The streets of Spanish cities and towns are celebrating Holy Week with a mixture of tradition and religious fervor that attracts domestic and international tourists to moving and spectacular processions, the Stations of the Cross, festivals and Passion Plays.

In the eight large cities in the southern region of Andalusia, between Palm Sunday and Easter, some 100,000 penitents belonging to 258 associations will stage processions, some of them featuring valuable artistic works and baroque images by masters such as Martinez Montañes and Alonso Cano.

In the Andalusian capital, Seville, some 58 brotherhoods or guilds with 60,000 "Nazarenes" - as the penitents are called - will hold processions including venerated images such as the Jesus del Gran Poder and the Macarena, along with other very popular images, such as the Esperanza de Triana.

Other popular processions include Granada's Cristo de los Gitanos and Nuestra Señora de las Angustias, as well as El Esparraguero, in the city of Cordoba.

In the Canary Islands city of Las Palmas 43 processions and a representation of the Passion of Christ will be held as part of a program of religious events in the historic Vegueta district.

The other prime religious focus during the week in the Canaries will be in the city of La Laguna on Tenerife, which claims to have the archipelago's oldest Holy Week celebration, known as San Cristobal, a tradition going back more than 500 years.

Madrid will hold the Jesus el Pobre procession, on Maundy Thursday, which starts out from the church bearing its name with penitents moving forward on their knees, and on Friday the largest procession, of Jesus de Medinaceli, will be held along with the Santisimo Cristo de los Alabarderos procession, in which the Palace Guard participates.

In keeping with Holy Week tradition, the Spanish government will grant pardons to 21 convicted criminals at the request of religious associations and brotherhoods.

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