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

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.

holy week night
Penitents of the San Gonzalo brotherhood take part in a Holy Week procession in the Andalusian capital of SevilleReuters

Each city has several religious brotherhoods, often back to the Middle Ages. The colours of the robes and hoods signify membership of the different brotherhoods.

Penitents from 'La Santisima Trinidad' brotherhood wait for the start of a procession at the Trinidad Chapel in Utrera, near Seville
Penitents from 'La Santisima Trinidad' brotherhood wait for the start of a procession at the Trinidad Chapel in Utrera, near SevilleGetty
A woman walks between penitents of the
A woman walks between penitents of the "Santa Genoveva" brotherhood in SevilleReuters

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.

The town of Zamora in the northwest of the country has probably the oldest celebrations in Spain. The earliest penance processions can be traced back to 1179. Here, members of the brotherhoods wear hooded monks' robes rather than the conical hats seen elsewhere.

A representation of the crucifixion is carried through Zamora by members of the
A representation of the crucifixion is carried through Zamora by members of the "Cristo de la Buena Muerte" brotherhoodAFP
Penitents from the
Penitents from the "Cristo de la Buena Muerte" brotherhood take part in a procession in ZamoraAFP
Hooded penitents carry flaming torches in Zamora, northwestern Spain
Hooded penitents carry flaming torches in Zamora, northwestern SpainAFP
Penitents from the
Penitents from the "Cristo de la Buena Muerte" brotherhood take part in a procession during Holy Week in the northwestern Spanish city of ZamoraAFP

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.

A hooded member of the
A hooded member of the "La Salle" brotherhood takes part in a Palm Sunday procession in Palma de MallorcaReuters
A penitent carries a hooded baby during the
A penitent carries a hooded baby during the "Los Cartujos" brotherhood's Palm Sunday procession in Palma de MallorcaReuters
Members of the
Members of the "Sant Jeroni" brotherhood, wearing hessian robes, take part in a Palm Sunday procession in Palma de MallorcaReuters
Hooded penitents enter a church at the start of Holy Week in Palma de Mallorca
Hooded penitents enter a church at the start of Holy Week in Palma de MallorcaReuters
Penitents take part in the procession of
Penitents take part in the procession of "La Borriquita" brotherhood during Holy Week in CordobaReuters
A penitent takes part in the procession of
A penitent takes part in the procession of "La Vera-Cruz" brotherhood in CordobaReuters
A penitent's gloves are covered in wax during the
A penitent's gloves are covered in wax during the "La Sentencia" brotherhood's procession in CordobaReuters
Penitents take part in the
Penitents take part in the "Prendimiento" brotherhood's Palm Sunday procession in MalagaReuters
Penitents from the
Penitents from the "Humildad" brotherhood carry a statue of the Virgin during their Palm Sunday procession inside a church in MalagaReuters
Penitents wait inside a church in Malaga before taking part in the
Penitents wait inside a church in Malaga before taking part in the "Humildad" brotherhood's Palm Sunday processionReuters
Hooded members of the
Hooded members of the "San Gonzalo" brotherhood are reflected in a car as they head to a church in SevilleReuters
A penitent helps another with his hood as they head to church before taking part in the procession of the San Gonzalo brotherhood during Holy Week in Seville, southern Spain
A penitent helps another with his hood as they head to church before taking part in the procession of the San Gonzalo brotherhood during Holy Week in Seville, southern SpainReuters
A couple embrace during the
A couple embrace during the "San Gonzalo" brotherhood's procession during Holy Week in the Andalusian capital of SevilleReuters
Hooded penitents from the
Hooded penitents from the "San Gonzalo" brotherhood look on as a couple embrace in SevilleReuters
A member of the
A member of the "La Cena" brotherhood holds a rosary during a procession in SevilleGetty
A girl collects drops of wax from candles held by members of the
A girl collects drops of wax from candles held by members of the "La Cena" brotherhood in SevilleGetty
Penitents from the
Penitents from the "El Museo" brotherhood walk to the church to take part in their procession in SevilleGetty
Members of the
Members of the "San Gonzalo" brotherhood carry a statue of the Virgin during a procession in SevilleReuters