Built between 1151 and 1174, Zamora Cathedral is one of the finest examples of Spanish Romanesque architecture.
A previous church, also entitled to El Salvador ('Holy Savior') existed at the time of King Alfonso VII of Castile, but it was apparently in ruins, so that the king donated the church of St. Thomas in the city to act as cathedral.
The church was built under bishop Esteban, under the patronage of Alfonso VII and his sister, Sancha Raimúndez. The date of construction (1151-1174) is traditionally attested by an epigraphy in the northern side of the transept, although recent discoveries have proven that the church had been already begun in 1139, at the time of bishop Bernardo.
The cathedral was consecrated in 1174 by bishop Esteban, although works continued under his successor Guillermo (1176-1192), including the transept. The cloister and the bell tower date to the first half of the 13th century. The designer of the church is unknown.
The building, in Romanesque style, is on the Latin cross plan; it has a nave and two aisles, a short transept and three semicircular apses. The latter were replaced by Gothic ones in the 15th century. The transept is covered by barrel vault, the aisles by groin vault and the nave by cross vault in late-Romanesque or Proto-Gothic style.
Over the transept is the dome-tower, featuring 16 side narrow and tall semicircular windows enclosed in and between four turrets. These support two domes, an external one with a slightly pointed top, and an interior one with semicircular shape. Over the turrest are small domes, also with columns and thin windows, and typani with similar decoration. With its exterior, original scale decoration, the dome it is one of the symbols of the city.
On the south side of the church, facing the Palacio Episcopal (Bishop's Palace), is the richly sculptured Puerta del Obispo (Bishop's Doorway). It is divided into three vertical sectors, divided by blind columns and topped by semicircular arcades. In the lower sides are lunettes with Romanesque sculptures.
Notable features of the interior the choir-stalls constructed in 1512-1516 by Juan de Bruselas, carved not only with figures of saints and famous men of antiquity but also with vigorous and earthy scenes of country life. The Capilla Major has a marble table, and the high altar is flanked by two Mudéjar pulpits. In the Capilla del Cristo de las Injurias, which is found to the right of the south doorway, is a large figure of Christ by Gaspar Becerra.
The Cathedral contains numerous tombs; particularly notable is the filigree carving on tomb of Grado in the Capilla de San Juan at east end. The Capilla del Cardenal (named after cardinal Juan de Mella), also at the east end, has an altar by Fernando Gallego, in Gothic-Flemish style (1490-1494).
The bell tower, with a height of 45 m, was built in the 13th century in Romanesque style.
The Cathedral Museum, in the 17th century cloister, is notable particularly for its fine Flemish tapestries of the 15th-17th centuries depicting scenes from the Trojan War, Hannibal's Italian campaign and the life of Tarquin, the Etruscan king of Rome. Another treasure is a Late Gothic monstrance of 1515.References:
Heraclea Lyncestis was an ancient Greek city in Macedon, ruled later by the Romans. It was founded by Philip II of Macedon in the middle of the 4th century BC. The city was named in honor of the mythological hero Heracles. The name Lynkestis originates from the name of the ancient kingdom, conquered by Philip, where the city was built.
Heraclea was a strategically important town during the Hellenistic period, as it was at the edge of Macedon"s border with Epirus to the west and Paeonia to the north, until the middle of the 2nd century BC, when the Romans conquered Macedon and destroyed its political power. The main Roman road in the area, Via Egnatia went through Heraclea, and Heraclea was an important stop. The prosperity of the city was maintained mainly due to this road.
The Roman emperor Hadrian built a theatre in the center of the town, on a hill, when many buildings in the Roman province of Macedonia were being restored. It began being used during the reign of Antoninus Pius. Inside the theatre there were three animal cages and in the western part a tunnel. The theatre went out of use during the late 4th century AD, when gladiator fights in the Roman Empire were banned, due to the spread of Christianity, the formulation of the Eastern Roman Empire, and the abandonment of, what was then perceived as, pagan rituals and entertainment.
In the early Byzantine period (4th to 6th centuries AD) Heraclea was an important episcopal centre. A small and a great basilica, the bishop"s residence, and a funerary basilica and the necropolis are some of the remains of this period. Three naves in the Great Basilica are covered with mosaics of very rich floral and figurative iconography; these well preserved mosaics are often regarded as fine examples of the early Christian art period.
The city was sacked by Ostrogoth/Visigoth forces, commanded by Theodoric the Great in 472 AD and again in 479 AD. It was restored in the late 5th and early 6th century. When an earthquake struck in 518 AD, the inhabitants of Heraclea gradually abandoned the city. Subsequently, at the eve of the 7th century, the Dragovites, a Slavic tribe pushed down from the north by the Avars, settled in the area. The last coin issue dates from ca. 585, which suggests that the city was finally captured by the Slavs. As result, in place of the deserted city theatre several huts were built.
The Episcopacy Residence was excavated between 1970 and 1975. The western part was discovered first and the southern side is near the town wall. The luxury rooms are located in the eastern part. The 2nd, 3rd and 4th rooms all have mosaic floors. Between the 3rd and 4th rooms there is a hole that led to the eastern entrance of the residence. The hole was purposefully created between the 4th and 6th century.