Santander Cathedral was built between the end of the 12th century and the 14th century on top of the former Santander Abbey.
The church was built from the 8th century on the hill known as Cerro de Somorrostro, surrounded by water, where the Roman settlement of Portus Victoriae Iuliobrigensium had previously been located, in order to keep safe the relics of the saints martyred in Calahorra five centuries before, when their skulls were brought to Santander by those escaping the Muslim invasion of the Iberian Peninsula.
The construction of the lower floor dates from the 12th century. Initially the abbey church, it was made a collegiate church in 1131 by King Alfonso VII, the Emperor. Its reconstruction in its current form was started by Alfonso VIII, after 1187. The upper floor of the church was built between the end of the 12th century and the start of the 14th. Finally, the Gothic cloister was built.
The main portal, constructed around 1230, is of special interest, as it contains the first known carved coat of arms showing lions and castles together, after the final unification of Castile and León in the time of Fernando III, whose son, Sancho, was abbot here.
The church was expanded in the 16th and 17th centuries, incorporating new chapels. In 1754 the diocese of Santander was created, and the collegiate church was transformed into a cathedral.
It suffered considerable damage as a result of the enormous dynamite explosion on the steamship Cabo Machichaco in the harbour in 1893. After surviving the Spanish Civil War, it suffered serious damage in the Santander Fire of 1941, and needed extensive reconstruction and repair from 1942 to 1953, when it was reopened. The architects in charge of this task were José Manuel Bringas and Juan José Resines del Castillo.
The church comprises two overlapping floors and a cloister with annexed rooms. The lower and older church, now the crypt, often referred to as the Iglesia del Cristo, contains a nave and two aisles. The whole vaulted structure supports the weight of the upper floor, which explains the thickness and robustness of the construction. Its decoration consists mainly of plant-like ornaments.
The principal church of this monumental complex was built during the 13th century in the same simple Gothic style that had been used for the preceding Church of the Christ. It lost most of its treasures in the above-mentioned fire of 1941, although some survived and others were later recovered. Most of the decoration of the arches, columns, entablature and doorways is preserved. The portal with the coat of arms of Castile and León is specially important. The windows are decorated with stained glass, although it is modern.
The cathedral has numerous chapels distributed along the walls of the two side aisles to the north and south. To the south, the first chapel is the work of Fernando Herrera Calderón dating from 1624; the second one was made by Juan Alvarado in the 17th century; the third one is by Sebastián de la Puebla, and dates from 1622. To the north, the first chapel is from 1671, and has Baroque characteristics; the second one is the Penitence Chapel and contains a baptismal font; and the third one holds the tomb of Marcelino Menéndez Pelayo sculpted by Victorio Macho.
Due to the reconstruction project, many important Baroque elements were suppressed that had formed an extension to the church and were the work of José de Cereceda dating from the 18th century.
The church was expanded in the middle of the 20th century by the addition of a new presbytery and ambulatory. In order to build these new elements, the stone choir that had survived the fire, the Martyrs' Door and the monumental stairs had to be removed.
The cloister, with a trapezoidal shape, was built during the first half of the 14th century in the same architectural style. Through the doors of its western wall, it was possible to access the great Hospital of the Holy Ghost and the pilgrims' church on the Way of St. James.References:
The Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere is one of the oldest churches of Rome. The basic floor plan and wall structure of the church date back to the 340s, and much of the structure to 1140-43. The first sanctuary was built in 221 and 227 by Pope Callixtus I and later completed by Pope Julius I.
The inscription on the episcopal throne states that this is the first church in Rome dedicated to Mary, mother of Jesus, although some claim that privilege belongs to the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore. A Christian house-church was founded here about 220 by Pope Saint Callixtus I (217-222) on the site of the Taberna meritoria, a refuge for retired soldiers. The area was made available for Christian use by Emperor Alexander Severus when he settled a dispute between the Christians and tavern-keepers.
The church underwent two restorations in the fifth and eighth centuries and in 1140-43 it was re-erected on its old foundations under Pope Innocent II.