Posted by: Paula Delgado-Kling | March 27, 2013

Holy Week Celebrations in Colonial Cities, Mompox and Popayán

It’s Semana Santa, and if you are Catholic, it’s a time to renew your faith. During Holy Week, Catholic Colombians show devotion at masses, processions, and retreats. Approximately 75 percent of Colombians are Catholic; 25 percent are practicing Catholics.

In Mompox, in Bolívar Department in northern Colombia, the Thursday night before Palm Sunday, people arrive at the Church of the Immaculate Conception and throw stones or kick at the doors to gain entry. They are led by men dressed in turquoise robes meant to portray the residents of Nazareth. Once inside the church, the blue robes are blessed in a mass; then participants proceed to the Church of San Francisco. The next morning, the events begin at 4 AM with mass at the Church of Santo Domingo.

To get a taste of Semana Santa in Mompox, click here.

Mompox was founded in 1540 as a trading post. The city is one of Colombia’s treasured historical landmarks, and many of the town’s historic buildings are still being used for their original purposes, including churches, palatial homes, schools, city hall, and even the hospital of San Juan de Dios.

Mompox has been called “a town from the pages of Gabriel García Márquez”  and “the town that time forgot.”

In another colonial city, Popayán, in southwestern Colombia, the Festival of Religious Music is held this week, and gathers religious musical groups from all over the globe.

Holy Week helps drive up the local economy in Mompox and Popayán, and locals plan for these events all year. It’s often hard to find accommodations in these cities this week.


  1. It’s often forgotten that Popayán was founded some time before the capital Bogotá, in 1.537 and its religious heritage is far more valuable in terms of historic and artistic characteristics than in other cities that are imitating the religious festivities in order to gain tourist activity, now the publicity in Colombia can be assimilated as it is in this article, just a couple of lines in the news. Popayán has been also declared a traditional food city and it has a gastronomic congress as well as the music festival. The tourist is attracted by the novelty, not the urge of knowledge.

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