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:
Tyniec Benedictine abbey was founded by King Casimir the Restorer probably around 1044. Casimir decided to rebuild the newly established Kingdom of Poland, after a Pagan rebellion and a disastrous Czech raid of Duke Bretislaus I (1039). The Benedictines, invited to Tyniec by the King, were tasked with restoring order as well as cementing the position of the State and the Church. First Tyniec Abbot was Aaron, who became the Bishop of Kraków. Since there is no conclusive evidence to support the foundation date as 1040, some historians claim that the abbey was founded by Casimir the Restorer’ son, King Boleslaw II the Generous.
In the second half of the 11th century, a complex of Romanesque buildings was completed, consisting of a basilica and the abbey. In the 14th century, it was destroyed in Tatar and Czech raids, and in the 15th century it was rebuilt in Gothic style. Further remodelings took place in the 17th and 18th centuries, first in Baroque, then in Rococo style. The abbey was partly destroyed in the Swedish invasion of Poland, and soon afterwards was rebuilt, with a new library. Further destruction took place during the Bar Confederation, when Polish rebels turned the abbey into their fortress.
In 1816, Austrian authorities liquidated the abbey, and in 1821-1826, it was the seat of the Bishop of Tyniec, Grzegorz Tomasz Ziegler. The monks, however, did not return to the abbey until 1939, and in 1947, remodelling of the neglected complex was initiated. In 1968, the Church of St. Peter and Paul was once again named the seat of the abbot. The church itself consists of a Gothic presbytery and a Baroque main nave. Several altars were created by an 18th-century Italian sculptor Francesco Placidi. The church also has a late Baroque pulpit by Franciszek Jozef Mangoldt.