Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic took part in the "Behind the Cross" on Thursday, a Catholic procession that is held every Maundy Thursday on the southern Croatian island of Hvar.
Known for its beaches and nightlife, the island of Hvar shows another side on Maundy Thursday each year with the 'Za Krizen' (Behind the Cross) procession in 6 towns and villages.
The centuries-old pious custom was added to UNESCO's intangible heritage list in 2009.
At 22:00 on Maundy Thursday, six simultaneous processions set off from Jelsa, Pitve, Vrisnik, Svirce, Vrbanj and Vrboska. They are led by barefoot cross bearers carrying ancient crosses weighing between 10 and 18 kg, walking through the night along a 22-kilometre route for a night of contemplation and prayer through the other five settlements. Finally, the processions complete their circular route, arriving back where they started about 07:00 on Good Friday.
The cross bearer is followed by his acolytes wearing white robes and carrying candles. Behind the acolytes, more than a thousand pilgrims walk through the night following the procession.
"I am happy to visit Svirce again, the place where my family is from," said Plenkovic whose paternal ancestry is from Hvar and whose father was born in Svirce.