Sunday, January 27, 2013

La Real Colegiata de Santa Maria, Antequera, Spain

The Royal Collegiate Church of Saint Mary was built from 1530 to 1550 on Roman and Visigoth ruins on the hill overlooking Antequera. It is the first Renaissance church built in Andalusia and a spectacular site.

La Real Colegiata de Santa Maria

In the plaza is a statue of Pedro Espinosa, a poet who went to the Antequera School where humanist teaching emphasized the importance of reason and the centrality of man. The school was part of this church.

Pedro Espinosa

The interior is very Roman, with a lot of open space and thick Ionic columns. The layout follows typical basilica floor plans. The side aisle have some modest altars.


Main altar

Side altar

One of the side aisles has a tarasca, a half-serpent, half lady who often led the Corpus Christi processions in the Baroque period. Some cities in Spain still use the tarasca for their processions. This one is modeled after one used in Granada in 1760.

Tarasca, front view

Tarasca close up

Tarasca, side view

The monster is depicted as a snake or dragon. This particular manifestation has seven heads, echoing the seven deadly sins and the dragon from the Apocalypse. Often, the monster is ridden by a woman. She represents faith and the triumph of Christ over sin. This lady Faith is in a castle, showing her invulnerability to the serpent's attacks.

There are some bits of art still in the church, but the building is no longer used for worship and has become a national monument. Many works have been moved to the municipal museum in the center of Antequera.


Bits from Roman antiquity

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