The other day I showed you my list of the top Romanesque buildings in El Camino. As you might remember, the beginnings of el Camino were closely linked to this artistic style, but everything in like, things change and evolve. The Catholic religion in its constant expansion had to cater for different and new needs, which in art translated to the transition from Romanesque to Gothic style. More spectacular and bigger buildings could house more church goers, the decoration became more elaborate, to give greater accuracy to the stories it tried to tell; the apparition of stain glass like a new medium to tell stories and create ambiance. These are only some of the characteristics of this new style under which the first big cathedrals of Europe were built.
On this list you can find my choice of the most emblematic buildings along El Camino de Santiago.
7. Santa María de la Asunción y de San Frutos Cathedral in Segovia
Also known as the Dame of the Cathedrals (Dama de las Catedrales) for its elegance and size. Segovia Cathedral is mostly Gothic but it also shows some Renaissance treats, something understable given that it was started in the XVI century but finished in the XVIII. At the time it was started the Renaissance was in full swing in Europe. In its interior are outstanding the Main Chapel (Capilla Mayor) in Baroque style, and the Choir. This cathedral was not the first one built in Segovia, the first one had been that of Santa María.
6. Santa María la Real´s Cathedral, Pamplona
It is not usual to find a cathedral that does not have at least a couple of cohabiting styles, although usually one of them is prevailing. This is the case of Pamplona´s Cathedral, mostly Gothic (clearly visible in its interior), but its western façade shows Neoclassical manufacture and therefore of a later date (XVIII century). I have also included it in my list because it is the most complete cathedral in Spain, it has not also the strictly religious buildings but it also preserves the ancillary buildings for the life of the clergy, such as the refectory or the dormitory.
5. Catedral de Santa María de Toledo
If I had just mentioned how rare is a cathedral in one single style, well, this is just one of the rare ones. It is in my list because it has an impressive façade but also in its interior has many beauties, such as the chapel (Capilla los Reyes Nuevos) and El Transparente (The transparent), an impressive Baroque work that is half way between the sculpture and architecture by Narciso Tomé.
In its interior there is also one of the best preserved processional monstrance one of the most impressive in the whole of Spain, by Enrique de Arfe, a German goldsmith that lived in Spain between the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.
4. Catedral de Santa Eulalia de Barcelona
Where the cathedral stands today there used to be a Romanesque cathedral, and before this there used to be a Visigothic church, but also, before there was a Paleo-Christian, it is not that the place does not have history! The current building was developed between the XIII y XV centuries, although the façade is XIX century although in Gothic style. The last addition was an improvement to the awful façade it had in 1880. Inside there is the tomb of Santa Eulalia, patroness saint of the cathedral.
3. Catedral de Santa María de la Sede de Sevilla
It is not only the biggest Gothic cathedral in Spain, it is the biggest Gothic cathedral in the world (and the third biggest in the world of any style). It is well known that this World Heritage cathedral was built over the Aljama Mosque, of which only the minaret remains, the famous Giralda. In my personal opinion, the most interesting thing in this cathedral is the great variety of styles of its vidrieras (stained windows), due to the long time it took to be built and the amount of different masters that worked on it from different periods of time, we can find stained windows from the Gothic to the Neoclassical styles, Renaissance and Baroque, by renowned artists Enrique Alemán, Arnao de Vergara and Arnao de Flandes, or Vicente Menardo.
2. Catedral de Santa María de Burgos
It is difficult to name all of the reasons why this cathedral on the list, but I will try. For a start, the exterior is French style, is spectacular, and its façades are in textbooks to study the parameters of the European Gothic style. The interior is mostly Gothic but it has some Renaissance and Baroque elements, most outstandingly the Golden Stairs (Escalera Dorada), the reliefs on the ambulatory, the tombs of the constables and the altarpieces, not only the main altarpiece, also the some of the ones within some of its chapels. And I am sure that I am forgetting something out! By the way, Arnao de Vergara, did some of the stained glass here and in Seville Cathedra
1. Catedral de León
I am not keeping account of everything, but maybe Leon Cathedral has not got as many relevant elements in its interior as the one in Burgos, but nevertheless…Why did I place it on my number one position? It could seem unfair, but it is not at all. This cathedral is considered the best example of the Gothic in Spain: the substitution of wall with windows as an art. The beauty of the stained glass gives the inside of the temple a mystic ambiance that it is difficult to compete with any kind of decoration.
Si queréis saber de donde viene la corriente de la desmaterialización del muro, os recomiendo indagar en la interesante figura del abad Suger de Saint-Denis, padre del estilo gótico.
Y esto ha sido todo por hoy. ¿Ya sabéis como funciona esto no? Abajo tenéis una cajita muy bonita donde podéis dejar un comentario. ¿Cambiaríais alguna de las catedrales de la lista? ¿El orden quizá? Dejádnoslo saber y no os olvidéis de compartir y seguir a Vojo en Facebook, Twitter e Instagram. ¡Hasta la próxima!
Header photo: Julen Landa (Flickr).
Translation: Elvira Sánchez.