Almonaster la Real – Parish Church of San Martín
Gotic-Mudejar Parish Church of San Martin in Almonaster la Real
The Gotic-Mudejar Parish Church of San Martin is located in the andalusian village of Almonaster la Real, in the Iglesia Street, San Cristobal Square, just a couple of minutes from Llano Square, in front of Manuel Vazquez Vargas Museum.
The ground plan of the church has three naves separated by cruciform pillars. The central nave is twice as wide as those at the sides, culminating in a five-sided polygonal head delimited by four buttresses. At the foot of the central nave are the choir and the front access to the temple. This section appears closed to form the walls of the chapels that open at the ends of the aisles. The Presbytery, or Chancel, which occupies the entire width of the nave, appears raised on a platform. It can be reached via a polygonal staircase, repeating in reverse the shape of the apse. This, on the ground, is flanked by two semicircles that serve as a pulpit. To the left is the sacristy.
The nave of the Epistle is compartmentalized into five sections, the first and last being occupied by chapels. The nave of the Evangelist also consists of five sections, presenting a similar layout to the former. Around the Presbytery you can find the sacristy and the parish house.
The church is covered in several ways. Both the central nave with the arches that divide it, and also the side naves, with their pointed arches, are covered by ribbed vaults which give the church a strange configuration. The main chapel is covered with ribbed vaults divided into five panels.
The temple has three doors, one on the main facade and two along the sides. The main entrance is the one that is of greater interest, having an element of great artistic importance. This entrance has been inscribed in the so-called Portuguese Manueline style. Made of gray stone, it has a large arched canopy resting on two ornamental pillars with lateral pinnacles which shelters the arches which have their own doorposts and archivolts. With regard to the entrance on the right, this is in Gothic-Mudejar style, having a pointed arch. The left side entrance, similar to the right, is made of very regular blocks of stone.
The church tower is located on the left flank of the main facade. It has a square plan and is accessed by a stairway inside the temple.
A visit to the Gothic-Mudejar Church of Almonaster la Real is required, as is a visit to the rest of the important monuments, and comes highly recommended.
The Church of San Martin presents a great complexity both in its construction process and in its stylistic peculiarities. Possibly the building was begun in the fifteenth century, within the parameters of the Gothic-Mudejar region. From this period the two side entrances have been preserved, and, on the south side, a small window in the same style of stone, now converted into a shrine which houses a modern tile panel of the Virgin del Rocio. However, the covering of the naves with pointed barrel vaults is anomalous and unique in the region.
During the first third of the sixteenth century the gable wall was remodeled with carving to the choir, the tower and the Puerta del Perdon (Door of Forgiveness), equally unique elements in church architecture of the area. The entrance shows the decorative plans in the style known as ‘Manueline’. Made of gray limestone, its composition follows a much repeated Portuguese style.
Although the originator and exact date of completion are unknown, from the coat of arms belonging to Cardinal Don Alonso Manrique de Lara found on the seats, it is possible to date the church between 1523 and 1538. The connection of the body of the church with the chancel is equally anomalous. Some stylistic features would date this part in the second half of the sixteenth century. The small padded entrances either side of the choir are from a later era, possibly from the early seventeenth century, while the Sacremental chapel is a Baroque addition from the middle of this century.
After the Lisbon earthquake of 1755, the building was taken over by the architect Pedro de Silva.
This temple was burned down in the summer of 1936, losing most of its altarpieces, paintings and sculptures.
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