Seeing the processions in Popayán, in which the Guambiano community participates with their colorful attire, was an unforgettable experience.
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Holy Week in Popayán
Holy Week celebrations are very similar to the ones in Sevilla and Valladolid in Spain, and date back to colonial times. The main events are the famous processions. This tradition, brought directly from the Iberian Peninsula, was transmitted to the inhabitants of this Colombian region by the conquistadors who brought with them to America their Catholic rites and beliefs and implemented these cultural expressions in the occupied lands.
Popayán is the religious center of Colombia, with the highest number of churches per capita. These were built during the 17th and 18th centuries.
Holy Week processions in Popayán are a 400-year long tradition. According to the Spanish chroniclers of the time, religious parades began to appear around 1566; that is, 30 years after the foundation of Popayán. Since that time and up to the present, the right to participate in the procession as an effigy bearer is generally passed from fathers to sons and is considered a privilege.
In the course of the years, the Holy Week processions in Popayán became enriched with the arrival of beautiful images by artists from Spain and Quito who devoted their inspiration to the different scenes of the passion of Christ.
The processions in Popayán are shorter than average, but they follow the city's main streets and are quite a spectacle.
These are processions where the bearers are not adults, but children between the ages of five and eleven. Their effigies are small-scale replicas of the effigies carried by adults.
Just like their parents in the big processions, the children dress in the traditional attire of the bearers; the smallest ones act as priests, policemen, the mayor, and councilmen.
These small processions follow a shorter route, but they also walk along the main streets in the city, and are a show in themselves.
In addition to the parades, the city organizes a festival of religious music. Musical groups of the genre come from other parts of Colombia and from foreign countries to perform in the beautiful colonial temples.