Guadix Cathedral

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November, 2016

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“Guadix Cathedral”: is a splendid red sandstone building built above the modern town centre and dominated by its tall bell tower. The west front with all its carving is particularly impressive.

The Cathedral is one of the oldest diocesan seats in Spain, founded by San Torcuato in the C1st AD. Guadix is considered the birthplace of Christianity in Spain. The first building was on the site of a Roman temple. During Moorish times, there was a mosque here. After the defeat of the Moors at the end of the C15th, the bishopric was re-established and a new cathedral, Iglesia de Santa María de la Encarnación, built. Some relics of San Torcuato were given to the cathedral.

“Building”: began in the mid C16th. The base of the of the walls and arches are Gothic. There was a break in building for 20 years when money ran out. The apse with its glorious dome, the crossing, and part of the sacristy were then completed in the Renaissance style. Work stopped again and didn’t begin again until the end of the C17th with finance provided by the King. The choir, high altar and pulpits are wonderful examples of Baroque architecture.

The cathedral is unusual as there isn’t really a nave. At the heart is the Presbytery with the high altar and the choir. There is an ambulatory around the east end of the cathedral and side aisles.

The choir is enclosed off from the side aisles by a stone arcade. Above the south side is the organ. At the west end is a lovely statue of white Carrera marble of Mary holding the dead body of Christ, a replica of a work by Michelangelo.

The outer walls of the side aisles and ambulatory have some splendid baroque altars. The most impressive is that in the Chapel of San Torcuato. At the centre is a statue of San Torcuato, flanked by smaller statues of some of his fellow martyrs. The painting at the top is the baptism of St Luparia, one of the first of his converts. The silver reliquary box contains the remains of Bishop Medina Olmos and fellow martyrs from the Spanish Civil War.

The choir stalls were carved in the C19th by a local craftsman from walnut wood. Many of the original images of saints were destroyed during Spanish Civil War. Set above the stalls is a carving of San Torcuato.

The two pulpits on either side of the Presbytery were carved by the same craftsman as the choir.

The presbytery is the shape of an apse with a cupola over the crossing throwing light down onto the marble high altar. This is in stark contrast to the stone ribbed ceiling of the choir and side aisles.

The paintings round the walls of the apse illustrate the life of the Virgin from her birth and wedding to her Assumption.

The sacristy is off the south aisle and is where all the cathedral vessels and robes are kept. It has a beautiful silver host box and candles sticks.

Also off the south aisle is the confessional area with several wooden confessionals and an illuminated picture of Christ with the inscription Jesus, I trust you.

The Cathedral is open daily from 10.30-2 and 4.30-6, staying open a bit later in the summer. The entry fee of €5 also includes the “museum”:

I visited here as part of a “‘Flavours of Spain'”: holiday arranged with “Solos Holidays.”:

My detailed trip report with all my pictures is


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