Catedral de Baeza

Plaza de Santa María, 2. 23440, Baeza How to get

Cathedral of the Nativity of the Virgin (formerly, San Isidoro). Asset of Cultural Interest. Monument. Declared 06/03/1931. Baeza was the first episcopal see that Jaén had, following its conquest by Fernando III in 1227. It is highly probable that, according to tradition, the cathedral was installed in the main mosque; first, simply, consecrating it (which Alfonso VII had to do in 1147, when Baeza was in Christian hands for a short time; hence his first invocation of San Isidoro. Repeating the operation with Fernando III, now under the invocation of the Nativity) and then tearing it down and building a new building on it. So far no archaeological remains of Muslim buildings have appeared.


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The current cathedral is made up of a basilica body with three naves and a cloister, with at least four constructive phases distinguishable throughout: The oldest corresponds to the feet and comprises the western façade and the first vaulted section of the interior, oblique with respect to the axis of the church. A second, between the end of the 14th and 15th centuries, which affects part of the north wall and tower; the Chapel of the Biedma, at the foot, ahead of the western facade, and the cloister, in its southern part with the five chapels and the exterior portal. The third, around 1530-1550, comprises from the head to the transept, and finally the last phase, between 1567 and 1590, from the transept to the feet, plus the north portal or the Nativity.

Except for medieval witnesses, the Renaissance transformation that dominates the current cathedral is due to Andrés de Vandelvira, who is responsible for the spatial conception, although with a difference in language between the two sections of the head and the rest. When the master died in 1575, the work was followed by his faithful collaborator, Alonso Barba, and by Francisco del Castillo, to whom the design of the great vault of the transept may belong, while the northern portal, today the main one, would be scored by Juan Bautista Villalpando when we have the information.

The Vandelvirian space is defined by the use of cruciform pillars with attached half columns and a piece of entablature on which the transverse arches and formers that make up the vaulted vaults, so characteristic of Vandelvira, are covered with which the entire space is turned. An open space as the naves have nothing more than these supports for separation, with no difference in height between them, and generous illumination radiated from the upper part of the side walls thanks to the elegant windows in the shape of "Serlian" (lintel, arch, lintel), which creates that calm and balanced atmosphere so of the classic Renaissance taste.

Outside, the volume of the church powerfully configures the Plaza de Santa María, a large space in which the Open Council of the city met at the foot of the temple steps in the s. XIII. The tower, with its graceful body of octagonal, Renaissance bells, although rebuilt in the middle of the last century, having collapsed in 1862, is a very powerful visual landmark for a very wide municipal area, which until the 16th century reached the Sierra Morena.

The oldest part, the section of the feet, is occupied by the prismatic body of the tower and the chapel of the Biedma or Las Ánimas, which dates from the late 15th century, as can be seen in the ornamentation of its main portal with a pointed arch with archivolts and cardina leaves and that of the adjoining sacristy, which has an ogee arch and rosette to the taste of the “flamboyant” or last Gothic. The large space is covered with a large rib vault in which the Biedma family coat of arms is located.

Next to it, on the southern wall, on the contrary, the last of the chapels built opens: the Golden Chapel, founded in 1598 by Don Cristóbal Molina and his son, Pedro Muñiz de Molina, dean who was of the Cathedral of Lima , on whose founding board is his brother-in-law Lorenzo de Cabrera, hence Cabreras and Molinas are the shields of its cover. This, like the interior, is sumptuous due to its ornamentation, with a funerary theme, in line with the late Renaissance classicism dominant in Jaén and very Vandelvian.

The immediate part at the foot of the transept, the most modern, built after a collapse in 1667, has the simplest pillars, without a pedestal, with Corinthian columns with anthropomorphic elements. In the central nave was the choir, from the 17th century, dismembered and the backs of the chairs were distributed in the side chapels, forming altarpieces, as well as the organ box and other elements of the retrochoir.

The vaulted vaults are decorated with scallops in the central nave and other geometric motifs. More spectacular is the great vault of the transept, completed in 1593, a pseudo-dome that develops large surfaces like pendentives where the figures of the evangelists go.

The section of the chevet, the first phase of the new cathedral, presents more complex pillars and capitals of excellent size with fantastic figures and elements; the vaults are vaulted, but with nerves, what Vandelvira calls "enjarjadas", one of them with a lantern. It lacks the beautiful "Serlianas" of the other phase, making the space darker and more archaic. On the contrary, the best Renaissance chapels are concentrated here, especially the three in the nave of the Gospel. The first from the cruise is that of Santiago, of a late classicism, but very faithful to the Vandelvira models. The second, that of San José, also Vandelvirian, except at the top, stands out for its magnificent stone carvings of San Pedro and San Pablo, as well as the reliefs. Also the last one, that of San Miguel or Los Arcedianos, made of polychrome stone, is the only one documented as by Vandelvira, following a compositional scheme undoubtedly inspired by the elevations of the monumental Capilla de los Benavides, in San Francisco of the same city. . Here its altarpiece is baroque, from the 18th century, like the canvas of the titular saint.

The Capilla Mayor, with a flat front, is covered by a magnificent ribbed vault of the “enjarjada” type. On the Epistle side, the Chapel of the Tabernacle, open at the head, dates from 1620 and is covered with a half orange. It must have been all painted, according to some remains. Also close to it, the Los Dolores chapel, like a large niche formed by a semicircular arch.