The week before Easter is known as Holy Week, and 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 hooded robes, known as capirotes, signify membership of 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 at Holy Week processions in several cities around Spain.

Semana Santa
Hooded penitents embrace during a Holy Week procession in the Basque city of Bilbao, northern SpainVincent West/Reuters
Semana Santa
Hooded members of the San Esteban brotherhood take part in a procession in SevilleMarcelo del Pozo/Reuters
Semana Santa
Penitents of the San Esteban brotherhood pose before taking part in a procession during Holy Week in the Andalusian capital of SevilleMarcelo del Pozo/Reuters
Semana Santa
A hooded member of the El Silencio brotherhood takes part in a procession in ZamoraCesar Manso/AFP
Semana Santa
Penitents from the Real Hermandad del Santisimo Cristo de las Injurias – El Silencio brotherhood parade during a Holy Week procession in the north-western Spanish city of ZamoraCesar Maso/AFP
Semana Santa
Penitents from the El Silencio brotherhood parade during Holy Week in the north-western Spanish city of ZamoraCesar Manso/AFP
Semana Santa
Penitents carry a holy relic in ZamoraCesar Manso/AFP
Semana Santa
The eyes of penitent member of the El Baratillo brotherhood are seen through his capiroteCristina Quicler/AFP
Semana Santa
Spanish legionnaires stand at attention during a change of honour guard near the statue of the Christ of Mena in MalagaJon Nazca/Reuters
Semana Santa
Spanish legionnaires throw their weapons in the air during a performance outside the church of Mena in MalagaJon Nazca/Reuters
Semana Santa
Penitents of the Cautivo brotherhood take part in a procession at dawn during Holy Week in Arriate, near MalagaJon Nazca/Reuters
Semana Santa
A penitent takes part in a San Bernardo brotherhood procession in SevilleMarcelo del Pozo/Reuters
Semana Santa
Hooded penitents from the Rocio brotherhood wait inside a church before they take part in a procession during Holy Week in MálagaJon Nazca/Reuters
Semana Santa
A penitent from the Rocio brotherhood takes part in a procession during Holy Week in MálagaJon Nazca/Reuters
Semana Santa
Members of the public sit at a bar table as penitents from the San Juan Evangelista brotherhood file past carrying an image of Jesus along a street in Caravaca de la Cruz, Region of MurciaPablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty
Semana Santa
A penitent lights a candle during the Cristo de los Gitanos brotherhood procession in GranadaJorge Guerrero/AFP
Semana Santa
Penitents on their knees carry a statue of the Maria Santisima del Sacromonte during the Gitanos (gypsy) brotherhood procession in GranadaJorge Guerrero/AFP
Semana Santa
Women wearing the traditional mantilla take part in a Holy Week procession in GranadaJorge Guerrero/AFP
Semana Santa
Penitents take part in the Cristo de los Gitanos (Christ of the Gypsies) brotherhood procession in GranadaJorge Guerrero/AFP
Semana Santa
Penitents carry a cross during a Holy Week procession in Alcala de Henares near MadridCurto de la Torre/AFP
Semana Santa
Members of the El Baratillo brotherhood walk to the start of a procession in SevilleCristina Quicler/AFP
Semana Santa
Members of the San Bernardo brotherhood take part in a procession in SevilleCristina Quicler/AFP
Semana Santa
A member of the San Bernardo brotherhood walks to the start of a parade in SevilleCristina Quicler/AFP