Sunday, February 3, 2013

Granada Cathedral

After the Catholic monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella conquered Granada in 1492, they commissioned a grand cathedral there. Construction of the cathedral began in 1523 (on March 25, the feast of the Incarnation!) with a Gothic plan by Enrique Egas. Emperor Charles V wanted a cathedral even grander, something appropriate for an imperial mausoleum. Diego de Siloe became the chief architect in 1528. Using the same floor plan from Egas (who had gotten as far as laying foundations), Siloe planned a church more Roman or Renaissance in style. Siloe died in 1563 without completing the church and a few other architects had a hand in crafting the final result.

The Main Facade was supposed to have two towers, but one of the subsequent architects, Alonso Cano, switched the design to the triple-arched doorways now extant.

Main Facade of Granada Cathedral

The roof is amazingly ornate, a bit of Counter-Reformation splendor.

Lots of magnificent detail work

The streets around the church also have many beautiful works.

Doorway to the Presbytery (we thought)

Imperial logo

Fran Suarez relief

Gotta have a Madonna and Child

Most beautiful of all

Inside, we bought tickets from the office and followed past another statue of Mary to go into the church.

Come this way!

The nave of the church is quite breathtaking. There's quite a bit of open space and natural light.


The main altar is currently undergoing some construction or restoration and was not accessible to visitors.

Main altar (under construction)

The dome above it is richly ornate with gilding, stained glass, and paintings.


Over a dozen side chapels line the walls of the cathedral. Here are a few samples.

The Altarpiece of Saint James of Compostela was designed by Francisco Hurtado Izquierdo, completed in 1707. In the center is "The Apostle James on Horseback" by Alonso de Mena, certainly the most unusual decoration I've ever seen in a cathedral.

Altarpiece of Saint James of Compostela

St. James on horseback with sword?

The Altarpiece of Christ the Nazarene was made for the varied paintings on display. Designed in 1722, it is a nice example of Baroque exuberance.

Altarpiece of Christ the Nazarene

The doorway to the tower (which leads into the church museum) was built by Juan de Maeda in 1665. The relief is called "Justice and Prudence accompanied by two children holding up cartouches."

Maeda's "Justice and Prudence..."

This stained glass window is dedicated to the Holy Trinity.

Holy Trinity window

The organ is also quite ornate and gilded, as befits the rest of the cathedral.

The organ

The church is very awe-inspiring and definitely worth visiting along with the Royal Chapel where Ferdinand and Isabella are buried.

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