Macarena is a section of Seville which houses the Basilica of Nuestra Señora de la Esperanza Macarena or Basilica of Our Lady of Hope Macarena. The face above is the effigy of La Macarena that graces both the church and is paraded through the street on Good Friday for Seville’s most noted festival. Many women of Seville are named for her and her image is seen on countless small shrines throughout the city.
We stayed in the Macarena district for a week during our recent trip to Seville. It is about a mile walk to the Cathedral and central tourist sites, but is convenient to the Alameda Square with its dozen tapas bars.
This was the best mojito I have ever had; Ed was drinking the local vino dulce — a sort of sweet sherry like wine. We were there in mid-May and were surprised at how uncrowded tourists sites and squares like this one that cater mostly to locals were.
We enjoyed the local feel of this district. Here is an odd thing we saw several times in Spain. Balconies appeared to have people (or animals on them) which on closer inspection proved to be cardboard figures. No idea what that is about.Not far from our apartment was the old covered market on Feria Street. which houses butchers, fish mongers and greengrocers. We found shopping for food difficult in Seville compared to Italian and French cities. Good fresh produce was hard to come by and so this market was a welcome sight although the quality was still disappointing.There were also lovely bars and parks near the apartment. We discovered this beautiful tiled bar and stopped for coffee on our first stroll to view the Basilica.Like many local establishes, La Macarena is in evidence in the tile work here. Just past the bar we came to a park and the Parliament of Andalusia which meets in an old 16th century hospital done in the mannerist style. The Macarena district also holds the last of the great town walls of Seville built during the Almohad Caliphate. These run next to the Basilica of La Macarena.
The Basilica houses the two effigies of La Macarena and of the Christ during the year and the building next door is the museum and offices of the Holy Week Brotherhood who organize the festivities related to celebration of la Macarena.The church was built in a rococo style in 1949 which is surprising. The La Macarena herself dates from the early 17th century. Here you can see the wooden statue of La Macarena above the altar.
The five emerald broaches worn by La Macarena were donated by a famous bull fighter Joselito El Gallo; when he was killed in the bull ring, the Macarena wore black in morning.There is also a wooden figure of Christ who rides on the first Holy Week Float during the Good Friday parade from the Basilica to the Cathedral and back.
In the museum of the Holy Week Brotherhood the floats are on display as well we many of the artifacts, costumes, flags and other elements of the history of the brotherhood. La Macarana’s float is an ethereal sight with flowers and candles. She wears an elaborate embroidered cape rather like a bishop’s cape which is left on the float; there are several others on display including the elaborate costume of the Christ child who also appears on the float. On Christ’s Float, Roman legionnaires stand guard.
In another area of the float we can see Pilate washing his hands.
There are elaborate scenes carved and gilded around the edges; this is one example. We were not there for Easter but I took several snapshots of the video that showed the procession beloved of citizens of Seville. Here is Christ’s float.Members of the Holy Week Brotherhood and their families serve in various costumed roles in the parade. Here are men dressed as Roman soldiers who accompany Christ’s float. While the procession of the Basilica of La Macarena is an important part of the festival, it is not the only parade. Brotherhoods from various districts of the city each with their own floats, bands, and brotherhood members in pointy hatted robes march towards the Cathedral. Some of the parades from distant parts of the city take hours before completing the circuit and arriving back at their home church. The floats themselves are carried by anywhere from 25 to 50 men who hoist these enormous heavy pallets on beams carried on their shoulders. Since the men are hidden below the embroidered skirts of the floats, the floats appear to glide along the street.
The museum and film are well worth a look on a visit to Seville. It is clear from watching the participants, that this is a deeply meaningful experience for them. Many of the costumed soldiers and brotherhood members were weeping and embracing each other as their duties were completed. We also saw many of the palms used in Palm Sunday festivities the week before displayed on balconies throughout the city.We avoid festivities that involve great crowds. While we have been to Siena many times, we assiduously avoid being there for the Palio. We have been lucky enough to be there for minor events that lead up the Palio like the drawing for the Contradi allowed to participate and so we have had the chance to observe some of the pageantry without the crowds. We will never be in Seville at Easter, so it was interesting to be able to visit the Basilica of Macarena just around the corner from the apartment to get a taste of the work of the Holy Week Brotherhood.