WHAT TO SEE / FIESTAS AND THE HOLY WEEK
Semana Santa (or Holy Week) is undoubtedly the most important celebration in Baeza, a tradition declared to be of Tourist Interest that dates to the 15th century.
Every year the brotherhoods take their floats out onto the streets to showcase the painstaking work carried out by hundreds of people over many months. Work based on faith, zeal and devotion combined with the art and history characterising this World Heritage city make this Great and Holy Week unique and incomparable. These days, feelings and emotions mingle with a variety of snapshots that remain in the eyes of all who contemplate the impressive works of art that are taken around the streets of Baeza and which turn the city into a great open-air museum.
The resound of a drum and a bugle while contemplating the passing of the processions through cobbled alleys or the silence and recollection, the recitation of a saeta [a flamenco singing style without guitar accompaniment] from a balcony and the smell of incense and candle wax are all very typical during these days of passion. You can see crosses, banners, brotherhood badges, pennants, lanterns, statute books and so on created in renowned Andalusian workshops.
The Miserere, composed by Miguel Hilarión Eslava y Elizondo and performed by the Baeza Choir and the Symphonic Orchestra, takes place on Holy Tuesday in the Santa Iglesia Catedral (or Holy Church Cathedral of Baeza).
Another of the great moments of the Holy Week in Baeza is on the morning of Good Friday when the “El Paso” ceremony takes place, commemorating the meeting between Jesus and Veronica.
One of the novelties of the past Holy Week that will no doubt become a tradition was the 1st “City of Baeza” Tamborrada (a large concentration of drummers playing simultaneously in a lengthy, intense and rhythmic manner), organised by the Agrupación Arciprestal de Cofradías y Hermandades, held on Saturday of Glory, in which all the brotherhoods and individuals who wish to do so are invited to play the drum, as an act announcing the imminent Resurrection of Christ, and which runs through the streets and squares of Baeza.
Also traditional is the Easter Sunday afternoon event: the game of the flag. Brothers and sisters, children and adults, all participate in this game, held in the atrium of the Convent of San Antonio before the procession of the Niño de los Bizcochos.
Other and traditional fiestas
Any time of the year is a good time to visit Baeza, but if you happen to coincide with some of the typical fiestas and celebrations of the city, besides enjoying yourself, you will also get to know first-hand an important part of our culture.
The Corpus Christi celebration has been deeply rooted in Baeza for centuries. It takes place two months after Easter Sunday. The entire historic centre is decorated with altars and floral carpets, the façades are decorated, and the streets are covered with awnings to make way for the Corpus Christi procession with the Custody at the front, a goldsmith’s work dating from 1714.
In summer, the August Fair is held in honour of the patron saint of Baeza, La Virgen del Alcázar. Sports tournaments, photo competitions, concerts, cultural activities, theatre and the national horse jumping competition, are organised before the fair. There are also concerts, bullfights, open-air dances and traditional tapas during the days of the fair.
Another important fiesta is the Cruces de Mayo (or Crosses of May) on the first weekend of May. The tradition of erecting altars and crosses made by confraternities and brotherhoods is resumed, coinciding with the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross.
The Romería de la Yedra (a religious pilgrimage) is also held on the first Saturday in September and is remarkably popular. Crowds of pilgrims accompany the Virgen del Rosel in traditional floats or on horses decorated for the occasion to her shrine in La Yedra.
Finally, another of the city’s well-established celebrations are the fiestas of the Council and those of San Andrés. They take place for a few days in November. The San Andrés neighbourhood is decorated with craft stalls, and activities are organised for children and adults alike, not to mention the traditional San Andrés bonfire. All wrapped up in a medieval atmosphere.
Other interesting dates
Besides these remarkable celebrations, many other events should not be missed:
- The Machado Week in February, where the poet Antonio Machado is remembered and honoured
- The biannual olive fair Futuroliva in May or June, which has become one of the most important agricultural fairs in the sector
- Celebrations to mark the date of the World Heritage Declaration on 3 July, with concerts, dance, music in the streets, etc.
- BaezaFest, the International Festival of Music and Performing Arts
- UNIAEscenaBaeza, a theatre showcase in collaboration with the UNIA, brings some of the most outstanding theatre companies on the national scene to the city for two weeks in July
- Summer courses and meetings of the Antonio Machado Campus of the International University of Andalusia
- Otoño Cultural Flamenco, held in October with top-level guitarists and flamenco singers
- Antonio Machado International Poetry Prize, one of the most important annual events in the literature world
- Early Music Festival of Úbeda and Baeza, held in December
- City of Baeza Family Theatre Festival, coinciding with Christmas