Spanish Gothic architecture: the church of Santa María la Real, in Aranda de Duero

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Today I would like to invite you to travel, even virtually, to one of those old and unique cities nestled in the heart of the mythical Castile and share with all of you, one of those monumental landmarks, where it is difficult to discern which are the borders that separate the Art and Architecture, if such a separation really exists.

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To do this, it is necessary that we travel about one hundred and fifty kilometers from Madrid, the capital of Spain, to reach Aranda de Duero and once there, we allow ourselves to be freely seduced by the media beauty of its old town, where it stands out splendidly, a jewel of the so-called Elizabethan Gothic style - I would rather describe it as a Plateresque Gothic style - which is none other than its imposing church of Santa María la Real.

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But before letting ourselves be carried away by its seductive and unusual presence, it may be appropriate to comment that this temple of such spectacular proportions and such an unexpected cover, rose above a previous one, of obsolete Romanesque origins, of which barely a small sentry survives -perhaps it is opportune note, that it was not uncommon in medieval times, to cover the temples with fortified elements - located on the south side, very close to the tower and the apse or head, being the reasons for such a decision, the desire to have a temple of larger proportions, detail that denotes the prosperity that this city had, at least in the middle of the fourteenth century, which is when the old temple was demolished to build the new one.

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A temple, in whose monumental façade, two of the most important architects of the neighboring cathedral of Santa María de Burgos intervened, such as the extraordinary Magister Muri of German origin, Juan de Colonia and his son Francisco.

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The cover, which in itself is a work of art and therefore attracts practically all the attention, reproduces, on a monumental scale, a formidable Main Altarpiece sculpted in stone and illustrated with the most relevant scenes from the life and passion of Jesus Christ, occupying the central part of the tympanum, some extraordinary scenes of the Nativity and the Epiphany or Adoration of the Magi.

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Scenes, which on the other hand and judging by the remains of the polychrome still existing, must have been in its time a spectacle of beauty with which all the pilgrims who passed through the city and came to this church to present your respects.

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Façade, which in addition to being the main one, is oriented towards the west, that is, towards the west or the place where the sun sets, so that it could be assumed that these, both the pilgrims and the faithful who came to pray, did so leaving the darkness behind them to receive the light from the front, located on the projection side or east side, a place occupied by the apse and the head and symbolically also, oriented towards Jerusalem, the Holy City.

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The characteristics of its interior, you will realize at a first glance, that they obey the main patterns of the Gothic style, with its superb columns topped in vaults whose arms extend like the branches of that sacred tree where the Holy Family found shelter and food. during his flight to Egypt, the palm tree, and which again shows, by its spectacularity and height, what the father of German Romanticism, Goethe, said about the Gothic builders: that they sought God in the heights.

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It is also worth looking at the original wood of the parquet that supports the monumental Renaissance choir, the latter is the work of the masters Miguel de Espinosa and Juan de Cambray, and observe the corbels, with representative carvings of the typical monsters that characterized Romanesque temples and what little did that great medieval mind like, which was Bernard of Clairvaux, Saint Bernard.

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Since it is allowed to access it, that is, the choir, from here you will appreciate as a whole, everything that has been of this temple, getting an approximate idea of its grandeur and being able to appreciate, in addition, the magnificent Main Altarpiece located behind the altar which is not, however, the original, unfortunately lost in 1601 as a result of a fire, but another, Roman style, made later by Gabriel de Pinedo and Pedro Cicarte.

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In short: an authentic artistic and architectural gem, which I hope has been to your liking and will invite you, if you have the opportunity, to make a more detailed and prolonged visit to this part of the authentic heart of Castile, which is the monumental city of Aranda. of Duero.

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NOTICE: Both the text and the photographs that accompany it, as well as the video that illustrates it, are my exclusive intellectual property and therefore are subject to my Copyright.

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