- The Online Guide to Travel. Easter in Antigua, Guatemala

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Antigua, the capital of Guatemala, is not just famous for Spanish-learning in colonial surroundings; it's also the scene of a colourful spectacle at Easter.

Good Friday - Guatemala Style

The rituals begin on Palm Sunday but the main event is on Good Friday.

Not many people sleep on the Thursday night as groups of neighbours get together to share the cost and effort involved in making the large street carpets (alfombras).

Many devotees will organise extra lighting and work through the night to prepare their art work in time.

Passing over the alfombras. Copyright Michel Guntern
Beautifully Decorated Alfombras - � Travel Notes

The most important Holy Week procession leaves La Merced at 7am, on Good Friday.

Checking the cinders

The route is lined by men and boys wearing purple cassocks, and white headdresses, while the crowd of onlookers wait patiently behind them.

The large model of a dark-skinned, red-cloaked, Christ and his cross needs about seventy people to carry it.

The heavy load

The load is heavy and the day is hot, so the litter bearers will have to be rotated throughout the procession.

Good Friday, Antigua. Copyright Michel Guntern

When the litter emerges from La Merced, everyone kneels and a prayer is said.

Incense burners march ahead of the flag-bearer and the Roman soldiers, but only the litter bearing the Christ and his cross can pass over the carpets.

Trumpets Preparing the incense cinders

The Centurions march beside the float, and trumpets are sounded at the Station of the Cross.

Here the procession stops, and a priest reads a religious message into a microphone.

Station of the cross. Copyright Michel Guntern
Station of the Cross - � Travel Notes

The main procession takes nearly eight hours to wind its way around the cobble-stone streets.

The procession mourns At three o'clock, the theme changes.

New Alfombras have been made; the litter bearers are cloaked in black and the blood-covered body of the crucified Christ is carried out of the Cathedral.

Other mourning processions set off from other churches, and continue well into the night; still watched by people in the street and from the balconies of houses, as darkness falls.

By Michel.
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