Unlike most cathedrals in Spain, construction of Granada Cathedral was not begun until the sixteenth century, after acquisition of the Nasrid kingdom of Granada from its Muslim rulers in 1492. While its earliest plans had Gothic designs, such as are evident in the Royal Chapel of Granada by Enrique Egas, most of the church's construction occurred when the Spanish Renaissance style was supplanting the Gothic in Spanish architecture. Foundations for the church were laid by the Enrique Egas starting from 1518 to 1523 atop the site of the city's main mosque; by 1529, Egas was replaced by Diego de Siloé who worked for nearly four decades on the structure from ground to cornice, planning the triforium and five naves instead of the usual three. Most unusually, he created a circular capilla mayor (principal chapel) rather than a semicircular apse.
Subsequent architects altered the initial plan for the main façade, introducing Baroque elements. The cathedral took 181 years to build. It would have been even grander had the two 81-meter towers included in the plans been built; however, the project remained incomplete for various reasons, among them financial.
The Cathedral had been intended as the royal mausoleum by Charles I of Spain, but Philip II of Spain moved the site for his father's and subsequent kings' tombs to El Escorial outside of Madrid.
The main chapel contains two kneeling effigies of the Catholic King and Queen, Isabel and Ferdinand by Pedro de Mena y Medrano. The busts of Adam and Eve were made by Alonso Cano. The Chapel of the Trinity has a marvelous retablo with paintings by El Greco, Jusepe de Ribera and Alonso Cano.
Granada's cathedral has a rectangular base due to its five naves that completely cover the cross.. All of the five naves are staggered in height, the central one being the largest. At the foot of the cathedral there are two towers. The left one, called the tower of San Miguel, acts as a buttress which replaced the planned tower on that side.
The main chapel consists of a series of Corinthian columns on which capitals is the entablature and, over it, the vault, which houses a series of delicate stained glass windows.
The facade consists of a framed structure in the form of a triumphal arch with portals and canvas. It consists of three pillars crowned by semicircular arches supported on pilasters, similar to San Andrés de Mantua of Leon Battista Alberti. The pilasters don't have capitals but projections sculptured in the walls, as well as attached marble medallions. Above the main door is located a marble tondo from 'José Laughing on the Annunciation'. Additionally, there is a vase with lilies at the top, alluding to the virgin and pure nature of the mother of God.
The sacrarium, raised between 1706 and 1759, follows the classic proportions of the whole, keeping the multiple columns of the transept the shapes of the compound of Siloam.References:
The Externsteine (Extern stones) is a distinctive sandstone rock formation located in the Teutoburg Forest, near the town of Horn-Bad Meinberg. The formation is a tor consisting of several tall, narrow columns of rock which rise abruptly from the surrounding wooded hills. Archaeological excavations have yielded some Upper Paleolithic stone tools dating to about 10,700 BC from 9,600 BC.
In a popular tradition going back to an idea proposed to Hermann Hamelmann in 1564, the Externsteine are identified as a sacred site of the pagan Saxons, and the location of the Irminsul (sacral pillar-like object in German paganism) idol reportedly destroyed by Charlemagne; there is however no archaeological evidence that would confirm the site's use during the relevant period.
The stones were used as the site of a hermitage in the Middle Ages, and by at least the high medieval period were the site of a Christian chapel. The Externsteine relief is a medieval depiction of the Descent from the Cross. It remains controversial whether the site was already used for Christian worship in the 8th to early 10th centuries.
The Externsteine gained prominence when Völkisch and nationalistic scholars took an interest in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This interest peaked under the Nazi regime, when the Externsteine became a focus of nazi propaganda. Today, they remain a popular tourist destination and also continue to attract Neo-Pagans and Neo-Nazis.