Iglesia San Vincente

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This is the large 19thC church in the centre of Potes which replaced the older church which is now the Tourism Office. The door was open on Friday lunchtime as we drove through Potes, so we stopped to have a look.

It is a large very plain square building with two small square towers on either side of the main door. There is a low square tower above the Transept crossing. The side aisles are lower than the nave and there are buttresses off the side aisles between the semi-circular plain glass windows of the nave. Entry is through the double west door which leads into a small porch before the church.

Inside it is a huge building with square pillars with round arches separating the nave and narrow side aisles which have a series of splendid reredos on the walls. There is a plain vaulted ceiling. Walls and ceiling have cream plaster with grey stone pillars and arches. On the walls are painted carvings of the Stations of the cross set in heavy carved wood frames.

There is a small free standing altar in the transept. The church is unusual as the high altar is at the west end. Your eyes are immediately drawn to the massive 18thC carved dark wood reredos which came from the old convent of San Raimundo and now covers all of the end of the church. At the base is a gilded host box topped by a cupola with a cross. In the centre, set in a gilded arch is a statue of St Vincent, the patron saint of Potes. On either side are painted statues of Jesus and the Virgin Mary. Above them are gilded and painted shields with two figures ascending into Heaven in the centre top. These are surrounded by carved pillars and panels. On the floor on either side are statues of St Anthony of Padua and St Christopher with the Christ Child on his shoulders.

The south transept is taken up with a big modern organ. The organist was playing which was a welcome treat. Near the organ is a large old round font with a ribbed bowl standing on a square base.

In the north transept are two large gilded Baroque reredos. That on the west wall has carved pillars with leaves and grapes. Set in an arch in the centre is a carving of the Virgin supported on a base with cherubs, although several have had their heads sawn off at some time. Above is a shield with a blue background surrounded by scrolls of foliage and open carved frame round the top.

Next to it is a much simpler reredos with diagonal carving on the pillars and red, gold and blue decorative panels. In the centre set under an arch under a triangular portico is a statue of the Virgin and child. On either side under a portico are St Roch with the dog who brought food to him and St Anthony the Great with a pig. Above is a painting of the Assumption of the Virgin with two shields on either side.

There are more gilded and heavily carved dark wood reredos along the side aisles. one has a lovely carving at the bottom of an angel ploughing with two oxen.

There is a small wooden gallery at the back of the church. On the wall above is a modern abstract stained glass window with a sun and a building. Below the gallery is a crucifix and a carved statue of the Virgin Mary. Both had a box of electric candles in front of them, the first time we have seen this. 50c buys one ‘candle’.

The guide books describe this of little architectural merit. The outside might be plain and of little architectural merit, but the inside was well worth visiting.

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