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Catedral de Jaén
Plaza Santa María, s/n. 23002, Jaén How to get
The cathedral of Jaén, Andrés de Vandelvira's masterpiece and source of inspiration for the construction of many cathedrals in Latin America, is considered one of the most notable works of the Renaissance in Andalusia, hence the process to achieve its declaration began a few years ago. as World Heritage by UNESCO.
Asset of Cultural Interest. Monument. 06/03/1931. Jaén became the new episcopal seat in 1248, shortly after its conquest by Fernando III. Following the tradition of occupying the space of a mosque, consecrating it, the primitive cathedral maintained its structure for more than a century until the second half of the s. XIV when Bishop Nicolás de Biedma decided to build a new building, already Gothic, with five naves and a cloister on the north side, since the wall ran to the south. One hundred years later this construction faltered and a new factory was started, around 1492, in the episcopate of Don Luis Osorio, within the current of flamboyant or last Gothic, it is supposed that with traces of Enrique Egas, but its true architect is Pedro López and Diego Martínez until in 1525 the dome collapsed over the transept, which put an end to the medieval project.
In 1548 the resumption of the works was decided, but now under the new style to the "old" or "Roman" then prevailing. To this end, the architects Jerónimo Quijano, Pedro Machuca and Andrés de Vandelvira are consulted, the latter being the one who remained as Senior Master from 1553 until his death in 1575. During this time only the auxiliary dependencies would be built: Chapter Room, Sacristy and Vault Pantheon plus the Archive and Library on the upper floor, which occupy the lateral block of the head in the southeast corner. Although it seems little, it is nevertheless enough to condition the outline of the development of the basilica body of the church by also leaving the elevation of the wall of the south nave raised. This scheme consisted of a floor plan with three naves, all at the same height, separated by cruciform pillars, according to the model of the Granada cathedral, which make up a modular structure covered with vaulted vaults. The most original will be the elevation of the wall, where each of the modules subdivides the great arch that forms it into two others at the height of the main floor, to give rise to chapels, and opening windows corresponding to rooms in the upper half and galleries, which run through the entire temple, plus the large windows or claristory in the tympanum of the great arch in the form of "serlianas".
This absolutely Vandelvirian scheme was continued by his rigger and faithful collaborator, Alonso Barba, until the end of the century, although with the opinions of other architects such as Francisco del Castillo, Juan Bautista Villalpando and Lázaro de Velasco, which varied little. Afterwards, the works were interrupted due to lack of means until they were started again in 1635, under the impulse of the Bishop Don Baltasar de Moscoso and the direction of the architect Juan de Aranda Salazar. This phase runs until 1660, the date on which the new cathedral was consecrated, when the section from the head to the transept had been completed, whose dome is a trace of Aranda. A third phase, undertaken in 1667 by the feet, will be directed by Aranda's disciple, Eufrasio López de Rojas, who designs the façade, later concluded by his successor in charge of the works, Blas Antonio Delgado, who finishes off the towers at the beginning of the s. XVIII. The last phase would be undertaken in 1736 under the direction of the man from Salamanca, José Gallego y Oviedo del Portal, and affects the section between the façade and the transept, focusing its intervention on the construction of the choir, perhaps the most dissonant part with the Renaissance project . Finally, Ventura Rodríguez, would finalize some details for its completion and above all, would design the magnificent Capilla del Sagrario, as an annexed temple, on the northwestern side, in perfect balance with the opposite of the Sacristy, in a Roman classicist baroque style, completed by his nephew Manuel Rodríguez, just in 1800.
Witnesses of the Gothic cathedral are the frieze with cardinas, fantastic zoomorphic motifs that run along the lower third of the outer wall of the chevet, thus arranged by Juan de Aranda, and a spiral staircase in the chapel on the north side of the chevet. The rest of the exterior elevation of the cathedral owes most of the designs of Juan de Aranda, with the exception of the façade, in part, and the block of the Sacristy and the southern façade of the transept, evidently Vandelvirian. The walls of these auxiliary rooms are very sober as are the openings that open in them, being the tondo with the episcopal shield of Don Francisco Delgado supported by a Renaissance “putti” of excellent size, on the wall of the sacristy and the coat of arms of the cathedral, which overlooks the fish market. At this point, the high gallery in the corner, like a gazebo, with semicircular arches, lightens the compact wall. Below it, the southern façade of the transept opens, dedicated to the Assumption, in Doric and Ionic order, a typical Vandelvira composition with paired columns and closed by a triangular pediment. A highlight on this south wall is a large 17th century sundial.
The north portal of the transept, also very classic, but with greater relief and ornamentation than the one on the opposite side, is the work of Juan de Aranda made in 1642.
The façade, considered by critics as one of the first great baroque facades in Spain, although it was definitively designed by López de Rojas in 1667, was structurally proposed by Aranda; that is, its three doors with pairs of columns between them. The giant, composite order and the setback of the upper body, which leaves a passage like a balcony between the towers, is inspired by the Basilica of Saint Peter in Rome and the church of El Escorial, respectively. Altogether, it is a large stone altarpiece, where the theme of the Assumption, the protagonist, on the central door, is joined by those of the city's patron saints: San Miguel and Santa Catalina, on the sides; Saint Peter and Saint Paul, to the left and right, pointing to the axes of the Gospel and the Epistle, and crowning the column axes the four Evangelists and the four Fathers of the Church (Saint Ambrose, Saint Augustine, Saint Jerome and Saint Gregory), authentic "Pillars" of the Church, and in the center the conquering king, Fernando III, all in baroque and theatrical movement, due to the hand of Pedro Roldán and his workshop. Between San Fernando and La Asunción, underlining the importance of the central axis, is the relief of the Holy Face, an image that is the object of pilgrimage, which is kept in this cathedral, and which was shown on designated days from the central balcony on which it stands.
Inside, the cathedral of Jaén stands out for the harmony between all its parts, a fundamental premise of Renaissance beauty; a calm and luminous space only altered by the excessive size of the choir in proportion to the rest and its protruding forms; Baroque work, as has been said, but whose interior seating is largely the primitive one from 1519-1526, carved by the Flemish Gutierre Gierero and Jerónimo Quijano, among other masters. The retrochoir is made of inlaid colored marbles, so to the Andalusian taste of the 18th century.
For the rest in the chapels and elevation in general, no difference is noticed despite the different phases of their construction over two hundred years. The three largest chapels, with a single hole, correspond to the head, the largest being the one in the center or of the Holy Face, as the one considered a relic of the Face, or "vero imago", of Christ is kept there. It adorns with pictures, copies of the Royal Collection, made by Sebastián Martínez in the mid-17th century. The auxiliary pieces are, as has been said, the first to be made of the new cathedral. Of these, the first to be completed was the Chapter House, parallel to the head, with an entrance from the Chapel of Santiago. It was completed in 1556. The room, with a rectangular floor plan, is covered with a barrel vault and in its elevation, very flat, the motif of a Roman triumphal arch between pairs of pilasters, in Ionic order, occupies the surrounding area. front an original painting altarpiece, very Italian, the work of Pedro Machuca and his son Luis, whose main iconographic theme is the figure of San Pedro de Osma. Adjacent to it, but perpendicular to the axis, the Sacristy, perhaps with justice the star piece of the cathedral and one of Vandelvira's masterpieces, completed shortly after his death. Here, unlike the previous room, the elevation is all protuberance with pairs of columns arranged in the background on which arches of different light ride in alternating rhythm. It is also covered with a cannon, but with arches at its base like trusses, which repeat in parallel the rhythm of the lower ones. The sacristy has its entrance from a vestibule that communicates with the transept of the church and serves as a distributor, both for accessing the sacristy and for going up to the upper floors and descending to the Crypt by steps under the structural form of a large “Serliana”, in whose central hollow a scale copy of the famous Renaissance seat monstrance, disappeared, of Juan Ruiz “el Vandalino” is exhibited.
The Crypt or Pantheon of Canons, reproduces the three spaces on the main floor (Vestibule, Sacristy and Chapter House) in a display of stone construction technique (stereotomy) with hardly any parallel in Spanish architecture. At the entrance itself, the comprehensive shape of the great arch that shelters three other unequal ones, like those of the Sacristy, is surprising, linked by an oculus, all transparent to bring light to a subway. In the main room, which functions as a chapel, the “flat” vault is another stereotomic wonder, with powerful lateral niches that penetrate the vault, being well illuminated by a cellar light coming from some ground-level windows on the street. .
As for the temple of El Sagrario, a project by Ventura Rodríguez from 1764, which came to replace a previous one by Juan de Aranda, which was damaged after the Lisbon earthquake (1751), its oval plan with its large octagonal dome, which is so reminiscent of the Bernini's San Andrés in Rome, is another superb response to continuity in the domain of stonework with impeccable execution, except for the angels at the base of the vault, the work of the French Verdiguier, of mediocre workmanship. Equally magnificent from the point of view of its stone construction is the wide crypt, with direct entrance to the street through the Plaza de San Francisco.