What to do in Madrid during Semana Santa

Madrid, as the capital of Spain, offers different options for the enjoyment of tourists during the Easter holidays (also known as Semana Santa), although probably the biggest claim for most people who have never witnessed the Christian cult during these dates are the processions.

The celebrations of Semana Santa in Madrid focus mainly on several different religious processions. If you want to know what to do in Madrid during Semana Santa, throughout this article we will detail a small guide on the main events that take place in the capital of Spain.

The celebrations of Semana Santa in Madrid

The celebration of the Passion of Christ is one of the most important traditions in Spain, and Madrid is no exception. Although, as usual, Spaniards tend to use these traditional occasions more to go out and have fun than to rejoice in the religious origins of the events.

Since the fifteenth century, Madrid has celebrated the events described in the New Testament regarding the death, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ with the traditional “pasos”.

The pasos are religious icons, which are taken from their resting places in the churches around the city and paraded through the streets on the shoulders of the “costaleros”, usually young people who feel deeply privileged to fight under the immense weight of the religious statues, sometimes balancing precariously on board of heavy platforms. In Madrid there are around 20 religious processions during the days leading up to Easter Sunday.

First, Domingo de Ramos

Domingo de Ramos begins Semana Santa with 2 traditional processions in Madrid. The icon of the “Cristo de la Fe y del Perdón”, an eighteenth-century statue of Luis Salvador Carmona, and the religious statue of “Santa María Inmaculada Madre de la Iglesia”, depart from the Pontifical Basilica Church of San Miguel located in San Justo to parade through the surrounding streets. Some locals often buy palm branches and laurel leaves or laurel as a reminder of the triumphal entry of Christ into the city of Jerusalem.

Miércoles Santo in Madrid

On Wednesday night, normally around 7:30 p.m., the Archbishop of Madrid participates in the Via Crucis (or Stations of the Resurrection).

Soon after, the brotherhood of the “Cruzados de la Fe” recovers its icon of Christ (Santísimo Cristo de la Fe) from its resting place in its headquarters (Atocha, 87) and venerates its image with a besapié (basically, they kiss his foot).

In the old and historic part of Madrid, the Madrid de los Austrias, the church of San Jerónimo el Real on Calle Ruiz de Alarcón, 19 is the starting point of a procession that involves the Brotherhood of “Nuestro Padre Jesús de la Salud y María Santísima de las Angustias”.

As you can imagine, not only is it very difficult to attend all the processions, but it is not necessary either. So we recommend taking advantage of it from time to time to enjoy Madrid and its usual tourist and gastronomic offer.

Jueves Santo, one of the most important days

The procession of Jesus el Pobre is perhaps one of the most spectacular moments of Semana Santa in Madrid. This is, without any doubt, a procession that is worth going to. It takes place at Calle Toledo, 37, around 7: 30-8 pm at the Colegiata de San Isidro.

The religious images of the Virgen María Santísima de la Esperanza y Jesús del Gran Poder are taken from the church by the “costaleros” through the main door. To do this, they have to get on their knees to make their way slowly, an immense effort that is loudly rewarded with a lot of applause and deafening shouts from the crowd.

At the same time, the processions of Nuestro Padre Jesús Nazareno, El Pobre y María Santísima del Dulce Nombre leave the Church of San Pedro in Calle Nuncio around 7pm, and the image “El Divino Cautivo” is displayed from the Calasancio School in the Calle General Díaz Porlier, 58.

Although they are not such spectacular events, if you are late and you do not reach Toledo Street at least a couple of hours before, they can be a good alternative, as you can imagine half an hour before the procession begins at Calle Toledo not even a soul fits in the surroundings.

Discover Viernes Santo in Madrid

Viernes Santo brings perhaps the most emblematic religious procession of Madrid, Nuestro Padre Jesús Nazareno, that leaves the Basilica of the Christ of Medinaceli in the Plaza de Jesús around 7 p.m. and parades through downtown streets such as Puerta del Sol and Plaza Cibeles.

On the other hand, the “Procession of Silence” part of the Church of the Holy Christ of the Faith in the street Atocha 87 and the City Council organizes its own procession called Santo Entierro that leaves the Parochial Church of Santa Cruz in Atocha, 6 with the image of Lignum Crucis.

Sábado Santo, day of reflection

The procession of “Nuestra Señora de la Soledad” leaves the Corpus Christi Monastery around 4:30 p.m. Take the rest of the day to have a drink and enjoy the local gastronomy, since on Saturday there is no other important event to attend.

And finally, Domingo de Pascua

The main event of Domingo de Pascua takes place at noon in the Plaza Mayor. It is the “Tamborada del Domingo de Resurección”, in which the Brotherhood chosen that year gathers dozens of drums of all shapes and sizes and performs a constant rhythm that almost shakes nearby houses. This represents the earthquakes that were supposed to have occurred when Christ died on the cross.

And this event ends Semana Santa in Madrid! If you think we have left an important event, do not hesitate to indicate it in the comments. We hope you enjoy it!

The best plans for sightseeing in Madrid at Christmas

Madrid, as the capital of Spain, offers a varied list of options so that any tourist, national or foreign, can enjoy the best local Christmas spirit. Today in Hostal Patria, we are recommended some festive activities to have a great time in Madrid at Christmas.

Enjoy the fun at Plaza Mayor

The historic Plaza Mayor is the perfect place for the oldest Christmas market in Madrid, which has been celebrated for 100 years, more or less. When the sun sets, a lot of hanging decorations light up in the darkness and create an atmospheric glow all over the square.

There are many stalls selling sweets and collectibles that represent some popular nativity scenes. Among them, the most popular is the Caganer, a collectible that literally translates as “The Shitter”, a piece found in many Spanish native scenes that, ironically, is destined to bring good luck.

Buy gifts in the centre of Madrid

Madrid offers plenty of shopping deals, although you should be ready to make your way through the busiest streets. The area of Plaza Mayor, Callao and Puerta del Sol is especially crowded.

Other excellent shopping areas include Fuencarral Street and the elegant Salamanca district (the latter less economical, but a visit is equally recommendable).

New Year’s Eve at Puerta del Sol

There are a lot of plans to enjoy New Year’s Eve in Madrid. The locals (and tourists) usually gather at Puerta del Sol square to say welcome to the new year. They do it while eating 12 grapes, one grape for each strike of the clock, and it is said this brings good luck for the next 12 months.

This tradition comes from the early 1900s, and is so enjoyable because it is so fun to experience how people begin to steal grapes from each other, and more and more grapes accumulate in their mouths while they smile and laugh.

Ending the night like the locals in the historic Chocolatería San Ginés is tradition, eating some of the popular chocolate churros to fight against the possible hangover.

The Kings Parade

Here in Spain, the three holy kings are far more popular than Santa Claus, and when they arrive to the city on January 5, they attract thousands of locals to the streets that surround the Palacio de Cibeles.

If you are attracted to see the kings, it is recommended to find a place in time near the palace to have a look at the incredible floats (because it gets very crowded when the kings appear).

Roscón de Reyes and sweet coal

As you may imagine, Spanish Christmas traditions are pretty focused on food. It is tradition to go through a local bakery to try the Roscón de Reyes, which contains a small and funny surprise. Take care choosing your piece of cake, because the person who gets the little figure hidden inside shall pay for the cake!

Finally, another tradition says that if children have been bad they get coal instead of cake. In many bakeries you can find fine imitations of sweet charcoal (that ironically tastes very good, actually). Even so, before you leave Madrid you should try some variations of turrón, a traditional Christmas candy based on almonds.

What to do in Madrid in 2 days

Madrid is a city full of possibilities. In fact, it is such an exciting place that we could dedicate a lifetime to know it and discover its exciting secrets. Unfortunately, few travelers are lucky enough to be able to do so, so our goal is to condense the best of its offer and organize it in such a way that you can know the essentials of this city in just over 48 hours.

In Madrid you will find good examples of art and relevant exhibitions, extensive shopping areas, good establishments of all kinds where you can enjoy local gastronomy, unique monuments full of legends and history and, above all, an exciting street environment with attractions for all Tastes, ages and hobbies.

Having said that, do you dare to join us? We will propose you what to do in Madrid in 2 days.

What plan do we have to get to know Madrid on a weekend?

In that, precisely, our proposal is based. In making a virtual trip from Friday to Sunday for the capital of Spain. If your trip is made during the week, do not forget to check the days and times of the premises, museums and establishments included in our proposal.

The first thing is to locate our accommodation and get rid of luggage to be able to travel lighter this great city. And, as it should be, we will start the tour of the authentic heart of the city: Puerta del Sol. We could say that it is the most typical scene of the city, the most crowded, the one that attracts tourists and neighbors and never disappoints.

Our advice is to take that you take the first few hours to explore this area, as well as its surrounding streets and Madrid´s Gran via. There you will find a lot of atmosphere, shops and places where you can eat, eat or dine.

Actually, it all depends on when you start the tour. If it is already late, we suggest that, on Saturday, you return to this area to start the route all aver. In any case, we propose several places to visit and that you can select depending on the time available.

In the Puerta del Sol is the so-called Kilómetro Cero, the point from where the kilometers of the Spanish radial roads begin to count. You should also visit the statue of the Bear and the Madroño, the distinctive symbol of the capital. If you deviate by the Calle Arenal, you will arrive at the Teatro Real. Right in the front, you will find the Plaza de Oriente and the Royal Palace, which you can visit on a guided tour. In the proximities is the Cathedral of the Almudena, the most important temple of Madrid.

If you take Calle Mayor, you will come directly to Plaza de la Villa, the nerve center of medieval Madrid. And, from there, a walk to the Plaza Mayor, full of bars and tapas terraces. One tip: you can not leave Madrid without trying their typical squid sandwiches.

If what  you want is  to visit a commercial area, we will return to the Puerta del Sol to access calle Preciados  and walk to Plaza de Callao, the Gran Vía and make a route to the Plaza de España.

If you still want to and have the time, a good proposal is to approach the Temple of Debot, one of those hidden treasures to which we previously referred. It is a gift from Egypt to Spain in the form of an original temple.

All these proposals will occupy you the afternoon of Friday and all the Saturday. Remember that for the areas that we propose there are a thousands of bars  and typical taverns, in addition to a long list of excellent restaurants where you can enjoy and taste the local gastronomy.

What can we do on Sunday?

This may be our second full day in Madrid, so it is advisable to start the activity in the early morning and enjoy the day and many of the attractions that this city offers us.

A good starting point for this day is the Fuente de la Cibeles, the most well-known monumental fountain in the capital. Then you can take the Paseo del Prado which runs to the Madrid Stock Exchange building, the Ritz Hotel and the Palace Hotel, the two most renowned hotel establishments in Madrid. Between one and another is the Fountain of Neptune, which also deserves to be visited.

But, without a doubt, this route has the best possible finish. We refer to the Prado Museum, the national art gallery and one of the most important museums in the world. Among its collections, it houses paintings by artists such as Velázquez, Goya, El Greco or Rubens, among others.

You should reserve enough time to stroll around El Retiro, a wonderful and extensive public park that contains, among other things, a historic garden. There are many street artists who delight children and adults.

Extra proposals to take into account

Maybe our proposal about what to do in Madrid in 2 days is  enough.

However, we include here a list of other essential places, in case you have enough time or you can extend your visit a few hours.

  • Puerta de Alcalá
  • Reina Sofia Museum
  • Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum
  • The Rastro
  • Theme park
  • Zoo
  • Warner park

If you want to dedicate part of your stay to shopping, in Madrid there are several areas to visit. In the neighborhood of Salamanca you will find luxury brands; In the area of Recoletos, Gran Vía and Calle Fuencarral there are many shops and department stores where you will find all kinds of prices and styles.

Special mention should be made of some areas to go for tapas, such as Las Letras, La Latina or San Miguel Market. And, if you want to enjoy the intense nightlife of Madrid, you have a wide range of shows: theaters, musicals, flamenco, bars, cocktail bars and emblematic nightclubs. In Madrid there are things to do, visit and enjoy 24 hours a day.