa. I have heard both Isabel and her friends say that this is their favorite week of the year here in Zamora, as many of their friends come home and everyone parties during the entire week.

The processions usually consist of the cofradías wearing their respective capirotes (hoods) and tunicas, musicians, standard bearers, and of course the “floats” themselves, called pasos procesionales, which are actually carried on the shoulders of the costaleros.

While these outfits look like something from the KKK to anyone growing up in the US, they are nothing of the sort here. The cofrades were originally worn while doing penitence to hide the faces of those who survived the Black Death. Here the hoods are linked to devotion, service, and thanks to God.

When not in use, most of the pasos are stored in the Museo de la Semana Santa.

Jesús en su Tercera Caída

The first procession, Hermandad de Jesús en su Tercera Caída, began at 8:30 on Monday. Isa and I arrived a little bit before 8, to meet with her friends that had already saved space on the curb. Although the processions was not due to arrive for at least another 45 minutes, all of the front row spaces along the street were filled. We chatted as we waited, and when we caught a bit of breeze that held the sound of trumpets and drums, we knew the procession was about to arrive.

This event was incredibly difficult to photograph. Dimness, movement, oddly-colored street lighting, crowds, and the striking contrast between the black and white parts of the tunicas created havoc for the camera, which cannot follow as the human eye can. You can, however, still see all three pasos procesionales.

There’s Photos!

Categories: Culture, Holiday, Photography, Spain, Travel | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blog at