Contemplata aliis Tradere

A meagre contribution to the mission and work of the Order of Preachers: my reflections, thoughts, ideas and the occasional rant on matters mainly theological, philosophical and ecclesiastical, drawn primarily from my reading and experience of life and the world. Striving to be always Catholic, firmly Christian and essentially Dominican, flavoured with dashes of Von Balthasar.

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Location: Oxford, United Kingdom

A son of the English Province of the Order of Friars Preachers (Dominicans); born in Malaysia but have lived in the USA, Singapore, the UK & the Philippines for varying durations. A pilgrim and way-farer, a searcher for Truth on the journey of Life... "Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine, There’s always laughter and good red wine. At least I’ve always found it so. Benedicamus Domino!" - Hilaire Belloc

Friday, May 12, 2006

Salamanca's Cathedrals

Salamanca has not one but two cathedral churches! The older 12th-century cathedral became too small for the burgeoning university city and was superceded by a Gothic cathedral begun in 1513 but surmounted by a Baroque lantern and dome and a Baroque campanile. The catedral vieja (old cathedral) and the catedral nueva (new cathedral) stand side by side and are both in use for liturgies. In the photo on the left, the east end of the Gothic new cathedral and its Baroque dome are clearly seen. In the photo below, the North side of the new cathedral displays its Gothic splendour and the Plateresque influence on the decoration of the portals that is so characteristic of the Spanish Renaissance.

Cathedral North side

Under the shadow of the new cathedral is the lovely Romanesque old cathedral which has a simple rounded apse and squat turrets (below left).

The photo on the right shows the South side of the new cathedral and you can see the apsidal East end of the old cathedral immediately to the left of the South portal. Also visible is the campanile that stands on the West end of the new cathedral.

The photo below is of the West Portal of the new cathedral and it is entirely carved in an exuberant Gothic style that is the harbinger of the Plateresque style seen in the nearby University.

Cathedral West Portal

The interior of the new cathedral is dominated by a huge stone choir screen that surrounds the choir stalls and makes the interior quite ponderous and dark... and frankly not as interesting as the exterior. However, the crossing (below) was rather splendid and you can see the fascinating juxtaposition of the Gothic vaulting and the Baroque dome. As ever, do click on the photo to see a larger version...

By comparison, the interior of the old Romanesque cathedral was very interesting. Of note is the splendid 15th-century reredos (below left) that is made up of 53 oil-painted panels depicting the life of Christ and the Blessed Virgin. They form a gleaming background for the miracle-working golden statue of the Virgin of Vega, Patroness of Salamanca (below right).

As with any fine Romanesque building, there were an imaginative array of carved capitals and also some very lovely wall paintings in a remarkable condition and stone tombs of various benefactors of this cathedral. These features are shown in the photos below:

This capital of monsters was just one of many in the old cathedral and there were also bulls heads and men pulling funny faces as well as monks in various poses...

This wall painting, done in tempera, was executed in 1262 in a side chapel dedicated to St Martin; it retains an amazing vibrancy of colour and composition.

This is the sepulchre of the Precentor, Aparicio and dates from the 13th century. It lies in the south transept of the old cathedral at the entrance to the cloister, which unfortunately, is not allowed to be photographed. It is also possible to climb to the top of the tower of the new cathedral and enjoy panoramic views of the city, but as my companions were less than keen, we stayed on the ground and crossing over the river Tormes, we beheld the two cathedrals of Salamanca in their beauty:


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