Malaga – Art

Museo Picasso

Centre Pompidou

Malaga – Semana Santa in Pictures

Sagrada Cena



Malaga, March 29- April 1, 2024

When we were planning this trip and exploring where to spend Easter in Andalucia, a region of Spain famous for its Semanta Santa (Holy Week) processions, Malaga was one of the cities recommended. Unlike other Andalusian cities, where the celebrations are sad and dark, Malaga is known to celebrate Semana Santa differently, with Malageños cheering as the processions pass. Having moved up our trip, we had now been witnessing Easter preparations in Malaga , Cordoba and Seville, and experienced Semana Santa processions in Cadiz. It was good to have a better understanding of these centuries-old celebrations, and how they vary from one city to another. Malaga is unique in its tradition of releasing a prisoner on Holy Wednesday. This practice dates back to 1759, when inmates in a Malaga prison discovered Easter processions would be cancelled due to a plague outbreak. In response, they escaped from jail and carried Jesus’ image through the streets before returning to their prison cells.

While the rainy weather continued to disrupt celebrations, we were able to see some of the Semana Santa processions in Malaga, which were certainly larger and more spectacular even than those we had seen in Cádiz . There are often two “thrones” or cajillos (not called pasos here) in a procession here. The first throne contains an image of Christ or sculpted scene of the Passion, and the second one, an image of the Virgin Mary, known as dolorosa. The thrones of Christ are adorned with flowers, the Virgin’s throne is covered by an ornate canopy. We arrived back too late to view the famous procession escorted by the Spanish Foreign Legion, but did see the Sagrada Cena procession from the comfort of our cafe table along the route. The procession was long and large, with the two huge thrones carried by more than a hundred men each. The rest stops for the nazarenos were frequent and the effort was palpable. On Good Friday, we watched the solemn Calvario procession coming from outside of the old city, again with two very large thrones. By evening, the afternoon rain had tapered off and we were able to see yet another procession from the balcony of our apartment. Pictures are in a subsequent post.

In between the celebrations of Semana Santa, we visited three of the many museums in the city. The Museo Carmen Thyssen contains a fine collection of mostly 19thC works by Spanish artists, predominately Andalusian. It was fascinating to see the works from Spain painted during the impressionist era, as well as depictions of places that we had seen in Andalucia. There was also a current exhibition of Spanish Figurative Art from the 20thC which showed the evolution of art as it was shaped by developments in Spain before and after the civil war.

A second current exhibition was of selected photographs by Man Ray.

In the Museo Picasso Malaga, we were treated to a wonderful collection of Picasso’s paintings, sculptures and pottery. Finally, we enjoyed an interesting exhibit in the Malaga Centre de Pompidou examining the tensions in our environment, particularly those between urban and rural life. Selections from the Picasso and Centre Pompidou exhibits are in a subsequent post.

The rain over Saturday and Sunday was heavy and relentless. We found shelter in the Cathedral for high mass on Easter Sunday. Lois wanted to experience an Easter Sunday mass and was intrigued to find that the high mass was actually a sung Latin mass, although not a version Lois recognized from her childhood, and the rest of the mass was conducted in Spanish. While Lois felt slightly nostalgic hearing the Latin mass sung (by a skilled choir), she was disconcerted to later read about a “Latin mass” movement among ultra- conservative Catholics.

In Spain we have benefited from the ability to rent apartments for a few days at a time but through an article in The Guardian discovered that issues of affordability and availability for residents are present here as at home. We noticed stickers referred to in the story on signs denoting tourist accommodation, like the one below.

Cadiz – Semana Santa in Pictures



Jesús Caído


Cadiz – March 22-28, 2024

With the hopes that we might have some beach time, we decided to spend 6 nights in Cadiz, a city recommended to us by our friends, Sharon and Charles.While the weather did not cooperate, we had plenty to see, including the beginning of the Semana Santa celebrations. We thank Sharon and Charles for encouraging us to explore this interesting city!

Cadiz is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in Western Europe. On the Atlantic Ocean side of the city, there are long sandy beaches which are busy in the summer, but now are almost deserted. Also on this side there are at least three fortresses, confirming the importance of Cadiz as a port from the Phoenician and Roman times, underMoorish rule between 711 and 1262, when the city was called Qādis, through to when Spain was a colonial power in the east (Indies) and in the Americas.

We were excited to be able to view ruins dating from both the Phonecian and Roman eras. When the present day puppet theatre, Museo del Títere, was being built, workers discovered remains of Roman buildings, as expected, but to their surprise, underneath they found the site of Phonecian houses and streets, ( and two skeletons) dating from the 9thC BCE. Visiting the Yacimiento Arqueológico Gadir, we were able to view one of the skeletons, this of a man trying to flee a fire that destroyed the city. The remains of one cat, one cow’s skull and hoof prints were also revealed, as well as remains of clay ovens and the cisterns used for making salt fish, an important commodity of the times. It was truly remarkable to be able to see what had remained hidden for so long.

In the 1stC BCE, the Roman Theater of Cádiz was ordered to be built by Lucius Cornelius Balbo the Lesser. Since its discovery in 1980, excavations have allowed the recovery of an important part of the stands as well as the orchestra. The date of construction and its size (almost 120 meters in diameter) make it the oldest and the second largest Roman theatre on the Iberian Peninsula. It is estimated to have had capacity of more than 10,000 spectators. The importance of Cadiz in the Roman Empire is reflected in the fact that there were seats at the Colosseum in Rome reserved for representatives of the city. Much of the ancient city was destroyed by the conquering Visigoths in the 400s.

During the age of exploration, the city experienced a renaissance. Columbus sailed from Cádiz on his second and fourth voyages and the city later became the home port of the Spanish treasure fleet. Consequently, it became a major target of Spain’s enemies. Having grown up in the west of England, Paul remembers a picture of Sir Francis Drake sighting the Spanish Armada from Plymouth Ho in 1588. The previous year Drake had led an occupation of Cadiz Harbour for three days, an attack which delayed the Spanish Armada by a year. With the right to trade with the Americas expanded to most parts of mainland Spain in 1778, the monopoly of trade enjoyed by the port of the Bay of Cádiz came to an end. Many of today’s historic buildings in the Old City date from that era. These include 133 towers constructed as part of private houses, many designed to enable owners to monitor the arrival of their ships. We visited one of these towers, the Torre Tavira, to see a unique view of the city through a camera obscura. As it stands, the city’s skyline is not substantially different from what it was in the middle ages. Despite its relatively modest 45 meters of height, theTavira Tower still commands a panoramic view of the city and the bay.

Today, Cadiz’ population is decreasing for various reasons related to its geography, including the fact that Cádiz is built on a sandspit, making it a costly proposition to sink foundations deep enough to support the buildings that would allow for a higher population density. The main industry of the Province of Cadiz is tourism and the area has the highest unemployment rate in all of Spain.

In addition to soaking up history (if not sun), we experienced the beginning of Easter celebrations, with the first of the Semana Santa processions which just happened to go along the street directly below our balcony. Unfortunately, by Palm Sunday, the weather had deteriorated, causing all processions to be cancelled. Only one proceeded on Monday evening. While out for a walk along the sea wall that day, we noticed a number of (mostly) young women wearing cloaks and carrying or wearing teal-coloured capirotes (hats), walking away from or waiting outside the Iglesia del Carmen. Soon, the church doors opened. Curious, we went in to find it crowded with young and old waiting to view the two pasos, which were to have been carried to the Cathedral, but with the procession cancelled, were being guarded by honour guards. Some young people, including musicians, who were clearly upset with the cancellation of the procession, were being comforted by family members or friends.

Coffee notes: Sensa Cafe serving a blend of Brazilian, Honduran and Colombian cor espresso (9.5).