Monastery of Saint Mary of Parral is a Roman Catholic monastery of the enclosed monks of the Order of Saint Jerome just outside the walls of Segovia. It was founded by King Henry IV of Castile, who acquired the lands before he became king in 1454. Despite a generally irreligious life, Henry IV maintained connections with the Hieronymites and was buried in the sister-house of Monastery of Santa María de Guadalupe.
In the 16th century a mint was built near the monastery using the Eresma River to power the machinery. The monastery was closed as part of the secularisation program of 1835. Following a Papal Decree of 1925, the Hieronymite Order was re-established here in the following years and was finally granted its Rule in 1969.
There are some works of art in the monastery, for example a 16th-century retable in Renaissance style. However, it is perhaps better known for its association with works that have been removed. Following the closure of the monastery in the 1830s, some of its works of art were moved to Madrid where they were stored in a monastery at Atocha. In the 1870s they were moved again to the Royal Gallery of El Prado in Madrid, where they were stored with little further research until some greater investigation took place between 2000 and 2003.
One painting in particular, The Fountain of Grace (The Triumph of the Church over the Synagogue), has attracted interest because of its presumed connection to the artist Jan van Eyck. Listed in the Convent's Libero de Bercero (Vellum Book) as a gift of the King in 1454, it uses the same symbolic language and constructional forms as part of The Mystic Lamb polytych in St Bavo's Cathedral, Ghent, Belgium.
Theories regarding its attribution have included the idea that it was rushed copy of a lost original, originally commissioned by Pope Eugene IV for a chapel in Brussels, possibly undertaken by Jan van Eyck during a diplomatic mission he undertook to the Iberian Peninsulain the 1430s.References:
The Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba, also known as the Great Mosque of Córdoba and the Mezquita is regarded as one of the most accomplished monuments of Moorish architecture.
According to a traditional account, a small Visigoth church, the Catholic Basilica of Saint Vincent of Lérins, originally stood on the site. In 784 Abd al-Rahman I ordered construction of the Great Mosque, which was considerably expanded by later Muslim rulers. The mosque underwent numerous subsequent changes: Abd al-Rahman II ordered a new minaret, while in 961 Al-Hakam II enlarged the building and enriched the Mihrab. The last of such reforms was carried out by Almanzor in 987. It was connected to the Caliph"s palace by a raised walkway, mosques within the palaces being the tradition for previous Islamic rulers – as well as Christian Kings who built their palaces adjacent to churches. The Mezquita reached its current dimensions in 987 with the completion of the outer naves and courtyard.
In 1236, Córdoba was conquered by King Ferdinand III of Castile, and the centre of the mosque was converted into a Catholic cathedral. Alfonso X oversaw the construction of the Villaviciosa Chapel and the Royal Chapel within the mosque. The kings who followed added further Christian features, such as King Henry II rebuilding the chapel in the 14th century. The minaret of the mosque was also converted to the bell tower of the cathedral. It was adorned with Santiago de Compostela"s captured cathedral bells. Following a windstorm in 1589, the former minaret was further reinforced by encasing it within a new structure.
The most significant alteration was the building of a Renaissance cathedral nave in the middle of the expansive structure. The insertion was constructed by permission of Charles V, king of Castile and Aragon. Artisans and architects continued to add to the existing structure until the late 18th century.
The building"s floor plan is seen to be parallel to some of the earliest mosques built from the very beginning of Islam. It had a rectangular prayer hall with aisles arranged perpendicular to the qibla, the direction towards which Muslims pray. The prayer hall was large and flat, with timber ceilings held up by arches of horseshoe-like appearance.
In planning the mosque, the architects incorporated a number of Roman columns with choice capitals. Some of the columns were already in the Gothic structure; others were sent from various regions of Iberia as presents from the governors of provinces. Ivory, jasper, porphyry, gold, silver, copper, and brass were used in the decorations. Marvellous mosaics and azulejos were designed. Later, the immense temple embodied all the styles of Morisco architecture into one composition.
The building is most notable for its arcaded hypostyle hall, with 856 columns of jasper, onyx, marble, granite and porphyry. These were made from pieces of the Roman temple that had occupied the site previously, as well as other Roman buildings, such as the Mérida amphitheatre. The double arches were an innovation, permitting higher ceilings than would otherwise be possible with relatively low columns. The double arches consist of a lower horseshoe arch and an upper semi-circular arch.