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 Veste Coburg is one of Germany's largest castles. The hill on which the fortress stands was inhabited from the Neolithic to the early Middle Ages according to the results of excavations. The first documentary mention of Coburg occurs in 1056, in a gift by Richeza of Lotharingia. Richeza gave her properties to Anno II, Archbishop of Cologne, to allow the creation of Saalfeld Abbey in 1071. In 1075, a chapel dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Paul is mentioned on the fortified Coberg. This document also refers to a Vogt named Gerhart, implying that the local possessions of the Saalfeld Benedictines were administered from the hill.
A document signed by Pope Honorius II in 1206 refers to a mons coburg, a hill settlement. In the 13th century, the hill overlooked the town of Trufalistat (Coburg's predecessor) and the important trade route from Nuremberg via Erfurt to Leipzig. A document dated from 1225 uses the term schloss (palace) for the first time. At the time, the town was controlled by the Dukes of Merania. They were followed in 1248 by the Counts of Henneberg who ruled Coburg until 1353, save for a period from 1292-1312, when the House of Ascania was in charge.
In 1353, Coburg fell to Friedrich, Markgraf von Meißen of the House of Wettin. His successor, Friedrich der Streitbare was awarded the status of Elector of Saxony in 1423. As a result of the Hussite Wars the fortifications of the Veste were expanded in 1430.
In 1485, in the Partition of Leipzig, Veste Coburg fell to the Ernestine branch of the family. A year later, Elector Friedrich der Weise and Johann der Beständige took over the rule of Coburg. Johann used the Veste as a residence from 1499. In 1506/07, Lucas Cranach the Elder lived and worked in the Veste. From April to October 1530, during the Diet of Augsburg, Martin Luther sought protection at the Veste, as he was under an Imperial ban at the time. Whilst he stayed at the fortress, Luther continued with his work translating the Bible into German. In 1547, Johann Ernst moved the residence of the ducal family to a more convenient and fashionable location, Ehrenburg Palace in the town centre of Coburg. The Veste now only served as a fortification.
In the further splitting of the Ernestine line, Coburg became the seat of the Herzogtum von Sachsen-Coburg, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg. The first duke was Johann Casimir (1564-1633), who modernized the fortifications. In 1632, the fortress was unsuccessfully besieged by Imperial and Bavarian forces commanded by Albrecht von Wallenstein for seven days during the Thirty Years' War. Its defence was commanded by Georg Christoph von Taupadel. On 17 March 1635, after a renewed siege of five months' duration, the Veste was handed over to the Imperials under Guillaume de Lamboy.
From 1638-72, Coburg and the Veste were part of the Duchy of Saxe-Altenburg. In 1672, they passed to the Dukes of Saxe-Gotha and in 1735 it was joined to the Duchy of Saxe-Saalfeld. Following the introduction of Primogeniture by Duke Franz Josias (1697-1764), Coburg went by way of Ernst Friedrich (1724-1800) to Franz (1750-1806), noted art collector, and to Duke Ernst III (1784-1844), who remodeled the castle.
In 1826, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was created and Ernst now styled himself 'Ernst I'. Military use of the Veste had ceased by 1700 and outer fortifications had been demolished in 1803-38. From 1838-60, Ernst had the run-down fortress converted into a Gothic revival residence. In 1860, use of the Zeughaus as a prison (since 1782) was discontinued. Through a successful policy of political marriages, the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha established links with several of the major European dynasties, including that of the United Kingdom.
The dynasty ended with the reign of Herzog Carl Eduard (1884-1954), also known as Charles Edward, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a grandson of Queen Victoria, who until 1919 also was the 2nd Duke of Albany in the United Kingdom. Under his rule, many changes made to the Veste in the 19th century were reversed under architect Bodo Ebhardt, with the aim of restoring a more authentic medieval look. Along with the other ruling princes of Germany, Carl Eduard was deposed in the revolution of 1918-1919. After Carl Eduard abdicated in late 1918, the Veste came into possession of the state of Bavaria, but the former duke was allowed to live there until his death. The works of art collected by the family were gifted to the Coburger Landesstiftung, a foundation, which today runs the museum.
In 1945, the Veste was seriously damaged by artillery fire in the final days of World War II. After 1946, renovation works were undertaken by the new owner, the Bayerische Verwaltung der staatlichen Schlösser, Gärten und Seen.
The Veste is open to the public and today houses museums, including a collection art objects and paintings that belonged to the ducal family of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a large collection of arms and armor, significant examples of early modern coaches and sleighs, and important collections of prints, drawings and coins.