One of the most spectacular events in Spain is the Semana Santa de Sevilla (Holy Week in Seville). Spanning from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday, the week-long event brings about a different air in the capital of Spain’s southern region, Andalucía.

During Semana Santa, thousands of Sevillians gather in the streets to watch over sixty processions conducted by numerous Catholic brotherhoods known as cofradías weave their way through Sevilla’s narrow passages, major avenues and squares. The processions last anywhere from four to over fourteen hours, some starting at midnight.

Garnering much attention are the hundreds to thousands of participating men, women and children known as nazarenos. Tourists are often taken aback by their pointy head gear, confusing them with the KKK. However, nazarenos are in no way related to the KKK as the tradition of Semana Santa processions date as far back as the 13th century. At the heart of each procession is the paso, a large and highly ornate float holding a life-size statue of Christ or the Virgin Mary surrounded by flowers and candles. Hidden from the public eye are the 30-130 costaleros carrying the very heavy paso on their shoulders for kilometers and hours at a time.

23-year old Sevilla-native Joaquín Díaz participated in Semana Santa this year as a costalero. “I participate because it’s a tradition we follow since childhood. I carry the Virgin that is important to me – one that I pray to and give thanks to for everything,” he said. “It is a very special feeling that even makes me cry.”