After spending the weekend in the city we drove into Antigua, Guatemala to spend the majority of Semana Santa. Antigua, Guatemala was the third capital of Guatemala until 1773 when it was moved to present day Guatemala City due to a devastating earthquake. Now, present day Antigua is a beautifully well preserved Spanish Colonial City designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
On the drive in, just outside of Antigua we ran into our first procession which was to be carried by a large number of Mayan men and women. The procession had not yet started so we took the opportunity to park and enjoy the start of our time in Antigua.
Staying in Antigua for the festivities was ideal as Antigua is a great city for walking and exploring allowing us to park our car and really enjoy the atmosphere. Immediately we began to visit the churches and walk around town, all the while encountering one large procession after another through the day and into the night.
Then on Thursday, the celebration really began. Friday was to be some of the largest processions in Antigua and the people were preparing all night. First, the goal was to visit seven churches before the morning to view their decorations. Then all night long we walked through the streets watching all the people create wonderful alfombras (carpets) that would be destroyed the following morning. All the while, there were intricate processions with re-enactments from the Bible going on all over the city, there were “Roman” soldiers with their torches and horse led chariots moving through the streets.
Then, at four AM, the procession started from La Merced. Hundreds of people crowded outside of the church to watch the beginning of Fridays festivities. We made it back to the hotel at five thirty and for us, it was time to sleep.