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:
Castle of Lorca (Castillo de Lorca) is a fortress of medieval origin constructed between the 9th and 15th centuries. It consists of a series of defensive structures that, during the Middle Ages, made the town and the fortress an impregnable point in the southeast part of the Iberian Peninsula. Lorca Castle was a key strategic point of contention between Christians and Muslims during the Reconquista.
Archaeological excavations have revealed that the site of the castle has been inhabited since Neolithic times.
It has not been determined exactly when a castle or fortress was first built on the hill. The first written documentation referring to a castle at Lorca is of Muslim origin, which in the 9th century, indicates that the city of Lurqa was an important town in the area ruled by Theudimer (Tudmir). During Muslim rule, Lorca Castle was an impregnable fortress and its interior was divided into two sections by the Espaldón Wall. In the western part, there was an area used to protect livestock and grain in times of danger. The eastern part had a neighbourhood called the barrio de Alcalá.
Lorca was conquered by the Castilian Infante Don Alfonso, the future Alfonso X, in 1244, and the fortress became a key defensive point against the Kingdom of Granada. For 250 years, Lorca Castle was a watchpoint on the border between the Christian kingdom of Murcia and the Muslim state of Granada.
Alfonso X ordered the construction of the towers known as the Alfonsina and Espolón Towers, and strengthened and fixed the walls. Hardly a trace of the Muslim fortress remained due to this reconstruction. Muslim traces remain in the foundation stones and the wall known as the muro del Espaldón.
The Jewish Quarter was found within the alcazaba, the Moorish fortification, separated from the rest of the city by its walls. The physical separation had the purpose of protecting the Jewish people in the town from harm, but also had the result of keeping Christians and Jews separate, with the Christians inhabiting the lower part of town.
The remains of the Jewish Quarter extended over an area of 5,700 square m, and 12 homes and a synagogue have been found; the synagogue dates from the 14th century and is the only one found in the Murcia. The streets of the town had an irregular layout, adapted to the landscape, and is divided into four terraces. The synagogue was in the central location, and around it were the homes. The homes were of rectangular shape, with various compartmentalized rooms. The living quarters were elevated and a common feature was benches attached to the walls, kitchens, stand for earthenware jars, or cupboards.
With the disappearance of the frontier after the conquest of Granada in 1492, Lorca Castle no longer became as important as before. With the expulsion of the Jews by order of Ferdinand and Isabella, Lorca Castle was also depopulated as a result. The castle was abandoned completely, and was almost a complete ruin by the 18th century. In the 19th century, the castle was refurbished due to the War of Spanish Independence. The walls and structures were repaired or modified and its medieval look changed. A battery of cannons was installed, for example, during this time. In 1931 Lorca Castle was declared a National Historic Monument.
Currently, a parador (luxury hotel) has been built within the castle. As a result, archaeological discoveries have been found, including the Jewish Quarter.