New Cathedral of Salamanca

Salamanca, Spain

The New Cathedral is located adjacent to the Old Cathedral in Salamanca. It was constructed between the 16th and 18th centuries in two styles: late Gothic and Baroque. Building began in 1513 and the cathedral was consecrated in 1733.

The building began at a time when the gothic style was becoming less popular and was merging with the new Renaissance style, giving the resulting Plateresque style in Spain. However, this cathedral retained more of its Gothic character because the authorities wanted the new cathedral to blend with the old one. Thus the new cathedral was constructed, continuing with Gothic style during the 17th and 18th centuries. However, during the 18th century, two elements were added that broke with the showy form with the predominant style of the building: a Baroque cupola on the transept and the final stages of the bell tower (92 m). The new cathedral was constructed without the subsequent destruction of the old cathedral as normally happened but a wall of the new cathedral, leans on the North wall of the old one. For this reason, the old cathedral had to be reinforced, and the bell tower was constructed on the old one. Two of the main architects of the cathedral were Juan Gil de Hontañón and his son Rodrigo Gil de Hontañón in 1538.

Cracks and broken windows are visible reminders of the devastating effects of the 1755 Lisbon earthquake, still visible today. After the earthquake, repairs were necessary to the cupola and the base of the tower which were reinforced with a lining of lines of sillares, in the form of a pyramid trunk that spoiled the basic profile of the tower (this tower is a virtual twin of the tower of the cathedral of Segovia). The moment of this catastrophe is commemorated with the 'Mariquelo' tradition on October 31, when every year residents climb to the cupola high above and play flutes and drums.

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Founded: 1513-1733
Category: Religious sites in Spain

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4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Rufous Harford (2 years ago)
Two cathedrals - the old one from the 13th C that's still a bit wonky after the Lisbon earthquake of 1755, and the 'new' one from the 16th C that's bolted onto the old. Look for the astronaut carved into the wall decorations on the outside wall of the new one. Both stunning.
Michael Dobbs (2 years ago)
Amazing place, you have to pay to look inside though?
Oliver Page (2 years ago)
Stunning. Celestial. Gothic cathedral to match Leon and Borgos.
Lolla T (2 years ago)
This place is really cool. When you walk in it gives you a nice chill compared to what it feels likes outside. You are able to buy tickets and take a tour around the place and it is worth it. Recommend to come here if you are interested in learning about religion.
mike yong (2 years ago)
Visited about 1330hr; minimum visitors. Both exterior & interior were amazing. (The astronaut & dragon with gelato were amusing). €6 for entry to both New & Old Cathedrals. Audio guide (inclusive in entry fee) was very informative. Spent about 3 hours absorbing the historical & architectural details!
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Quimper Cathedral

From 1239, Raynaud, the Bishop of Quimper, decided on the building of a new chancel destined to replace that of the Romanesque era. He therefore started, in the far west, the construction of a great Gothic cathedral which would inspire cathedral reconstructions in the Ile de France and would in turn become a place of experimentation from where would later appear ideas adopted by the whole of lower Brittany. The date of 1239 marks the Bishop’s decision and does not imply an immediate start to construction. Observation of the pillar profiles, their bases, the canopies, the fitting of the ribbed vaults of the ambulatory or the alignment of the bays leads us to believe, however, that the construction was spread out over time.

The four circular pillars mark the start of the building site, but the four following adopt a lozenge-shaped layout which could indicate a change of project manager. The clumsiness of the vaulted archways of the north ambulatory, the start of the ribbed vaults at the height of the south ambulatory or the choice of the vaults descending in spoke-form from the semi-circle which allows the connection of the axis chapel to the choir – despite the manifest problems of alignment – conveys the hesitancy and diverse influences in the first phase of works which spread out until the start of the 14th century.

At the same time as this facade was built (to which were added the north and south gates) the building of the nave started in the east and would finish by 1460. The nave is made up of six bays with one at the level of the facade towers and flanked by double aisles – one wide and one narrow (split into side chapels) – in an extension of the choir arrangements.

The choir presents four right-hand bays with ambulatory and side chapels. It is extended towards the east of 3-sided chevet which opens onto a semi-circle composed of five chapels and an apsidal chapel of two bays and a flat chevet consecrated to Our Lady.

The three-level elevation with arches, triforium and galleries seems more uniform and expresses anglo-Norman influence in the thickness of the walls (Norman passageway at the gallery level) or the decorative style (heavy mouldings, decorative frieze under the triforium). This building site would have to have been overseen in one shot. Undoubtedly interrupted by the war of Succession (1341-1364) it draws to a close with the building of the lierne vaults (1410) and the fitting of stained-glass windows. Bishop Bertrand de Rosmadec and Duke Jean V, whose coat of arms would decorate these vaults, finished the chancel before starting on the building of the facade and the nave.

Isolated from its environment in the 19th century, the cathedral was – on the contrary – originally very linked to its surroundings. Its site and the orientation of the facade determined traffic flow in the town. Its positioning close to the south walls resulted in particuliarities such as the transfer of the side gates on to the north and south facades of the towers: the southern portal of Saint Catherine served the bishop’s gate and the hospital located on the left bank (the current Préfecture) and the north gate was the baptismal porch – a true parish porch with its benches and alcoves for the Apostles’ statues turned towards the town, completed by an ossuary (1514).

The west porch finds its natural place between the two towers. The entire aesthetic of these three gates springs from the Flamboyant era: trefoil, curly kale, finials, large gables which cut into the mouldings and balustrades. Pinnacles and recesses embellish the buttresses whilst an entire bestiary appears: monsters, dogs, mysterious figures, gargoyles, and with them a whole imaginary world promoting a religious and political programme. Even though most of the saints statues have disappeared an armorial survives which makes the doors of the cathedral one of the most beautiful heraldic pages imaginable: ducal ermine, the Montfort lion, Duchess Jeanne of France’s coat of arms side by side with the arms of the Cornouaille barons with their helmets and crests. One can imagine the impact of this sculpted decor with the colour and gilding which originally completed it.

At the start of the 16th century the construction of the spires was being prepared when building was interrupted, undoubtedly for financial reasons. Small conical roofs were therefore placed on top of the towers. The following centuries were essentially devoted to putting furnishings in place (funeral monuments, altars, statues, organs, pulpit). Note the fire which destroyed the spire of the transept cross in 1620 as well as the ransacking of the cathedral in 1793 when nearly all the furnishings disappeared in a « bonfire of the saints ».

The 19th century would therefore inherit an almost finished but mutilated building and would devote itself to its renovation according to the tastes and theories of the day.