The Collegiate church of Santa María la Mayor (Church of Saint Mary the Great) is one of the most characteristic examples of transitional Romanesque architecture in Spain, the church of Santa María la Mayor is inspired by the Cathedral of Zamora, in turn inspired by the Old Cathedral of Salamanca. The tower-dome is usually listed as one of the four most typical in León together with those in the cathedrals of Salamanca, Plasencia and Zamora.
It was begun around 1170, and was finished in the mid-13th century. Two different directors of the work have been identified, according to the different types of stone used (limestone in the old sections, sandstone in the most recent ones), and by the barrel vaults in the transept. The church is on the Latin cross plan, with a nave and two aisles, with a transept over whose crossing is the hexadecagonal dome. The transept ends with three semicircular apses.
Notable is the Majesty Portico (Pórtico de la Majestad), which houses the southern entrance. It was built in the reign of Sancho IV of Castile and León (1284–1295), and is decorated with polychrome sculptures depicting scenes of the life of the Virgin, Christ and the Final Judgement.
Also in the church are the Flemish painting La Virgen de la Mosca ('Virgin of the Fly') and an unusual sculpture of a Pregnant Virgin, dating to the 13th century. The painting of the Virgin of the Fly is especially unusual because of the realistic portrayal of a fly on the tunic which covers the Virgin's knee. Studies of the work demonstrate that this insect was added later. These same studies have pointed out numerous touchings-up in the original painting, such as the halo that surrounds the head of the Virgin, previously covered by a veil, or the rich embroidery on the dress of Saint Catherine of Alexandria, whose face has a great resemblance to some paintings of Isabella I of Castile.References:
Kirkjubøargarður ('Yard of Kirkjubøur', also known as King"s Farm) is one of the oldest still inhabited wooden houses of the world. The farm itself has always been the largest in the Faroe Islands. The old farmhouse dates back to the 11th century. It was the episcopal residence and seminary of the Diocese of the Faroe Islands, from about 1100. Sverre I of Norway (1151–1202), grew up here and went to the priest school. The legend says, that the wood for the block houses came as driftwood from Norway and was accurately bundled and numbered, just for being set up. Note, that there is no forest in the Faroes and wood is a very valuable material. Many such wood legends are thus to be found in Faroese history.
The oldest part is a so-called roykstova (reek parlour, or smoke room). Perhaps it was moved one day, because it does not fit to its foundation. Another ancient room is the loftstovan (loft room). It is supposed that Bishop Erlendur wrote the 'Sheep Letter' here in 1298. This is the earliest document of the Faroes we know today. It is the statute concerning sheep breeding on the Faroes. Today the room is the farm"s library. The stórastovan (large room) is from a much later date, being built in 1772.
Though the farmhouse is a museum, the 17th generation of the Patursson Family, which has occupied it since 1550, is still living here. Shortly after the Reformation in the Faroe Islands in 1538, all the real estate of the Catholic Church was seized by the King of Denmark. This was about half of the land in the Faroes, and since then called King"s Land (kongsjørð). The largest piece of King"s Land was the farm in Kirkjubøur due to the above-mentioned Episcopal residence. This land is today owned by the Faroese government, and the Paturssons are tenants from generation to generation. It is always the oldest son, who becomes King"s Farmer, and in contrast to the privately owned land, the King"s Land is never divided between the sons.
The farm holds sheep, cattle and some horses. It is possible to get a coffee here and buy fresh mutton and beef directly from the farmer. In the winter season there is also hare hunting for the locals. Groups can rent the roykstovan for festivities and will be served original Faroese cuisine.
Other famous buildings directly by the farmhouse are the Magnus Cathedral and the Saint Olav"s Church, which also date back to the mediaeval period. All three together represent the Faroe Island"s most interesting historical site.