The façade of St. Mary's Church, made in a restrained Baroque style (18th century), does not reveal the importance of this medieval church, located most likely in the site of the previous cathedral of Ourense. The only remains of this cathedral are some columns and some marble-like capitals preserved in the present façade and originating in the 5th or 6th century. From an inscription on the side, it is known that the church was rebuilt in 1084 after its devastation, and again in 1772. The church can’t be understood without its monumental stairway, which connects the secluded Magdalene Square with the Main Square.
Inside, there is an altarpiece made of wood -in its natural colour- in Churrigueresque style, which houses the statue of Holy Mary, Mother of God, patron of the guild of tailors, from the 16th century. This statue is taken out in a procession on Holy Saturday, traditionally conducted by tailors, and also on Easter Sunday, when it stars in the so-called Desplante (Ceremony of the Affront). This curious ritual evokes the conflicts that for years confronted the bishop and the municipal corporation in the city.
The church can’t be understood without its monumental stairway, in which each Easter Sunday takes place the Ceremony of the Affront.
Probable site of the original cathedral of Ourense: it was devoted to a French saint, St Martin of Tours, whom tradition attributes the miraculous healing of the son of Suebi King Chararic, who in gratitude turned him into the saint patron of the city. This first church will be devastated by Norman and Mozarabic incursions and rebuilt in 1084, as a side inscription reads. That basilica was demolished in 1722 to erect the new church (as it appears on another inscription in the same place) in Baroque style, on the initiative of bishop Marcelino Siuri, who increased the stonework. This explains why the bishop’s palace is at its side.
From the first basilica only a series of double columns in the second and third floor remain, of late-roman or visigoth style, similar to those of the church of St Columba of Bande. It has three naves and three lanes framed by fluted pilasters. In the upper body, there are heraldic motifs, a pediment and two towers on the sides. Inside, a Latin cross floor with ribbed vault, rectangular header and a projecting transept.
It should also be noted, in an altarpiece of the transpept nave to the right, a statue of the Pieta (1775, made in polychrome wood, rococo style) of remarkable quality and pathos. In the predella of the altarpiece we may find the recumbent body of Christ.References:
Angelokastro is a Byzantine castle on the island of Corfu. It is located at the top of the highest peak of the island"s shoreline in the northwest coast near Palaiokastritsa and built on particularly precipitous and rocky terrain. It stands 305 m on a steep cliff above the sea and surveys the City of Corfu and the mountains of mainland Greece to the southeast and a wide area of Corfu toward the northeast and northwest.
Angelokastro is one of the most important fortified complexes of Corfu. It was an acropolis which surveyed the region all the way to the southern Adriatic and presented a formidable strategic vantage point to the occupant of the castle.
Angelokastro formed a defensive triangle with the castles of Gardiki and Kassiopi, which covered Corfu"s defences to the south, northwest and northeast.
The castle never fell, despite frequent sieges and attempts at conquering it through the centuries, and played a decisive role in defending the island against pirate incursions and during three sieges of Corfu by the Ottomans, significantly contributing to their defeat.
During invasions it helped shelter the local peasant population. The villagers also fought against the invaders playing an active role in the defence of the castle.
The exact period of the building of the castle is not known, but it has often been attributed to the reigns of Michael I Komnenos and his son Michael II Komnenos. The first documentary evidence for the fortress dates to 1272, when Giordano di San Felice took possession of it for Charles of Anjou, who had seized Corfu from Manfred, King of Sicily in 1267.
From 1387 to the end of the 16th century, Angelokastro was the official capital of Corfu and the seat of the Provveditore Generale del Levante, governor of the Ionian islands and commander of the Venetian fleet, which was stationed in Corfu.
The governor of the castle (the castellan) was normally appointed by the City council of Corfu and was chosen amongst the noblemen of the island.
Angelokastro is considered one of the most imposing architectural remains in the Ionian Islands.