The week leading up to Easter is celebrated by Christians around the world to commemorate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Holy Week marks the last week of Lent, during which Christians are called on to fast, pray and give alms to the needy. In Spain, Holy Week, or Semana Santa, is the most important religious period of the year. Processions featuring hooded figures are held on the streets of almost every city. Each city has several religious brotherhoods, often dating back to the Middle Ages. The colours of the robes and hoods signify membership of the different brotherhoods.

Holy Week processions vary from region to region; those in the south are lively affairs accompanied by marching bands, while northern cities see more sombre parades. Processions start on Palm Sunday and continue until Easter Sunday, with the most solemn on Maundy Thursday.

In this gallery, IBTimesUK looks processions in several cities around Spain at the start of Holy Week.

Holy Week in Spain
Penitents of La Paz (The Peace) brotherhood take part in a procession during Holy Week in the Andalusian capital of SevilleMarcelo del Pozo/Reuters
Holy Week in Spain
Hooded penitents take part in a Holy Week procession in SevilleMarcelo del Pozo/Reuters
Holy Week in Spain
A man holds the hand of a hooded child before a procession by the La Paz (Peace) brotherhood in SevilleMarcelo del Pozo/Reuters
Holy Week in Spain
Penitents of La Paz (the Peace) brotherhood hold a candlelit procession in SevilleMarcelo del Pozo/Reuters
Holy Week in Spain
Hooded penitents take part in a candlelit procession in Seville, AndalusiaMarcelo del Pozo/Reuters
Holy Week in Spain
A penitent of the Los Cartujos (the Carthusians) brotherhood checks his mobile phone as he takes part in a procession at the start of Holy Week in Palma de MallorcaEnrique Calvo/Reuters
Holy Week in Spain
Hooded penitents of the La Merced (the Mercy) brotherhood walk along a narrow street in Palma de Mallorca, on the Spanish Balearic island of MallorcaEnrique Calvo/Reuters
Holy Week Spain
A woman cries after the governing body of the Estudiantes (Students) brotherhood decided that penance could not be carried out in the streets of Oviedo, northern Spain, due to rainEloy Alonso/Reuters
Holy Week in Spain
Spanish actor Antonio Banderas takes part in the Lagrimas y Favores brotherhood procession in MalagaJorge Guerrero/AFP
Holy Week in Spain
Members of the Dulce Nombre (Sweet Name) brotherhood take part in a procession during Holy Week in MalagaJon Nazca/Reuters
Holy Week in Spain
Hooded penitents walk through Malaga in the rainJon Nazca/Reuters
Holy Week in Spain
Women wearing traditional mantilla dresses stand outside a church in Malaga, AndalusiaJon Nazca/Reuters
Holy Week in Spain
Penitents of the Huerto (Orchard) brotherhood wait outside a church before they take part in a procession during Holy Week in MalagaJon Nazca/Reuters
Holy Week in Spain
Penitents wait to carry a statue of the Cristo de los Gitanos (Christ of the Gypsies) in RondaJorge Guerrero/AFP
Holy Week in Spain
Children and hooded penitents take part in the Gitanos brotherhood procession in RondaJorge Guerrero/AFP
Holy Week in Spain
A woman wearing a traditional Mantilla veil is seen during Holy Week celebrations in Ronda, AndalusiaJorge Guerrero/AFP
Holy Week in Spain
Penitents wait to carry a statue of the Virgin as they take part in the Gitanos (Gypsy) brotherhood procession in RondaJorge Guerrero/AFP