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Title: Some Account of Gothic Architecture in Spain
Author: Street, George Edmund, 1824-1881
Language: English
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[Illustration: FRONTISPIECE











“The old paths, where is the good way.”

JEREMIAH vi. 16.





_The right of Translation is reserved._




_&c. &c. &c._,





The book which I here commit to the reader requires, I fear, some
apology on my part. I feel that I have undertaken almost more than an
artist like myself, always at work, has any right to suppose he can
properly accomplish in the little spare time he can command.
Nevertheless, I have always felt that part of the duty which every
artist owes to his mother art is to study her developments wherever they
are to be seen, and whenever he can find the opportunity. Moreover, I
believe that in this age it is only by the largest kind of study and
range of observation that any artist can hope to perfect himself in so
complex and difficult an art as architecture, and that it is only by
studying the development of Gothic architecture in all countries that we
can form a true and just estimate of the marvellous force of the
artistic impulse which wrought such wonders all over Europe in the
twelfth, thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth centuries.

In a day of revival, such as this, I believe it to be necessary that we
should form this just estimate of bygone art; because I am sure that,
unless our artists learn their art by studying patiently, lovingly, and
constantly the works of their great predecessors, they will never
themselves be great. I know full well how much hostility there is on the
part of some to any study of foreign examples; but as from my boyhood up
I have never lost any opportunity of visiting and studying our old
English buildings, and as my love for our own national artistic
peculiarities rather increases than diminishes the more I study the
contemporary buildings of the Continent, I have no hesitation in giving
to the world what I have been able to learn about Spanish art.

What I have here written will no doubt be supplemented and corrected by
others hereafter; and much additional light will, I hope, be thrown upon
the history of Spanish buildings and their architects. It will be found
that I have referred to many Spanish authorities for the historical
facts on which the dates of the buildings I have visited can alone be
decided. Of these authorities none is more useful to the architect, none
is more creditable to its authors, than the ‘Notices of the Architects
and Architecture of Spain, by D. Eugenio Llaguno y Amirola, edited with
additions by D. Juan Agustin Cean-Bermudez,’ in four volumes, compiled
about the beginning of this century, but not published until A.D.

This work, full of documentary evidence as to the Spanish architects and
their works, appears to me to be far better in its scheme and mode of
execution than any work which we in England have upon the buildings of
our own country; and, though it is true that neither of its authors had
a very accurate knowledge of the art, they seem to have exercised great
diligence in their search after information bearing on their subject,
and to have been remarkably successful.

Mr. Ford’s ‘Handbook of Spain’ has been of great service to me, not only
because it was the only guide to be had, and on account of the charm of
his style, but because it had the rare excellence (in a Guide-book) of
constantly referring to local guides and authorities, and so enabling me
to turn at once to the books most likely to aid me in my work.

The other works to which I have at some pains referred are mainly local
guides and histories, collections of documents, and the like. Of these a
vast number have been published, and I cannot pretend to have exhausted
the stores which they contain.

Unfortunately, so far as I have been able to learn, no one of late
years has taken up the subject of the Mediæval antiquities of Spain in
the way in which we are accustomed to see them treated by writers on the
subject elsewhere in Europe. The ‘Ensayo Historico’ of D. José Caveda is
very slight and unsatisfactory, and not to be depended on. Passavant,
who has published some notes on Spanish architecture,[2] is so
ludicrously wrong in most of his statements that it seems probable that
he trusted to his internal consciousness instead of to personal
inspection for his facts. The work of Don G. P. de Villa Amil[3] is very
showy and very untrustworthy; and that of Don F. J. Parcerisa,[4] and
the great work which the Spanish Government is publishing,[5] are both
so large and elaborate as to be useless for the purpose of giving such a
general and comprehensive idea of the features of Gothic architecture in
Spain as it has been my effort to give in this work.

Seeing, then, how complete is the ignorance which up to the present time
we have laboured under, as to the true history and nature of Gothic
architecture in Spain, I commit this volume to the reader with a fair
trust that what has been the occupation of all my leisure moments for
the last two or three years,--a work not only of much labour at home,
but of considerable labour also in long journeys taken year after year
for this object alone,--will not be found an unwelcome addition to the
literature of Christian art. I have attempted to throw what I had to say
into the form which has always appeared to me to be the right form for
any such architectural treatise. The interest of the subject is
threefold--first, Artistic and Archæological; secondly, Historical; and
lastly, Personal. I have first of all, therefore, arranged the notes of
my several journeys in the form of one continuous tour; and then, in the
concluding chapters, I have attempted a general _résumé_ of the history
of architecture in Spain, and, finally, a short history of the men who
as architects and builders have given me the materials for my work.

To this I have added, in an Appendix, two catalogues--one of dated
examples of buildings, and the other of their architects, with short
notices of their works; and, beside these, a few translations of
documents which seem to me to bring before us in a very real way the
mode in which these mediæval buildings were undertaken, carried on, and


CHAP.                                                  PAGE

I. IRUN, SAN SEBASTIAN, BURGOS                            1

II. BURGOS                                               12

III. PALENCIA, VALLADOLID                                56

IV. SALAMANCA, ZAMORA, BENAVENTE                         78

V. LEON                                                 105

VI. ASTORGA, LUGO, LA CORUÑA                            129

VII. SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELLA                            140

VIII. MEDINA DEL CAMPO, AVILA                           160

IX. SEGOVIA                                             180


XI. TOLEDO                                              209

XII. VALENCIA                                           259

XIII. TARRAGONA                                         273

XIV. BARCELONA                                          291

XV. GERONA, PERPIÑAN, S. ELNE                           318

XVI. MANRESA, LÉRIDA                                    339

XVII. HUESACA, ZARAGOZA                                 362

XVIII. TARAZONA, VERUELA                                376

XIX. TUDELA, OLITE, PAMPLONA                            391

SPAIN                                                   409

XXI. GOTHIC ARCHITECTS IN SPAIN                         448



A.--Catalogue of dated examples of Spanish Buildings, from the
tenth to the sixteenth century inclusive                             467

B.--Catalogue of Architects, Sculptors, and Builders of the
Churches, &c., mentioned in this volume                              471

C.--Documents relating to the construction of the new Cathedral
at Salamanca                                                         482

D.--Royal Warrant for the payment of the Master of the Works
at Santiago                                                          489

E.--Memoir of the construction of the Cathedral at Segovia, by
the Canon Juan Rodriguez                                             490

F.--Catalogue of the subjects carved on the screens round the
Coro of Toledo Cathedral                                             495

G.--Agreement between Jayme Fabre and the Sub-prior and
Brethren of the Convent of San Domingo at Palma in
Mallorca                                                             500

H.--The Reports of the Junta of Architects assembled at Gerona
to decide on the mode of building the nave of the Cathedral          501

I.--Contract between Guillermo Sagrera and the Council of the
Fabric, for the erection of the Exchange at Palma in Mallorca        514

INDEX                                                                517



Frontispiece. Santiago Cathedral, Portico de la Gloria.

  Vignette on Title-page, Segovia from the Alcazar.                 Page

  Compartment of Nave, Burgos Cathedral                               14

1. Burgos Cathedral, North-west View (from Fergusson)                 25
    Varieties of Crockets, Burgos Cathedral                           28

2. Burgos Cathedral, Clerestory of Choir                              29

3. Burgos Cathedral, View of Cloisters from the roof                  30
    Carved Capital, Burgos Cathedral                                  33
    Transept Chapel, Las Huelgas                                      35

4. Las Huelgas, Burgos, north-west view                               38

5. San Esteban, Burgos, Interior looking west                         49
    San Esteban, Burgos, Iron Lectern                                 50

6. San Gil, Burgos, Iron Pulpit                                       51
    Prie-Dieu, Palencia Cathedral                                     59
    Steeple of San Miguel, Palencia                                   62
    Cloister, Sta. Maria l’Antigua, Valladolid                        67

7. Salamanca Old Cathedral, Interior of Lantern looking east          80

8. Salamanca Old Cathedral, Exterior of Lantern                       82
    Archivolt, San Martin, Salamanca                                  91

9. Zamora, Bridge over the Douro                                      91

10. Zamora Cathedral, Interior of Nave looking east                   92

11. Zamora Cathedral, Exterior from the south-west                    94
    Choir Lectern, Zamora Cathedral                                   96
    Monument, la Magdalena, Zamora                                    98
    San Vicente, Zamora                                               99

12. Benavente, East End of Sta. Maria                                102

13. Leon Cathedral, Interior of Aisle round the Apse                 108
    Bay of Choir, Leon Cathedral                                     113
    Interior of San Isidoro, Leon, looking north-east                123

14. Leon, South Transept of San Isidoro                              126

15. Lugo Cathedral, Interior, looking north-west                     132
    Sta. Maria, la Coruña                                            137

16. La Coruña, Church of Santiago                                    138

17. Santiago Cathedral, Interior of Lower Church                     147
    Exterior of Chevet, Santiago de Compostella                      149

18. Santiago Cathedral, Shafts in South Doorway                      150
Inscription on South Door, Santiago Cathedral                        151

19. Santiago Cathedral, Interior of South Transept
    looking north-east                                               152
Central Shaft of Western Doorway, Santiago Cathedral                 154

20. Medina del Campo, the Castle                                     160
Puerta de San Vicente, Avila                                         163

21. Avila Cathedral, Interior of Aisle round the Apse                164
East End, Avila Cathedral                                            165
Stone Roofing, Avila Cathedral                                       168

22. San Vicente, Avila, north-east view                              170

23. San Vicente, Avila, Interior of Western Porch                    172

24. Segovia, Interior of the Templars’ Church                        184

25. San Esteban, Segovia, south-west view of Church and Steeple      187

26. San Millan, Segovia, north-west view                             188
Capital in Cloister, San Martin, Segovia                             190
Organ, Alcalá de Henares                                             200
Domestic Window, Alcalá de Henares                                   201

27. Guadalajara, Palace of the Duke del Infantado                    203

28. Sigüenza Cathedral, Interior of Nave and Aisles
    looking north-east                                               204
San Cristo de la Luz, Toledo (from Fergusson)                        215

29. Toledo, Interior of Sta. Maria la Blanca (from Fergusson)        218
Knocker and Nails on Door, Toledo                                    222
San Roman, Toledo                                                    225
Sta. Magdalena, Toledo                                               226
Puerta del Sol, Toledo                                               230
Stone Roof of Outer Aisle and Chapels, Toledo Cathedral              239

30. Toledo Cathedral, Interior of Transept, &c., looking north-west  241
Diagrams of Vaulting, Toledo Cathedral                               243
Chapels of the Chevet, Toledo Cathedral                              245

31. Toledo Cathedral, Interior of North Aisle of Choir, looking east 246

32. Valencia Cathedral, North Transept and Cimborio (from Fergusson) 263
The Micalete, Valencia Cathedral                                     264
Puerta de Serranos, Valencia                                         268

33. Valencia, Exterior of the Casa Lonja                             270
Ajimez Window, Valencia                                              270
Apse of Choir, Tarragona Cathedral                                   277
Newel Staircase, ditto                                               278

34. Tarragona Cathedral, View across Transepts                       280

35. Tarragona Cathedral, Interior of Cloister                        282
Sculptured Abacus in Cloister, Tarragona Cathedral                   284
West Front of San Pablo, Barcelona                                   293

36. Barcelona Cathedral, Exterior of Chevet                          298

37. Barcelona Cathedral, Interior of West End of Nave                301

38. Barcelona Cathedral, View of the Steeples, &c.,
    from the Cloisters                                               304
Lock on Screen in Cloister, Barcelona Cathedral                      305

39. Sta. Maria del Mar, Barcelona, south-west view                   308
Interior of Sta. Agata, Barcelona                                    312

40. Barcelona, the Casa Consistorial                                 314
Ajimez Window, Barcelona                                             315

41. Gerona Cathedral, Interior looking east                          322
Altar, Gerona Cathedral                                              327
Wheel of Bells, ditto                                                328

42. San Pedro, Gerona, Exterior from north-west                      330
Spire of San Feliu, Gerona                                           334

43. Manresa, Interior of the Collegiate Church                       342
Wheel of Bells, Manresa Collegiate Church                            345

44. Lérida Old Cathedral, View from Steeple                          353
Cornice of South Transept Doorway, Lérida Old Cathedral              355

45. Lérida Old Cathedral, South Porch                                356
Pendentive, &c., under Lantern, Lérida Old Cathedral                 357
Interior of San Pedro, Huesca                                        366

46. Church at Salas, near Huesca, West Front                         368
Cloister, Tarazona                                                   381

47. Tarazona, Campanile of La Magdalena                              382

48. Abbey of Veruela, Entrance Gateway                               384

49. Veruela Abbey Church, Interior                                   386
Chapel Altar, Veruela                                                387
Entrance to Chapter-house, Veruela                                   388

50. Tudela Cathedral, Interior of Choir                              392
Angle of Cloister, Tudela                                            397
Castle, and Church of San Pedro, Olite                               400

51. Pamplona Cathedral, Exterior from the north-east                 402



1. Burgos, Plan of Cathedral                                          34

2. Burgos, Plans of Las Huelgas, San Gil, and San Esteban             46

3. Palencia and Valladolid, Plans of three Churches                   61

4. Salamanca, Plans of old and new Cathedrals and San Marcos         104

5. Leon, Plan of Cathedral                                           128

6. Leon, Plan of San Isidoro                                         128

7. Lugo, Plan of Cathedral                                           132

8. Plans of Churches at Benavente, La Coruña, Segovia, and Lérida    137

9. Santiago, Plan of Cathedral                                       158

10. Avila, Plan of Cathedral                                         168

11. Avila, Plan of San Vicente                                       170

12. Segovia, Plan of Cathedral                                       194

13. Sigüenza, Plan of Cathedral                                      208

14. Toledo, Plan of Cathedral                                        258

15. Tarragona, Plan of Cathedral                                     290

16. Barcelona, Plan of Cathedral                                     306

17. Barcelona, Plans of three Churches                               310

18. Gerona, Plans of Cathedral, &c.                                  338

19. Manresa, Plan of the Collegiata                                  341

20. Lérida, Plan of the old Cathedral                                358

21. Huesca, Plans of the Cathedral and San Pedro                     366

22. Tarazona, Plan of the Cathedral                                  378

23. Veruela, Plan of the Abbey Church, &c.                           390

24. Tudela, Plan of the Cathedral                                    398

25. Pamplona, Plans of Cathedral and of San Saturnino                408




So little has it been the fashion hitherto to explore the North of Spain
in search of artistic treasures, that it was with somewhat more than
usual of the feeling that I was engaged in an adventure that I left
Bayonne on my first journey West of the Pyrenees. Yet, in truth, so far
as I have seen there is little in the way of adventure to anticipate
even there in these matter-of-fact days; and, some slight personal
inconvenience excepted, there is nothing to prevent any traveller of
ordinary energy doing all that I did with complete success, and an
uncommon amount of pleasure. For if there are no serious perils to be
encountered, there is great novelty in almost everything that one sees;
and whether we wish to study the people and their customs, or to visit
the country and explore it in search of striking and picturesque
scenery, or to examine, as I did, its treasures of ancient art, we shall
find in every one of these respects so much that is unlike what we are
used to, so much that is beautiful, and so much that is ancient and
venerable by historic association, that we must be dull indeed if we do
not enjoy our journey with the fullest measure of enjoyment. Indeed the
drawbacks about which so much is usually said and written--the
difficulty of finding inns fit to sleep in, or food fit to eat--seem to
me to be most enormously exaggerated. It is true that I have purposely
avoided travelling over the well-beaten Andalusian corner of Spain; and
it is there, I suppose, that most English ideas of Spain and the
Spaniards are formed. But in those parts to which my travels have taken
me, but in which English travellers are not known so well as they are in
Andalusia, I have certainly seldom found any difficulty in obtaining
such creature-comforts as are essential. Somewhat, it is true, depends
upon the time of year in which a journey is undertaken; for in the
spring, when the climate is most enjoyable, and the country gloriously
green and bright with wavy crops of corn, the traveller has to depend
entirely upon the cook for his food; and has no other resource even
where the cookery is intolerable to his English sense of smell, taste,
and sight! But in the autumn, if he chances to travel, as I have twice
done, just when the grapes are ripening, he may, if he choose, live
almost entirely, and with no little advantage to his health, on grapes
and bread, the latter being always pure, light, and good to a degree of
which our English bakers have no conception; and the former tasting as
none but Spanish grapes do, and often costing nothing, or at any rate
never more than a merely nominal sum.

On the whole, from my own experience, I should be inclined to recommend
the autumn as the most favourable season for a Spanish journey, the
weather being then generally more settled than in the spring. But, on
the other hand, there is no doubt that any one who wishes to judge
fairly of the scenery of Old and New Castile, of great part of Aragon,
and of Leon, ought on no account to visit these provinces save in the
spring. Then I know no sight more glorious in its way than the sea of
corn which is seen covering with its luxuriance and lovely colour the
endless sweeps of the great landscape on all sides; whereas in the
autumn the same landscape looks parched and barren, burnt up as it is by
the furious sun until it assumes everywhere a dusty hue, painful to the
eye, and most monotonous and depressing to the mind; whilst the roads
suffer sometimes from an accumulation of dust such as can scarcely be
imagined by those who have never travelled along them. Even at this
season, however, there are some recompenses, and one of them is the
power of realizing somewhat of the beauty of an Eastern atmosphere, and
the singular contrasts of colours which Eastern landscapes and skies
generally present; for nowhere else have I ever seen sunsets more
beautiful or more extraordinary than in the dreariest part of dreary

So far as the inns and food are to be considered, I do not think there
is much need ordinarily for violent grumbling. All ideas of English
manners and customs must be carefully left behind; and if the
travelling-clothes are donned with a full intention to do in Spain as
Spain does, there is small fear of their owner suffering very much. But
in Spain more than in most parts of Europe the foreign traveller is a
rare bird, and if he attempt to import his own customs, he will
unquestionably suffer for his pains, and give a good deal of
unnecessary--because fruitless--trouble into the bargain.

Spanish inns are of various degrees, from the _Posada_, which is usually
a muleteer’s public-house, and the _Parador_, which is higher in rank,
and where the diligence is generally to be found, up to the _Fonda_,
which answers in idea to our hotel. In small country towns and villages
a posada is the only kind of inn to be found; and sometimes indeed large
towns and cities have nothing better for the traveller’s accommodation;
but in the larger towns, and where there is much traffic, the Parador or
Fonda will often be found to be as good as second-rate inns elsewhere
usually are.

In a Posada it is generally easy to secure a bed-room which boasts at
any rate of clean, wholesome linen, though of but little furniture; and
in the remoter parts of the country--as in Leon and Galicia--there is no
difficulty in securing in the poorest Posada plenty of bird or fish of
quality good enough for a gourmand. The great objection to these small
inns is, that nothing but the linen for the beds and the face of the
waiting-maid ever seems to be washed. The water is carried to and fro in
jars of the most curious and pleasant form and texture, and a few drops
are now and then thrown on the floor of the comedor or eating-room by
way of laying the ancient dust; but washing in any higher sense than
this is unknown. It must be said also, that the entrance is common to
the mules and the guests; and that after passing through an archway
where the atmosphere is only too lively with fleas, and where the stench
is something too dreadful to be borne with ease, you turn into the
staircase door, and up the stairs, only to find when you have mounted
that you have to live, sleep, and eat above the mules; and (unless you
are very lucky), when you open your window, to smell as badly as ever
all the sweets of their uncleaned and, I suppose, uncleanable stables!

The kitchen is almost always on the first floor; and here one may stand
by the wood fire and see the dinner cooked in a mysterious fashion in a
number of little earthen jars planted here and there among the embers;
whilst one admires the small but precious array of quaint crockery on
the shelves, and tries to induce the cooking-maid to add somewhat less
of the usual flavouring to one at any rate of her stews! I confess, in
spite of all this, to a grateful recollection of many a Posada, to a
hearty appreciation of an _olla podrida_--a dish abused most by those
who know least about its virtues--and to some suspicion that many of
the humblest have treasures in their unsophisticated cooks for which one
longs in vain in our own English country-town inns, which of all I have
seen seem to me to be the worst, in their affectation of superiority,
and in their utter inability to support their claim with anything more
worthy than bad mutton-chops, doubtful beer, and wine about which there
is no kind of doubt whatever! So much for the Posada. In the Parador or
the Fonda the entertainment is generally very fair, whilst in many the
sleeping-rooms are all that need be desired. But even here the smell of
the stables is often so intolerable as to make it very desirable to find
other quarters; and about this there is seldom if ever any difficulty;
for in almost all towns of moderate size there are plenty of houses
where lodgers are taken in for a night; and in these one may generally
depend upon cleanliness, the absence of mules, and fairly-good cookery.

In all--whether inns or lodgings--it is well to eat when the Spaniard
eats, and not to attempt to do so at any other time, else much precious
time and temper will assuredly be lost, and with results entirely
incommensurate with the sacrifice. At whatever hour you rise the maid
will bring a small cup of chocolate and a vast glass of water, with some
sweet biscuits or toast. And you must learn to love this precious cup,
if you intend to love Spain: nowhere else will you get chocolate so
invariably well made; and if after you have taken it you drink heartily
of the water, you have nothing to fear, and may work hard without
fainting till you get your morning meal, at about eleven o’clock. This
is a dinner, and can be followed by another at sunset, after which you
can generally find in a café either coffee, chocolate, or iced lemonade,
whilst you watch the relaxation of the domino-playing natives.

Finally, there is seldom anything to quarrel with in the bill, which is
usually made out for the entertainment at so much a day; and when this
has been paid, the people of the house are sure to bid you God speed--_a
dios_--with pleasant faces and kind hearts.

The journeys which I have undertaken in Spain have all been made with
the one object of inspecting the remains of Gothic building which I
either hoped to, or knew I should, find there. My knowledge of Spanish
scenery has therefore been very much limited, and it is only
incidentally that I am able to speak at all of it. Yet I have seen
enough to be able to recommend a great extent of country as thoroughly
worthy of exploration by those who care for nought but picturesque
scenery. The greater part of Catalonia, much of Aragon, Navarre, the
north of Leon, Galicia, and the Asturias, are all full of lovely
scenery, and even in other districts, where the country is not
interesting, there seem always to be ranges of mountains in sight,
which, with the singular purity of the atmosphere through which they are
seen, never fail of leaving pleasant recollections in one’s mind. Such,
for example, is the view of the Guadarrama Mountains from Madrid--a view
which redeems that otherwise forlorn situation for a great city, and
gives it the only charm it has. Such again are the mountain backgrounds
of Leon, Avila, and Segovia.

In my first Spanish tour I entered the country from Bayonne, travelled
thence by Vitoria to Burgos, Palencia, Valladolid, Madrid, Alcalá,
Toledo, Valencia, Barcelona, Lérida, and by Gerona to Perpiñan. In the
second I went again to Gerona, thence to Barcelona, Tarragona, Manresa,
Lérida, Huesca, Zaragoza, Tudela, Pamplona, and so to Bayonne; and in
the third and last I went by Bayonne to Pamplona, Tudela, Tarazona,
Sigüenza, Guadalajara, Madrid, Toledo, Segovia, Avila, Salamanca,
Zamora, Benavente, Leon, Astorga, Lugo, Santiago, la Coruña, and thence
back by Valladolid and Burgos to San Sebastian and Bayonne.

Tours such as these have, I think, given me a fair chance of forming a
right judgment as to most of the features of Spanish architecture; but
it were worse than foolish to suppose that they have been in the
slightest degree exhaustive, for there are large tracts of country which
I have not visited at all, others in which I have seen one or two only
out of many towns which are undoubtedly full of interesting subjects to
the architect, and others again in which I have been too much pressed
for time. Yet I hardly know that I need apologize for my neglect to see
more when I consider that, up to the present time, so far as I know, no
architect has ever described the buildings which I have visited, and
indeed no accurate or reliable information is to be obtained as to their
exact character, or age, or history. The real subject for apology is one
over which I have had, in truth, no control. The speed with which I have
been compelled to travel, and the rapidity with which I have been
obliged to sketch and take dimensions of everything I have seen, have
often, no doubt, led to my making errors, for which, wherever they
exist, I am sincerely sorry. In truth, the work I undertook was hardly
the mere relaxation from my ordinary artistic labour for which it was
first of all intended, and has been increased not a little by the
labour which I have undertaken in the attempt to fix by documentary
evidence, where possible, the ages of the various parts of the buildings
I have described.

It will be observed that I have not visited the extreme south of Spain;
and this was from the first a settled purpose with me. We have already
been treated almost to surfeit with accounts of the Moorish remains at
Granada, Seville, Cordoba, and other places in the south; but beside
this my anxiety was to see how the Christians and not how the Moors
built in Spain in the middle ages, and I purposely, therefore, avoided
those parts of the country which during the best period of mediæval art
were not free from Moorish influence. The pages of this book are the
best evidence I can give of the wisdom of such a decision, and I need
only say here that I was more than satisfied with the purity and beauty
of the Christian architecture of Spain, and that I have no hesitation in
the advice which I give to others to follow in my track and to make good
the deficiencies in my investigations, of which I am so thoroughly

By this time travelling on the great high road through Spain _viâ_
Madrid is much easier than it was when I first made the journey. The
railway to Madrid is now either completed or all but completed, and it
is possible to travel from Calais to Alicante on an almost unbroken
line. It is a matter to be grateful for in most respects, yet I rejoice
that I made my first journey when it was still necessary to make use of
the road, and to see something on the way both of the country and of the

It was after a hurried journey by night to Paris, and thence the next
night on to Bordeaux, that I arrived, after a few hours spent in that
interesting old city, at the end of the second day in Bayonne. Here my
first work was to furnish myself with money and places in the Spanish
diligence; and in both these matters I received my first lesson in one
peculiarity of Spaniards--that of using foreign words in another and
different sense from that to which we are accustomed. Napoleons are said
to be the best coin for use in Spain, and I furnished myself with them
only to discover, when it was too late, that in Spain a Napoleon means a
silver five-franc piece, and that my gold Napoleons were all but useless
out of Madrid. And again, when I asked for places in the coupé of the
diligence, I found that I was really trying to secure seats in the
banquette--the coupé being called the berlina, and the banquette the

At Bayonne there is not very much to be seen beyond the cathedral, the
river crossed by the Duke for his attack on Soult, and a charming view
from the top of the cathedral tower of the lower ranges of the Pyrenees.
The Trois Couronnes is the most conspicuous peak, and its outline is
fine; but here, as generally in the distant views of the chain which I
obtained, there is a lack of those snow peaks which lend so much beauty
to all Alpine views. The exterior of the cathedral has been almost
entirely renewed of late, and a small army of masons was busy in the
cloister on the south side of the choir. It is to be hoped that the
stoppage of the funds so lavishly spent upon the French cathedrals may
happen before the Bayonne architects and masons have come round to the
west end. At present there is a savage picturesqueness about this which
is beyond measure delightful, whilst the original arrangement of the
doorways and porches on the west and south, with enormous penthouse
roofs over them, is just so far open to conjecture and doubt as to be
best left without very much alteration. The general character of the
interior of the cathedral is only moderately good, the traceries of the
lofty traceried triforium and the great six-light windows of the
clerestory in the nave being unusually complicated for French work. The
choir is of late thirteenth century work, very short, with five chapels
in the chevet.

In the afternoon we followed the stream and drove to Biarritz. A
succession of vehicles of every kind, crowded with passengers, gave
strong evidence of the attractions either of the place or else of the
Emperor and Empress, who had been there for a week or two; and the mob
of extravagantly dressed ladies, French and English, who thronged the
bathing-places and the sandy plain in front of the Villa Eugénie,
accounted for the enormous black boxes under which all the vehicles
seemed to groan. The view from the cliffs on the western side of
Biarritz is strikingly beautiful, embracing as it does the long range of
the Pyrenees descending to the sea in a grand mass above Fuenterrabia,
and prolonged as far as the eye could reach along the coast of Biscay.
The next morning we left Bayonne at four o’clock for Burgos. We had
seats in the coupé, the occupants of the berlina on this journey being a
son of Queen Christina, with his bride. In Spain every one seems to
travel by the diligence; you seldom meet a private carriage; there are
no posting arrangements; and owing to the way in which the diligences on
the great roads are crowded, it is very difficult indeed to stop on the
road without running great risk of indefinite delays in getting places

The drive was very charming. The sun rose before we reached St. Jean de
Luz,[6] and we enjoyed to the full the lovely scenery. Crossing the
Bidassoa at Irun, the famous Ile de Faisans was seen--a mere stony bank
in the middle of the stream, recently walled round and adorned with a
sort of monument--and then ensued a delay of an hour whilst our luggage
was examined and _plombé_ in order that it might pass out of Guipuzcoa
into Castile without a second examination.

There is a rather characteristic church of late date here. It stands on
ground sloping steeply down towards the river, and has a bald look
outside, owing to the almost complete absence of window openings, what
there are being small, and very high above the floor. The plan is
peculiar: it has a nave and chancel, and aisles of two bays to the
eastern half of the nave, so that the western part of the nave
corresponds in outline very nearly with the chancel. There is a tower at
the west end of the south aisle. The groining is many-ribbed, and
illustrates the love of the later Spanish architects for ogee
surface-ribs, which look better on a plan of vaulting than they do in
execution. The east end is square, but the vaulting is apsidal, the
angles of the square end being cut across by domical pendentives below
the vaulting. The most remarkable feature is the great width of the
nave, which is about fifty-four feet from centre to centre of the
columns, the total length not being more, I think, than a hundred and
fifty feet. The church floor was strewed with rushes, and in the evening
when I visited it the people stole in and out like ghosts upon this
quiet carpeting. This church was rebuilt in A.D. 1508, and is of course
not a very good example of Spanish Gothic.

Fuenterrabia is just seen from Irun in the distance, very prettily
situated, with the long line of the blue bay of Biscay to its right.
From Irun the road to San Sebastian passes the landlocked harbour of
Pasage: this is most picturesque, the old houses clustering round the
base of the great hills which shut it in from the sea, between which
there is only a narrow winding passage to the latter, guarded by a
mediæval castle. Leaving this charming picture behind, we were soon in
front of San Sebastian. Here again the castle-crowned cliff seems
entirely to shut the town out from the sea, whilst only a narrow neck of
land between the _embouchure_ of the river on the one side, and a
landlocked bay on the other, connects it with the mainland. We had been
seven or eight hours _en route_, and were glad to hear of a halt for
breakfast. Whilst it was being prepared I ran off to the church of San
Vicente on the opposite side of the town to the Fonda. I found it to be
a building of the sixteenth century--built in 1507--with a large western
porch, open-arched on each face, a nave and aisles, and eastern apsidal
choir. The end of this is filled with an enormous Retablo of Pagan
character, reaching to the roof. The church is groined throughout, and
all the light is admitted by very small windows in the clerestory. The
aisles have altars in each bay, with Retablos facing north and south.
There is little or no work of much architectural interest here; but it
was almost my first Spanish church, and I had my first very vivid
impression of the darkened interiors, lighted up here and there by some
brilliant speck of sunshine, which are so characteristic of the country,
and as lovely in their effects as they are aggravating to one who wants
to be able to make sketches and notes within them.

Leaving San Sebastian at mid-day, we skirted the bay, busy with folk
enjoying themselves in the water after the fashion of Biarritz. The
country was wild, beautiful, and mountainous all the way to Mondragon.
At Vergara there was a fair going on, and the narrow streets were
crowded with picturesquely dressed peasants; everywhere in these parts
fine, lusty, handsome, and clean, and to my mind the best looking
peasantry I have ever seen. In the evening the villages were all alive,
the young men and women dancing a wild, indescribable dance, rather
gracefully, and with a good deal of waving about of their arms. The
music generally consisted of a tambourine, but once of two drums and a
flute; and the ball-room was the centre of the road, or the little
_plaza_ in the middle of the village. At midnight there was another halt
at Vitoria, where an hour was whiled away over chocolate and
_azucarillos_--delicate compositions of sugar which melt away rapidly in
water, and make a superior kind of _eau sucré_; and again at sunrise we
stopped at Miranda del Ebro for the examination of luggage before
entering Castile.

Close to the bridge, on the opposite side of the Ebro to Miranda, is a
church of which I could just see by the dim light of the morning that it
was of some value as an example of Romanesque and Early Pointed work.
The apse, of five sides, has buttresses with two half-columns in front
of each, and an arch thrown across from buttress to buttress carries
the cornice and gives a great appearance of massiveness to the window
arches with which it is concentric. The south doorway is of very fine
Early Pointed style, with three shafts on each jamb, and five orders in
the arch.

On the road from Miranda to Pancorbo there is a striking defile between
massive limestone cliffs and rocks, through which the Madrid Railway is
being constructed with no little difficulty, and where the road is
carried up, until, at its summit, we found ourselves at the commencement
of the arid, treeless, dusty, and eminently miserable plain of Castile,
whilst we groaned not a little at the slow pace at which the ten or
twelve horses and mules that drew us got over the ground. These Spanish
diligences are certainly most amusing for a time, and thenceforward most
wearying. They generally have a team of ten or twelve animals, mostly
mules. The driver has a short whip and reins for the wheelers only; a
boy, the _adalantero_, rides the leaders as postilion, and with a power
of endurance which deserves record, the same boy having ridden with us
all the way from San Sebastian to Burgos--twenty-five hours, with a halt
of one hour only at Vitoria. The conductor, or _mayoral_, sits with the
driver, and the two spend half their time in getting down from the box,
rushing to the head of one of the mules, belabouring him heartily for
two or three minutes till the whole train is in a mad gallop, and then
climbing to the box to indulge in a succession of wild shrieks until the
poor beasts have fallen again into their usual walk, when the
performance is repeated. I believe that for a day and a half our
_mayoral_ never slept a wink, and spent something like a fourth of his
time running with the mules: though I am bound to say that subsequent
experience has convinced me that he was exceptionally lively and
wakeful, for elsewhere, in travelling by night, I have generally found
that the mules become their own masters after dark, walking or standing
still as seemeth them best, and seldom getting over much more than half
the ground they travel in the same number of hours of daylight.

A few miles before our arrival at Burgos, we caught the first sight of
the three spires of the cathedral; and presently the whole mass stood
out grandly, surmounted by the Castle hill on the right. One or two
villages with large churches of little interest were passed, the great
Carthusian Convent of Miraflores was seen on the left, and then, passing
a short suburb, we stopped at the Fonda de la Rafaela; and after an hour
spent in recovery from dust, dirt, and horrid hunger, betook ourselves
to the famous Cathedral, with no little anxiety as to the result of
this first day of ecclesiologizing in Spain.

The railroad, which is now open to Burgos, follows very much the same
line as the old road. As far as Miranda the scenery is generally very
beautiful, and here there is a junction with the wonderfully-engineered
railway to Bilbao, which is continued again on the other side until it
joins the Pamplona and Tudela Railway near the latter city. It is
therefore a very good plan to enter Spain by the steamboat from Bayonne
to Bilbao, to come thence by railway, join the main line at Miranda, and
so on to Burgos, or else by the valley of the Ebro to Tudela and
Zaragoza. The passage of the Pancorbo defile by the railway is even
finer than by the road; and for the remainder of the distance to Burgos
the traveller’s feeling must be in the main one of joy at finding
himself skimming along with fair rapidity over the tame country, in
place of loitering over it in a tiresome diligence.



There are some views of Burgos Cathedral which are constantly met with,
and upon which I confess all my ideas of its style and merits had been
founded, to their no little detriment. The western steeples, the central
lantern, and the lantern-like roof and pinnacles of the chapel of the
Constable at the east end, are all very late in date--the first of the
latest fifteenth century, and the others of early Renaissance work; and
their mass is so important, their character so picturesque, and their
detail so exuberantly ornate, that they have often been drawn and
described to the entire exclusion of all notice of the noble early
church, out of which they rise. The general scheme of the ground-plan of
the cathedral is drawn with considerable accuracy in the illustration
which I give of it.[7] The fabric consists of a thirteenth-century
church, added to somewhat in the fourteenth century, altered again in
the fifteenth, and even more in the sixteenth century. The substratum,
so to speak, is throughout of the thirteenth century, but the two
western steeples, with their crocketed and perforated spires, the
gorgeous and fantastic lantern over the crossing, and the lofty and
sumptuous monumental chapel at the east end, are all later additions,
and so important in their effect, as at first sight to give an entirely
wrong impression both of the age and character of the whole church. The
various dates are, as well as the scale will admit, explained by the
shading of the plan. The early church seems to have consisted of a nave
and aisles of six bays, deep transepts, and a choir and aisles, with
apses and chapels round it. The transepts probably had chapels on the
east, of which one still remains in the north transept; but this is the
only original chapel, none of those round the chevet having been spared.
Externally, the two transept fronts are the only conspicuous portions of
the old church, but, on mounting to the roof, the flying buttresses,
clerestory windows, and some other parts, are found still little damaged
or altered. Never was a church more altered for the worse after its
first erection than was this. It is now a vast congeries of chapels and
excrescences of every shape and every style, which have grown round it
at various dates, and, to a great extent, concealed the whole of the
original plan and structure; and of these, the only valuable Mediæval
portions are the cloisters and sacristies, which are, indeed, but little
later in date than the church, and two of the chapels on the north side
of the chevet, one of which is original, and the other at any rate not
much altered. The rest of the additions are all either of the latest
Gothic, or of Renaissance.

The principal entrances to this church of “Santa Maria la Mayor” are at
the west end and in the north and south transepts--the two last
original, the former a modern alteration of the old fabric, made only a
few years ago, and of the meanest kind. The Archbishop’s palace occupies
the space on the south side of the nave; and the ground on which the
whole group of buildings stands, slopes so rapidly from the south up to
the north, that on the south side a steep and picturesque flight of
steps leads up to the door, whilst on the north, on the contrary, the
door is some fifteen feet above the floor, and has to be reached by an
elaborate flight of winding steps from the transept. Owing to the rapid
rise of the ground, and to the way in which the church is surrounded by
houses, or by its own dependent buildings, it is very difficult to
obtain any good near views of it, with the exception of that of the west
end from the Plaza in front of it; but the views from the Prado, from
the opposite side of the river, and from the distant hills and country,
are all very fine; and it must be allowed that in them the picturesque
richness of the later additions to the fabric produces a very great

Having thus given some general idea of the plan of the church, I will
now describe its parts more in detail.

[Illustration: Compartment of Nave.]

On entering the nave at the west end, the effect of the arcades,
triforia, and clerestory is very fine, though much damaged by the
arrangement of the choir, which, as in most Spanish churches, is brought
down into the nave, enclosed with close walls or screens, and entered
only from the transept at its eastern end. An altar is placed against
the western entrance of the choir, and the nave being only six bays in
length, and equally divided, the view is--it may easily be
imagined--very confined and cramped. Otherwise, the architectural
features of the nave are thoroughly good. The original scheme evidently
included two western steeples, the piers which support them--large
clusters of engaged shafts--being larger than any of the others, yet of
the same date. The nave columns are circular, with eight engaged shafts
around them. The bases are circular, finished on squares, with knops of
foliage filling in the spandrels. The abaci are all square in plan, and
both bases and caps are set at right angles to the direction of the
arches they support. One of the smaller columns carries the pier arch,
the other three carry the transverse and diagonal groining ribs, whilst
the wall ribs are carried on shafts on each side of the clerestory
window. The pier arches are of ordinary early-pointed character, and
well moulded. There is not much variety in the general design of the
nave and transepts, though some changes of detail occur. The triforium
in both is very peculiar, as will be seen by the illustration which I
give of one bay of the nave. The openings vary considerably in number,
and the piercings of the tympanum and in the enclosing arch are also
singularly arranged. I know nothing like this singular triforium
elsewhere. It is certainly more curious than really beautiful, but at
the same time it is valuable, as seeming to prove this part of the work
to be from the hand of a native artist. The enclosing label is in all
cases a segment of a circle, and filled with sculptured heads at short
intervals apart. At first sight this triforium hardly seems to be of
early date, having suffered by the addition of pinnacles covered with
crockets in front of, and open traceried parapet walls between, the
detached shafts on which the early traceries were carried; the result
is, that one of the most striking features in the church is completely
spoiled, and a general effect of very poor and tawdry design is felt
more or less throughout the whole building.[8]

The original clerestory still, in great part, remains; it is simple, but
good and vigorous in style, and with but one special peculiarity in its
detail. The windows are for the most part of two lights, with a
quatrefoiled circle in the head; and the peculiarity referred to here is
the omission to carry the chamfer round the extrados of the arched heads
to the lights or the circle; the effect produced is peculiar, the
tracery not looking as if it were properly constructed, but as if the
wheel had been loosely placed within the arch without having any proper
connection with it. I have noticed the same arrangement in a church at
Valladolid, and it must, I think, be regarded either as a freak of the
workmen, or more probably as the exhibition of some degree of ignorance
of the ordinary mode of executing the mouldings in window traceries.

But here, with this one exception, as in almost all the details
throughout the original work of this cathedral, there is little, if
anything, to show that we are not in France, and looking at some of its
best and purest thirteenth-century Gothic. There is no trace of Moorish
or other foreign influence, the whole work being pure, simple, and good.
In the aisles two only of the original windows still remain, and these
show that they were lighted originally by a series of well-shaped
lancets, with engaged jamb-shafts inside. The vaults are all slightly
domical in section; the diagonal ribs generally semi-circular, as also
are the wall-ribs. The masonry of the cells is arranged in lines
parallel to the ridge, but considerably distorted near the springing.

The transepts, which, as has been said, are similar in their design to
the nave, are of considerable size, and the view across them is in fact
the best internal view in the church. One early chapel alone
remains,--on the east side of the north transept,--and its groined roof
is remarkable. It is a square in plan, with its vault divided into eight
groining cells, forming two bays on each side, and with two lancet
windows at the east end, each under a division of the vault. No one who
has studied the groining of the churches in Poitou and Anjou--so decided
in their local peculiarities--can doubt, on comparison of them with this
chapel, that it was the work of men who had studied in the same school,
and it is remarkable that we find it reproduced in the lantern of the
great church of the Convent of Las Huelgas, near Burgos, of which I
shall presently have to speak. In both cases the vaulting is very
domical, and the joints of the stone filling-in of the cells are
_vertical_. This chapel suggests, too, the question whether the first
idea was not here, as well as at Las Huelgas, to have a series of
chapels on the east side of the transepts, though I should decide this
in the negative, inasmuch as there is no mark of a chapel in the next
bay to the north, and there was probably from the first a complete
chevet to the choir.

It will be as well, perhaps, to leave the description in detail of the
early features of the exterior for the present, and to complete the
notice of the interior first of all.

And here it is necessary to say a few words as to the cathedral
arrangements commonly seen in Spain, which exist in full force at
Burgos, and must be constantly referred to in all my notices of Spanish

I have already said that the choir proper (_Coro_) is transferred to the
nave, of which it occupies commonly the eastern half; the portion of the
nave outside, or to the west of the Coro, being called the “_Trascoro_,”
and that to the east of it the “_Entre los dos Coros_;” and in most
great churches the “_Crucero_,” or crossing, and the transept really do
the work of the nave, in the way of accommodating the people. The floor
of the nave proper is, indeed, too often a useless appendage to the
building, desolate, dreary, unused, and cold; whereas in the transepts,
the services at the altar and in the choir are both seen and heard, and
this accordingly is the people’s place. A passage is sometimes, or
perhaps I ought to say is usually, made with low iron or brass screens
or rails leading from the eastern gate of the Coro to the screen in
front of the altar. This is especially necessary here, as the choir
proper is deep, and the people are thus kept from pressing on the clergy
as they pass to and fro in the long passage from the altar to the Coro.
Gates in these screens admit of the passage of the people from one
transept to the other whenever the services in the Coro are not going
on. The Coro is usually fitted with two rows of stalls on its north,
south, and west sides, the front row having no desks before them. The
only entrance is usually through the screen on the eastern side, and
there are generally two organs placed on either side of the western bay
of the Coro, above the stalls. In the centre of the Coro there is always
one, and sometimes two or three lecterns, for the great illuminated
office-books, which most of the Spanish churches seem still to preserve
and use. High metal screens are placed across the nave to the east of
the Coro, and across the entrance to the choir, or “_capilla mayor_,” as
its eastern part is called. These screens are called _rejas_. Above the
crossing of the choir and transepts there is usually an open raised
lantern, called by the Spaniards the _cimborio_; and behind the altar,
at the end of the Capilla mayor, is usually a great sculptured and
painted _retablo_ or reredos. All these arrangements are generally
described as if they were invariably found in all Spanish churches, as
they certainly are at Burgos and many others now; and an acute and
well-informed writer in the ‘Ecclesiologist’ suggests that their origin
may perhaps be looked for in the early churches of the Asturias and
Galicia, since he had looked in vain, in both Spanish and Mozarabic
liturgies, for any peculiar dogma or ritual practice which would have
involved arrangements so different from those common in other countries.
The grounds for my opinion will appear as I describe other churches in
other places; but I may here at once say that what occurred to me at
Burgos was to some extent confirmed elsewhere, namely, that most of
these arrangements have no very old authority or origin, but are
comparatively modern innovations, and that they are never seen in their
completeness save where, as here, they are alterations or additions of
the sixteenth or subsequent centuries, and they are usually Renaissance
in their architectural character. This is particularly the case in
regard to the arrangement of the Coro, as well as to its position in the
church. At present the bishop is generally placed in a central stall at
its western end; yet of this I have seen only one or two really genuine
old examples; for, wherever the arrangement occurs in a choir where the
old stalls remain, it will be found, I believe, that the bishop’s stall
is an interpolation and addition of the sixteenth, seventeenth, or
eighteenth century, and that where the old western screen remains, the
throne blocks up the old door from the nave into the Coro. The word
Cimborio is only the Spanish term for our lantern. The early Spanish
churches were like our own in the adoption of this fine feature, and,
with such modifications as might be expected, the central lantern is
still an invariable feature in most of them. The term Cimborio, however,
seems to have no special significance, and, as I prefer the use of an
English terminology wherever it is appropriate, I shall generally use
the word lantern, rather than Cimborio. There are some of these terms,
however, which it will frequently be convenient to use; such, for
instance, are the words Reja, Coro, Capilla mayor, and Trascoro, all of
which describe Spanish features or arrangements unknown in our own

At Burgos the Coro occupies the three eastern bays of the nave, and the
only entrance to it is through a doorway in its eastern screen. The
stalls, screens, and fittings are all of early Renaissance work, and
were the gift of Bishop Pascual de Fuensanta, between A.D. 1497 and A.D.
1512. There are about eighty stalls, in two rows, returned at the ends,
and very richly carved, over the lower stalls with subjects from the
New, and over the upper stalls with subjects from the Old Testament. In
the centre of the choir, concealed by the great desk for the books
(which, by the way, are old, though not very fine[9]), lies a
magnificent effigy of Bishop Maurice, the founder of the church. It is
of wood, covered with metal plates, and very sumptuously adorned with
jewels, enamels, and gilding. He was bishop from A.D. 1213 to A.D. 1238,
and his effigy appeared to me to be very little later than the date of
his death.

A special architectural interest attaches to the life of this prelate,
for the tradition in Burgos has always been that he was an Englishman,
who came over in the train of the English Princess Alienor, Queen of
Alfonso VIII., and, having been Archdeacon of Toledo, became in A.D.
1213 Bishop of Burgos. Florez,[10] however, doubts the tradition, and
observes that his parents’ names, Rodrigo and Oro Sabia, were those of
Spaniards. Two years before the cathedral was commenced he went on an
embassy through France to Germany, to bring Beatrice, daughter of the
Duke of Suabia, to marry King Ferdinand; so that, even if he were not of
English birth, he was at any rate well travelled, and had seen some of
the noble works in progress and completed in France and Germany at this
date. In A.D. 1221 he laid the first stone of his new
cathedral:--“Primus lapis ponitur in fundamento novi operis ecclesiæ
Burgens: xx. die mensis Julii _era_ millesima quinquagesima nona die
Sancte Margarite.”[11] Florez gives two other similar statements, one
from the Martyrology of Burgos, and the other from the Chronicle of
Cardeña. The King and the Bishop are said to have laid the first stone
in the grand column on the epistle side of the choir; and the work went
on so rapidly that in November, A.D. 1230, when he drew up directions as
to the precedence of the various members of the chapter, their order of
serving at the altars, and of walking in processions, the Bishop was
able to write, “_Tempore nostræ translationis ad novam fabricam_.”[12]

Bishop Maurice was buried in the church, and his monument was afterwards
moved to the front of the Trascoro (or screen at the west end of the
choir) by Bishop Ampudia, before his death, in A.D. 1512. It has never
been moved from the spot in which it was then placed, and yet, owing to
the rearrangement of the stalls, it is now in the very midst of the
Coro,[13] and affords an invaluable piece of evidence of the fact
already stated, that of old the stalls did not occupy their present
place in the nave.[14]

There is nothing else worthy of note in the Coro. Its floor is boarded,
and a long passage about six feet wide, between rails, leads from its
door through the choir to a screen in front of the high altar. The
people occupy the choir, hemmed in between these rails and the parclose
screens under the side arches. The altar has a late and uninteresting
Retablo, in Pagan style, carved with large subjects and covered with
gold.[15] The steps to the altar are of white, black, and red marble,
counterchanged; and at the entrance to the choir under the lantern are
two brass pulpits or ambons, for the Epistoler and Gospeller, an
admirable and primitive arrangement almost always preserved in Spanish

The columns of the choir arches have been modernized, and there is
consequently but little of the old structure visible on the inside, the
Retablo rising to the groining, and concealing the arches of the apse.
Between these arches sculptures in stone are introduced, which are said
to have been executed by Juan de Borgoña, in 1540. They are bold and
spirited compositions in high relief, and give great richness of effect
to the aisle towards which they face. The subjects are--(1) the Agony in
the Garden; (2) our Lord bearing His Cross; (3) the Crucifixion; (4) the
Descent from the Cross and the Resurrection; (5) the Ascension. Numbers
1 and 5 are not original, or at any rate are inferior to and different
in style from the others.

When we leave the choir for its aisles, we shall find that everything
here, too, has been more or less altered. Chapels of all sizes and
shapes have been contrived, either by addition to or alteration of the
original ground-plan; and, picturesque as the _tout ensemble_ is, with
dark shadows crossed here and there by bright rays of light from the
side windows, with here a domed Renaissance chapel, there one of the
fourteenth century, and here, again, one of the fifteenth, it has lost
all that simplicity, unity, and harmony which in a perfect building
ought to mark this, the most important part of a church. In truth hardly
any part of the aisles or chapels of the chevet of Bishop Maurice now
remains; for of the two early chapels on the north side (marked _a_ and
_b_ on the plan), the former is evidently of later date, being possibly
the work of Bishop Juan de Villahoz, who founded a chapel here,
dedicated to S. Martin, in A.D. 1268-69.[16] The style of this chapel is
very good middle-pointed; the abaci of the capitals are square, the
tracery is geometrical, the vaulting very domical, and its north-western
angle is arched across, and groined with a small tripartite vault, in
order to bring the main vault into the required polygonal form. This
arrangement occurs at an earlier date, as I shall have presently to
show, at Las Huelgas (close to Burgos), but ought to be noticed here, as
the same feature is seen reproduced, more or less, in many Spanish works
of the fifteenth century, and here we have an intermediate example to
illustrate its gradual growth. It is, in fact, the Gothic substitute for
a pendentive.

The other chapel (_b_) I believe to be the one remaining evidence of the
original plan of the chevet; and, looking at it in connexion with the
other portions of the work, and especially with the blank wall between
which and the cloister the new sacristy is built, it seems pretty clear
that originally there were only three chapels in the chevet, and all of
them pentagonal in plan. Between these chapels and the transepts there
would then have been two bays of aisle without side chapels, and on the
eastern side of each of the transepts a small square chapel, one of
which still remains. This plan tallies to some extent with that of the
cathedral at Leon (with which the detail of Burgos may well be
compared), and is in some respects similar to that of the French
cathedrals of Amiens, Clermont, and some other places. In fact, the
planning of this chevet is one of the proofs that the work was of
French, and not of Spanish origin.

At the east end of the cathedral is a grand chapel, erected about A.D.
1487, by the Constable D. Pedro Fernandez de Velasco and his wife. This
remarkable building was designed by an architect whose work we shall see
again, and of whom it may be as well at once to say a few words. Juan de
Colonia--a German by birth or origin, as his name shows--is said to have
been brought to Burgos by Bishop Alfonso de Cartagena (A.D. 1435 to A.D.
1456) when he returned from the Council of Basle. There is evidence that
he built the chapel of the great Carthusian monastery of Miraflores, on
the hill just outside the town; and there is, I believe, but little
doubt that he wrought here too. His work is very peculiar. It is
essentially German in its endless intricacy and delicacy of detail, but
has features which I do not remember to have seen in Germany, and which
may fairly be attributed either to the Spaniards who worked under him,
or to an attempt on his own part to accommodate his work to Spanish

The chapel is octagonal at the east, but square at the west end; and
pendentives of exactly the same kind of design as those of the early
German and French churches are introduced across the western angles of
the chapel, to bring the plan of the central vault to a complete
octagon. They are true pendentives, and quite unlike those three-sided
vaulting bays across the angles of the apse chapels, to which I just now
referred, and which answer precisely the same purpose. They are hardly
at all Gothic, having semi-circular arches, and the masonry below them
being filled in with stones radiating as in a fan, from the centre of
the base of the pendentive. The groining ribs (the mouldings of which
interpenetrate at the springing) form by their intersection a large star
of eight points in the centre, and the cells between the ribs of this
star are pierced with very elaborate traceries. This is a feature often
reproduced in late Spanish works, and it is one which aids largely in
giving the intricate and elaborately lacelike effect aimed at by the
Spanish architects at this date, to a greater extent even than by any of
their contemporaries in other lands; for though this, which is wellnigh
the richest example of the Spanish art of the fifteenth century, was
designed by a German, we must remember that he was following, to a great
extent, Spanish traditions, and was largely aided in all the better
portion of the detail by national artists, among whom the greatest was,
perhaps, Gil de Siloe, whose work in the monuments at Miraflores I shall
presently have to describe. And it is not a little curious, and perhaps
not very gratifying to the _amour propre_ of Spanish artists, that in
this great church the two periods in which the most artistic vigour was
shown, and the grandest architectural works undertaken, were marked, the
first by the rule of a well-travelled bishop--commonly said to be an
Englishman--under an English princess, and who seems to have employed an
Angevine architect; and the second by the rule of another travelled
bishop, who, coming home from Germany, brought with him a German
architect, into whose hands all the great works in the city seem at once
to have been put. I must return, however, to the description of the
detail of the Constable’s chapel. Each bay of the octagonal part of the
chapel below the vaulting is divided in this way: below is a recessed
arch, under which is an enormous coat-of-arms set aslant on the wall,
with coarse foliage round it. These arches have a very ugly fringe of
shields and supporters, and finish with ogee canopies. Above are the
windows, which are of flamboyant tracery of three lights; the windows
being placed one over the other, the outer mouldings of the upper window
going down to the sill of the lower. There are altars in recesses on the
east, north, and south sides of the octagon; and the two latter stand
upon their old foot-paces, formed by flights of three steps, the ends of
which towards the chapel are filled with rich tracery. The monument of
the Constable Velasco is in the centre of the chapel; and a velvet pall
belonging to it is still preserved, adorned with one of those grand
stamped patterns so constantly seen in mediæval German paintings. The
stalls for the clergy are arranged strangely in an angle of the chapel,
fenced round with a low screen, and looking like one of those enclosures
in some of our own churches sacred to archdeacons and their officials.

A quaint little vestry is contrived outside the south-east angle of the
octagon, and in it are preserved some pieces of plate of the same age as
the chapel. Among these are--

A chalice of silver gilt, enamelled in white and red, with its bowl
richly set with pearls strung on a wire: the knop is richly enamelled,
and its edge set with alternate emeralds and sapphires; whilst the
sexfoiled foot is in the alternate compartments engraved with
coats-of-arms, and set with sapphires. It is a very gorgeous work, and,
though all but Renaissance in style, still very finely executed.

A pax; the Blessed Virgin Mary holding our Lord, and seated on a throne
covered with pearls and other jewels. The figure of the Blessed Virgin
Mary is enamelled with blue, and our Lord is in ivory. The old case for
this is preserved, and has a drawer below it which contains papers
referring to the gift of it.

Another small pax; a flat plate enamelled, with crocketed pinnacles at
the side, but no figure.

A fine thurible for incense, in the form of a ship, with Adam and Eve on
the lid.

A very good flagon, richly chased all over, sexfoil in section, and with
a particularly good spout and handle.

There are many other chapels, as will be seen by reference to the plan,
added to various parts of this cathedral, though none of them are of
anything like the same importance as that of the Constable, which gives,
indeed, much of its character to the exterior of the whole church, so
large, lofty, and elaborate is it. On the south side of the south aisle
of the nave is one which in the treatment of its groining cells, which
are filled with tracery, seems to show the hand of Juan de Colonia;
whilst another chapel on the north side of the nave, partly covered with
a late Gothic vault, and partly with a dome, may be either a later work
of his, or, more probably, of his son Simon de Colonia; another to the
east of this is remarkable for the cusps, which come from the moulded
ribs and lie on the surface of the vaulting cells in a way I do not
remember to have seen before. In these chapels[17] we see the dying out
of the old art in every stage of its progress; and I think that both
here and elsewhere in Spain the change was much more gradual than it was
in most other parts of Europe, many of the early Renaissance masters
having availed themselves largely of the picturesque detail of their
predecessors’ work.

The central lantern was the last great work executed in this cathedral,
and its history must be given somewhat at length, as it is of much
interest. In the Royal Library at Madrid[18] there is preserved a MS.,
from which we learn that the “crossing” of the cathedral fell on the 4th
of March, 1539; and that Felipe de Borgoña, “one of the three ‘maestros’
who in the time of our Emperor came to our Spain, from whom we have
learned perfect architecture and sculpture, though in both they say he
had the advantage over the others,” was intrusted with the execution of
the new work erected in its place. This Cimborio or lantern was
completed, according to this MS., in December, A.D. 1567, Maestro
Vallejo being mentioned as having wrought at the work under Felipe de
Borgoña; Cean Bermudez,[19] without giving his authorities, says, that
the Bishop (celebrated for the many buildings he had erected, among
others San Esteban at Salamanca), on the fall of the “crucero,” summoned
Felipe de Borgoña from Toledo, where he was at work with Berruguete on
the stalls, to superintend the cathedral architects Juan de Vallejo and
Juan de Castañeda. Maestro Felipe seems to have died in A.D. 1543, so
that it is probable that after all most of the work was done after his
death by Juan de Vallejo, who was sufficiently distinguished to be
consulted with the architects of Toledo, Seville, and Leon about the
building of the new cathedral at Salamanca in A.D. 1512, and had also,
between the years A.D. 1514-1524, built the very Renaissance-looking
gateway which opens from the east side of the north transept into the
Calle de la Pellegria. The whole composition of this lantern is Gothic
and picturesque; yet there is scarce a portion of it which does not show
a most strange mixture of Pagan and Gothic detail. The piers which
support it are huge, ungainly cylinders, covered with carving in low
relief, and everywhere there is that combination of heaviness of parts
and intricacy of detail, which in all ages marks the inferior artist. I
cannot help lamenting much, therefore, the fall of the old work in A.D.
1539. There is no evidence, so far as I know, as to what it was that
fell,[20] but the nearly coeval church of Las Huelgas has a fine simple
lantern, and it is probable that some such erection existed in the
cathedral, and that Bishop Luis de Acuña y Osorio raised it, and, by
increasing its weight, caused its fall. The central lantern is so
completely a feature of English buildings, or of those built in lands
over which our kings also ruled, that any evidence of their early
existence here would have been most valuable, seeing how close the
connexion was at the time of its erection between the families of the
kings of Castile and of England.

[Illustration: No. 1.


P. 25


The groined roofs next to the lantern, on all sides, were of necessity
rebuilt at the same time, and with detail quite unlike that of the
original vault.

The exterior of the cathedral may be described at less length than the
interior, presenting, as it does, fewer alterations of the original
fabric, and much of what has been said of the one necessarily
illustrating the other also.

The west front is well known by the many illustrations which have been
published of it. The ground on which the church stands slopes up, as I
have said, rapidly from south to north, but a level Plaza has been
formed in front of the doors, and part of which is enclosed with
balustrades and pinnacles of a sort of bastard Gothic, which I see drawn
in a view published circa 1770, and which may possibly be of the same
age as the latest Gothic works in the cathedral. On the rising ground to
the north-west stands the little church of San Nicolas, high above the
cathedral parvise, and hence it is that the view which I give from Mr.
Fergusson’s book is taken. Nothing can be more determinately
picturesque, though nothing can be less really interesting, than this
florid work, which everywhere substituted elaboration for thought, and
labour for art. But I need say no more on this point; for if we now look
more closely, we shall see that, underlying all these unsatisfying later
excrescences, the old thirteenth century cathedral is still here,
intact to an extent which I had not at first ventured to hope for.

The western doors are three in number, but have been completely
modernized. Of old the central door, “del Pardon,” had effigies of the
Assumption, with angels and saints; the northern door “the mystery of
the Conception of the Blessed Virgin;” and the southern door her
coronation.[21] Above the side doorways the two steeples rise, whilst in
the centre is a finely-traceried rose-window, which lights the nave; and
above this two lofty traceried openings, each of four lights, with
effigies of saints standing one under each light, the whole forming a
screen connecting the steeples, and entirely masking the roof. The
steeples, up to this level, are of the original foundation, much altered
in parts, and now put to strange uses, their intermediate stages being
converted into dwelling-houses, and lively groups of cocks and hens
being domesticated on a sort of terrace a hundred feet from the floor.
The upper part of the towers and the spires was added in the fifteenth
century, by Bishop Alfonso de Cartagena (1435-56), who employed Juan de
Colonia (the German of whom I have already spoken) to design them.
German peculiarities do not gain in attractiveness by being exported to
Spain, and this part of Juan de Colonia’s work is certainly not a
success. Nothing can be less elegant than the termination of the spires,
which, instead of finishing simply and in the usual way, are surrounded
near the top by an open gallery, and then terminated with the clumsiest
of finials. This work was commenced in A.D. 1442, and when the bishop
died in A.D. 1456, one spire was finished, and the other, being well
advanced, was soon completed under Bishop Luis Acuña y Osorio, the
founder also of the central lantern.[22] Between the two towers is a
figure of the Blessed Virgin, with the words “Pulcra es et decora.” On
the upper part of the towers, “Ecce Agnus Dei,” and “Pax vobis;” and on
the spires, “Sancta Maria,” and “Jesus.” These words are in large stone
letters, with the spaces round them pierced.

The detail of the spires is coarse, and the open stonework traceries
with which they are covered are held together everywhere by ironwork,
most of which appeared to me to have been added since the erection. The
crockets are enormous, projecting two feet from the angles of the
spires, curiously scooped out at the top to diminish their weight, and
with holes drilled through them to prevent the lodgement of water. The
bells are, I think, the most misshapen I ever saw; and, as if to prove
that beauty of all kinds is sympathetic, they are as bad in sound as
they are in form!

The façades of the two transepts are quite unaltered, and as fine as
those of the best of our French or English churches. I particularly
delighted in the entrance to and _entourage_ of the southern transept,
presenting as it does all those happy groupings which to the
nineteenth-century Rue-de-Rivoli-loving public are of course odious, but
to the real lover of art simply most exquisite and quaint.[23] The
cloister and bishop’s palace, built out from the church on the south,
leave a narrow lane between them, not absolutely in face of the great
door, but twisting its way up to it; the entrance to this is through a
low archway, called the Puerta del Sarmental, above which, on the right,
towers one of the enormous and really noble crocketed pinnacles which
mark the angles of the cloister, and then, passing by several old
monuments built into the walls of the passage, the great doorway is
reached by a flight of steps at its end. Above this doorway is a fine
rose window of twenty rays of geometrical tracery, and above this is a
screen in front of the roof, consisting of four traceried openings, each
of four lights, and each monial protected, as are the lights at the west
front, by figures of angels rather above life-size. The angles of the
transepts are flanked by crocketed pinnacles, the crockets here, as
elsewhere throughout the early work, being simple in form and design,
but as perfect in effect as it is possible for crockets to be. The
sculptures of the south door are, in the tympanum, our Lord seated with
the evangelistic beasts around Him, and the four evangelists, one on
either side and two above, seated and writing at desks, whilst below His
feet are the twelve apostles, seated and holding open books. Below,
there is a bishop in front of the central pier, and statues on either
side, of which I made out two on the right to be St. Peter and St. Paul,
and two answering to them on the left Moses and Aaron. The three orders
of the archivolt have--(1) angels with censers, and angels with candles;
(2 and 3) kings seated, and playing musical instruments. Here, as
throughout the early sculpture, the character of the work is very
French, and the detail of the arcading below the statues in the jambs is
very nearly the same as that of the earliest portion of the work in the
west front of the Cathedral at Bourges.

[Illustration: Varieties of Crockets.

  A. In Tower Window Jamb.
  B.     Do.   do.   Arch.
  C. On Pinnacles of South Transept.

The north transept differs but little from the other. The doorway--De
Los Apostoles--is reached from the transept floor by an internal
staircase of no less than thirty-eight steps (the sixteenth-century work
of Diego de Siloe), and the whole front is of course much less lofty
than that of the south transept, owing to the great slope of the ground
up from south to north. Above the doorway is an early triplet, and above
this the roof-screen and pinnacles, the same as in the other transept.
The doorway has in the tympanum our Lord, seated, with St. Mary and St.
John on either side, and angels with the instruments of the Passion
above and on either side. Below is St. Michael weighing souls, with the
good on his left, and the wicked on his right. The orders of the
archivolt have--(1) seraphim, (2) angels, and (3) figures rising from
their graves: and the jambs have figures of the twelve apostles.

[Illustration: No. 2.


p. 29


The ascent to the roofs discloses the remaining early features. These
are the clerestory windows, and the double flying buttresses, of which I
give an illustration. The water from the main roofs is carried down in a
channel on the flying buttresses and discharged by gurgoyles. There are
some sitting figures of beasts added in front of the buttresses which
are not original. The parapet throughout is an open trefoiled arcade,
with an angel standing guard over each buttress. The detail of the
clerestory windows is very good; they are of two lights, with a cusped
circle above, and a well-moulded enclosing arch. The windows in the apse
are built on the curve. The capitals of the shafts in and under the
flying buttresses are well carved, and there is a good deal of dog-tooth
enrichment. At the back of the screen-walls, in front of the roofs of
the nave and transepts, is seen the old weather-moulding marking the
line of the very steep-pitched roof (which was evidently intended to be
erected), and the stones forming which are so contrived as to form steps
leading up to the ridge, and down again to the opposite gutter. In the
transept, pinnacles take the place of the angels over the buttresses,
and their design is very piquant and original. The moulded stringcourse
at the base of these pinnacles is of a section often seen in French
work, and never, I believe, used by any but French workmen.

All the steep roofs have long since vanished, and in their place are
flat roofs, covered with pantiles laid loosely and roughly, and looking
most ruinous. It may well be a question, I think, whether the steep
roofs were ever erected. The very fact that they were contemplated in
the design and construction of the stonework, appears to me to afford
evidence of the design not having been the work of a Spaniard: and it is
of course possible that, at the first, the native workmen may have put
up a roof of the flat pitch, with which they were familiar, instead of
the steep roofs for which the gables were planned. But, assuming that
the steep roofs were erected, they must, no doubt, have been damaged by
the fall of the lantern in 1539, and as it was reconstructed with
reference to roofs of the pitch we now see, the roofs must have been
altered at the latest by that time.

It is quite worth while to ascend to the roofs, if only to see what is,
perhaps, the most charming view in the whole church; that, namely, which
is obtained from the south-east angle of the lantern, looking down into
the cloister, above the traceries of which rise the quaint pinnacles and
parapets of the old sacristy, and the great angle pinnacles of the
cloister itself, whilst beyond are seen the crowded roofs of the city,
the all but dry bed of the Arlanzon dividing it in two parts, and
beyond, on the one side, the steeple of the Convent of Las Huelgas
rising among its trees, and on the other the great chapel of Miraflores,
crowning a dreary, dusty, and desolate-looking hill in the distance.

I have left to the last all notice of the cloisters, which are said to
have been built in the time of Enrique II. (1379-90), but I can find no
authority for the statement, and believe that they would be more rightly
dated between A.D. 1280 and A.D. 1350.[24] They are entered from the
south transept by the fine doorway, of which a drawing is given by Mr.
Waring in his work on Burgos. This would be thought an unusually good
example of middle-pointed work even in England, and is as fair an
instance as I know of the extreme skill with which the Spanish artists
of the same period wrought. The planning of the jambs, with the
arrangement of the straight-sided overhanging canopies over the figures
which adorn them, are to be noticed as being nearly identical in
character with those of the north transept doorway at Leon, and the
strange feature of an elliptical three-centred arch to the door opening
under the tympanum is common to both. The tympanum is well sculptured
with the Baptism of our Lord, and the well-accentuated orders of the
arch have sitting figures under canopies, and delicately-carved foliage.
The flat surfaces here are, wherever possible, carved with a diaper of
castles and lions, which was very popular throughout the kingdom of
Castile and Leon in the fourteenth century. The figures on the left jamb
of the door are those of the Annunciation, whilst, on the right, are
others of David and Isaiah. The wooden doors, though much later in date,
are carved with extreme spirit and power, with St. Peter and St. Paul
below, and the Entry into Jerusalem and the Descent into Hell above. The
ecclesiologist should set these doors open, and then, looking through
the archway into the cloister, where the light glances on an angle
column clustered round with statues, and upon delicate traceries and
vaulting ribs, he will enjoy as charming a picture as is often seen. The
arrangement of the masonry round this door shows, as also does its
detail, that it is an insertion in the older wall.[25]

[Illustration: No. 3


p. 30


The cloisters are full of beauty and interest. They are of two stages in
height, the lower plain, the upper very ornate, the windows being of
four lights, with a circle of ten cusps in the centre, and a
quatrefoiled circle within the enclosing arch over the side lights. The
groining ribs are well moulded, and the details throughout carefully
designed and executed. At the internal angles of the cloister are groups
of saints on corbels and under canopies placed against the groining
shafts, and there is generally a figure of a saint under a recessed arch
in the wall opposite each of the windows;[26] besides which there are
numerous monuments and doorways. Those on the east are the most
noticeable. There is the entrance to the sacristy, with a sculpture of
the Descent from the Cross in its tympanum; the entrance to the room in
which the coffer of the Cid is preserved, with our Lord seated between
SS. Mary and John and Angels; and on the south side are in one bay S.
Joseph of Arimathea laying our Lord in the sepulchre, in another the
Crucifixion; whilst sculptured high tombs, surrounded by iron _grilles_,
abound. Indeed, I hardly know any cloister in which an architect might
be better contented to be confined for a time; for though there are many
which are finer and in better style, I know none altogether more
interesting and more varied, or more redolent of those illustrations of
and links with the past, which are of the very essence of all one’s
interest in such works.

One of the doors on the east side of the cloister opens into the old
sacristy, a grand room about forty-two feet square, the groining of
which is octagonal, with small three-sided vaulting bays filling in the
angles between the square and the octagon. The corbels supporting the
groining shafts are very quaintly carved with the story of a knight
battling with lions.

Here are kept the vestments of the altars and clergy, a right goodly
collection in number, and three of them very fine. These are a blue
velvet cope with orphreys, fairly wrought on a gold ground, and all the
work bound with a twisted cord, which in one part is black and yellow;
another cope, also of blue velvet, has a half-figure of our Lord in the
centre of the orphrey, and angels on the remainder and on the hood, with
wings of green, purple, and blue, exquisitely shaded and lined with
gold; another has St. John the Baptist, the Blessed Virgin, our Lord,
and three saints, under canopies. In all of them the velvet ground was
covered with a large diaper pattern in gold, done before the embroidery
was _appliqué_.

To the south of this sacristy is another groined chamber, in which is
kept the coffer of the Cid,[27] and where the groining ribs are painted
in rich colour for about three feet from the centre boss. A door out of
this leads into the Chapter-house, a room with a flat wooden ceiling of
Moresque character. It is made in parqueterie of coloured woods arranged
in patterns with gilt pendants, and the cornice is of blue and white
majolica, inlaid in the walls: the combination of the whole is certainly
very effective. East of these rooms were others, of which traces still
remain on the outside; but they have been entirely destroyed, and
streets now form, on the east and on the south, the boundaries of the
church and its dependent buildings. Advantage was taken of the rise of
the ground to make a second cloister below that which I have been
describing. In the centre of the enclosure stands a cross, but the
arches are built up, and the cloister is now used for workshops, so that
there is here none of that air of beauty which the gardened cloisters of
Spain usually possess. In the north-west angle of this lower story is a
sacristy, reached by a staircase from one of the choir chapels, and
still in use for it.

I have now in a general way gone over the whole of this very interesting
church, and have said enough, I hope, to prove that popular report has
never overrated its real merits, though no doubt it has regarded too
much those points only of the fabric which to my eye seemed to be least
worthy of praise--the late additions to it rather than the old church
itself. As to the charm of the whole building from every point of view
there cannot be two opinions. It has in a large degree that real
picturesqueness which we so seldom see in French Gothic interiors,
whilst at the same time it still retains much of that fine Early Pointed
work which could hardly have been the work of any but one who knew well
the best French buildings of his day; whoever he was--and amid the
plentiful mention of later artists I have looked in vain for any mention
of him--he was no servile reproducer of foreign work. The treatment of
the triforium throughout is evidently an original conception; and it is
to be noted that the dog-tooth enrichment is freely used, and that the
bells of the capitals throughout are octagonal with concave sides. The
crocketing of the pinnacles is, I believe, quite original; and the
general planning and construction of the building is worthy of all
praise. Nor was the sculptor less worthy of praise than the architect.
The carving of foliage in the early work is good and very plentiful; the
figured sculpture is still richer, and whether in the thirteenth-century
transept doors, the fourteenth-century cloisters, or the
fifteenth-century Retablos, is amazingly good and spirited. The
thirteenth-century figures are just in the style of those Frenchmen who
always conveyed so riant and piquant a character both of face and
attitude to their work. The later architects all seem to have wrought in
a fairly original mode; and even where architects were brought from
Germany, there was some influence evidently used to prevent their work
being a mere repetition of what was being done in their own land; and so
aided by the admirable skill of the Spanish artists who worked under
them, the result is much more happy than might have been expected. Much,
no doubt, of the picturesque effect of such a church is owing to the way
in which it has been added to from time to time: to the large number,
therefore, of personal interests embodied in it, the variety of styles
and parts each of them full of individuality, and finally to the noble
memorials of the dead which abound in it. In France--thanks to
revolutions and whitewash without stint--the noblest churches have a
certain air of baldness which tires the eye of an Englishman used to our
storied cathedrals: but in Spain this is never the case, and we may go
to Burgos, as we may anywhere else in the land, certain that we shall
find in each cathedral much that will illustrate every page of the
history of the country, if well studied and rightly read.


There is one point in which for picturesque effect few countries can
vie with Spain--and this is the admission of light. In her brilliant
climate it seems to matter not at all how many of the windows are
blocked up or destroyed: all that results is a deeper shadow thrown
across an aisle, or a ray of light looking all the brighter by contrast;
and, though it is often a hard matter to see to draw inside a church on
the brightest day, it is never too dark for comfort, and one comes in
from the scorching sun outside and sits down in the darkest spot of the
dark church with the utmost satisfaction. I saw an evidence here one
night of the natural aptitude of the people for such effects, in the
mode of lighting up the cathedral for an evening service in a large
chapel at the east end. There was one lantern on the floor of the nave,
another in the south transept, and the light burning before the altar:
and in the large side chapel was a numerous congregation, some sitting
on the floor, some kneeling, some standing, whilst a priest, holding a
candle in his hand, read to the people from the pulpit. In this chapel
the only other light was from the lighted candles on the altar. The
whole church was in this way just enough lighted to enable you to see
your way, and to avoid running against the cloaked forms that trod
stealthily about; and the effect would have been inexpressibly solemn,
save for the occasional intrusion of a dog or a cat, who seem to be
always prowling about, and not unfrequently fighting, in Spanish

Leaving the other churches and buildings of Burgos for the present, let
us now cross the Arlanzon by one of its many bridges, and presently
striking to the left we shall come upon the well-worn path by the side
of the convent-stream, which in less than a mile from the city brings us
to a postern of Las Huelgas.

Santa Maria la Real de las Huelgas was founded by Alfonso VIII., son of
D. Sancho el Deseado, at the instance, it is said, of Leonor (or
Alienor) his Queen, daughter of Henry II. of England, of whom I have
before spoken in referring to Bishop Maurice, the founder of the
cathedral. The dates given for the work are as follow:--The monastery
was commenced in A.D. 1180; inhabited on the 1st June, A.D. 1187;[28]
and in A.D. 1199 formally established as a house of Cistercians. The
first abbess ruled from A.D. 1187 to A.D. 1203; and the second, Doña
Constanza, daughter of the founder, from A.D. 1203 to A.D. 1218; and
from that time forward a large number of noble persons here took the
veil, whilst kings were knighted, crowned, and buried before its
altars. No wonder, therefore, that the postern-gate of Las Huelgas--a
simple thirteenth-century archway--leads, not at once into the convent,
but into the village which has grown up around it, and which, whatever
may have been its aspect in old times, is now as dreary, desolate, and
forlorn-looking as only a Spanish or an Irish village can be, though
still ruled as of yore by the lady abbess,--no doubt with terribly shorn
and shrunken revenues. There is a small church in the village here, but
it is of no interest: and we may well reserve ourselves for the great
church rising from behind the boundary walls which shut in the convent
on all sides, and the people’s entrance to which is from an open
courtyard on its north side through the transept porch.

[Illustration: BURGOS: Ground Plan of Cathedral: Plate 1.

Published by John Murray, Albemarle St. 1865.]


I give an illustration of the ground plan,[29] from which it will be
seen that the church consists of a nave and aisles of eight bays,
transepts, and choir, with two chapels on either side of it opening into
the transept, whilst a porch is erected in front of the north transept,
and a cloister passage along the whole length of the north aisle. A
tower is placed on the north-east of the north transept, and a chapel
has been added on its eastern side. There is another cloister court, of
which a not very trustworthy lithograph is given in M. Villa Amil’s
work. This is within the convent, from which every one but the inmates
is rigorously excluded, but, as far as I can learn, it is on the south
side of the nave. The central compartment of the transept is carried up
above the rest as a lantern, and groined with an eight-sided vault. The
choir has one bay of quadripartite and one of sexpartite vaulting, and
an apse. The transept chapels are all of them square in the plan but, by
the introduction of an arch across the angle (the space behind which is
roofed with a small vault), the vault is brought to half-octagon at the
east end. This will be best understood by the illustration which I give
of one of these chapels: and here, too, it will be seen that the
masonry of the vaulting cells is all arranged in vertical
lines,--parallel, that is, to the centre of the vault, and that the
transverse section of the vault is in all cases exceedingly domical.
Nothing can be more peculiar than this description of early vaulting,
and it is one which, I believe, originated in Anjou or Poitou, where
numberless examples may be found all more or less akin to this at Las
Huelgas. This fact is most suggestive, for what more probable than that
Alienor, Henry II.’s daughter, should, in the abbey which she induced
her husband to found, have procured the help of some architect from her
father’s Angevine domain to assist in the design of her building? Yet,
on the other hand, there are some slight differences of detail between
the work here and any French example with which I am acquainted, which
make it possible that the architect was really a Spaniard, but if so, he
must have been well acquainted, not only with the Angevine system of
vaulting, but also with some of those English details which, as is well
known, were in common use both in Anjou and in England in the latter
part of the twelfth, and first half of the thirteenth century. A
foreigner naturally gives us an exact reproduction of the work of some
foreign school, just as we see at Canterbury in the work of William of
Sens, and my own impression is strong that he must have been an Angevine
artist who was at work here.

If I am correct in attributing this peculiar church to the Angevine
influence of the Queen, I prove at the same time a most important point
in the history of the development of style in Spain. The planning of the
church at Las Huelgas influenced largely the architects of Burgos, the
capital of Castile and Leon. The groining of the only original chapel in
the transept of the cathedral is a reproduction of the octopartite vault
of the lantern at Las Huelgas; and one may fairly suspect that so, too,
was the original lantern of the cathedral. Then, again, in a
fourteenth-century chapel, north of the choir of the cathedral, we see
the same device (_i.e._ the arched pendentive across the angle) adopted
for obtaining an octagonal vault over a square chamber; and again in the
fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, in a chapel on the south of the nave,
in the old sacristy, and finally in the all but Renaissance chapel of
the Constable, we have the Spanish octagonal vault, supported on
pendentives, evidently copied by the German architect from the
pendentives of the Romanesque churches on the Rhine. In these Burgalese
examples we have a typal vault which is extensively reproduced
throughout Spain, and which I last saw at Barcelona, in work of the
sixteenth century. It is a type of vault, in its later form, almost
peculiar to Spain, and when filled in with tracery in the cell, I
believe quite so. And it is undoubtedly more picturesque and generally
more scientific in construction than our own late vaults, and infinitely
more so than the thin, wasted-looking vaults of the French flamboyant

But to proceed with my notice of the church of Las Huelgas. The nave is
groined throughout with a quadripartite vault; but beyond this I can say
but little, as it is screened off from the church for the use of the
nuns,[30] and the only view of it is obtained through the screen. The
main arches between the nave and aisles are very simple, of two orders,
the inner square, the outer moulded. Above these is a string-course
level with the springing of the groining, and then a clerestory of long,
simple lancet windows, the whole forming a noble and impressive
interior. Above the nuns’ stalls on the south I noticed a good
fifteenth-century organ, with pipes arranged in a series of stepped
compartments, and painted shutters of the same shape; below the
principal range of pipes those of one stop are placed projecting
horizontally from the organ. This is an almost universal arrangement in
Spanish organs, and is always very picturesque in its effect, and I
believe in the case of trumpet-stops very useful, though somewhat

The detail generally of all the architecture here is very good, and in
particular nothing can be more minute and delicate in execution than
some of the sculpture of foliage in the eastern chapels, where also, as
is frequently the case in early Spanish buildings, the dog-tooth
enrichment is freely introduced wherever possible. The design of the
interior of the choir is very good; below are lancet windows, with
semi-circular inside arches; and above, lancets with double internal
jamb-shafts, very picturesquely introduced high up in the walls, and
close to the groining. I could only get a glimpse of the exterior of the
apse, owing to the high walls which completely enclose the convent on
the east. It has simple but good buttresses, but otherwise there seems
nothing worthy of note. The rest of the exterior is, however, very
interesting. The general view which I give shows the extremely simple
and somewhat English-looking west front; the gateway and wall, with its
Moorish battlements, dividing an inner court from the great court north
of the church; and the curious rather than beautiful steeple. An arched
bell-cot rises out of the western wall of the lantern, and a tall
staircase-turret out of the western wall of the north transept. The
cloister, which is carried all along the north aisle of the nave of the
church, is very simple, having two divisions between each buttress, the
arches being carried on shafts, coupled in the usual early fashion, one
behind the other. A very rich first-pointed doorway opens into the
second bay from the west of this cloister, and a much simpler archway,
with a circular window over it, into the fifth, and at its east end a
most ingenious and picturesque group is produced by the contrivance of a
covered passage from the cloister to the projecting transept-porch. The
detail here is of the richest first-pointed, very delicate and
beautiful, but, apparently, very little cared for now. The cloister is
entirely blocked up and converted into a receptacle for lumber, but I
was able to see that it is groined. The rose window in the
transept-porch, with doubled traceries and shafts, set one behind the
other, with fine effect, the elaborate corbel-tables, and the doorway to
the smaller porch--rich with chevron and dog-tooth--ought to be
specially noticed: their detail being tolerably convincing as to their
French origin. There are some curious monuments inside the
transept-porch, which I was not able to examine properly, as when I went
to Las Huelgas a second time, in order to see them, I found the church
locked for the day. To see such a church properly it is necessary to
rise with the lark; for after ten or eleven in the morning it is always

There is a good simple gateway of the thirteenth century leading into
the western court of the convent, but otherwise I could see nothing old,
though I daresay the fortunate architect who first is able to examine
the whole of the buildings will find much to reward his curiosity.[32]
For there is not only a very fine early cloister, but also, if Madoz
is to be trusted, a chapter-house, the vaulting of which is supported on
four lofty columns, and which is probably, therefore, a square chamber
with nine vaulting bays.

[Illustration: No. 4.


p. 38.


A long list of royal personages buried here is given by Florez.[33] In
the choir are the founders, Alfonso VIII. and Alienor; in the nave of
Sta. Catalina, Alfonso VII., the founder’s grandfather, his father, his
son Don Henrique I., and twenty more of his kin; and in the other parts
of the church a similarly noble company.

The king seems to have founded a hospital for men at the same time as,
and in connexion with, the convent; but I saw nothing of this, and I do
not know whether it still exists.

Here took place many solemnities: Alfonso VII., nephew of the founder,
was the first who was made a knight in it (A.D. 1219, Nov. 27); and in
A.D. 1254 Don Alfonso el Sabio knighted Edward I. of England before the
altar; whilst in later days it seems that in A.D. 1330, in A.D. 1341,
and again in A.D. 1366, the kings were here crowned;[34] and in 1367
Edward the Black Prince lodged here after the battle of Navarrete, and
went hence to the church of Sta. Maria to swear to a treaty with the
King Don Pedro before the principal altar.[35]

The convent seems to have been quite independent of the Bishop,[36] save
that each abbess after her election went to ask him to bless the house,
when he always answered by protesting that his consent to do so was in
no wise to be construed in any sense derogatory to his power, or as
binding on his successors. I observe that the abbesses here were elected
for life until A.D. 1593, but that from that time they have held office
for three years only; though in a few instances they have been
re-elected for a second such term.

It was a relief, after the picturesque magnificence of the later
Burgalese architects, to turn to such a simple severe church as this at
Las Huelgas. But I must not detain my readers any longer within its
pleasant walls; and we will imagine ourselves to be there in A.D. 1454,
in the midst of a group of the greatest of the nobles and clergy of
Castile: we should have found the Bishop Alfonso de Cartagena there, and
with him Juan de Colonia, his German architect, and Maestro Gil de
Siloe, the sculptor, and Martin Sanchez, the wood-carver, all of them
invited and ready to take part in a great work just about to be
completed. Juan II. had just died at Valladolid, and forthwith his body
was taken towards the Carthusian convent of Miraflores, by Burgos, where
of old stood a palace, which in A.D. 1441 he had converted into a
convent, and in A.D. 1454, just before his death, had begun to rebuild.
The Bishop met his body at Palenzuela--one day’s journey from
Burgos--and brought it in procession to the “Real Casa de Las Huelgas,”
where he rested the night; and thence he went onward, the coffin borne
by ladies and gentlemen, to San Pablo in the city, where the Dominican
Fathers sung the funeral office, and the next day--the feast of St. John
the Baptist--to Miraflores, where the Bishop himself said the office and
preached. Then the body was deposited with much pomp in the sacristy
until the church should be finished.[37]

Let us follow them thither. The walk is dreary enough on this hot
September day, and terribly deep in dust; but yet, as it rises up the
slope of the hills on the side of the river opposite to the cathedral
and city, good views are obtained of both. It is but a couple of miles
to the convent, which stands desolately by itself, and never was there a
spot which, in its present state, could less properly be called
Miraflores, where not even a blade of grass is to be seen. The church
stands up high above all the other buildings, but its exterior is not
attractive; its outline is somewhat like, though very inferior to that
of Eton College chapel, and its detail is all rather poor. The windows,
placed very high from the floor, are filled with flamboyant tracery, the
buttresses are plain, and the pinnacles and parapet quite Renaissance in
their character, and are, no doubt, additions to the original fabric.
The west gable is fringed with cusping--a very unhappy scheme for a
coping-line against the sky! A court at the west end opens into the
chapel by its west door, which is close to the main entrance to the
convent; but we were taken round by several courts and quadrangles, one
of them a cloister of vast size, surrounded by the houses of the monks.
These are of fair size, each having two or three rooms below, and two
above. Their entrance doorways are square-headed, quaintly cut up into a
point in the centre of the lintel, and by the side of each door is a
small hatch for the reception of food. Another smaller cloister, close
to the south door of the church, has fair pointed windows, with their
sills filled with red tiles, and edged with green tiles. Besides these
remains, the only old work I saw was a good flat ceiling, panelled
between the joists, and richly painted in cinquecento fashion. A good
effect was produced here by the prevalence of white and red alternately
in the patterns painted on the joists.

The chapel is entered from the convent by a door on the south side, in
the third bay from the west. It consists of five bays and a polygonal
apse, and is about 135 feet long, 32 wide, and 63 feet in height. The
western bay is the people’s nave, and is divided from the next by a
metal screen. The second bay forms the Coro, and has stalls at the
sides, and two altars on the east, one on each side of the doorway in
the screen which separates the Coro from the eastern portion of the
chapel. This last is fitted with five stalls on each side against the
western screen, and with twenty on either side, all of them extremely
rich in their detail: there is a continuous canopy over the whole, and
very intricate traceries at the back of each stall.[38]

A step at the east end of the stalls divides the sacrarium from the
western part of the chapel; and nearly the whole of the space here is
occupied by the sumptuous monument of the founder and his second wife,
Isabel or “Elizabeth,” as she is called in the inscription. In the north
wall is the monument of the Infante Alfonso, their son; and against the
south wall is a sort of throne with very lofty and elaborate canopy,
which is said by the cicerone to be for the use of the priest who says
mass. Finally, the east wall is entirely filled with an enormous
Retablo. The groining throughout has, as is usually the case in late
Spanish work in Burgos, a good many surface ribs, and enormous painted
bosses at their intersections. These are so much undercut, so large, and
so intricate in their design, that I believe they must be of wood, and
not of stone. They are of very common occurrence, and always have an
extravagant effect, being far too large and intricate for their
position. The apse is groined in thirteen very narrow bays, and its
groining ribs are richly foliated on the under side. Pagan cornices of
plaster and whitewash have been freely bestowed everywhere, to the great
damage of the walls, and to such an extent as to make the interior look
cold and gloomy. The windows are filled with what looks like poor
Flemish glass, though it may perhaps be native work, as the names of two
painters on glass, Juan de Santillana and Juan de Valdivieso, are known
as residents in Burgos at the end of the fifteenth century,[39] about
the time at which it must have been executed.

The monument of Juan and Isabel is as magnificent a work of its kind as
I have ever seen[40]--richly wrought all over. The heraldic achievements
are very gorgeous, and the dresses are everywhere covered with very
delicate patterns in low relief. The whole detail is of the nature of
the very best German third-pointed work rather than of flamboyant, and I
think, for beauty of execution, vigour and animation of design, finer
than any other work of the age. The plan of the high tomb on which the
effigies lie is a square with another laid diagonally on it. At the four
cardinal angles are sitting figures of the four evangelists, rather
loosely placed on the slab, with which they seem to have no connexion;
the king holds a sceptre, the queen a book, and both lie under canopies
with a very elaborate perforated stone division between the figures;
round the sides of the tomb are effigies of kings and saints, figures of
the Virtues, sculptured subjects, naked figures, and foliage of
marvellous delicacy. A railing encloses the tomb. The whole is the work
of Maestro Gil de Siloe; and from the Archives of the Church it appears
that, in A.D. 1486, he was paid 1340 maravedis for the design of the
work, that he commenced its execution in A.D. 1489, and completed it in
A.D. 1493. The monument cost 442,667 maravedis, exclusive of the
alabaster, which cost 158,252 maravedis.[41]

About the same time the same sculptor executed the monument of Alfonso,
son of Juan and Isabel, in the north wall of the sacrarium. This, though
less ambitious than the other, is a noble work. It consists of a high
tomb with a recessed arch over it, and pinnacles at the sides. The high
tomb has a great shield held by angels, with men in armour on either
side; under the arch above the Infante kneels at a Prie-Dieu. The arch
is three-centred, edged with a rich fringe of foliage and naked figures;
and between it and the ogee gable above it is a spirited figure of St.
George and the Dragon. The side pinnacles have figures of the twelve
apostles, and one in the centre the Annunciation.[42]

The Retablo is no less worthy of notice. Its colour as well as its
sculpture is of the richest kind. Below, on either side of the
tabernacle (which has been modernized), are St. John Baptist and S. Mary
Magdalene, and subjects on either side of them; on the left the
Annunciation, and S. Mary Magdalene anointing our Lord’s feet, and on
the right the Adoration of the Magi, and the Betrayal of our Lord;
whilst beyond, Alfonso and Isabel kneel at faldstools, with their
coats-of-arms above them. Above the Tabernacle is the Assumption of the
Blessed Virgin, and above this a grand circle entirely formed of
clustered angels, in the centre of which is a great crucifix surmounted
by the Pelican vulning her breast. Within this circle are four subjects
from the Passion, and a King and a Pope on either side holding the arms
of the Cross, which is completely detached from the background. On
either side are S. John and S. Mary; and beside all these, a crowd of
subjects and figures, pinnacles and canopies, which it is impossible to
set down at length. The whole of this work was done by the same Gil de
Siloe, assisted by Diego de la Cruz, at a cost of 1,015,613 maravedis,
and was executed between A.D. 1496 and 1499. Behind the Retablo some of
the old pavement remains, of encaustic tiles in blue, white, and red.

The works at this church seem to have made but slow progress owing to
the troubled state of the kingdom after the death of Juan II. His son
gave something towards the works in A.D. 1454, but nothing more until
A.D. 1465. In A.D. 1474 he died, and was succeeded by Isabel the
Catholic, who, in A.D. 1476, confirmed the grants to the monastery, and
completed the church in A.D. 1488; but it was not, as we have seen,
until the end of the century that the whole work was really finished.
Juan de Colonia made the plan for the building in A.D. 1454, for which
he received 3350 maravedis: he directed its construction for twelve
years, and after his death, in A.D. 1466, Garci Fernandez de Matienzo
continued it till he died of the plague in the year 1488, when Simon,
son of Juan de Colonia, completed it.[43]

Having completed my notice of the three great buildings of Burgos and
its neighbourhood, and which in their style and history best illustrate
the several periods of Christian art, I now proceed to give some notes
of the Conventual and Parish Churches, which are numerous and fairly
interesting. In Burgos, however, as is so often the case on all parts of
the Continent, the number of desecrated churches is considerable. The
suppression of monasteries involved their desecration as a matter of
course; and without religious orders it is obviously useless to have
churches crowded together in the way one sees them here. I remember
making a note of the relative position of three of these churches, which
stand corner to corner without a single intervening house; and though
this is an extreme case, the churches were no doubt very numerous for
the population. Unluckily a desecrated church is generally a sealed book
to an ecclesiologist. They are usually turned to account by the
military; and soldiers view with proverbially jealous eyes any one who
makes notes!

Just above the west front of the Cathedral is the little church of San
Nicolas, mainly interesting for its Retablo, which, however, scarcely
needs description, though it is gorgeously sculptured with the story, I
think, of the patron. Its date is fixed by an inscription, which I give
in a note.[44] On either side are monuments of a type much favoured in
Spain, and borrowed probably from Italy, of which the main feature is,
that the figures lie on a sloping surface, and look painfully insecure.
Here too I saw one of the first old western galleries that I met with in
my Spanish journeys; and as I shall constantly have to mention their
existence, position, and arrangement in parochial churches, it may be as
well to say here, that at about the same date that choirs were moved
westward into the naves of cathedrals, western galleries, generally of
stone, carried on groining, and fitted up with stalls round three sides,
with a great lectern in the centre, and organs on either side, were
erected in a great number of parish churches. It cannot be doubted that
in those days the mode of worship of the people was exactly what it is
now; no one cared much if at all for anything but the service at the
altar, and the choir was banished to where it would be least seen, least
heard, and least in the way! At present it seems to me that one never
sees any one taking more than the slightest passing notice of the really
finely-performed service even in the cathedral choirs; whilst in
contrast to this, in the large churches, with an almost endless number
of altars, all are still used, and all seem to have each their own
flock of worshippers; and though it is a constant source of pain and
grief to an ever-increasing body of English Churchmen that the use of
their own altars should be so lamentably less than it ever was in
primitive days, or than it is now in any other branch of the Catholic
Church, it is some comfort to feel that our people have tried to retain
due respect for some of the other daily uses of the Church, inferior
though they be. In Spain, though I was in parish churches almost every
day during my journey, I do not remember seeing the western gallery in
use more than once. Sometimes it has been my fate to meet with men who
suppose that the common objection to galleries in churches is, that
there is no old “authority” for them. Well, here in Spain there is
authority without end; and I commend to those Anglicans who wish to
revive or retain their use in England the curious fact, that the country
in which we find it is one distinguished beyond all others by the very
decided character of its Romanism, and the period in which they were
erected there, one in which Rome was probably more hostile to such as
they than any other in the whole course of her history.[45]

The gallery of San Nicolas is less important than most of its class are;
and there is indeed little to detain any one within its walls.
Externally there is a low tower rising out of the west end of the south
aisle. This has a fine third-pointed south doorway with an ogee
crocketed canopy, and a belfry stage of two lancet-lights on each face,
roofed with a flat roof of pantiles. The remainder of the church has
been much altered; but a good flying-buttress remains on the south side,
and one or two lancet-windows which convey the impression that the first
foundation of the church must have been in the thirteenth century. The
east wall is not square, but built so as to suit the irregular site. The
whole church is ungainly and ugly on the exterior, and its planning and
proportions neither picturesque nor scientific. It is, in short, one of
those churches of which we have so many in England, from which nothing
is to be learnt save on some small matter of detail; and the
alterations of its roofs, windows, and walls have in the end left it an
ungainly and uncouth outline, which is redeemed only by its picturesque
situation on the slope of the hill just above the cathedral parvise,
with which it groups, and from which it is well seen.

Following the steep path of the east end of San Nicolas, I soon reached
the fine church of San Esteban. It stands just below the castle, the
decaying walls of which surround the slope of melancholy hill which
rises from its doorway; these, though now they look so incapable of
mischief, yet effectually thwarted the Duke of Wellington.[46] It is
quite worth while to ascend the hill, if only for the view. San Esteban,
shorn as it is--like all Spanish churches--of more than half its old
external features, with pinnacles nipped off, parapets destroyed,
windows blocked up, and roofs reduced from their old steep pitch to the
uniform rough, ragged, and ruinous-looking flat of pantiles, which is
universal here, forms, nevertheless, a good foreground for the fine view
of the cathedral below it and the other points of interest in the town
beyond. Yet these are fewer than would be expected in such a city, so
long the capital of a kingdom and residence of a line of kings. There
are no steeples worthy of remark save those of the cathedral, the
churches are all, like San Esteban, more or less mutilated, and there
is--as always in cities which have been great and now are poor--an air
of misery and squalor about only too many of the buildings on which the
eye first lights in these outskirts of the city.

I have not been so lucky as to find any record bearing in any way upon
the erection of San Esteban, and I regret this the more, as its place
among the churches of Burgos is no doubt next after the cathedral, and
in all respects it is full of interest.

The ground plan (Plate II.) will explain the general scheme of the
building--a nave and aisles, ended at the east with three parallel
apses, a cloister, and a large hall on the south of and opening into the
cloister. The north side of the cloister has been much mutilated by the
erection of chapels and a sacristy, whilst the north wall of the church
is blocked up by low buildings built against it. The only good view of
the exterior is that from the south-west. Spanish boys did their best to
make sketching it impossible, yet their amusements were after all
legitimate enough for their age, and it is very seldom in Spain that a
sketcher is mobbed and annoyed in the way he commonly is in France or
Italy when he ventures on a sketch in an at all public place.

[Illustration:--BURGOS:--Ground Plans of San Gil: San Esteban: and
Convent of Las Huelgas. Plate II

Published by John Murray, Albemarle Street. 1865.]

The erection of this church may, I believe, be dated between A.D.
1280-1350; and to the earlier of these two periods the grand west
doorway probably belongs. The tympanum contains, in its upper
compartment, our Lord seated, with St. John the Evangelist, the Blessed
Virgin and angels kneeling on either side--a very favourite subject with
Burgalese sculptors of the period; below is the martyrdom of the patron
saint, divided into three subjects: (1) St. Stephen before the king; (2)
Martyrdom of St. Stephen, angels taking his soul from his body; and (3)
the devil taking the soul of his persecutor. The jambs have each three
figures under canopies, among which are St. Stephen (with stones
sticking to his vestments) and St. Laurence. The doorway is built out in
a line with the front of the tower buttresses, and above it a modern
balustrade is placed in advance of the west window, which is a fine rose
of twenty rays. This window at a little distance has all the effect of
very early work; but upon close inspection its details and mouldings all
belie this impression, and prove it to be certainly not earlier than the
middle of the fourteenth century. The whole of the tracery is thoroughly
geometrical, and the design very good. Above it is a lancet window on
each face, and then the lower part only of a belfry window of two
lights, cut off by one of the usual flat-pitched tiled roofs. A
staircase turret is carried up in the south-west angle and finished with
a weathering at the base of the belfry stage. The buttresses are all
plain, and, as I have said, shorn of the pinnacles with which they were
evidently intended to be finished.[47]

This church seems to be always locked up, and I think it was here that
the woman who lives in the cloister and shows the church told me that
there was service in the church once only in the week; and certainly it
had the air which a church misused in this way usually assumes.

We were admitted by the cloister, a small and much mutilated work of
circa A.D. 1300. It opens by four arches into a large hall on its south
side, which is groined at a higher level than the cloister. The
groining of the cloister is good, and the ribs well moulded; but the
window tracery is all destroyed, and most of the windows are blocked up.
The central court is very small, as indeed is the whole work; but a
cloister may be of any size, and in some of our many collegiate
erections of the present day it would be as well to remember this, and
emulate really and fairly the beautiful effects always attained by our
forefathers in this way.[48]

In the western wall of the cloister are two arched recesses for
monuments, one of which has a coped tomb, with eight steps to the foot
of the cross, which is carved upon its lid. The eastern side is later
than the rest, and its groining probably not earlier than A.D. 1500.

Entering the church from hence we find a very solid, simple, and
dignified building, spoilt indeed as much as possible by yellow wash,
but still in other respects very little damaged. It is groined
throughout, and the groining has the peculiarity of having ridge ribs
longitudinally but not transversely. This is common in Spain; but it is
impossible to see why one ridge should require it and the other not, and
the only explanation is that possibly the architect wished to lead the
eye on from end to end of the building. In the groining of an apse this
ridge-rib in its western part always looks very badly, and jars with the
curved lines of all the rest of the ribs. The columns of the nave
arcades are circular, with eight smaller engaged shafts around them,
those under the western tower being rather more elaborate and larger
than the others. Here we see a clear imitation of the very similar
planning of the cathedral nave. The planning of the east end is more
interesting, because, whilst it has no precedent in the cathedral, it is
one of the evidences we have of the connexion of the Spanish
architecture of the middle ages with that of other countries, which we
ought not to overlook. I have said something on this in speaking of the
plan of Las Huelgas. Here, however, I do not think we can look in the
same direction for the original type of plan; for, numerous as are the
varieties of ground-plan which we see in France, there is one--the
parallel-triapsidal--which we meet so seldom that we may almost say it
does not occur at all. In Germany, on the other hand, it is seen
everywhere, and there, indeed, it is the national plan: in Italy it is
also found constantly. In Spain, however, it was quite as much the
national ground-plan as it was in Germany; almost everywhere we see it,
and in any case the fact is of value as proving that the Spaniards
adopted their own national form of Gothic, and were not indebted solely
to their nearest neighbours, the French, for their inspiration and
education in architecture, though undoubtedly they owed them very much.

[Illustration: NO. 5


p. 49.


San Esteban is lighted almost entirely from windows set very high up in
the walls. Those in the apses are in the position of clerestory windows,
their sills being level with the springing of the groining. The
consequence of this arrangement--a very natural one in a country where
heat and light are the main things to be excluded from churches--was
that a great unbroken space was left between the floor and the windows;
and hence it happened that the enormous Retablos, rising seldom less
than twenty feet, and often thirty, forty, or even sixty feet from the
floors, naturally grew to be so prominent and popular a feature. In San
Esteban the Retablos are none of them old, but doubtless take the place
of others which were so.

The western gallery is so good an example of its class, that I think it
is quite worthy of illustration. It is obviously an insertion of circa
A.D. 1450, and is reached by a staircase of still later date at the west
end of the south aisle. I cannot deny it the merit of picturesqueness,
and the two ambons which project like pulpits at the north and south
extremities of the front add much to its effect. The stalls are all
arranged in the gallery in the usual fashion of a choir, with return
stalls at the west end and a large desk for office books in the centre.
The organ is on the north side in the bay east of the gallery, and is
reached through the ambon on the Gospel[49] side. This organ, its loft,
and the pulpit against it are all very elaborate examples of
Plateresque[50] Renaissance work.

Of the fittings of the church two only require any notice, and both of
them are curious. One is an iron lectern, just not Gothic, but of very
fair design,[51] and of a type that we might with advantage introduce
into our own churches. The other is a wooden bier and herse belonging to
some burial confraternity, and kept in the cloister; the dimensions are
so small (and I saw another belonging to the confraternity of San Gil of
the same size), that it was no doubt made for carrying a corpse without
a coffin. One knows how in the middle ages this was the usual if not
invariable plan,[52] and as these herses are evidently still in use
(that of San Gil having been repainted in 1850), it has possibly never
been given up.


The main thing, I think, that struck me in the architecture of San
Esteban, was the very early look of all its proportions and details
compared to what seemed to be their real date, when examined more in
detail and with the aid of mouldings, traceries, and the like; and its
value consists mainly in the place it occupies among the buildings of
Burgos, illustrating a period of which otherwise there would be very
little indeed in the city.

From San Esteban I found my way first through the decayed-looking and
uninteresting streets, and then among the ruined outskirts of the
north-eastern part of the city, to the church of San Gil, situated very
much in the same kind of locality as San Esteban, on the outskirts of
the city. This church is just mentioned in ‘España Sagrada’[53] twice:
first as being named, with ten other churches in Burgos, in a Bull of
A.D. 1163; and subsequently, as having been built by Pedro de Camargo
and Garcia de Burgos, with the approbation of Bishop Villacraces in A.D.
1399; and Don Diego de Soria, and his wife Doña Catalina, are said to
have rebuilt the Capilla mayor in A.D. 1586.

[Illustration: No. 6.


p. 51.


I give the plan of this church on Plate II., and am inclined to doubt
the exact truth of the statements I have just quoted. I believe the
church to be a cruciform structure of the fourteenth century, whose
chancel and chancel aisles reproduced the plan of Las Huelgas, but were
probably rebuilt in A.D. 1399. The so-called Capilla mayor is probably
the chapel on the north side of the north aisle, a very elaborate
semi-Renaissance erection, with an octagon vault, reproducing many of
the peculiarities of Spanish groining, supported upon pendentives
similar to those of which I have spoken in describing the later works in
the cathedral; and it is no doubt the work of one of the descendants or
pupils of Juan de Colonia. The late chapels on each side of the choir
have enormous wooden bosses at the intersection of the groining ribs,
carved with tracery, and with a painting of a saint in the centre. This
mixture of painting and sculpture is very much the fashion in Spanish
wood-carvings, and the altar Retablos often afford examples of it. In
the floor of this church are some curious effigies of black marble, with
heads and hands of white.[54] Two such remain in the east wall of one of
the southern chapels, where they lie north and south.

The Retablos of the two chapels, north and south of the choir, are very
sumptuous works.

Against the north-west pier of the crossing there stands what is perhaps
the most uncommon piece of furniture in the church, an iron pulpit. It
is of very late date, but I think quite worthy of illustration. The
support is of iron, resting on stone, and the staircase modern. The
framework at the angles, top and bottom, is of wood, upon which the
ironwork is laid. The traceries are cut out of two plates of iron, laid
one over the other, and the ironwork is in part gilded, but I do not
think that this is original. The canopy is of the same age and
character, and the whole effect is very rich, at the same time that it
is very novel.[55] I saw other iron pulpits, but none so old as this.

I visited two or three other parish churches, but found little in them
worth notice. San Lesmes is one of the largest, consisting of a nave
with aisles, transepts, apsidal choir, and chapels added in the usual
fashion. The window tracery is flamboyant, and the windows have richly
moulded jambs, and are very German in their design. The south door is
very large and rich, of the same style, and fills the space between two
buttresses, on the angles of which are St. Gabriel and the Blessed
Virgin.[56] Close to San Lesmes are the church of San Juan, and another,
the dedication of which I could not learn, whilst opposite it is the old
Convent of San Juan, now converted into a hospital. The entrance is a
great doorway, remarkable for the enormous heraldic achievements which
were always very popular with the later Castilian architects. The church
of San Juan is now desecrated; it is cruciform in plan, with a deep
apsidal chancel, and seems to have had chapels on the east side of the
transepts. The church is groined throughout, and its window tracery poor
flamboyant work. San Lucas has a groined nave of three bays, and there
is another church near it of the same character. They both appear to
have been built at the end of the sixteenth century.

Of old Convents, the most important appears to have been that of San
Pablo. It is now desecrated, and used as a cavalry store; and though I
was allowed to look, I could not obtain permission to go, into it.
Florez[57] gives the date of the original foundation of the monastery in
A.D. 1219, and says that it was moved to its present site in A.D. 1265,
but not completed for more than 150 years after that date. The
inscription on the monument of Bishop Pablo de Santa Maria, on the
Gospel side of the altar in San Pablo, records him to have been the
builder of the church,[58] and his story is so singular as to be worth
telling. He was a Jew by birth, a native of Burgos, and married to a
Jewess, by whom he had four sons[59] and one daughter. In A.D. 1390, at
the age of forty, he was baptized; and having tried in vain to convert
his wife, “he treated her as though she were dead, dissolving his
marriage legally, and ascending to the greater perfection of the
priesthood.” In A.D. 1415 he was made Bishop of Burgos, and being at
Valladolid at the time, all Burgos went out to meet him as he came to
take possession of his see. “His venerable mother, Doña Maria, and his
well-loved wife Joana, waited for him in the Episcopal Palace, from
whence he went afterwards to adore God in the cathedral.” Doña Joana was
buried near the bishop in San Pablo, with an inscription in Spanish,
ending, “she died (‘falleció’) in the year 1420,” and from the absence
of any religious form in the inscription, I infer that she died
unconverted. The bishop died in A.D. 1435.

The church of San Pablo consists of a nave and aisles of five bays,
transepts and apsidal choir, with many added chapels. The nave groining
bays are square, those of the aisle oblong, a mode of planning which
marks rather an Italian-Gothic than a French or German origin. The
church is vaulted throughout, with very domical vaults, and lighted with
lancets in the aisles, circular windows in the clerestory, and traceried
windows in the choir. Part of the old western gallery still remains. The
vaulting has transverse, diagonal, and ridge ribs. The apse is well
buttressed, but, like all the churches in Burgos, San Pablo has lost its
old roofs, and has been so much spoilt by the additions which have been
made to it, that its exterior is very unprepossessing. Not so the
interior, which, both in scale and proportion, is very fine. The
architect of San Pablo is said to have been Juan Rodriguez, who
commenced it in 1415, and completed it before 1435.[60]

Another convent, that of La Merced, has been treated in the same way,
and is now a military hospital. Its church is on the same plan as that
of San Pablo, with the principal doorway in the north wall instead of
the west, and this opening under the usual vaulted gallery. There is,
too, a small apsidal recess for an altar in the north wall of the north
transept. The window tracery and details here are all of very late
Pointed, but the buttresses and flying buttresses are good. Flat roofs,
destroyed gables, and the entire absence of any steeple or turret to
break the mass, make the exterior of little value. This convent was
moved to its present site in A.D. 1272, but I doubt whether any part of
the exterior now visible is so old as this.

I saw no other churches worthy of mention in Burgos; but there are
others which ought to be examined in the neighbourhood, among which one
a little beyond Las Huelgas, of large size, surrounded by trees, and
apparently belonging to a convent, seemed to be the most important.[61]

There are but few remains of old Domestic Architecture. The Palace has
been modernized, but is still approached by a groined passage from the
south door of the cathedral. The Palace of the Constable Velasco is a
bald and ugly erection of the sixteenth century, in the very latest kind
of Gothic; its walls finished with a strange parapet of crocketed
pinnacles and stones cut out into a sort of rude fork; its entrance a
square-headed doorway, with a large space above it, enclosed with
enormous chains carved in stone, within which are armorial bearings. The
internal courtyard is surrounded by buildings of three stages in height,
with open arcades to each, and traceried balconies. The arcades and
windows throughout have debased three-centred arches.

The principal town gateway, that of Sta. Maria, is close to the
cathedral; its rear is a very simple but massive work of the thirteenth
century, and rather Italian in its design. The front facing the Prado
and the river was so much altered by Charles V. that it is doubtful
whether any of the old work remains; it is now a very picturesque jumble
of circular towers and turrets, battlemented and crenellated, and
looking rather like one of those mediæval castles which are seen either
in an illumination, or in a canopy over a figure in stained glass, than
like a real and useful fortified gateway.

It will be seen how full of interest to the ecclesiologist Burgos is. My
notes are, I have no doubt, not by any means exhaustive; and I have
equally little doubt that one who had more time at his disposal would
discover much more than I found; besides which, I was under the
impression, when I was at Burgos, that the Monastery of San Pedro de
Cardeña, so intimately connected with the story of the Cid, and where he
lay peacefully till the French invasion, had been entirely destroyed,
whereas, in truth, I believe the church founded in the thirteenth
century still remains; and, if so, must certainly reward examination. It
is but a few miles from Burgos.

The great promenade here is along the river-side, where the houses are
all new, bald, and uninteresting; but the back streets are picturesque,
and there is a fine irregularly-shaped Plaza, surrounded by arcades in
front of the shops, where are to be found capital blankets and _mantas_,
useful even in the hottest weather if any night travelling is to be
undertaken, and invariably charming in their colour.



It was after a day of hard work at Miraflores, Las Huelgas, and Burgos,
taking last looks and notes, that we drove to the railway station _en
route_ for Palencia. Castile does not improve on acquaintance, and, so
far as I could judge in the hurried views obtained from the
railway-carriage, we missed nothing by moving apace. The railroad
follows the broad valley of the Arlanzon, bounded on either side by
hills of moderate height, occasionally capped with sharp cones and
peaks, but everywhere of an invariable whitish-grey colour, which soon
wearies the eye unspeakably. The few villages seen from the valley
seemed generally to occupy the slopes of the hills, and to have large,
shapeless, and unattractive churches. Indeed, it is not possible to go
very far in Spain without feeling either that Spanish architects seldom
cared for the external effect of their buildings, or that whatever they
did has been ruthlessly spoilt in later days. Even in a city like Burgos
this is the case, and of course it is even more so in villages and
smaller towns.

The Spanish railways are, on the whole, well managed. They are usually
only single lines, and there is no attempt made to go very fast.
Perhaps, too, any one who has travelled along Spanish roads, deep with a
five months’ accumulation of dust, and at the pace popular with
diligence proprietors, comes to the consideration of the merits and
management of a railway in a frame of mind which is not altogether
impartial. The luxury even of a second-rate railway is then felt to the
utmost, and there is not much desire, even if there is need, for
grumbling. It was dark when we arrived at Palencia, and, getting a boy
to carry the baggage, we walked off under his directions in search of
the Posada de las Frutas. The title was not promising. But Palencia, a
cathedral city, and the principal town between Valladolid and Santander,
has nothing in the way of an inn better than a Posada, and it was to the
best of its class that we had been recommended. The first look was not
encouraging, but the people welcomed us cheerfully, and going across
the covered entrance way, took us up to a room which was fairly clean
and furnished with the remains of eight smart chairs, six of them
hopelessly smashed, and the other two so weak in their legs and spines
that it was necessary to use them in the most wary and cautious manner!
However, the beds were clean, and the bread and grapes--here as
everywhere at this season in Spain--so delicious, that, even had the
cookery been worse than it was, we might have managed very well. Later
in the evening, when I came back from a short ramble through the town, I
found the open entrance-court and passage uneven with the bodies of a
troop of muleteers, each of whom seemed to have a skinful of wine in his
charge and a rough kind of bed laid on the stones; and if I may judge by
the way in which they snored as I picked my way among them to my room,
they had no occasion to envy me my occupation of the room of state.

I spent a day in Palencia, and found it almost more than its
architectural treasures required. I went there with some idea that I
should find a very fine cathedral, still retaining all its old furniture
of the fourteenth century, and soon discovered that I had been somewhat
misinformed. I hoped too, at any rate, if I found no first-rate work, to
find something which was peculiar to the district in its artistic
character; but in this also I was doomed to be disappointed.

The city is divided into two parts by a very long winding street running
entirely across it from north to south. The houses on either side are
supported on stone columns (some of them very lofty), so that the
general effect is much that of one of the old arcaded Italian cities.

The cathedral, dedicated to S. Antholin, stands in a desolate-looking
open space on the edge of the hill which slopes down to the river
Carrion on the west side of the city. Cean Bermudez says that it was
commenced in A.D. 1321,[62] and completed in the beginning of the
sixteenth century.[63] An inscription on the door from the cloister to
the church has the date A.D. 1535, and the enclosure of the choir is of
A.D. 1534. These dates appear to be fairly correct; but the work having
been so long in progress, it may, I think, be assumed that the
ground-plan only is of the earliest date, and that the greater part of
the architectural detail belongs more probably to the fifteenth than to
the fourteenth century. This is quite consistent with the evidence
afforded by the building, for the detail of the design is of very poor
character throughout, and the window tracery is generally of inferior
and rather late flamboyant style. The triforium is well developed,
having large traceried openings; and the church is groined throughout.
In the eastern part of the chevet the window tracery has an early
character, but the mouldings belie this effect; and, if I may judge by
them, none of it is earlier than circa A.D. 1350-1370. The plan of the
chevet is probably old, but all its details, save those of the piers
between the chapels, have been modernized. The thin spandrels of the
vaulting in the apse of the choir are pierced with cusped circles, a
device occasionally seen in French churches.

It will be seen, therefore, that there is little to praise here, save
the grand scale upon which the work has been done. The nave is 36 feet 8
inches from centre to centre of the columns, whilst each aisle is no
less than 31 feet 2 inches. The relative proportions are bad, but owing
to the arrangement of the Coro in the nave there is not much opportunity
of seeing this, and the internal view of the aisles, owing to their
width and to the very massive character of the nave columns, is
extremely fine. The nave is of five bays in length, the two eastern bays
being occupied by the Coro. There is an altar against the western screen
of the Coro, in front of which are some steps leading down to a well,
said to be that of St. Antholin, the tutelar saint. The whole of the
stalls are old, and fine of their kind; they are mainly the work of El
Maestro Centellas, a Valencian, who contracted to execute them about the
year 1410,[64] but they are not in their old place, for in A.D.
1518-1519 Pedro de Guadalupe agreed to move them from the old choir into
the new choir for the sum of fifteen hundred maravedis, and to execute
twenty additional stalls for the sum of two thousand maravedis each.[65]
At the same time the Retablo was moved forward and enlarged to fit its
new position by one Pedro Manso, at a cost of two hundred ducats; whilst
Juan de Valmeseda executed the statues of the Blessed Virgin Mary, St.
John, and the Crucifixion for it for one hundred ducats.[66]

These facts are of great interest, proving as they do that the stalls
stood from the year 1410 to 1518 in their proper place in the choir, and
were then moved to their present position in the nave precisely in the
same way that we have already seen the old arrangement changed at Burgos
at about the same period. This peculiar Spanish arrangement of the Coro
in the nave, and separated from the altar, we may now, I think, assume
was not known or thought of until this comparatively late date in this
part of Spain, though now it is universal throughout the country. The
design of the stalls is somewhat like that of late Flemish work, but
peculiar in many respects: the forward slope of the stall elbows, the
rich traceries behind the lower stalls--very varied in their design--and
the upper stalls, are all worthy of notice. I did not observe any
distinction in the style of the work answering to the dates at which
Maestro Centellas and Pedro de Guadalupe were employed, and I think,
therefore, that the latter must have copied rather closely the work of
the former. Probably, however the Prie-Dieu desk in front of the
bishop’s stall is of the later date, as also the desks which have been
widened in front of the upper row of stalls; and possibly Pedro de
Guadalupe executed the twenty stalls on each side of the choir forming
the easternmost block.

[Illustration: Prie-Dieu.]

The eastern part of the church has been worse treated even than the
nave, all the old arrangements having been ruthlessly altered. The apse,
shut in by screens, covered with a low groined gallery, and used as a
mere chapel,[67] is dark, dismal, and undignified. The bay west of the
apse is open from north to south, but walled in on the west with the
wall behind the high altar. West of this are two bays walled in at the
sides, and then we come to the transept, which is open, save the rails
marking the passage from the Coro to the choir. The whole arrangement is
so confused, unintelligible, and contrary to the obvious intentions of
the first designers of the fabric, that it hardly needed documentary
evidence to prove that it had no kind of ancient authority. There is no
lantern or Cimborio at the crossing. The metal screens[68] across the
choir are of no special interest, but those round the apse and opening
into one or two of the chapels of the chevet are better, and well
illustrate the designs of most of the fifteenth-century iron screens in
Spain. They are met with in all directions, for there was no country in
the middle ages which made so free a use of iron. They have most of the
faults of German ironwork of the same age, the smiths having apparently
forgotten the right use of their hammers, and, like Birmingham smiths of
the present day, having tried to do what was necessary with thin plates
of iron twisted about fantastically here and there, but very much more
easily wrought, and proportionably less effective, than the work of the
English smiths of a couple of hundred years earlier.

The whole of the floor of the eastern part of the church has been
lowered, in some places as much as three feet, in order to obtain a
level procession path all round the aisles.

On the south side of the nave are the cloisters, which are large, with
lofty arched openings, but they have been despoiled of their traceries.
Their style is poor third-pointed, and in their present state they are
thoroughly uninteresting.[69] To the west of them is the
Chapter-house, a large groined room, opening, not, as is usual, from the
cloister, but from an outer lobby. The sacristy, on the south side of
the choir, contains a few objects of interest, the best being a fine
gilt monstrance, covered with crockets and pinnacles, but not earlier
than circa A.D. 1500.[70]

[Illustration: PALENCIA AND VALLADOLID:--Ground Plans of San Miguel
Sta Maria and San Benito

Plate III.

Published by John Murray, Albemarle St. 1865.]

The sacristan thought much more of a great plated temple, six or eight
feet in height, raised on a stage, and travelling on wheels worked by a
couple of men concealed within the platform and its hangings, which is
used for processions throughout the town on Corpus Christi day.

I saw only two Gothic churches out of many which I looked into in
Palencia--those of San Miguel and San Francesco.

San Miguel is both the earliest and best church in the city, and
deserves most careful study. I give an illustration of its ground-plan
on Plate III. The portion east of the crossing appeared to me of the end
of the twelfth century, and the rest of the church a few years later.
The plan is one of a not uncommon type, and suggestive either of Italian
or German influence in the mind of its designer. The regular planning of
the whole work, the bold dimensions of the groining shafts, and the good
character of the mouldings and windows, corbel-tables and buttresses,
all deserve special notice. The apse is groined in four compartments, so
that a rib and buttress occur in its centre,[71] and the ribs here are
square and plain in section, whilst those throughout the nave are well
moulded. The bosses at the intersection of the groining ribs in the nave
are sculptured: that on the east bay having St. Michael and the Dragon,
whilst the next bay but one has an Agnus Dei. There is a peculiarity in
the finish of the buttresses of the apse, which I noticed also at San
Juan and San Pablo at Burgos. In all of them the face of the buttress is
carried up to the eaves-cornice, which is returned round them, instead
of being carried on to their centre, as is usual: so that at San Miguel,
in place of the apse at the cornice-line having four sides only, it has
four long and three shorter sides, the latter above the buttresses. All
the work in the chancel appears to be of earlier date than that in the
nave, and its western arch is segmental, and of poor character.

[Illustration: Steeple of San Miguel.]

The windows here are plain, round-arched lancets, but those in the
clerestory of the nave are two-light windows, with a plain circle in the
head, and richly moulded. The most striking architectural feature on the
outside is the western steeple, which well deserves illustration, being
full of peculiarity and vigour. The belfry-windows are singularly
varied, for they are of three lights on the west, of two very wide
lights on the south, and of two narrow lights on the east side. The
tracery in all consists of uncusped circles, packed together in the same
fashion as in the clerestory of Burgos Cathedral. The west window is of
two lights, with simple piercings in the tympanum, and between it and
the west doorway are a number of corbels all across the west front,
which seem to prove that there was a pent-house roof across the whole of
it. This must have largely added to the picturesqueness of the
building, whilst at the same time it must, in such a climate, have been
a most wise expedient for sheltering the doorway from the heat. The west
doorway is a really fine work, but terribly mutilated. It has six series
of subjects, in as many lines of archivolt moulding, the innermost order
containing angels only: the second, figures with books or instruments of
music: the third, angels again: the fourth, the Resurrection (with the
Last Judgment, occupying the centre of this and the next order): the
fifth and sixth, subjects from the life of our Lord, beginning with the
Annunciation on the left. The outside moulding consists of a bold
bowtell, with another arranged in continuous cusping in front of it, as
in some of our own transitional work. The lower stage of the tower has a
groined gallery, in which are the stalls, lectern, and organ.

It is much to be lamented that the finish of the steeple is not
original, for we should then have had a complete example of a fine
parish church, which must have been building from circa A.D. 1190 to
circa A.D. 1250; but an early building unaltered on the exterior is a
treat for which one generally sighs in vain in Spain.

San Francesco has been much more mutilated than San Miguel, but seems to
be a work of about the same age; it is said to have been built in A.D.
1246.[72] There is a large open market-place, busy with venders of
vegetables, in front of the building and a small enclosed courtyard
between the two seemed to be the receptacle for all the market filth.
The west front has a small sort of cloister in front of the doors, with
a tiled lean-to roof above it. Over this roof rises the west front, a
strange combination with a western gable, and a great bell-gable rising
out of its southern slope. The west window appears to have been a fine
cusped circular opening, under a pointed arch, the spandrel between the
two being filled with circles similar to the traceries in the steeple of
San Miguel. Entering the church, I found its broad aisleless nave
completely Paganized, but still retaining the low fifteenth-century
gallery for the Coro over the two western bays. At the east bay of the
nave are small transeptal chapels, and the chancel arch, and two smaller
arches open into the chancel and two chancel aisles. The whole
arrangement is thoroughly Italian,[73] but the detail of the arches,
which are well moulded and adorned with a chevron, is northern. The
chancel is apsidal, but its groining is so late, and its east end so far
hidden by a Pagan Retablo, that it was impossible to discover whether
any traces of the original work remained.

I saw several other churches, but their old features are in all cases of
the very latest Gothic or else Pagan, so as to be hardly worthy of
record. Sta. Clara appears to be desecrated: it has windows just like
those of San Pablo, Burgos, and buttresses to the apse managed in the
same way as at San Miguel. It has also a large flamboyant door of poor
style. Near it is another church, which has an apse with buttresses and
pinnacles at the angles, and from the even and undisturbed look of its
masonry I concluded that it never had any windows. This church has a
poor tower, but generally the churches here have enormous bell-gable
turrets of the most flaunting Renaissance device, which are common
throughout a great part of Spain. They have generally several bells hung
in openings in the wall, and are often nearly the whole width of the
front, and finished with cornices and broken pediments in the most
approved fashion of the worst style of Renaissance.

Everywhere, save in the long main street, Palencia was as _triste_ a
place as I have seen. The streets were emptied, probably by the heat of
the day, and, save a curious crowd of boys who pursued me relentlessly
all round San Miguel, I saw few signs of life. Much of the old wall
round the city remains, and walking round the north-eastern part of
this, I came to a picturesque angle, where is an old walled-up gateway
with pointed arch, round towers on either side, and deep machicolations
above, which may well have been built before the Cid rode into Palencia
for his marriage with Doña Ximena. The town walls are lofty and massive,
and crested with what is, I believe, a Moorish battlement. Its
peculiarity consists in the battlements and spaces between them being
equal, and the former being capped with a stone weathered on all four
sides nearly to a point.

On the way to the railway station we saw two churches, both having some
portions of fair fifteenth-century work; and then passing the old wall,
found ourselves on the melancholy open plain that surrounds the city.
Under the hot sun, and after the harvest has all been gathered in, the
country looks wretched and arid in the extreme. Not a tree is to be
seen, nor a blade of grass; but first a sandy plain of two or three
miles, and then rocky and sandy hills, all bleached to much the same
colourless tint, rose in long lines against the deep-blue sky. On the
other side of the city the river was hardly more attractive; it was
wellnigh dry, though it is true there were some trees near its banks
which to some extent redeemed the aridness of the soil out of which they
grew. As I neared the station I found the whole city assembled to greet
the Duke and Duchess of Montpensier, who were to stop for a few minutes
to enjoy _azucarillos_ and sweetmeats. Officers of all grades, the
bishop and his clergy, and smart people in abundance were there; and as
soon as the train arrived there was lusty cheering, and great firing of
rockets. After a fight with the mob for a passage to the train, we
secured seats, and were soon off. There are some parts of the road which
seemed more interesting than most of the country we had been passing.
The river runs here and there under steepish bluffs, and occasionally
considerable vineyards give--what is so much wanted--some variety of
colour to the landscape. I suppose one ought to be cautious in
describing such a country after seeing it in September; for I can well
imagine that in the spring, when the whole land is covered with great
crops of corn, the impression it produces may be very different.

At Valladolid we were delayed a long time whilst the Duke and Duchess of
Montpensier, saluted again with rockets, and escorted by cavalry, took
their departure from the station to pass the night at the
Captain-General’s. As far as a stranger can see and hear the truth, the
Royal family seem to be very popular in Spain, and none of them more so
than the Duke and Duchess; and the good people of Valladolid did their
best, by illuminations, cheering, and decoration of their houses with
coloured cloth, to welcome their coming, and speed their parting the
next day.[74]

In the evening I strolled out into the town, and presently found myself
in the Great Plaza, an imposing square surrounded on three sides by
houses on arcades, and having on the fourth side the Town-hall. This was
brilliantly illuminated by a number of enormous wax-candles in great
sconces flaring in the air, whilst a good military band played waltzes,
and the people--soldiers and civilians, men, women, and children--danced
merrily and vigorously in groups all about. Presently crossing the Plaza
from this noisy scene, I stumbled over a bundle on the ground, and
found it to be a couple of labourers who, having been at work at the
pavement, had made a bed of sand, covered themselves over with a
blanket, and had gone to sleep by the side of their tools for the night,
indifferent to all the noise and excitement of the place!

Valladolid is a city of which I have very pleasant general
recollections, but of which nevertheless the architecture is nowhere of
very great interest. It has the misfortune to have a cathedral built by
Herrera, only one or two early works, several gorgeous examples of the
richest late-pointed work, and a multitude of examples of the works of
Berruguete, Herrera, and their followers. But the streets are
picturesque and busy, and have that unmistakably foreign aspect which is
always so pleasant to the traveller.

I need say but little of the Cathedral. Its design is said to be the
greatest work of Herrera (A.D. 1585); but a small portion only of it has
been completed. The complete plan is given by Ponz.[75] It was to have
been cruciform, with four towers at the angles, four bays of nave, and
four of choir, with aisles to both. The stalls of the Coro were intended
to be in the choir behind the altar. There is a large cloister on the
north side of the nave. The nave of four bays, with its aisles and
chapels on either side of them, is all that is completed; and, large as
it is, the parts are all so colossal that there is not the impression of
size that there ought to be. The piers are some 60 feet from centre to
centre north and south, and 45 feet east and west; they carry bold
arches, above which runs a great cornice surmounted by a white
(plastered and panelled) groined ceiling, which contrasts violently with
the dark sombre grey of the stonework below. These vaults are of red
tile; and if the plaster were altogether taken off, the vault covered
with mosaic, and the mouldings of the cornices carefully removed, the
interior would really be fine and impressive. Nothing, however, could
ever cure the hideous unsightliness of the exterior. Herrera’s west
front was revised by Churriguera in the eighteenth century, and cannot
therefore be fairly criticised; but the side elevation remains as
Herrera designed it, and is really valuable as a warning. Flying
buttresses were of course an abomination; so in their place he erected
enormous solid buttresses above the aisles to resist the thrust of the
nave vault. They are shapeless blocks of masonry projecting about forty
feet from the clerestory wall, and finished with a horrid concave line
at the top. However, it is only right to give Herrera his due, and to
say, that after all he only did what Wren did at St. Paul’s, but had the
courage and the honesty to let his deeds be seen, instead of spending a
vast sum, like Wren, in concealing them. And again it is plain that he
thought much more of the internal effect of his church than of the
external;--how unlike ourselves, who but too often, if we can attract
men to our new churches by a smart spire or a picturesque exterior, seem
to forget that we must make the interior noble, winning, solemn, and
instructive too, if we would keep them there!

A few fragments of the old cathedral remain to the north-east of the
present church, but I could not obtain access to them; and I think
nothing now exists but a wall pierced with one or two fourteenth-century

Sta. Maria l’Antigua--the most attractive church, to my mind, in
Valladolid--is close to the cathedral. It is so valuable an example, and
illustrates so well some peculiarities of Spanish architecture, that I
give an illustration of its ground-plan.[76] It is of the common
parallel-triapsal arrangement, and has a fine western steeple, and a
cloister along the north wall. This kind of cloister is of not
unfrequent occurrence: I have already noticed one in the convent at Las
Huelgas; and there are two or three churches at Segovia in which also it
is introduced. It would seem to be an arrangement expressly adopted to
suit a tropical climate, and its effect is always very good.

[Illustration: Cloister. L’Antigua, Valladolid.]

The cloister here is walled up, and considerably defaced on the north
side; and on the south, if one ever existed, it has been entirely
destroyed. That on the north side is of three bays in length, the
western bay having four arches, and the others five. The arches are
semi-circular, with labels enriched with dog-tooth ornament, and the
shafts which carry them are moulded and wrought in imitation of the
coupled columns of early Italian artists. Simple buttresses separate the
bays, and there is a corbel-table under the eaves. A bold round-arched
doorway opened at the west into this cloister.

The interior of this church is fine. It is groined throughout; and most
of the groining has longitudinal (but not transverse) ridge-ribs,
considerably arched in each bay, to suit the domical section of the
vaults. The western bay has the usual late gallery for the Coro
supported on a debased arch, and with open tracery in its front, and the
stalls and organ still remain in it. The main columns are cylindrical in
plan, and each surrounded by eight attached shafts. The transepts are
not at all defined in the ground-plan, but are groined at the same level
as the nave. The abaci of the capitals are either square or octagonal in
plan. The groining has bold and well-moulded transverse arches, and
diagonal ribs of an ordinary thirteenth-century section. In the apse of
seven bays the vaults, for the greater part of their height, are no
thicker than the moulding of their ribs, and are pierced with cusped
circles in their spandrels, just above the line of the springing of the
windows, in the same manner as at Palencia Cathedral. The clerestory
seems to have been lighted with simple lancets, of which one only
remains on the south of the nave. Of the old furniture still existing I
noticed a good Retablo, partly carved and partly painted, in a chapel on
the south side of the choir, and another in the baptistery opening into
the south transept.[77] The steeple is the most remarkable feature of
the exterior, and from its great height gives, in company with the
similar steeple of San Martin, much effect to many views of the city,
which, with these exceptions, has nothing to break its monotony. It
rises three stages above the roof, the lower stage having an arcaded
window of two lights on each face, the middle one of three lights, and
the upper, again, one of two lights. The arches are all semi-circular,
and are carried upon shafts. There are string-courses under each window,
and the abaci are also carried round the steeple as string-courses of
inferior scale. There are nook-shafts at the angles, with caps and bases
between each of the horizontal string-courses. The upper string-course
and the eaves-cornices are carved with a dog-tooth ornament, and the
others with a billet mould. The steeple is finished with a low square
spire, covered with tiles, some green and some red, and each tile made
of a pointed shape, so as to form a series of scallops. This steeple is
of the same date as the cloister and lower part of the church--probably
circa A.D. 1180-1200; but the east end of the church is evidently a work
of later date, being much more advanced in style, and corresponding
exactly in some respects with the upper part of the transepts and
clerestory of Burgos Cathedral. The windows have three engaged
jamb-shafts, with square capitals. The tracery has soffeit-cusping, and
there is a peculiarity here which is seen also in the clerestory at
Burgos. The arches of the lights and the circle above them are only
chamfered on one side, and their fillets do not mitre at the junction;
it looks, consequently, as though the circle were merely put in loosely
on the back of the arched heads to the lights, without being in any way
connected with them. I need not say that the effect is not good: it has
the appearance of being the work of men who did not quite understand
what they were about; and, though I know of no example of the same thing
in England or France, it is not uncommonly seen in the thirteenth and
fourteenth century works of the Italian architects. It is, however,
impossible to charge the architect of this apse with the indifference
to, or ignorance of, other examples of the same age which marked the
Italians, for in every other respect his work is as good as possible of
its kind. The pinnacles marking the junction of the apse with the choir
are very fine. They are hexagonal below, but, with admirable effect, are
covered with circular stone spires, enriched by delicate crockets of the
same fashion as those at Burgos, illustrated at p. 28, and the springing
of the spirelet is marked by small pinnacles. The external roofs have
been altered in accordance with the invariable custom, and at the east
end they now partially obscure the old pierced parapets which fill the
spaces between the pinnacles of the apse. The south transept had a
rose-window, which is now blocked up, and the open parapet of the choir
was continued round it. This side of the church is now much built
against, and concealed by houses, the north side being quite open. I
ought not to forget that there is a good sacristy at the north-east
angle of the church, and of the same date as the choir.

Sagrador y Vitores[78] says that this church was founded by Don Pedro
Ansurez and Doña Eylo his wife, in the latter part of the eleventh
century, and rebuilt by King Don Alonso XI. I confess I cannot reconcile
these dates (for which no authorities are given) with the existing
building. The earlier portions of the work hardly seem to be so early in
date as the eleventh century; and the later alterations are so identical
in character with work of which we know the age in the thirteenth
century, that it is almost impossible they should belong to the time of
Alonso XI. (A.D. 1350-1369). The reign of Alonso IX. (A.D. 1230-44)
would have been a more likely date.

The church of San Martin, near Sta. Maria, has been rebuilt, with the
exception only of its steeple, which is a fine example, very similar to
that of Sta. Maria, though, no doubt, of rather later date. The arches
here are pointed, in place of round, as they are in the other example;
the two upper stages are arranged just as they are there, and the lower
stage has a two-light window, with its tracery contrived in a similar
way to the apse windows of that church. San Martin is said to have been
founded in A.D. 1148,[79] and the earliest part of the steeple may
probably be of this age, though I do not think it can have been
completed earlier than about A.D. 1250.

Both these steeples bear unmistakable marks of Lombard influence. The
absence of buttresses, the repetition of very nearly similar stages one
over the other, and the multitude of horizontal string-courses, are all
features of constant occurrence in Italy; and it will be sufficient to
mention such an example as the steeple of Lucca Cathedral, as, among
others, illustrating this similarity very remarkably.

There is not, so far as I could see or learn, any other work of early
date in Valladolid; but, on the other hand, the city is rich in works of
the latest Gothic, some of which are exceedingly sumptuous, and among
the finest of their kind; and they are so characteristic of Spanish
art--albeit they are undoubtedly derived from German sources--that it
would be unpardonable to pass them by without notice. At the same time
it is luxury of ornamentation, profusion of labour, marvellous manual
skill and dexterity, rather than real art, which we see displayed in all
the works of this school; and, attractive as these often are to the
uneducated eye, they are almost offensive to one who has learnt ever so
little to look for true art first and above all in all works of
architecture, and to regard mere excellence of workmanship as of
altogether secondary importance.

The most remarkable of these works are the churches of San Pablo, San
Benito, La Magdalena, and the colleges of San Gregorio and Sta. Cruz,
which last is now converted into a museum. Their dates are all known
very exactly, and the following facts relating to them may as well be

San Pablo was commenced by Cardinal Don Juan Torquemada, and completed
in A.D. 1463.[80] It is said by some to be the work of Juan and Simon de
Colonia, but I can find no proof of this statement, though I think that
the elaborate façade may possibly be the work of the artists Gil de
Siloe or Diego de la Cruz, who wrought under Juan de Colonia and his son
at the monuments and Retablo in the convent at Miraflores.

The first stone of the college of San Gregorio was laid in A.D. 1488,
and it was finished in A.D. 1496.[81] The architect is said to have been
Macías Carpintero of Medina del Campo; but as he cut his own throat in
1490,[82] some other architect or sculptor must have completed the work.

The monastery of San Benito was founded by King Don Juan, who obtained a
Bull from Pope Clement VII., on Dec. 28, 1389, for the purpose. But the
existing church was erected more than a century later, by Juan de
Arandia (probably a Biscayan architect), who began his work in A.D.
1499. He agreed to execute the nave and one aisle for 1,460,000
maravedis, and afterwards the other aisle for 500,000. The Retablo and
the stalls were the work of Berruguete, between A.D. 1526 and 1532, and
are now preserved in the museum.

The college of Sta. Cruz was founded in A.D. 1480, and completed in
A.D. 1492, and was designed by Enrique de Egas[83], son of Anequin de
Egas of Brussels.

The church of La Magdalena appears, by extracts from the archives of the
Marquis de Resilla, to have been planned by Rodrigo Gil, of Salamanca.
By a contract, dated June 14, 1576, he undertook the erection of the
Capilla mayor and sacristy for 4,000,000 maravedis, whilst the “master
of the works,” Francisco del Rio, by an agreement of October 11, 1570,
agreed to build the tower and body of the church according to Rodrigo
Gil’s plan, for 6400 ducats.

Having given these details of their history, I must now say a few words
about the buildings themselves.

Going from the great Plaza de la Constitucion down a narrow street to
the north, we soon came out on another large irregular open place,
frequented chiefly by second-hand clothesmen, whose wares would be
deemed bad even in Houndsditch, and whose wont it seems to be to induce
their customers to make complete changes of their apparel behind scanty
screenworks of cloths. At the angle of the further side of this Plaza is
the grand church and convent of San Benito. The monks are, of course,
all gone, as they are everywhere in Catholic Spain, and the convent is
turned into a barrack; the church is left open, but unused, and the more
valuable portions of its furniture, its stalls and Retablos, have been
carried away for exhibition in another religious house, now used as a
museum! Valladolid seems to have been a city of religious houses; and
when the revolution, following on civil wars, made so clean a sweep of
religious orders, that not only does one see no monks, but even Sisters
of Mercy are scarcely ever met[84], there was nothing, I suppose, to be
done but to convert these buildings to the first miserable purpose that
suggested itself; and we ought perhaps to be thankful when we find a
church like San Benito simply desolate and unused, and not converted to
some purely secular use.

The ground-plan of the church is given on Plate III. At the west end
are the remains of a tower, which seems never to have been completed,
and which, though of vast size, is so poor, tame, and bald in detail,
that it could hardly have produced a successful effect if it had been
finished. The whole design of the exterior of the church is extremely
uninteresting; but the interior is much more impressive, being fine,
lofty, and groined, and lighted chiefly by large clerestory windows,
aided by others high up in the aisle-walls. The groining is all very
domical in section, and rather rich in ribs; and the grand scale of the
whole work, and the simplicity of the piers--cylinders with eight
engaged shafts round them--contribute to produce something of the effect
of a building of earlier date. The bases of the columns are of enormous
height from the floor, and their caps are generally carved with stiff
foliage. Several altars, monuments, and chapels have been inserted
between the buttresses of the north wall; and there is one old tomb on
the north side of the high altar, with a sculpture of the Crucifixion.
The buttresses on the exterior all rise out of a continuous weathered
basement, and there is no variety in their design in any part.

The ritual arrangements deserve a few words of description. There are
six steps up from the nave to the altar, and there is an ambon on each
side of them entered from the altar side. There is a stalled western
gallery, with an organ on its south side, of late mediæval design, but
apparently an insertion, and not erected at the same time as the Coro.
Beside the gallery Coro, there is a second Coro on the floor, with
screens round it on the north, south, and west sides, which are
evidently not original, being mere brick walls. A metal screen extends
all across the nave and aisles at the east of the Coro; and there are
gates, not only in these, but also in the screen on the west side of the
Coro, which, it will be remembered, is an unusual arrangement at this
late date. The large organ is on the north side of the Coro, and of the
same date as the woodwork of the stalls. The good people of Valladolid,
who seem to feel inordinately proud of all that Berruguete did, have
carried off the stalls to the museum. They are much praised by Mr. Ford,
but for what reason I endeavoured in vain to discover. Their sculpture
appeared to me to be contemptible, and mainly noticeable for woolly
dumplings in place of draperies, and for the way in which the figures
are sculptured, standing insecurely on their feet, dwarfed in stature,
altogether inexpressive in their faces, out of drawing, and wholly
deficient in energy or life. There were also three great Retablos to the
principal altars at the ends of the aisles. The Renaissance frames of
these are mostly _in situ_, but the sculptures have all been taken, with
the stalls, to the museum, where they cumber the little chapel in the
most uncouth fashion. I never saw such contemptible work; yet Mr. Ford
calls this work[85] “the _chef-d’œuvre_ of Berruguete, circa
1526-1532.” I can only say that the architecture is bad, the sculpture
is bad, and the detail is bad; that all three are bad of their kind, and
that their kind is the worst possible.[86] It is in truth the ugliest
specimen of the imbecility and conceit which usually characterize
inferior Renaissance work that I ever saw. The whole of the figures are
strained and distorted in the most violent way, and fenced in by columns
which look like bedposts, with entablatures planned in all sorts of new
and original ways and angles. I have no patience with such work, and it
is inconceivable how a man who has once done anything which, from almost
every point of view, is so demonstrably bad, can have preserved any
reputation whatever, even among his own people. It is a curious
illustration, however, of the singular extent to which both Gothic and
Renaissance were being wrought at the same time in Spain; for at the
time he did this work, in which not a trace of Gothic feeling or skill
remained, other men at Salamanca, Zaragoza, and elsewhere, were still
building in late Gothic, and some buildings were still more than half
Gothic which were not erected for at least fifty years later.

A short walk from San Benito leads to another Plaza, on one of which is
the west front of San Pablo, whilst the great convent of San Gregorio is
on its south side.

I could not find any means of getting into San Pablo, and am uncertain
whether it is in use or desecrated. Its façade is a repetition, on a
large scale, of work like that of Juan and Simon de Colonia--who are
said to have been the architects employed--in the chapel monuments at
Miraflores. Armorial bearings have much more than their due prominence,
mouldings are attenuated, every bit of wall is covered with carving or
tracery, and such tricks are played with arches of all shapes, that,
though they are ingenious, they are hardly worth describing. The western
doorway is fringed with kneeling angels for crockets, and there are
large and small statues of saints against the wall on either side of it.
Above is the Coronation of the Blessed Virgin, with St. John the Baptist
on one side, and the kneeling founder on the other, flanked by angels
carrying armorial achievements. Above, in the centre, is our Lord
seated, St. Peter and St. Paul on either side, and the four Evangelists
seated at desks, and instructed by angels. Every vacant space seems to
have a couple of angels holding coats-of-arms, so that it is impossible
not to feel that the sculptor and the founder must have had some idea of
heaven as peopled by none with less than a proper number of quarterings
on their shields, or without claim to the possession of _Sangre Azul_. I
must not forget to say of this work that, though its scheme is
displeasing and Retablo-like, its execution is wonderful, and the merit
of the detail of many parts of it very great.

The façade of San Gregorio is a long lofty wall, pierced with small
ogee-headed windows, and finished with a quaint, carved, and pinnacled
parapet; in the centre is the entrance gateway, corresponding pretty
much in its detail with the front of San Pablo, but even more extremely
heraldic in its decorations. The doorway is a square opening under a
segmental arch, with an ogee-trefoiled canopy above. Full-length statues
of hairy unclad savages on either side may have a meaning which I failed
to discover; to me they looked simply uncouth and rude. The canopy over
the doorway runs up and forms a great heraldic tree, with an enormous
coat-of-arms and supporters in the centre. The finish at the top is one
of those open-work conceits of interlacing pierced cusping, which looks
like nothing better than a collection of twigs.

The sculpture on this doorway is altogether inferior in its character to
that of the doorway of San Pablo. The convent is now, I believe, a
barrack, and the sentry refused me admission; but I saw a picturesque
court open in the centre, with the usual galleries round it, supported
on columns, the wooden ceiling of the passage being painted.

The church of la Magdalena does not look so late in date as the
documentary evidence seems to prove that it is; but it is late enough to
be most uninteresting. The west front is the _ne plus ultra_ of heraldic
absurdity, being entirely occupied with an enormous coat-of-arms and its

Close to the east end of this church is a Moorish archway of brick, a
picturesque and rather graceful work. It owes not a little of its effect
to the shape of the bricks, which are 7 in. wide by 11 in. long by 1½
in. thick, and to the enormous quantity of mortar used, the joints being
not less than an inch wide.[87] The ruggedness and picturesque effect of
work done in this way is much greater than that of the smooth, neat
walls--badly built of necessity where there is not much mortar used--of
our modern buildings.

The Museum is housed in the old college of Sta. Cruz, close to the
University, and near to the Cathedral. It is a building of a class whose
name is legion in these parts. It encloses a central court surrounded by
cloisters, above which there are open arcades all round on each of the
three floors, traceried balustrades occupying the spaces between their
columns, and the rooms being all entered from these cloister-like open
passages. With good detail such an arrangement might easily be made very
attractive; but I saw no example in any but the very latest style of
Gothic. The contents of the Museum are most uninteresting. There are
three paintings said to be by Rubens, but they seemed to me to have been
much damaged; and the rest of the pictures are unmixed rubbish. There is
a large collection of figures and subjects from sculptured Retablos, all
of which are extravagant and strained in their attitudes to the most
painful degree. I have already referred to some of Berruguete’s work
preserved here, and the rest is mostly of about the same low degree of

The Library, which appeared to have many valuable books, is a large
room, well kept and well filled, with a librarian very ready to show it
to strangers.

The University is a cold work of Herrera--the coldest of Spanish
architects. Mr. Ford mentions an old gateway in it; but I could not find

I spent one day only in Valladolid; but this is ample for seeing all its
architectural features. It is one of those cities which was too rich and
prosperous during an age of much work and little taste, and where,
though Berruguete and Herrera may be studied by those who think such
labour desirable, very little mediæval architecture of any real value
is to be seen. Yet as a modern city it is in parts gay and attractive,
being after Madrid the most important city of the North of Spain. Its
suburbs are less cheerful, for here one lights constantly on some
desecrated church or ruined building, which recalls to mind the vast
difference between the Valladolid of to-day--a mere provincial town--and
the Valladolid of two centuries ago, for a short time the capital of



The long dreary road which leads over the corn-growing plain from Medina
del Campo is at last relieved some two or three miles before Salamanca
is reached by the view of its imposing group of steeples and domes,
which rise gradually over the low hills on the northern side. The long
line of walls round the city still in part remains, but seems daily to
be falling more and more to decay, and indeed generally all its grand
buildings speak rather of death than of life. Few even of Spanish towns
seem to have suffered more at the hands of the French during the
Peninsular war than did Salamanca, and we ought not perhaps to be
surprised if its old prosperity comes but slowly back again to it.

The public buildings here are generally grandiose and imposing; but
almost all of them are of the period of the Renaissance, and there are
no very remarkable examples of this bad age. Still when they were
perfect there must have been a certain stateliness about them, befitting
the importance of a great university.

The main objects of attraction to me were the two cathedrals, the one
grand and new, of the sixteenth century, by whose side and as it were
under whose wing nestles the smaller but most precious old cathedral of
the twelfth century, fortunately preserved almost intact when the new
one was erected, and still carefully maintained, though, I believe, very
seldom used for service. The remarkable relative positions of these two
cathedrals will be readily understood by the accompanying
ground-plan,[88] in which, as will be seen, the vast bulk of the later
church quite overwhelms the modest dimensions of the earlier. I know
indeed few spots, if any, in which the importance, or the contrary, of
mere size in architecture can be better tested than here. Most educated
artists would, I dare say, agree with me in rating size as the lowest of
all really artistic qualities in architecture; and here we find that
the small and insignificant old church produces as good an effect as the
large and boastfully ambitious new one, though its dimensions are
altogether inferior. This is owing to the subdivision of parts, and to
the valuable simplicity which so markedly characterizes them. On the
other hand, it would be wrong to forget that from another point of view
mere size is of the primest importance, for we may well feel, when we
compare, for instance, an extremely lofty church with one of very modest
height, that in the former there is on the part of the founders an
evident act of sacrifice, whilst in the latter their thoughts have
possibly never risen above the merest utilitarianism; and it would be a
spirit entirely dead to all religious impressions that could regard such
an act of sacrifice otherwise than with extreme admiration.

The foundation of the first of these two cathedrals may be fixed, I
think, with a fair approach to certainty, as being some time in the
twelfth century. It was at this time, soon after the city had been
regained from the Moors, in A.D. 1095, that Bernard, Archbishop of
Toledo, himself a Frenchman, brought many other Frenchmen into Spain,
and through his great influence procured their appointment to various
sees--a fact which I may say, in passing, suggests much in regard to the
origin of the churches which they built. Among the French ecclesiastics
so promoted was Gerónimo Visquio,[89] a native of Périgord, who was for
a long time the great friend and close companion of the Cid Rodrigo
Diaz, and confessor to him and Doña Ximena his wife. On the Cid’s death
he brought his body from Valencia to the monastery of Cardeña, near
Burgos, and there dwelt till Count Ramon and Doña Urraca made him Bishop
of Salamanca. Gil Gonzalez Dávila[90] says that at this time the church
was founded, and Cean Bermudez adds some documentary evidence as to
privileges conceded to its chapter for the works about this time by
Count Ramon.[91] In A.D. 1178 a priest--Don Miguel of San Juan, Medina
del Campo--made a bequest to the Chapter of his property for the work of
the cloister, and we may fairly assume, therefore, that before this date
the church itself was completed. The new cathedral was not commenced
until A.D. 1513, and of this I need not now speak; but in an inscription
on it, which records its consecration in A.D. 1560, the first mass is
related to have been said in the old cathedral four hundred and sixty
years before, _i.e._ in A.D. 1100.[92] This probably was only a
tradition; but it may fairly be taken to point to the twelfth century as
that in which the cathedral was built.

This early church is, it will be seen,[93] cruciform, with three eastern
apses, a nave and aisles of five bays, and a dome or lantern over the
crossing. There is a deep western porch, and I think it probable that
there were originally towers on either side of this. The church has been
wonderfully little altered, save that its north wall has been taken down
in order to allow of the erection of the new cathedral, and at the same
time the arch under the northern part of the central lantern or dome was
also underbuilt. In other respects the church is almost untouched, and
bears every mark of having been in progress during the greater part of
the twelfth century.

There is no provision in the plan of the main piers for carrying the
diagonal groining ribs, and it may be, therefore, that when they were
first planned it was not intended to groin the nave. The groining-ribs
are now carried on corbels, in front of which were statues, only two or
three of which, however, now remain in their places.[94] The vaulting
throughout is quadripartite in the arrangement of the ribs; but the
vaults of the three western bays of the nave, of the south transept, and
of the aisles are constructed as domes, with the stones all arranged in
concentric lines, but with ribs crossing their undersides; the two
eastern bays of the nave have quadripartite groining, planned in the
common way. The apses have semi-domes. The main arches everywhere are
pointed, those of the windows semi-circular, and the capitals throughout
are elaborately carved, either with foliage or groups of coupled
monsters or birds, a very favourite device of the early Spanish

The most interesting feature in this old cathedral still remains to be
mentioned: this is the dome over the crossing. The remainder of the
original fabric is bold, vigorous, and massive, well justifying the line
in an old saying about the Spanish cathedrals, “Fortis Salmantina;” but
still it is merely a good example of a class of work, of which other
examples on a grander scale are to be met with elsewhere. Not so,
however, the dome; for here we have a rare feature treated with rare
success, and, so far as I know, with complete originality. The French
domed churches, such as S. Front, Perigueux, and others of the same
class, Notre Dame du Port, Clermont, and Notre Dame, le Puy, have, it is
true, domes, but these are all commenced immediately above the
pendentives or arches which carry them. The lack of light in their
interiors is consequently a great defect, and those which I have seen
have always seemed to me to have something dark, savage, and repulsive
in their character. And it was here that the architect of Salamanca
Cathedral showed his extreme skill, for, instead of the common low form
of dome, he raised his upon a stage arcaded all round inside and out,
pierced it with windows, and then, to resist the pressure of his vault,
built against the external angles four great circular pinnacles.

[Illustration: No 7



The effect of his work both inside and out is admirable. It is divided
into sixteen compartments by bold shafts, which carry the groining ribs;
and three of these divisions over each of the cardinal sides are pierced
as windows. The other four occur where the turrets on the exterior make
it impossible to obtain light. These arcades form two stages in height
between the pendentives and the vault. The vault is hardly to be called
a real dome, having a series of ribs on its under side, nor does the
external covering follow the same curve as the internal, but with
admirable judgment it is raised so much as to have rather the effect of
a very low spire, with a considerable entasis, than of a regular dome.
The exterior angles have lines of simple and boldly contrived crockets,
and the stones with which it is covered seem all to have been cut with
scallops on their lower edge. The stonework of the exterior is much
decayed, but otherwise the whole work stands well and firmly.

My drawings explain better than any written description can, the various
details of the design; but I may well call attention to the admirable
treatment of the gables over the windows on the cardinal sides of the
dome. No doubt they answer the same purpose as the circular turrets at
the angles in providing a counterpoise to the thrust of the vault, and
the change from the circular lines of the angle turrets to the sharp
straight lines of these gables is among the happiest efforts of art. So
again I ought to notice the contrast between the shafted windows, with
their springing lines definitely and accurately marked by sculptured
capitals, and the openings in the turrets, with their continuous
mouldings. The value of contrast--a treasure in the hands of the real
artist--is here consciously and most artistically exhibited; and it was
no mean artist who could venture to make so unsparing a use of
architectural ornamentation without producing any sense of surfeit on
those who look at his work even with the most critical eyes.

I have seldom seen any central lantern more thoroughly good and
effective from every point of view than this is: it seems indeed to
solve, better than the lantern of any church I have yet seen elsewhere,
the question of the introduction of the dome to Gothic churches. The
lofty pierced tambour, and the exquisite effect of light admitted at so
great a height from the floor, are features which it is not, I believe,
vain to hope we may see emulated ere long in some modern work. But in
any such attempt it must be borne well in mind that, though the scale of
this work is very moderate, its solidity and firmness are excessive, and
that thus only is it that it maintains that dignified manliness of
architectural character which so very few of our modern architects ever
seem even to strive for.

From all points, too, this lantern groups admirably with the rest of the
church. My sketch was taken from the west end of the nave roof, in order
to show the detail of the work to a fair scale; but the best view on the
whole is that from the south-east, where it groups with the fine
exterior of the eastern apses, with their engaged columns and rich
corbel-tables, and with a turret to the east of the transept, which has
been carried up and finished rather prettily in the fourteenth century
with a short spire, with spire-lights on each side of its hexagonal

The old corbel-tables under the eaves remain throughout the east end;
but the wall has been raised above them with a line of pierced
quatrefoils, over which the rough timbers of the roof project. No doubt
here, as we shall find in some other examples, the original intention
was to have a stone roof of rather flat pitch. The space between the
eaves of the chancel and the lower windows of the lantern would admit of
no more than this; and though there is a good deal of piquant effect in
the line of dark pierced traceries under the eaves and the rough tiled
roof above them, one cannot but regret very much the change from the
original design in so important a part of the work. The eaves-cornices
are carved with a very rich variety of billet moulding, and carried upon
corbels, some of which are carved and some moulded. The walls generally
have flat pilasters at short intervals, finishing under the
eaves-cornices, and the principal apse has the common arrangement of
three-quarter engaged shafts dividing it into three bays. The
window-arches are boldly moulded and carved, but the lights are narrow,
and those in the main apse are remarkable for the delicate intricacy of
the contemporary iron _grilles_ with which they are guarded--genuine
laborious smith’s work, utterly unlike the poor modern efforts with
which in these days men earn fame without using their hammers! The
effect here of the intricate curved lines, relieved by the dark shadow
of the window opening, is charming. It may fairly be doubted, I think,
whether these windows were ever meant to be glazed. In the transept
pointed relieving arches are built over the windows, and one of them is
a good example of the joggling of the joints of stonework, not
uncommonly seen in early flat arches, but the use of which is not very
obvious in a high pointed arch. The smaller apses have only one window,
and are lower in proportion to the principal apse than is usually the

[Illustration: No. 8.



There are some fine monuments in the south transept, all of them adorned
with elaborate bas-reliefs of scriptural subjects. One, of the
thirteenth century, has a tomb supported on lions, and a death-bed
represented on its side; a little apsidal recess above is groined with a
semi-dome, with ribs. Another has sculptures of the Crucifixion, the
Entombment, the Maries going to the Sepulchre, and the “Noli me
tangere;” and a third has another representation of a death-bed. The
effigies are all slightly tilted outwards, and those in the east wall
have their feet to the north. The most remarkable features in the
decoration of the church are, however, the Retablo and the painting on
the semi-dome above it. On the vault the Last Judgment is painted, our
Lord being drawn much in the famous attitude of St. Michael in Orcagna’s
fresco at Pisa, and without drapery. The Retablo is a work of the
fourteenth century, of wood, and planned so as exactly to fit the curve
of the apse wall. It is divided into five panels in height and eleven in
width, so that there are fifty-five subjects, each surrounded by an
architectural framework of delicate character. The subjects are all
richly painted on a gold ground, and seemed to me to be well drawn. The
coloured decoration of the whole is very effective, and owes much to the
white ground of its traceries. Generally speaking, a Retablo is placed
across the apse and cuts off its eastern portion, which thenceforward
becomes a receptacle for all the untidiness of the church; and when so
arranged, if it reaches the height common in Spain, it almost, and in
some cases altogether, destroys the internal effect of the apse. Here,
however, the exact fitting of the Retablo to the curve of the wall is
free from this objection, and its effect is unusually good.

The cloister on the south side is almost all modernized, though one or
two old doorways remain. That into the south transept has spiral shafts,
with the spiral lines reversed at regular intervals. It has also some
very good carving of foliage, with birds and naked figures, and on its
jambs are some memorial inscriptions of A.D. 1190, 1192, and 1194. On
the south side of the cloister is a richly decorated little chapel,
which retains in one corner a very curious mediæval organ, with
shutters. On the east side and close to the transept, what was no doubt
the original Chapter-house still remains, though it is now called the
Mozarabic chapel, and was formerly used for the Mozarabic ritual. At
present the boy who had the keys said it was not used; but the proper
books were all there. It is a very remarkable chamber, square in plan
below, and brought to an octagon above by arches thrown across the
angles, and finally roofed with a sort of dome, carried upon moulded and
carved ribs of very intricate contrivance. The interlacing of these ribs
gives the work somewhat the effect of being Moorish, and there can be
little doubt, I think, that it owes its peculiarities in some degree to
Moorish influence. It will be seen by reference to the plan, that the
groining ribs are arranged in parallel pairs. The ribs go from the
angles to the centre of the opposite side instead of from angle to
angle, and the sixteen ribs form a star-shaped compartment in the
centre. This coupling of ribs in parallel lines is a feature of Moorish
work, and is seen in the curious mosque, the Cristo de la Luz, at
Toledo, and in the somewhat Moorish vault of the Templars’ church at
Segovia. But whether Moorish or not, it is a remarkable room, and
deserves careful study. The diameter is but a little over twenty-six
feet, and the light is admitted by small windows in the upper stage. I
should be inclined to attribute this room and its vault to the architect
of the lantern of the church, and I regret that the only part of the
outside which I could see was so modernized as to render it impossible
to ascertain the original design. I call this the Chapter-house, because
I find that it opened originally into the cloister, with three arches,
that in the centre a doorway, the others windows of two lights--the
almost invariable arrangement of all Chapter-houses at this time.[95]

A considerable number of masons’ marks remain on the exterior of the
early part of this church; and if they are the marks of the men who
erected so complicated a piece of stonework as the vault of the
Chapter-house, they well deserve to be preserved. Throughout this
church, indeed, the masonry is unusually good, and, owing to the rich
warm colour of the stone, the eastern apses, though they follow the
common design of most of the Romanesque apses in this part of Spain, are
more than usually good in their effect.

A flight of eighteen steps leads up from the old cathedral through the
north transept into one of the southern chapels of the new cathedral,
and I know few changes more remarkable than that from the modest
simplicity, yet grandeur, of the early church, to the overbearing
magnitude and somewhat flaunting character of the late one.

Salamanca seems to have tasted early of that prosperity which in the end
ruined art in Spain; and it was possible, therefore, for the Bishop, in
the beginning of the sixteenth century, to propose a scheme for
replacing his modest old cathedral by one of the most sumptuous and
ambitious in Spain, without attempting what was absurd or sure to fail.
The whole discussion as to the planning of the church is told us in a
series of documents published by Cean Bermudez, which are, I think, of
sufficient interest to make them quite worth a place in the Appendix to
this volume. I shall discuss in another chapter the light which they
throw upon the architectural practice of the day, and here it will only
be necessary to refer to such parts of them as affect the architectural
history of the building.

In A.D. 1509 a Royal order was issued to Anton Egas, master of the works
at Toledo Cathedral, to go to Salamanca to make a plan for the cathedral
there. Egas seems to have delayed so long that it was necessary to send
another order to him, and then at last, in May, 1510, he went. The same
kind of command had been laid at the same time by the king on Alfonso
Rodriguez, the master of the works at Seville, and after these two had
considered the matter, they presented a joint plan, drawn on parchment,
showing the heights and widths of the naves, the thickness of the walls,
and so forth; but they were unable, they said, to agree as to the
proportion of length to breadth in the Capilla mayor, and so they
settled to meet in ten days at Toledo, and then to appoint an umpire.
Nothing more seems to have been done by them, for in A.D. 1513 the
Bishop and Chapter resolved to call together a Junta of architects to
make another report; and Rodriguez being dead, they summoned Anton Egas
of Toledo, Juan Gil de Hontañon. Juan de Badajoz of Leon, Alonso de
Covarrubias of Toledo, Juan Tornero, Juan de Alava, Juan de Orozco,
Rodrigo de Saravia, and Juan Campero, who all assembled in September,
A.D. 1512, at Salamanca, and drew up their report. The detailed
character of this report is very curious. It decides the dimensions of
every part of the church, the thickness of the walls, the projection of
the buttresses, and the exact position that it ought to occupy. The
architects not only agreed in all their opinions, but testified to their
truth by taking an oath “by God and St. Mary,” saying, each one, “So I
swear, and amen.”

The question was, whether the new cathedral should be on the site of the
old cathedral, or to the north or to the south of it; and among other
reasons for placing it to the north, where it now is, the existence of
the steeple at the west end of the old cathedral was mentioned. In fine,
the church has been so placed as not to interfere at all with the
steeple, but little with the old cathedral, and not at all with the
cloister. The opinion of the Junta of Architects has been acted upon, in
short, in everything save the shape of the head of the church, which
they preferred should be octagonal, and which is, in fact, square in

Three days after the presentation of this report certain of the Chapter
were appointed to select an architect, and their choice fell at once on
Juan Gil de Hontañon for the architect, and Juan Campero for clerk of
the works.[96] Whether Juan Gil really made the plans or not seems very
uncertain; and I confess that to me it seems more probable that the plan
made in A.D. 1509 by Egas and Rodriguez was laid before the Junta, and
that they drew up their resolutions upon the data it afforded, and left
to Hontañon no choice as to the proportions of his church, but only the
management of its construction and the designing of its details.

If this supposition be correct, I fear I can award but little credit to
Hontañon; for in this cathedral the only point one can heartily praise
is the magnificence of the general idea, and the noble scale and
proportion of the whole work. But the detail throughout is of the very
poorest kind, fairly Gothic in character inside, but almost Renaissance
outside, and everywhere wanting in vigour and effect. Nothing can be
much worse than the treatment of the doorways and windows, and--to take
one portion--the south transept façade is spotted all over with niches,
crockets, and pedestals in the most childish way; whilst every spandrel
has a head looking out of a circle, reminding one forcibly of the old
application of a horse-collar, and, in fact, the men were foolish who
repeated, _usque ad nauseam_, so stale and unprofitable an idea!

In one respect, however, the design of this church is very important.
The Spanish architects seldom troubled themselves to suit their
buildings in any respect to the climate; and this, no doubt, because in
very many cases they were merely imitating the works of another country,
in which no precautions against heat were necessary. Here we have a
church expressly designed, and with great judgment, for the requirements
of the climate. The windows are very high up, and very small for the
size of the building, so that no sunlight could ever make its way to any
unpleasant extent into it. There are galleries in front of all the
windows, both in the nave and aisles, but they are of thoroughly
Renaissance character. The section of the church gives a main clerestory
to the nave, and a second clerestory on one side of each aisle over the
arches opening into the side chapels. The upper clerestory has two
windows of two lights, and a circular window above them in each bay, and
the lower clerestory traceried windows generally, I think, of three
lights. The traceries are very weak and ill proportioned; but I noticed
in places what seemed to be a recurrence to earlier traditions in the
groupings of small windows, with several circles pierced in the wall
above them. It was, however, just like the imitation of old works we so
often see from incompetent hands at the present day. You see whence the
idea has been taken, though it is so travestied as to be not even
tolerable where the original was probably perfect!

The planning of the church is certainly infelicitous. The square east
end is bald to a degree externally, and finished as it is inside with
chapels corresponding with those of the aisles, wants relief and life.
If the square east end is adopted in a great church, no doubt the
prolonged Lady Chapels of our own churches are infinitely to be
preferred to such a plan as this, which fails to give the great east
windows of which we boast, and loses all the effects of light and shade
in which the apsidal chevets of the Continent are so rich.

Everywhere here the buttresses are finished with pinnacles, always
planned in the same way, each group being planned on a square,
counterchanged over the one below: they are of several stages in
height, furnished throughout with crocketed finials on all sides, and at
last with a single tall pinnacle. Nothing can be more wearisome than
this kind of pinnacled buttress, but the later Spanish authorities were
very fond of it, and repeated it everywhere. The dome, or Cimborio, is
altogether Pagan in its design and detail outside, and on the inside is
so plastered with an _olla_ of pink cherubs, rays of light, and gilt
scallopshells of monstrous size, and the like, as to be utterly
contemptible in its effect. It is, moreover, too small, and too little
separated from the rest of the vaulting, to look really well. The church
throughout is finished with hipped roofs in place of gables: but the
parapets in front of these are all Renaissance, and marked at intervals
by the favourite urns in which Renaissance architects still generally
and most unfortunately indulge.

The cathedral was first used for service in A.D. 1560, when on all sides
Renaissance buildings were being erected, and perhaps it would be more
just to Juan Gil de Hontañon to look upon him as striving to the last to
maintain the cause of Christian art against the inroads of the enemy,
and failing in his detail not for want of will, but because it was
simply impossible to resist the tide which had set in before he died.
Much, too, of the church must, no doubt, be attributed to other men;
Juan de Alava, Rodrigo Gil de Hontañon, Martin Ruiz, and Juan de Ribero
Rada, having been masters of the works after Juan Gil, and the church
not having been completed until more than a century after its

It will have been noticed that the old steeple is spoken of by the Junta
of Architects as a work of so much importance as to make it advisable to
change the position of the new cathedral, rather than interfere with it.
I do not quite understand this, for the greater part of it is now
entirely of late Renaissance detail,[98] though some large crocketed
pinnacles still exist at the angles of the highest stage. The lower
part is very plain, but the upper stage of the square tower has a rich
balustrade, and windows and pilasters, and above it is an octagonal
stage with pinnacles at the angles, and this in its turn is surmounted
by a dome, with a lantern at the top. The outline is certainly fine, and
its great height and mass make it a conspicuous object for a very long
distance from Salamanca.

The mixed character of the detail in this church is well seen in the
great doorway. Its jambs are richly moulded and carved, but the
mouldings are all planned on a line receding but little from the face of
the wall, so that the general effect is flat, and wanting in shadow. The
main arch is a bold simple trefoil, but the label above it is carried on
in an ogee line, and the arches below over two sculptured subjects, and
over two door-openings under them, are elliptical. So, too, in the
sculpture on the bas-reliefs over the door-openings, we have the richest
luxuriance of the latest school of Spanish Gothic, with its beasts, its
crisp foliage, and its wild love of heraldic achievements, and, mixed
with all this, naked cherubs, clouds, and representations of Roman

In conclusion, I am bound to say of this great church that, whilst its
exterior fails in almost every single particular, its interior, thanks
to compliance with certain broad rules of Gothic building, is beyond
question very grand and impressive. To the vast size and height of the
columns this is mainly owing, for though they are cut up with endless
little mouldings ingeniously “stopped,” one does not observe their
pettinesses, and the arches which they carry are bolder and more
important than might have been expected.

Some of the side chapels have altars both at the east and the west; and
where the old altars remain they have carved in stone an imitation of an
altar frontal. They represent worked super-frontals with fringes, and
frontals with fringed orphreys at either end: and I saw one altar with a
painted imitation of embroidery all over it. A chapel on the south side
of the nave has an altar entirely covered with glazed tiles, the walls
around it being similarly inlaid.

Close to the cathedral is one of the University buildings, with a
central dome and two dome-capped towers to the west of it, and near
these again is another domed church, and in the distance this group is
very remarkable and stately-looking.

I wandered all over Salamanca looking for old churches, and could find
few of any interest.[99] The finest are all but Renaissance in their
character and detail, and seem to have owed much to the influence of
Hontañon. The convents and colleges, where not ruined, are grand in
scale, yet they produce none of the effect which our Oxford buildings
do: but, on the other hand, they are built of a much better stone, and
of a rich, warm, yellow tint. The good people here are smartening up the
entrance to the town with flower-gardens, seats, and acacias, and are
certainly putting their best feet forward, though there is nothing else
even approaching to smartness in the place. A walk round the old walls
is a melancholy amusement. They are, in part, being levelled; still I
saw two or three pointed gateways, which seemed to be of early date, but
very simple. I saw also some convents in a dilapidated state, and indeed
everywhere the state of these is very bad, and I never saw so many waste
places or half-ruined buildings. A good deal of this is no doubt owing
to the operations of the French during the Peninsular War, but something
certainly to the natives, who are busier in pulling down than building
up; or at any rate, when they do the latter, they combine it with the
former; for in some repairs of one of the University buildings I found
the men re-using old wrought stones from some fifteenth-century

A bull-fight had just been celebrated here, and the principal square in
the city, the “Plaza Mayor,” one of the best I have seen in Spain, had
been fitted up for the occasion as an arena, with seats sloping up from
the ground to the first floor windows of the houses all round it. (There
was a regular arena, but it was being demolished, to give place, I
presume, to one on a grander scale.) Another Plaza close to it is the
principal market-place, and affords good opportunities for the study of
the costumes of the peasantry.

[Illustration: No. 9.

ZAMORA. p. 94.


I was fortunate in happening to light upon one very curious church
here--that of San Marcos. The engraving of the plan[100] will show how
very cleverly its architect managed to combine the scheme of a circular
church with the usual Spanish triapsidal arrangement. The apses are
vaulted with semi-domes, whilst the rest of the church is covered
with wooden roofs, and these all lean towards the central square, which
has a hipped roof. The arches are all pointed, and there are rudely
carved capitals to the columns. A simple corbel-table is carried along
under the eaves, and there are one or two slits--they are not more--for
light. This little church is close to the town walls, and the absence of
windows gives it the look of a part of a fortress. The plan seems to me
to be admirably suggestive: we are too much in the habit of working
perpetually in certain grooves which have been cut for us by our
forefathers, and most men now-a-days would be afraid to plan a little
church like this, even if the idea of it came into their heads. Yet it
struck me as being really an extremely useful and economical
construction, and such a scheme might with ease be fitted specially for
a cemetery chapel in place of one of the vulgar erections with which we
are now everywhere indulged.

The church of San Martin has a fine early doorway, in which I first saw
a very peculiar order of decoration, which I saw again at Zamora, and of
which no doubt more examples exist in this district. My illustration
will explain its design, one member of the archivolt of which is like a
succession of curled pieces of wood put side by side and perfectly
square in section. The effect of light and shade in such work is rather
good, but it is nevertheless rather too bizarre to be quite pleasing.

[Illustration: Archivolt. San Martin.]

Another little church--that of San Matteo--has a rather fine, though
rude, Romanesque doorway, with a buttress on each side, and a
corbel-table above. But besides these I saw no remains of early work in

From Salamanca an uninteresting road leads to Zamora: occasionally there
are considerable woods, and in other parts of the road the fields were
well covered with vines. For two or three hours the domes of Salamanca
are in sight, backed, as every view in Spain seems to be, by a fine line
of distant mountains. No old churches are passed on the road, unless I
except a large convent, now desecrated and nearly destroyed, but which
seemed by the glimpse I caught of it to have old parts.

The entrance to Zamora is very striking: the city crowns the long back
of a rock, falling steeply on the south to the Douro, and on the north
to another valley. At the extreme end of this hill is the cathedral, as
far away from the bulk of the people as it can be, but, for all that,
very picturesquely and finely perched. Below the cathedral is a scarped
rock, and to the left the noble river flows round a wooded point, and
then out of sight under a long line of green vine-covered hills. All
this view is taken in from the end of an old bridge, carried on sixteen
or seventeen pointed arches, across which, near the southern end, is
built a picturesque and tall gate-tower. The long line of houses
occupies the top of the rock, and then opposite the bridge the street
descends by a steep-stepped hill, and the houses cluster round the

The want of water in most Spanish landscapes is so great, that I was
never tired of the views here, where it is so abundant. One of the best,
perhaps, is that from just below the cathedral, looking past the
picturesque bridge across the cattle-peopled plains to a long line of
hills which bounds the horizon, with the dead-level line with which so
many of the Spanish table-lands finish above the banks of their rivers.

Of the history of Zamora Cathedral I know but little. Here, as elsewhere
at the same time, a Frenchman, Bernardo, a Benedictine, was bishop from
A.D. 1125 to 1149, having been appointed through the influence of, and
consecrated by, his namesake, the French Archbishop of Toledo.[101]
Dávila says that the cathedral was built by a subsequent bishop, Don
Estevan, “by order and at the cost of the Emperor Don Alonso VII., as is
proved by some lines which were in this church.” These lines give the
date of 1174 as that of the completion of the work,[102] and it tallies
fairly with the general character of much of the building; for, though
it is true that everywhere the main arches are pointed, much of the
detail is undoubtedly such as to suggest as early a date as that here

[Illustration: No. 10.



This cathedral is on a small scale, and the most important portion of
the ground-plan--the choir--having been rebuilt, it has lost much of its
interest. It consists now of a nave and aisles of four bays, shallow
transepts, with a dome over the crossing, a short choir with an apse of
seven sides, and two choir aisles with square east ends. At the west end
are chapels added beyond the church, that in the centre being of
considerable length, and groined with the common intersecting ribs.[103]
At the west end of the north aisle is an unusually large and fine
Romanesque steeple--the finest example of the kind I have seen in
Spain--and erected, no doubt, during the time of one of the French
bishops already referred to.

The nave piers are very bold and vigorous in design; they are planned
with triple shafts on each face of a square core, and have square caps
and bases. The arches are very simple, but pointed. The massiveness of
the piers is very remarkable, for though the clear width of the nave is
only about twenty-three feet, the columns are not less than seven feet
across. The nave is groined in square, the aisles in oblong
compartments. There are no groining ribs in the aisles, though the
vaults are quadripartite, and in the transepts there are pointed waggon
roofs. The central dome is carried on pendentives, similar to those in
the old cathedral at Salamanca. It has an arcaded and pierced stage
above the pendentives, and then a dome or vault, divided into sixteen
compartments by ribs of bold section, the filling in between which is a
succession of small cylindrical vaults, so that the construction inside
looks rather complicated. It is, moreover, so defaced by whitewash and
plaster as to produce a much less fine effect than the dome at
Salamanca; but, on the other hand, there can be but little doubt, I
think, that it is the earlier of the two by some years. The exterior of
the dome, though much decayed and mutilated, is still very noble in its
design and effect. It will be seen that in many respects it is
singularly like that at Salamanca. The circular angle turrets, the
dormers on the cardinal sides, are similar in idea, though ruder and
heavier here than there: here, too, the outline of the dome is more
thoroughly domical. All the courses of stone in the dome seem to have
been scalloped at the edges. The arches of the windows and arcades are
all semi-circular, and the angles of the dome have a sort of sharp
fringe of ornament, in which we see the very earliest kind of suggestion
of a crocket: it is very simple, and extremely effective. Unfortunately
this extremely interesting work is not only very much decayed, but also
rent throughout with cracks, and I much fear that ere long it may cease
to exist. The loss of such an example would be one of the greatest
misfortunes for the student of Christian art in Spain, and for rarity
and peculiarity I am not speaking too strongly when I say that we in
England have no monument of the middle ages which is one whit more
precious. It is to be hoped that the authorities of the church will do
their best to preserve it from further decay as far as possible, and to
repair it in the most tenderly conservative spirit.

The aisles have very broad massive buttresses, and the corbel-tables
which crown the wall are carried round them also. There were simple
round-arched, shafted windows in each bay, and the clerestory was
finished like the aisle with a corbel-table.

[Illustration: No. 11.



The south transept façade is, after the lantern, the most interesting
part of the church. Its general character is extremely peculiar, and
unlike any other work I have seen in Spain. There are plain buttresses
at the angles, and the space between them is divided into three
compartments by fluted pilasters, which rise as far as the corbel-table
(continued at the same level as the eaves-cornice), and carry three
pointed arches which are fitted to the original flat-pitched gable, the
centre arch being the widest and highest. The centre compartment has a
doorway with three shafts in each jamb, and four orders in the arch all
alike, and resembling the door in San Martin, at Salamanca, illustrated
at p. 91. The effect of light and shade in this ornamentation is very
great; and, executed as it is with comparatively little labour, I rather
wonder not to have seen more of the same work elsewhere. Two small
recessed arches occupy the side compartments of the façade on either
side of the doorway: that on the right hand has its archivolt carved
with extreme delicacy with a small leaf repeated frequently; and both
have within their arches sculptures of figures. The bases of all the
columns are fluted, and the capitals are all carved rather rudely, and
have heavy abaci. Over the side arches are square sunk compartments
enclosing circular ornaments carved with a succession of hollow flutings
sinking back to the centre. In fact, these strange ornaments--which at
first sight look almost like modern insertions--are precisely like
models of the dome with its arched groining spaces between the ribs.
Above the doorway is a row of five arches recessed in the wall,[104] and
under the central arch in the gable is a blocked-up window-opening.

I was unable to gain admission to the interior of the steeple. On the
outside it rises in a succession of nearly equal stages, of which the
upper three have, in the common Lombard fashion, windows of one, two,
and three lights respectively.

It remains to say a few words as to the fittings of the church. The Coro
here occupies the two eastern bays of the nave, and is fitted with very
rich late stalls and canopies, which are quite magnificent in their
effect. The backs of the stalls are carved with figures, and those over
the lower range of stalls throughout with half-length figures of Old
Testament worthies, most of which have inscribed scrolls, with legends
referring to our Lord, in their hands. These texts have been printed by
Dr. Neale in the ‘Ecclesiologist,’ and they afford so valuable an
example of the right mode of selecting inscriptions, that, with his
consent, I give a copy of his account.[105] The figures are rather in
the style afterwards so much employed by Berruguete, large scale
bas-reliefs of single figures--always an awkward kind of sculpture in
the hands even of the very best artist. The traceries and crockets of
this stall-work are very elaborate, crisp, and good of their kind. There
is a continuous horizontal canopy above the upper stalls, each division
of which is filled with purely secular sculptures of beasts and animals.
The metal Rejas are of the same age as the stalls; and there is a fine
ancient lectern for the choir, of enormous size, in the centre of the
Coro, and two others of more modern date. The western screen is old--of
the fifteenth century--and has the rare feature of two doorways, leaving
the centre unpierced for the altar in the nave, and the bishop’s throne
on its eastern side, towards the Coro. By the time this work was done,
it was very generally settled that the bishop’s place was here, in the
centre of the western end of the Coro; but I have seen no other screen
in which the entrance has still been retained at the west in connexion
with this arrangement of the stalls. There is an old metal screen or
Reja under the eastern arch of the crossing, which is of the same age as
the choir fittings, and has two iron pulpits projecting from its western
face. These pulpits are lined with wood, and stand on stone bases; the
staircases to them are of wood, carved on the Gospel side with figures
of the Evangelists and St. Laurence, and on the Epistle side with St.
John, St. Peter, and other Epistolers. Each pulpit has a desk on a
little crane projecting from the column by its side.

[Illustration: Choir Lectern, Zamora Cathedral.]

The cloisters on the north side of the cathedral, and the bishop’s
palace on the south, are all completely modernized; but just under the
old town walls, to the north of the Cathedral Plaza, is the small
Romanesque church of San Isidoro. It has a square-ended chancel of two
bays, and a nave of three, the latter lighted by very small
windows--mere slits in the masonry--the former by shafted windows with a
deep external splay to the openings, which are also very narrow. There
are two of these windows at the east end, and there is a corbel-table
under the eaves. This church was not intended for groining.

The long, narrow, and winding street which leads along the thin crest of
the hill to the centre of the city, passes on the way the very
interesting little church of La Magdalena. This is a Romanesque church,
divided into nave, chancel, and apsidal sanctuary, in the way we so
often see in works of similar date in England. The chancel has a pointed
waggon-vault, the apse is groined with ribs, whilst the nave has now a
modern (and probably always had a) flat wooden roof. The south doorway
is placed very nearly in the centre of the south wall of the nave. It is
a very grand example of the most ornate late Romanesque work, with
twisted and moulded shafts, and a profusion of carving in the capitals
and archivolts. Over this door is a circular window with dog-tooth in
the label, and a quatrefoil piercing in the centre; and on each side, in
the other bays, are round-arched windows of two lights. There is a very
considerable likeness between the plan of this church and that of San
Juan at Lérida.[106] In both, the overwhelming size and grandeur of the
doorway as compared with that of the building, combined with its central
position, produces at first the impression that it is the western, and
not the southern, façade one is looking at. This is a defect; yet
perhaps more so to the eyes of an Englishman, who now as of old prefers
creeping through little holes[107] in the wall into his finest churches,
than to those of any one used to the noble doorways of the Continent.
The interior of La Magdalena is more interesting than the exterior; for,
in addition to the good early detail of the arches across the chancel,
it has at the east end of the nave some very fine and very peculiar
monuments. Two of these are high tombs, with lofty canopies over them,
occupying the space between the side walls of the nave and the jambs of
the chancel arch. These canopies are square-topped, with round arches on
the two disengaged sides, and carried upon large shafts standing
detached on the floor. The detail of the canopies is as plain as
possible; but the capitals are carved with very pure and vigorous
conventional foliage, and the shafts are twisted; the moulding on those
of the northernmost of the two monuments being reversed in mid-height,
so as to produce a large and simple chevron. The mouldings of the shaft
are carefully stopped below the necking, and above the base. The effect
of this monument, filling in as it does the angle at the end of the
nave, is extremely good; its rather large detail and general proportions
giving it the effect of being an integral part of the fabric rather
than, as monuments usually are, a subsequent addition.

[Illustration: Monument, la Magdalena.]

To the west of the monument already mentioned, against the north wall,
is another of about the same age--probably the early part of the
thirteenth century--and even more curious in its design. It has three
shafts in front carrying the canopy; and this is composed of two
divisions of canopy-work, very similar to those so often seen in French
sculpture over figures and subjects in doorways; under each are a pair
of monsters--wyverns, or some such nondescripts--fighting. The capitals
are similarly carved, and the abaci have conventional foliage. The tomb
under the canopy has a plain coffin-shaped stone with a cross on it; but
against the wall are, below, a figure lying in a bed carved on a bold
block of stone projecting from the wall; and, above this, the soul of
the departed being carried up by angels. The whole design and character
of this monument are so unlike any other work that I know, that I give a
native artist the credit of them. Yet the character of the detail seems
to me to show an acquaintance with the French and Italian architecture
of the day.

La Magdalena is said to have been a church founded by the Knights
Templars, but on the suppression of their order in A.D. 1312 to have
become the property of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem.

[Illustration: San Vicente. Zamora.]

San Miguel, near the picturesque market-place in the centre of the city,
has a fine south door. The archivolts are bold, but quite plain, and
square in section. Each order is carried on three shafts, and the
boldness of the effect is very striking. On the other side of the Plaza
the tall tower of San Vicente rises well up against the sky. It has a
fine west doorway, and rises above the roof in three stages, lighted
respectively by windows of one, two, and three lights. It is finished
with a simple corbel-table, above which is a modern roof. The whole of
the detail here is fine, simple, early-pointed, very pure and good. The
church seems to be almost entirely modernized.

In the lower and eastern part of the city there are also one or two
interesting churches. San Leonardo has a square tower engaged against
the north side of the west front, very plain below, but with a
belfry-stage of two pointed windows, moulded angles, simple
corbel-table, and a low square slated spire--the slates cut to pattern,
like scales. The fine west door of this church is round-arched, and on
either side of it are great brackets sculptured with a lion and a bear.

Sta. Maria de la Horta is a church of the same class as La Magdalena. It
has a western tower, a nave of three bays of quadripartite groining
carried on very bold piers and shafts in the side walls, a chancel, and
apsidal sanctuary. The apse has a semi-dome, with a pointed archway in
front of it. The chancel has a round waggon-vault, and the arch between
it and the nave is semi-circular. The vaulting of the nave is extremely
domical in its section. The light is admitted by small windows in the
upper part of the walls, and above the abaci of the groining shafts,
which are continued round the building as a string-course. The west
doorway is round-arched, with chevron, and a sort of shell or
flower-ornament in its arch-mouldings. The tower is of the prevailing
type: in the stage above the roof there is a window of one light; in the
next there are two lights; and above this the steeple has been
destroyed, and a modern roof added. The walls outside are finished with
a fine and bold thirteenth-century eaves-cornice.

I think one may see here the local influence exercised by the fine
Romanesque tower of the cathedral, which, in its division into equal
stages, with an increasing number of openings, has been followed in all
these other steeples.

A walk over the bridge takes one to the ruins of a rather fine church
close to its further end. This has an apse of seven sides, with good
windows of two lights, with a trefoiled circle in the head; above this
is a string-course with trefoiled arcading under it, and above this a
second tier of windows. The whole is of good early middle-pointed

The walls here, as in so many of the Spanish towns, are fairly perfect,
and are thickly studded with the usual array of round towers throughout
their length. The bridge already mentioned is probably a work of the
thirteenth century. The arches are perfectly plain and pointed,
springing from about the water-level. The piers between the arches
project boldly; and over each is a small arch pierced through the
bridge, which gives a good deal of additional effect to the design. The
grand length of this bridge, with its long line of pointed arches
reflected in the lazily-flowing Douro, and backed by the towers and
walls of the city, is extremely striking. Neither of the gateways on it
is really old; but nevertheless they add much to its picturesqueness.
The only old domestic building of any note that I saw in Zamora was a
very late Gothic house in the Plaza de los Momos. The entrance doorway
has the enormous and exaggerated arch-stones so common in the later
Catalan buildings, but not often seen in this part of Spain. It has
above it a label, which is stepped up in the centre to enclose a great
coat-of-arms, with its supporters. On either side of this are two
windows which, with the coat-of-arms in the centre, make a panel of the
same width as the door below. The other principal windows are on a line
with these, and all of them of thoroughly debased design. They are of
two round-headed lights enclosed within a label-moulding, which finishes
in an ogee trefoil; and this again within another label-moulding, either
square or ogee in the head. The vagaries of these later Gothic
architects in Spain are certainly far from pleasant; yet odd as its
detail is, the plain masses of unbroken wall in the lower part of this
front give it a kind of dignity which is seldom seen in modern work. The
practice of making all the living-rooms on the first-floor of course
conduces largely to this happy result.

I was unable, unfortunately, to spare time when I was at Zamora to go
over to Toro to see the fine Collegiata there. M. Villa Amil has given a
drawing of the domed lantern over the Crossing. In plan it is similar to
the domes at Salamanca and Zamora as to the angle pinnacles, but not as
to the gabled windows between them. But it appears to have lost its
ancient roof; and I cannot understand, from the drawing, how the domical
roof, which it was no doubt built to receive, can now possibly
exist.[109] It seems pretty clear that this example is of rather later
date than that at Salamanca; and we have therefore in Zamora, Salamanca,
and Toro a very good sequence of Gothic domes, all upon much the same
plan, and most worthy of careful study. A more complete acquaintance
with this part of Spain might be expected to reveal some other examples
of the same extremely interesting kind of work.

From Zamora, cheered by the recollection of perhaps the most gorgeous
sunset and the clearest moonlight that I ever saw, I made my way across
country to Benavente. It is a ten hours’ drive over fields, through
streams and ditches, and nowhere on a road upon which any pains have
ever been bestowed; and when I say that the country is flat and
uninteresting, the paternal benevolence of the government which leaves
such a district practically roadless will be appreciated. Beyond
Benavente the case is still worse, for the broad valley of the Esla,
leading straight to Leon, is without a road along which a tartana can
drive, though there is scarcely a hillock to surmount or a stream to
cross in the forty miles between a considerable town and the capital of
the province!

Soon after leaving Zamora some villages were seen to the right, and one
of them seemed to me to have a church with a dome; but my view of it was
very distant, and I cannot speak with any certainty. From thence to
Benavente no old building was passed.

[Illustration: No. 12.



Benavente is the most tumble-down forlorn-looking town I have seen. Most
of the houses are built of mud, rain-worn for want of proper thatching,
of only one story in height, and relieved in front by a doorway and
usually one very small hole for a window. There is, however, a
church--Sta. Maria del Azogue--which made the journey quite worth
undertaking. It is cruciform, with five apses projecting from the
eastern wall, that in the centre larger than the others.[110] The apses
have semi-domes, the square compartments to the west of them
quadripartite vaulting in the three centre, and waggon-vaults in the two
outer bays. The transepts and crossing are vaulted with pointed
barrel-vaults at the two ends, and three bays of quadripartite vaulting
in the space between these two compartments; and the internal effect is
particularly fine, owing to the long line of arches into the eastern
chapels and the rich character of most of the details. The nave and
aisles no doubt retain to some extent their old form and arrangement,
but most of the work here is of the fifteenth century, whilst that of
the eastern part of the church is no doubt of circa A.D. 1170-1220. The
west front is quite modernized. The transept walls are lofty, and there
is a simple pointed clerestory above the roofs of the eastern chapels,
and a rose window over the arch into the Capilla mayor. The smaller
chapels have each one window, the centre chapel three windows with the
usual three-quarter engaged shaft between them, finishing in the
eaves-cornice. The south transept has a fine round-headed doorway, but
all its detail is that of early-pointed work. It has an Agnus Dei
surrounded by angels in the tympanum, the four Evangelists with their
emblems in one order of the arch, bold foliage in the next, a deep
scallop ornament in the third, and delicate foliage in the label. The
capitals are well carved, and the jambs of the door and one of the
members of the archivolt have simple rose ornaments at intervals. The
abaci of the capitals are square, but notwithstanding this and the other
apparently early feature of the round arch I am still not disposed to
date this work earlier than circa A.D. 1210-20.[111] Of the same age and
character probably are all the eaves-cornices of the earlier part of the
church, and, I have little doubt, the whole lower portion of the church

There is a fine doorway to the north transept, and a lofty tower of very
singular design rises over its northern bay. This is three stages in
height above the roof, and is finished with a corbel-table and a modern
spire of ogee outline. The masons’ marks on the exterior of the walls
are here, as is usual in these early churches, very plentiful.

The church of San Juan del Mercado seems to be in some respects even
more interesting than the other. It has a south doorway of singularly
rich character, the two inner orders of the arch being round and the
others pointed. The shafts are unusually rich and delicate; they are
carved with acanthus-leaves diapered all over their surface, with
chevrons and spiral mouldings, and above their bands at mid-height have
in front of them figures of saints, three on either side. The tympanum
has the Adoration of the Magi, and the order of the arch round it is
sculptured with angels. Altogether this is a very refined and noble
work, and the combination of the pointed and round arches one over the
other is very happy. The west front has also a fine doorway and engaged
shafts at intervals in the wall, and the east end is parallel triapsidal
of the same character as that of San Juan.

There are some other churches, but those which I saw seemed to be all
late and uninteresting. There are, too, the rapidly wasting ruins of an
imposing castle. It is of very late sixteenth century work, and
apparently has no detail of any interest; but the approach to it through
a gateway, and up a winding hilly road under the steep castle walls, is
very picturesque. By its side an Alameda has been planted, and here is
the one agreeable walk in Benavente. Below is the river Esla, winding
through a broad plain well wooded hereabouts with poplars and aspens; in
the background are lines of hills, and beyond them bold mountain
outlines; and such a view, aided by the transparent loveliness of the
atmosphere, was enough to make me half-inclined to forget the squalid
misery of everything that met the eye when I passed back again to my

[Illustration: SALAMANCA:--Ground Plans of old and new Cathedrals:--and
of San Marcos:--Plate IV.

Published by John Murray, Albemarle St. 1865.]



It is a ride of some six-and-thirty or forty miles from Benavente to
Leon. The road follows the course of the valley of the Esla all the way,
and, though it is as nearly as possible level throughout, it is
impassable for carriages. This is characteristic of the country; the
Spaniards are content to go on as their fathers have done before them,
and until some external friend comes to make a railway for them, the
people of Benavente and Leon will probably still remain as practically
isolated from each other as they are at present.

The valley is full of villages, as many as ten or twelve being in sight
at one time on some parts of the road. None of their churches, however,
seem to be of the slightest value. They are mostly modern and built of
brick, though some have nothing better than badly built cob-walls to
boast of; and their only unusual feature seems to be the great western
bell-gable, which is generally an elevation above the roof of the whole
width of the western wall, in which several bells are usually hung in a
series of openings. The villages, too, are all built of cob; and as the
walls are either only half-thatched or not thatched at all, they are
gradually being worn away by the rains, and look as forlorn and sad as
possible. One almost wonders that the people do not quit their hovels
for the wine-caves with which every little hill near the villages is
honeycombed, and upon which more care seems to be bestowed than upon the
houses. In these parts the peasants adorn the outside of their houses
with plenty of whitewash, and then relieve its bareness with rude red
and black paintings of sprigs of trees, arranged round the windows and

The cathedral of Leon is first seen some three or four hours before the
city is reached. It stands up boldly above the well-wooded valley, and
is backed by a noble range of mountain-peaks to the north; so that,
though the road was somewhat monotonous and wearying, I rode on
picturing to myself the great things I was soon to see. Unfortunately I
visited Leon a year too late, for I came just in time to see the
cathedral bereft of its southern transept, which had been pulled down to
save it from falling, and was being reconstructed under the care of a
Madrilenian architect--Señor Lavinia. I saw his plans and some of the
work which was being put in its place, and the sight made me wish with
double earnestness that I had been there before he had commenced his
work! In England or in France such a work would be full of risk, and
might well fill all lovers of our old buildings with alarm; but in Spain
there is absolutely no school for the education of architects, the old
national art is little understood and apparently very little studied,
and there are no new churches and no minor restorations on which the
native architects may try their prentice hands. In England for some
years we have lived in the centre of a church-building movement as
active and hearty perhaps as any ever yet known; our advantages,
therefore, as compared with those possessed by foreigners generally, are
enormous; whilst perhaps, on the other hand, in no country has so little
been done as in Spain during the present century. Yet in England few of
us would like to think of pulling down and reconstructing one side of a
cathedral, and few would doubt that art and history would lose much in
the process, even in the hands of the most able and conservative

The two great architectural features of Leon are the cathedral and the
church of San Isidoro; and to the former, though it is by much the most
modern of the two, I must first of all ask my readers to turn their

Spaniards are rightly proud of this noble church, and the proverbs which
assert its pre-eminence seem to be numerous. One, giving the
characteristics of several cathedrals, is worth quoting:--

    “Dives Toletana, Sancta Ovetensis
     Pulchra Leonina, fortis Salamantina.”

And again there is another Leonese couplet:--

    “Sevilla en grandeza, Toledo en riqueza,
     Compostella en fortaleza, esta en sutileza.”

So again, just as our own people wrote that jubilant verse on the
door-jamb of the Chapter-house at York, here on a column in front of the
principal door was inscribed--

    “Sint licet Hispaniis ditissima, pulchraque templa,
     Hoc tamen egregiis omnibus arte prius.”

There used to be a controversy as to the age of this cathedral, which
must, however, one would think, long since have been settled. It was
asserted that it was the very church built at the end of the ninth
century during the reign of Ordoño II.; and the only proof of this was
the inscription upon the fine fourteenth-century monument of the King
which still stands in the aisle of the chevet behind the high altar:--

    “Omnibus exemplum sit, quod venerabile templum
     Rex dedit Ordonius, quo jacet ipse pius.
     Hunc fecit sedem, quam primo fecerat ædem
     Virginis hortatu, quæ fulget Pontificatu.
     Pavit eam donis, per eam nitet urbs Legionis
     Quesumus ergo Dei gratia parcat ei. Amen.”

Fortunately, however, in addition to the indubitable evidence of the
building itself, there is sufficient documentary evidence to give with
tolerable exactness the dates of the commencement and completion of the
existing church, and I did not see, and believe there is not, a relic of
the church which preceded it still remaining.

One or two facts of interest in regard to the first cathedral may,
however, well be mentioned here. The architect is said by Sandoval to
have been an Abbat; and in Ordoño II.’s absence he is said to have
converted the old Roman baths in the palace into a church, the plan
being similar to that of churches with three naves.[112] It is
interesting to find this plan so popular in the eleventh and twelfth
centuries, already described as existing in the ninth.[113]

Don Manrique, Bishop of Leon from A.D. 1181 to A.D. 1205, is said to
have been the first founder of the present cathedral. The contemporary
chronicler Don Lucas de Tuy speaks most positively on this point, and as
he wrote his history in the convent of San Isidoro close by, it is
difficult to dispute his testimony.[114] How much he completed nowhere
appears, though, judging by the style of the church, I should say it
could have been but very little. Later than this, in A.D. 1258, during
the episcopate of D. Martin Fernandez, a Junta of all the bishops of the
kingdom of Leon was held at Madrid, at which the state of the fabric of
the cathedral was discussed, and forty days of indulgence offered to
those who made offerings towards the further promotion of the
works.[115] Sixteen years later a council was held in Leon, and again
the state of the fabric of the church was discussed and indulgence
offered to those who gave alms for it.[116] Finally, in A.D. 1303, the
Bishop Don Gonzalez gave back to the use of the Chapter a property which
had been devoted to the work of the church, “because,” he says, “the
work is now done, thanks be to God.” Nothing more clear on the face of
it than this list of dates can be desired; yet, as frequently happens,
when we come to compare them with the building itself, it is utterly
impossible to believe in the most important part of it--the foundation,
namely, of any part of the present church in the time of Bishop Manrique
before the year 1205. I have elsewhere in this volume had occasion to
show how much the Spaniards borrowed from the French in their
architecture. Certain entire buildings, such as Burgos, Toledo, and
Santiago, are distinctly derived from French churches, and in all cases
are somewhat later in date than the French examples with which they most
nearly correspond. If we apply this test to Leon it will be impossible
to admit that any part of the existing church was built much before A.D.
1250. The church from beginning to end is thoroughly French; French in
its detail, in its plan, and in its general design. And inasmuch as
there is no long and regular sequence of Spanish buildings leading up
step by step to the developed style which it exhibits, it is quite out
of the question to give it credit for an earlier existence than the
corresponding French churches, in the history of which such steps are
not wanting.

[Illustration: No 13.



The churches which are nearest in style to Leon are, I think, the
cathedrals at Amiens and Rheims, and perhaps the later part of S. Denis.
Of these, Amiens was in building from A.D. 1220 to A.D. 1269, and Rheims
from A.D. 1211 to A.D. 1241. But both are slightly earlier in their
character than Leon. In all three the chapels of the apse are planned in
the same way; that is to say, they are polygonal and not circular in
their outlines, and the sections of the columns, the plans of the bases
and capitals, and the detail of the arches and groining ribs are as
nearly as may be the same; and in all these points the resemblance
between them and Leon Cathedral is close and remarkable.

A similar conclusion will be arrived at if we pursue the inquiry from a
different point, and compare this cathedral with other Spanish works of
the date at which it is assumed to have been in progress. I can only
suppose that Don Lucas de Tuy, when he spoke of Bishop Manrique’s work
at the cathedral, did so only from hearsay, or else that the work then
commenced was subsequently completely removed to make way for the
present building. Certainly in A.D. 1180-1200 all Spanish churches seem
to have been built on a different plan, in a very much more solid
fashion, and so that it would have been very difficult indeed to convert
them into anything like the existing building. I venture to assume,
therefore, that the scheme of Leon Cathedral was first made circa A.D.
1230-1240, and that the work had not progressed very far at the time the
Junta of bishops was held in Madrid in A.D. 1258.

In plan[117] the cathedral consists of a nave and aisles of six bays,
transepts, a choir of three bays, and chevet of five sides, with a
surrounding aisle and pentagonal chapels beyond. There are two western
towers, a large cloister on the north side, sacristies on the
south-east, and a large chapel on the east side of the cloisters, with
other buildings on their northern and western sides, arranged very much
in the usual way; the chevet projects beyond the line of the old city
wall, one of the towers of which is still left on the east side of the
cloister. The city was long and narrow; and whilst the cathedral
projects to the east of the wall, the church of San Isidoro has its
western tower built out beyond the western face of the wall. There is
not, however, here, as there is at Avila, any very distinct attempt to
fortify the chevet of the cathedral, otherwise than by forming passages,
passing through the buttresses all round it, and by raising the windows
high above the ground on the east.

There are doorways in all the three grand fronts, west, north, and
south; but these shall be described further on. The columns throughout
are cylindrical, with attached shafts on the cardinal sides, the
groining-shafts towards the nave and choir being, however, triple,
instead of single. In the apse the small shafts are not placed regularly
round the main shaft, but their position is altered to suit the angles
at which the arches are built. The same alteration of plan occurs in the
chevet of Amiens, a work which was in progress about A.D. 1240, and to
which, as I have said, the plan of this cathedral bears considerable

The feature which most struck me in this cathedral was the wonderful
lightness which characterizes its construction in every part. The
columns of the nave are of moderate size, and the arches which they
carry very thin, whilst the large and lofty clerestory, and the
triforium below it, were both pierced to such an extent as to leave a
pier to receive the groining smaller than I think I ever saw elsewhere
in so large a church. There are double flying buttresses, one above the
other, and the architect trusted, no doubt, that the weight of the
groining would be carried down through them to such an extent as to make
it safe to venture on as much as he did. Moreover, he was careful to
economize the weight where possible; and with this view he filled in the
whole of his vaults with a very light tufa, obtained from the mountains
to the north of Leon.[118] In short, when this cathedral was planned,
its architect must either have resolved that it should exceed all others
in the slender airiness of its construction, or he must have been
extremely incautious if not reckless. It is not a little curious that in
France, at the same time, the same attempt was being made, and with the
like result. The architect of Beauvais, unable to surpass the majestic
combination of stable loftiness with beauty of form, which characterized
the rather earlier work at Amiens, tried instead to excel him alike in
height, and in lightness of construction. No one can pretend that he was
an incompetent man, yet his work was so imprudently daring, that it was
impossible to avoid a catastrophe; and we now have it rebuilt, to some
extent in the same design after its fall, but with so many additional
points of support as very much to spoil its symmetry and beauty. Here,
then, we have an exactly parallel case: for at Leon, no sooner was the
church completed than it became necessary to build up the outer lights,
both of the clerestory and triforium, to save the work from the same
misfortune. Nor was the precaution altogether successful, for, owing
almost entirely to the over-hazardous nature of the whole construction,
the south transept had recently, it is said, become so dangerously rent
with cracks and settlements as to render it absolutely necessary to
rebuild it; and the groining throughout the church shows signs of
failure everywhere, and this of serious, if not of so fatal a character.

At the risk of repetition, I cannot help saying how strongly this
parallel between Beauvais and Leon tells in favour of the assumption
that its origin was rather French than Spanish. For in Spain there were
no other churches at the time it was built from which a Spanish
architect could have made such a sudden development as this design would
have been. The steps by which it would have been attained are altogether
wanting, and yet in France we have every step, and, finally, results of
precisely the same kind. Both at an earlier and at a later date, when
Spaniards made use of their own school of architects, they developed for
themselves certain classes of churches, unlike, in some respects, to
those of any other country. Here, however, we have an exotic, which,
like the cathedral at Burgos, is evidently the work of some artist who
had at least been educated among the architects of the north of France,
if he was not himself a Frenchman. The proof of this is to be found more
perhaps at S. Denis than anywhere, for there the section of the
mouldings of the clerestory windows, as well as their general design,
tallies so closely with the same parts of Leon Cathedral that it is
almost impossible to doubt their common origin.

One other feature not yet insisted upon, affords strong evidence in the
same direction. This cathedral is a mere lantern, it has scarcely a yard
of plain unpierced wall anywhere, and the main thought of its architect
was evidently how he might increase to the utmost extent the size of the
windows, and the spaces for the glorious glass with which he contrived
to fill the church. No greater fault could be committed in such a
climate. This lavish indulgence in windows would have been excessive
even in England, and must have always been all but insupportable in
Spain. It was the design of French and not Spanish artists, for in their
own undoubted works these last always wisely reduced their windows to
the smallest possible dimensions. The cathedral at Milan is a case of
the same kind, for there a German architect, called to build a church in
a foreign land, built it with as many windows as he would have put had
it been in his own country, and with a similar contempt for the customs
of the national architects to that which marks the work of the architect
of Leon Cathedral.

Regarding this cathedral, then, as a French, rather than as a Spanish
church, and giving up all attempt to make it illustrate a chapter of the
real national artistic history, we shall best be able to do justice to
it as a work of art. It is, indeed, in almost every respect worthy to be
ranked among the noblest churches of Europe. Its detail is rich and
beautiful throughout, its plan very excellent, the sculpture with which
it is adorned quite equal in quantity and character to that of any
church of the age, and the stained glass with which its windows are
everywhere filled, perhaps some of the most brilliant in Europe.

There are many features in its construction and design which must be
referred to somewhat in detail, and to this part of my subject I must
now turn.

I have already mentioned that the triforium throughout the church was
originally glazed. In order to obtain this the aisles were covered with
gabled roofs, whose ridges were parallel with the nave; and in order to
allow of this being done a stone gutter was formed below the sills of
the clerestory windows, and below this again corbels were built into the
wall to carry the aisle roofs; cross gutters also of stone were carried
through the roof in each bay from the clerestory gutter to the outer
wall of the aisles. I cannot say that the effect of this arrangement is
good. The eye seems to require some grave space of wall between the main
arches and the glazing of the clerestory; and it is difficult to say on
what ground the triforium is to be treated as a separate architectural
division of the fabric, when it is in truth, as it is here, nothing more
than a prolongation of the clerestory.

The flying buttresses are rather steep in pitch, and each consists of
two arches abutting against very broad buttresses rising from between
the side chapels; the lower arch supports the clerestory just at the
level of the springing of the groining; the higher a few feet only below
the parapet. Two pinnacles rise out of each of the buttresses, and
others form a finish to them all round the clerestory, and at the angles
of the chapels of the apse.

The windows throughout have good traceries. They are all of pure
geometrical character; those in the chapels of the choir being of two
lights, with large cusped circles in the head, and those in the
clerestory of four lights, subdivided into two divisions, similar to the
chapel windows, with another cusped circle above. The heads of the
lights throughout the windows are uncusped, the cusping being confined
to the traceries. The clerestory windows originally had six lights, but
the outer lights were rather clumsy additions to the original scheme for
four-light windows, and have since been walled up, to give the necessary
strength to the groining piers. The general arrangement of the traceries
in this part of the church will be best understood by reference to the
engraving which I give of one bay of the choir.

[Illustration: Bay of Choir, Leon Cathedral.]

The stone-work of all the window traceries was very carefully cramped
together with strong toothed iron plugs let into the centre of the
stones, and the masons seem, in many cases, to have marked the beds and
not the face of the stones. Indeed, the early masons’ marks are but few
in number, and most of those that I saw occurred at the base of the
eastern walls, and again in the upper portion of the work. On the late,
and thoroughly Spanish chapel of Santiago also, a good many occur on the
outer face of the stones. Owing to the works which were in progress in
the south transept, I had an unusually good opportunity of looking for
these marks, not only on the face of the stones, but also on their beds,
and their almost entire absence from the early work was very remarkable.
On the other hand, there were markings on some of the other stones which
were of much more interest. I found, for instance, one of the large
stones forming the capital of the pier at the crossing of the nave and
transepts, carefully marked, first with an outline of the whole of the
jamb mould, then with the lines of the capital, and finally with the
whole of the archivolt. It had all the air of being the practical
working drawing used for the execution of the work, some little
alterations having been made in the archivolt. It is easy to conceive
that the architect may thus have designed his details, and his mode
bears considerable analogy to that which M. Verdier describes as having
been adopted at Limoges, where the lines of the groining and all the
working outlines were scratched on the floor of the triforia; here the
lines are scratched boldly on the surface of the stones.

The walls throughout the church were built of rubble, faced with wrought
stone inside and out, and some of the failures in the work are
attributable, no doubt, to the want of strength and bond of this kind of

  The dimensions of the various parts are about as follows:--
  Total internal length                300 feet.
    “   width of nave and aisles        83 feet.
  Height to springing of main arches    25 feet 6 inches.
    “       floor of triforium          46 feet.
    “       centre of groining about   100 feet.

These dimensions, though not to be compared to those of many of the
French churches, are still very noble, and would place this among the
finest of our own buildings in respect of height; but, like all Spanish,
and most French churches, the length is not very grand.

The various views of the exterior are fine, but everywhere the height of
the clerestory appears to be rather excessive. This is seen even at the
west end, where a little management might easily have prevented it. But
the two steeples standing beyond the aisles leave a narrow vertical
chasm between their side walls and those of the clerestory, which is
brought out, without any break in its outline by means of buttresses,
quite to the west front. The lower part of these steeples is perfectly
plain; each has a sort of double belfry stage, and they are both
finished with low spires--that on the south pierced with open traceries,
and that on the north simply crocketed; both of them are somewhat
ungainly, of very late date, and not sufficiently lofty or important for
the church to which they are attached.

The grand feature of the west front is the beautiful porch which extends
all across, forming three grand archways, corresponding with the nave
and aisles, with smaller and extremely pointed arches between them.
These arches are all supported on clustered shafts, standing away
between four and five feet from the main wall, in which the doorways are
set. Statues are set on corbels round the detached shafts, and again in
the jambs of all the doorways, and the tympana and archivolts of the
latter are everywhere crowded with sculpture. An open parapet is carried
all across the front above the porch, and above this the west end is
pierced with a row of four windows corresponding with the triforium, and
again, above, by a very large and simple wheel-window. The finish of the
west front is completely modernized, with a seventeenth-century gable
between two pinnacles.

The sculpture of the western doors well deserves description and
illustration. It is charming work, of precisely the same character as
the best French work of the latter half of the thirteenth century, and
there is a profusion of it.

The central west door has in the tympanum our Lord seated, with angels,
and St. John and the Blessed Virgin worshipping on either side. Below is
the Last Judgment, the side of the Blessed being as pretty and
interesting as anything I have seen. A youth sits at a small organ
playing sweet songs to those who go to Paradise; and a king, going
jauntily, and as if of right, towards St. Peter, is met by a grave
person, who evidently tells him that he must depart to the other and
sadder side. The three orders of the arch are filled with the
resurrection of the dead, angels taking some, and devils others, as they
rise from their graves,--the whole mixed very indiscriminately. On the
central shaft is a statue of the Blessed Virgin and our Lord, now with
wretched taste dressed up and enclosed in a glass case, to the great
damage of the whole doorway.

The north-west doorway has its tympanum divided in three horizontal
lines. The lower compartment has the Salutation, the Nativity, an
Angel, and the Shepherds; the middle the Magi adoring our Lord in the
Blessed Virgin’s arms, and the Flight into Egypt; and the upper, the
Massacre of the Innocents. The arch of this door is elliptic, and the
space between it and the tympanum is filled with figures of angels with
crowns and censers, playing an organ and other instruments, and singing
from books. The meaning of the sculpture in the archivolt was not clear
to me, and seemed to refer to some legend.

The south-west doorway has the tympanum divided as the last, and in the
lower compartment the death of the Blessed Virgin; next to this our Lord
and the Blessed Virgin seated; and above, angels putting a crown on her
head. The archivolt here is adorned with one order of sitting figures of
saints and two of angels.

The east end is more striking than the west. It retains almost all its
old features intact, save that the roof is now very flat, and covered
with pantiles, whereas it is probable that at first it was of a steep
pitch. It stands up well above the sort of boulevard which passes under
its east end, and when seen from a little further off, the steeples of
the western end group well with it, and, to some extent, compensate for
the loss of the old roofing line.

The south transept had been entirely taken down when I was at Leon, and
the sculpture of its three doorways was lying on the floor of the
church. It is of the same fine character as that of the western doors;
the central door has a figure of our Lord with the emblems of the
Evangelists on either side, and beyond them the Evangelists themselves
writing at desks. Below this are the twelve Apostles seated, and the
several orders of the archivolt are carved with figures of angels
holding candles, sculptures of vine and other leaves, and crowned
figures playing on musical instruments. The south-west door of the
transept has no sculpture of figures, but the favourite diapers of
fleur-de-lys and castles, and lions and castles, and an order of foliage
arranged in the French fashion, _à crochet_. The south-east door has in
its tympanum the death of the Blessed Virgin, with angels in the
archivolt holding candles. The gable of this transept seems to have been
very much altered by some Renaissance architect before it was taken

The north transept has two doorways, only one of which is now open. This
has a figure of our Lord seated within a vesica, supported by angels,
and the archivolt has figures of saints with books. The jambs
have--like all the other door-jambs--statues under canopies, and below
them the common diaper of lions and castles. The closed north-west door
of this transept now forms a reredos for an altar; it has no sculpture
of figures.

The north transept doorway opens into a groined aisle which occupies the
space between the transept and the cloister. This aisle is very dark,
and opens at its eastern end into the chapel of Santiago, a fine late
building of the age of Ferdinand and Isabella, running north and south,
and showing its side elevation in the general view of the east end to
the north of the choir.

The cloister is so mutilated as to have well-nigh lost all its
architectural value. The entrance to the porch in front of the north
transept is, however, in its old state; it is a fine doorway, richly and
delicately carved with small subjects enclosed in quatrefoils. The
original groining shafts, which still remain, show that the whole
cloister was built early in the fourteenth century; the traceries,
however, have all been destroyed; and the groining, the outer walls, and
buttresses altered with vast trouble and cost, into a very poor and weak
kind of Renaissance. But if the cloister has lost much of its
architectural interest, it is still full of value from another point of
view, containing as it does one of the finest series of illustrations of
the New Testament that I have ever seen, remaining in each bay of the
cloister all the way round. These subjects begin to the east of the
doorway to the north transept, and are continued round in regular order
till they finish on its western side. I have not been able to learn
anything as to the history of these works. If they are Spanish, they
prove the existence of a school of painters of rare excellence here, for
they are all more or less admirable in their drawing, in the expression
of the faces, and in the honesty and simplicity with which they tell
their story. The colours, too, where they are still visible, are pure
and good, and the whole looked to me like the work of some good
Florentine artist of about the middle of the fifteenth century. It would
not be a little curious to find the King or Bishop of Leon not only
sending to France for his architect, but to Tuscany for his
wall-painter, and, if it be the fact, it would show how firm must have
been the resolve to make this church as perfect as possible in every
respect, and how little dependence was then placed on native talent.

The subjects represented are the following, each painting filling the
whole of the upper part of the wall in each bay of the cloister:--

   1. The Birth of the Blessed Virgin.
   2. Her Marriage.
   3. The Annunciation.
   4, 5, 6. Destroyed.
   7. Massacre of the Innocents, and Herod giving orders for it.
   8, 9. Destroyed.
  10. The Blessed Virgin Mary seated with our Lord, angels above,
      and three figures with nimbi sitting and adoring, others with
      musical instruments.
  11. The Baptism of our Lord.
  12. Destroyed.
  13. An ass and its foal, Jerusalem in the background, and indistinct
      groups of figures.
  14. Our Lord riding into Jerusalem. The city has circular towers all
      round, and churches
      with two western octagonal steeples.
  15. The Last Supper.
  16. Our Lord washing the Disciples’ feet; some figures on the right
      carrying water-jars are drawn with extreme grace.
  17. Destroyed.
  18. The Betrayal.
  19. Our Lord bound and stripped, and,
  20. Scourged. (These two subjects are very finely treated.)
  21. Brought to the Place of Judgment: desks with open books on them
      in front.
  22. Buffeted and spit upon.
  23. Judged: Pilate washing his hands.
  24. Bearing the Cross. (This subject is painted round and over a monument
      on which is the date XXIII. October, A.D. MCCCCXL.; so that it must
      be of later date than this.)
  25. Nailed to the Cross: the Cross on the ground.
  26. The Descent from the Cross.
  27, 28. The Descent into Hell.
  29. The Incredulity of St. Thomas, and the appearance of our Lord on
      the way to Emmaus.
  30. The Ascension.
  31. The Descent of the Holy Ghost.

It will be noticed that the Crucifixion is most remarkably omitted from
this series. There is no place on the wall for it, and it occurred to me
as possible that there may have been a crucifix in the centre of the
cloister, round which all these paintings were, so to speak,

There are several fine monuments in these cloisters, some of them
corbelled out from the wall, and some with recumbent effigies under
arches in it. One of the latter is so fine in its way as to deserve
special notice. The arch is of two orders, each sculptured with figures
of angels worshipping and censing our Lord, who is seated in the
tympanum of the arch holding a book and giving His blessing. Below, on a
high tomb, is the effigy recumbent; and behind it, below the tympanum,
two angels bearing up the soul of the departed. The sculpture is
admirable for its breadth and simplicity of treatment; and the monument
generally is noticeable for the extent to which sculpture, and sculpture
only, has been depended on, the strictly architectural features being
few and completely subordinate.

The cloister is surrounded by buildings, some of which only are ancient.
On the north side are the chapel of San Juan de Regla, another chapel,
and the Chapter-house. The latter has one of those foolish Spanish
conceits, a doorway planned obliquely to the wall in which it is

In the church itself there are several very fine monuments. The most
elaborate is that of Ordoño II., the original founder of the old
cathedral, which occupies the eastern bay of the apse, with its back to
the high altar. This is sometimes spoken of as if it were a contemporary
work. It is, however, obviously a work of the fourteenth century, and
recalls to mind some of the finest monuments in our own churches. The
effigy of the king, laid on a sloping stone, so that it looks out from
the monumental arch, is singularly noble, very simple, of great size and
uncommon dignity. The general design of this fine monument will be seen
in my view of the aisle round the choir.

Another monument in the north transept has a semicircular arch carved
alternately with bosses of foliage and censing angels; and within this a
succession of cusps, the spandrels of which have also angels. The
tympanum has a representation of the Crucifixion;[121] and below this,
in an oblong panel just over the recumbent figure, is a representation
of the service at a funeral. The side of the high tomb has also an
interesting sculpture representing a figure giving a dole of bread to a
crowd of poor and maimed people, whilst others bring him large baskets
full of bread on their backs. The date in the inscription on this
monument is Era 1280, _i.e._ A.D. 1242.

In a corresponding position in the west wall of the south transept is
another monument of a bishop, recessed behind three divisions of the
arcade which surrounds the walls of the church. The effigy is rather
colossal, and has a lion at the head, and another under the feet. Over
the effigy is a group of figures saying the burial office; and above, in
panels within arches, are, (1) St. Martin dividing his Cloak, (2) the
Scourging of our Lord, and (3) the Crucifixion. The soffeits of the
arcade are diapered, and there were three subjects below the figure of
the bishop, but they are now nearly destroyed.

The arches round the Capilla mayor were walled up, and those on either
side of the monument of Ordoño II., already described, still retain the
paintings with which they were all once adorned. They are of the same
class as those in the cloister, and one of them, a large Ecce Homo, is
certainly a very fine work. Unfortunately the figure of our Lord in the
centre has been very badly repainted, but the troop of soldiers and Jews
reviling Him on either side is full of life and expression.

The choir occupies the two eastern bays of the nave, and its woodwork is
fine, though of late fifteenth-century date. There are large figures in
bas-relief, carved in the panels behind the stalls. There is a western
door from the nave into the Coro; and in part on this account, and in
part from its considerable scale, the nave has less than usual of the
air of uselessness which the Spanish arrangement of the Coro produces.

I have already incidentally mentioned that the windows are full of fine
stained glass. It is all of the richest possible colour, and most of it
of about the same date as the church. Modern critics would, no doubt,
object to some of the drawing for its rudeness and want of accuracy. Yet
to me this work seemed to be a most emphatic proof--if any were
needed--that we who talk so much about drawing are altogether wrong in
our sense of the office which stained glass has to fulfil in our
buildings. We talk glibly about good drawing, and forget altogether the
much greater importance of good colour. At Leon the drawing is forgotten
altogether, and I defy any one to be otherwise than charmed with the
glories of the effect created solely by the colour. At present in
England our glass is all but invariably bad--nay, contemptible--in
colour; whilst the so-called good drawing is usually a miserable attempt
to reproduce some sentimentality of a German painter. Two schools might
well be studied a little more than they are; the one should be this
early school of rich colourists, and the other the beautiful works of
the sixteenth and seventeenth century French glass-painters, where there
is good drawing enough for any one, and generally great beauty and
simplicity of colour. Finally, two practices might be suggested to our
stained-glass painters,--one, that they should only use good, and
therefore costly glass; and the other, that they should limit their
palettes to a few pure and simple colours, instead of confusing our eyes
with every possible tint of badly-chosen and cheaply-made glass.

If we want religious pictures in our churches--as we do most surely--let
us go to painters for them, and, with the money now in great part thrown
away on stained glass, we might then have some works of art in our
churches of which we might have more chance of feeling proud, and for
which our successors would perhaps thank us more than they will for our

I have detained my readers only too long, I fear, upon this cathedral,
but it is too full of interest of all kinds to allow of shorter notice,
and is, in its way, the finest church of which Spain can boast; at the
same time the work is all so thoroughly French as to destroy, to some
degree, the interest which we should otherwise feel in it.

The other great architectural attraction of Leon is the church of San
Isidoro “el Real.” This is altogether earlier than, and has therefore an
interest entirely different from, that of the cathedral.

Gil Gonzalez Dávila says that the church was founded in A.D. 1030,[123]
by Ferdinand I., the Great. An inscription in the floor of the church
gives the name of its architect;[124] and from the mention of Alonso
VI., who came to the throne in A.D. 1065, and his mother Sancha, who
died in A.D. 1067, the date of his death must have been between these
two periods.[125] In A.D. 1063 King Ferdinand--Alfonso’s father--and
Queen Sancha had very richly endowed the church, in the presence of
various bishops, who had come together to celebrate the translation of
the remains of San Isidoro.[126] Finally Dávila, in his History of the
Cathedral at Avila, gives the date of the consecration of the church,
from a deed in the archives there, as A.D. 1149.[127]

From these statements it would seem that the church was fit for the
reception of the body of San Isidoro in A.D. 1065, and had then three
altars; and yet that in A.D. 1149 it was consecrated, though indeed Ponz
speaks of an inscription in the cloister which mentions the _dedication_
of the church in A.D. 1063.[128]

San Isidoro was one of the most popularly venerated saints in Spain, and
many are the miracles said to have been wrought by him. One of them is
not a little suggestive of plans for church-building, not a whit behind
the cleverest schemes of the present day. It is said that in a time when
much sickness prevailed, the body of the saint was taken out in
procession to a village near Leon, Trobajo del Camino, the bearers of
the body barefooted, and all singing hymns, in order to charm away the
disease from the people. Suddenly the weight became so great that it was
impossible to move or lift the saint, even by the aid of a strong body
of men: and many complained not a little of the Canons for bringing the
body out on such an errand, whilst the King, who was at Benavente, was
so incensed, that he insisted, as the saint would not move, that they
should build a church over him for his protection; and at last came the
Queen, grieving bitterly appealing to “her beloved spouse” San Isidoro,
and saying, “Turn, O blessed confessor! turn again to the monastery of
Leon, which my forefathers, out of their devotion, built for you;” and
then the saint, moved by her prayer, allowed himself to be borne back
upon the shoulders of four children, who brought him back to Leon amid
the rejoicings of the people: and these, moved by the miracle, at once
built a chapel on the spot which the saint had marked out for the
purpose by his pertinacious refusal to move until the King had ordered
it to be built, and until the Queen had shown how deep was her interest
in the work.

[Illustration: Interior of S. Isidoro.]

But I must not dwell longer on what is merely legendary, but return to
this church of San Isidoro at Leon. It is cruciform in plan,[129] with
apsidal chapels on the eastern side of the transepts. The nave and
aisles are of six bays in length, and there is a tower detached to the
west. There is a chapel dedicated to Sta. Catalina (now called El
Panteon) at the north-west end of the church, and a choir of the
sixteenth century takes the place of the original apse. The whole of the
nave is vaulted with a waggon-vault, with transverse ribs under it in
each bay; and this vault is continued on without break to the chancel
arch, there being no lantern at the crossing. The arches into the
transepts have a fringe of cusping on their under sides, which has a
very Moorish air, and the transepts are vaulted with waggon-vaults, but
at a lower level than the nave. The chapels to the east of the transept
are roofed with semi-domes. The nave has bold columns, with richly
sculptured capitals, stilted semi-circular arches, and a clerestory of
considerable height, with large windows of rich character.

The whole interior of the church has been picked out in white and brown
washes to such an extent, that at first sight its effect is positively
repulsive: nevertheless, its detail is very fine. The capitals are all
richly sculptured, generally with foliage arranged after the model of
the Corinthian capital; but some of them _historiés_ with figures of men
and beasts; and I noticed one only with pairs of birds looking at each
other. The western part of the church is abominably modernized, but the
alterations in the fabric evidently commenced at a very early period,
for in the south aisle one of the groining-shafts is carried up exactly
in front of what appears to be one of the original aisle windows. I
confess myself quite at a loss to account for this, unless it be by the
assumption that the church, consecrated in A.D. 1149, was commenced on
the same type as S. Sernin, Toulouse--copied, as we shall see further
on, at Santiago--and that before the consecration the original triforium
had been altered into a clerestory by the alteration of the aisle-roofs
and the introduction of quadripartite vaulting in them at a lower level,
thus necessitating the introduction of the groining-shaft in front of a
window. The difficulty did not occur to me forcibly when I was on the
spot, and I am unable to say, therefore, how far a thoroughly close
examination of the work would clear it up. It might of course be said
that such an alteration proves that the church was of two periods; and
such an opinion would be to some extent supported by reference to the
certainly early character of the south door, which might have been
executed before A.D. 1063. But I am, on the whole, disposed rather to
regard the chapel of Sta. Catalina as the original church, and to assume
that the remainder of the building was built between A.D. 1063 and A.D.
1149, and that the awkward arrangement to which I have just referred
was, in fact, the result of some accident or change of plan. This
supposition would reconcile more satisfactorily all the difficulties of
the case than any other, and would tally well with what I have been able
to learn as to the history of the church. The body of San Isidoro was
sent for rather suddenly, and brought from Seville, and the King had
but short time for the preparation of the building for its reception.
Two years later the body of San Vicente was brought from Avila, and no
doubt the popularity of the two saints soon made it necessary to enlarge
the church. Then it might well happen that the old church was left in
its integrity, and the new building added to the east, but with its
north wall in a line with the north wall of the old one, so as to allow
of the cloister being built along their sides, and without at all
disturbing the early church or its relics. The relative position of the
churches makes it probable, in short, that the large church was added to
the small one, and not that the latter was a chapel added to the former.

The style of the two buildings leads to the same conclusion, for in Sta.
Catalina Ave have a small, low, vaulted church, two bays only in length
and three in width. The two detached columns which carry the vaults are
cylindrical, with capitals of somewhat the same kind as those in the
church, but simpler and ruder. Recessed arches in the side walls contain
various tombs of the Royal Family, who for ages, from the time of
Fernando I. and Doña Sancha his queen, have been buried here; and the
very circumstance that this little chapel was selected for the burial of
so many royal persons, seems to make it extremely probable that it was
the very chapel in which the body of San Isidoro had first been laid.

The door of communication from the chapel to the church has an arch of
the same kind as the transept arches, semi-circular and fringed with
several cusps; and the chapel is now lighted by two open arches on the
north side, which communicate with the cloister. The groining is all
quadripartite, without ribs, but with plain bold transverse arches
between the bays.

The exterior of the church has some features which have all the air of
being very early and original in their character. Such is the grand
south doorway of the nave. Its arch is semicircular, and above it the
spandrels are filled with sculpture. Above this is a line of panels
containing the signs of the Zodiac; below are figures with musical
instruments; and below these again, on the west, is a figure of San
Isidoro, and on the right a figure of a woman, I think, book in hand,
both of them supported on corbels formed of the heads of oxen. The
tympanum itself is divided into two parts, the lower half being
surmounted by a flat pediment, and the upper filling up the space from
this to the _intrados_ of the arch. The upper half has an Agnus Dei in a
circle in the centre, and the lower half has Abraham’s sacrifice, with
figures on horseback on either side. The head of the opening of the
doorway is finished with a square trefoil, under which rams’ heads are
carved. The whole detail of this sculpture is very unlike that of most
of the early work I have seen in Spain; the figures are round and
flabby, and badly arranged, and very free from any of the usual
conventionality. All this made me feel much inclined to think that the
execution of this work was at an early date, and soon after the first
consecration of the church.

The elevation of the south transept is rather fine. It has a doorway,
now blocked, with a figure against the wall on either side, standing
between the label and a second label built into the wall from buttress
to buttress. Above this is a rich corbel-table, and then an arcade of
three divisions, of which the centre is pierced as a window; in the
gable is another statue standing against the wall. The doorway has its
opening finished with a square trefoil, and the tympanum is plain. The
design of the apsidal chapel east of the apse is so precisely like the
eastern apsidal chapels of many of the Spanish Romanesque churches,[130]
that its date must, to some extent, be decided by theirs: and it may
well be doubted whether it can be much earlier than circa A.D. 1150,
though the lower part of the south transept appeared to me to be as
early as the south door, or at any rate not later than A.D. 1100.

The walls are all carried up high above the clerestory windows, and
finished with corbel-tables, carved with a billet-mould on edge, and
carried on corbels moulded, not carved. Simple buttresses divide the
bays of the clerestory.

The choir, as has been said, was a late addition in place of the
original Romanesque apse. It was built in A.D. 1513, or a little after,
by Juan de Badajoz, master of the works at the cathedral.[131] It is of
debased Gothic design and coarse detail, but large and lofty. The
groining at the east end is planned as if for an apse, and portions of
diagonal buttresses, to resist the thrust of the groining ribs, are
built against the east wall, in the way often to be noticed in the later
Spanish buildings. The east window was of two lights only, and is now
blocked up by the Retablo. In this church there is a perpetual
exposition of the Host, and the choir is therefore screened off with
more than usual care, none but the clergy being allowed to enter it. At
Lugo, where there is also a similar exposition, the choir is left open,
but two priests are always sitting or kneeling before faldstools in
front of the altar.

[Illustration: No. 14.



I could not gain admission to the cloister on the north side of the
church; it is large and all modernized, and surrounded by the buildings
of the monastery, which is now suppressed. A chapel dedicated to the
Holy Trinity was founded here in A.D. 1191, and a list of the relics
preserved at its altar is given on a stone preserved in the convent.

The chapel of Sta. Catalina, already described, is specially interesting
on account of the remarkable paintings with which the whole of the
groining is covered. These all appeared to me to have been certainly
executed at the end of the twelfth century, circa A.D. 1180-1200, and
they are remarkably rich in their foliage decoration, as well as in
painting of figures and subjects. Beginning with the eastern central
compartment, over the altar, and going round to the right, the subjects
in the six bays of the vault are as follows:--

(1.) In this our Lord is seated in a vesica, at the angles of
which are four angels, with the heads of the four Evangelists,
with their books and names painted beside them. Our Lord’s
feet are to the east, and He holds an open book and gives His

(2.) The angel speaking to the shepherds, with the inscription,
“_Angelus a pastores_.”

(3.) The Massacre of the Innocents.

(4.) The Last Supper, painted without the slightest regard
to the angles formed by the groining, and as if the vault were a
flat surface.

(5.) _a._ Herod washing his hands.
     _b._ St. Peter denying our Lord.
     _c._ Our Lord bearing his Cross.
     _d._ The Crucifixion (this is almost destroyed).

(6.) Our Lord seated with His feet to the west; the seven
churches around Him, seven candles, and an angel giving the
book to St. John.

The soffeits of the cross arches between the vaults are painted, some
with foliage, others with figures. Of the latter, one has the twelve
Apostles, another the Holy Spirit in the centre, with angels worshipping
on either side, and a third a Hand blessing (inscribed “Dextra Dei”) in
centre, and saints on either side. The whole detail of the painted
foliage is of thoroughly good conventional character, and just in the
transitional style from Romanesque to Pointed.

There is a fine steeple detached from the church to the west. It stands
on the very edge of the old town wall, several of the round towers of
which still exist to the north of it, and below the great walls of the
convent built within them. This steeple is very plain below, but its
belfry stage has two fine shafted windows in each face, and nook shafts
at its four corners. It is capped with a low square spire with small
spire-lights: but as I found the working lines of all this drawn out
elaborately on the whitewashed walls of one of the cloisters, and as all
the work appears to be new, I cannot say whether or no it is an exact
restoration, though I dare say it is.

In the sacristy there are some paintings, of which one or two are of
great beauty. One is a charming picture of the Blessed Virgin with our
Lord, with angels on either side, and others holding a crown above: the
faces are sweet and delicate. One of the attendant angels offers an
apple to our Lord; the other plays a guitar: the background is a
landscape. The frame, too, is original. It has a gold edge, then a flat
of blue covered with delicate gold diaper, and there are two shutters
with this inscription on them:--“_Fœlix ē sacra virgo Maria et
omni laude dignissima quia in te ortus est sol justicie Chrūs Deus
noster._” There is also a very little triptych, with a Descent from the
Cross, and an inscription on the shutters. Two figures are drawing out
the nails, and hold the body of our Lord; two other figures on ladders
support His head and feet, and St. Mary and St. Mary Magdalene weep at
the foot of the cross. The inscriptions on the shutters are from
Zachariah xii., _Plagent eum, &c._, and Second Corinthians, “_Pro
omnibus mortuus est Christus_.” There are other paintings which the
Sacristan exhibits with more pride, but these two are precious works, of
extremely good character, and painted probably about the end of the
sixteenth century.

Leon is a much smaller city than might be expected for one so famous in
Spanish history; its streets wind about in the most tortuous fashion;
there are but few buildings of any pretension, and I saw no other old
churches. There is indeed a great convent of San Marcos, built from the
designs of Juan de Badajoz, in the sixteenth century, and afterwards
added to by Berruguete, but I forgot to go to see it, and his work at
San Isidoro makes me regard the omission as a very venial one. Round the
city, on all sides, are long groves of poplars which look green and
pleasant; there is a river--or at least in summer, as I saw it, the
broad bed of one--and over the low hills which girt the city is a
background of beautiful mountains. Both for its situation, therefore,
and for the artistic treasures it enshrines, Leon well deserves a
pilgrimage at the hands of all lovers of art.

[Illustration: LEON:--Ground Plan of Cathedral &c. Plate V.

Published by John Murray, Albemarle St. 1865.]

[Illustration: LEON:--Ground: Plan: of: Church: of: San: Ysidoro: Plate

Published by John Murray, Albemarle St. 1865.]



The road from Leon to Astorga is bad, and traverses a very uninteresting
country. A good part of the old walls of Astorga still remains, with the
usual array of lofty round towers at short intervals: they were in
process of partial demolition when I saw them, and I noticed that they
were in part constructed with what appeared to be fragments of Roman
buildings. There is a rather picturesque Plaza de la Constitucion here,
one end of it being occupied by a quaint town-hall of the seventeenth
century, through an archway in the centre of which one of the streets
opens into the Plaza. A number of bells are hung in picturesque slated
turrets on the roof, and some of them are struck by figures.

The only old church I saw was the cathedral. A stone here is inscribed
with the following words in Spanish: “In 1471, on the 16th of August,
the first stone of the new work of this holy church was laid;” and there
is no doubt that the church is all of about this date, with some
additions,--chiefly, however, of Retablos and other furniture,--in the
two following centuries. The character of the whole design is
necessarily in the very latest kind of Gothic; and much of the detail,
especially on the exterior, is quite Renaissance in its character. The
east end is finished with three parallel apses, and the nave is some
seven or eight bays in length, with towers projecting beyond the aisles
at the west end, and chapels opening into the aisles between the
buttresses. The light is admitted by windows in the aisles over the
chapel arches, and by a large clerestory. These windows are fortunately
filled with a good deal of fine early Renaissance glass, which, though
not all that might be wished in drawing and general treatment, is still
remarkable for its very fine colour. Arches of the same height as the
groining of the aisles open into the towers, the interior view across
which produces the effect of a sort of western transept, corresponding
with a similar transept between the nave and the apsidal choir. The
detail is throughout very similar to that of the better known
cathedrals at Segovia and Salamanca, the section of the columns being
like a bundle of reeds, with ingeniously planned interpenetrating base
mouldings, multiplied to such an extent that they finish at a height of
no less that ten feet from the floor. Another evidence of the late
character of the work is given by the arch mouldings, which die against
and interpenetrate those of the columns, there being no capitals. Beyond
a certain stateliness of height and colour which this small cathedral
has in common with most other Spanish works of the same age, there is
but little to detain or interest an architect. But stateliness and good
effects of light and shade are so very rare in modern works, that we can
ill afford to regard a building which shows them as being devoid of
merit or interest.

From Astorga the road soon begins to rise, and the scenery thenceforward
for the remainder of the journey to la Coruña becomes always
interesting, and sometimes extremely beautiful. The country can hardly
be said to be mountainous, yet the hills are on a scale far beyond what
we are accustomed to; and the grand sweep of the hill sides, covered
occasionally with wood, and intersected by deep valleys, makes the whole
journey most pleasant. One of the prettiest spots on the road, before
reaching Villafranca, is the little village of Torre, where a quaint
bridge spans the brawling trout-stream; and where the thick cluster of
squalid cottages atones to the traveller, in some degree, by its
picturesqueness, for the misery in which the people live. They seem to
be terribly ill off, and their chimneyless hovels--pierced only with a
door and one very small window or hole in the wall, into which all the
light, and out of both of which all the smoke have to find their
way--are of the worst description. The village churches appear to be,
almost without exception, very mean; and all have the broad western
bell-turret, so popular in this part of Spain.

In ten hours from Astorga, passing Ponferrada on the way, from the hill
above which the view is very fine, Villafranca del Vierzo is reached;
and this is the only place of any importance on the road. Its situation
is charming, on a fine trout-stream, along whose beautiful banks the
road runs for a considerable distance; and it is the proper centre for
excursions to the convents of the Vierzo, of which Mr. Ford gives an
account which made me anxious to examine them, though unfortunately the
time at my disposal put it completely out of the question. These old
towns, of the second or third rank, have a certain amount of picturesque
character, though far less than might be expected of external evidence
of their antiquity. Here, indeed, the picturesqueness is mainly the
result of the long tortuous streets, and the narrow bridges over the
beautiful river, which make the passage of a diligence so much of an
adventure, as to leave the passengers grateful when they have gained
with safety the other side of the town. The Alameda here is pleasantly
planted; and the town boasts of an inn which is just good enough to make
it quite possible for an ecclesiologist to use it as headquarters in a
visit to the convents of the Vierzo, whilst any one who is so fortunate
as to be both fisherman and ecclesiologist could scarcely be better

Villafranca has one large, uninteresting, and very late Gothic church,
into which I could not get admission; the other churches seemed to be
all Renaissance in style.

I arrived at Lugo after a journey of more than thirty hours from Leon.
Like Astorga it is surrounded with a many-towered wall, which still
seems to be perfect throughout its whole extent. The road passes along
under it, half round the town, until at last it turns in through an
archway, and reaches the large Plaza of San Domingo, in which is the
diligence Fonda. This was so unusually dirty even to the eyes and nose
of a tolerably well-seasoned traveller, that I was obliged to look for a
lodging, which, after a short search, I discovered; and if it was not
much better, it was still a slight improvement on the inn. In these
towns lodgings are generally to be found; and as they are free from the
abominable scent of the mules, which pervades every part of all the
inns, they are often to be preferred to them. Mine was in a narrow
street leading out of the great arcaded Plaza, which, on the day of my
arrival, was full of market-people, selling and buying every kind of
commodity; and on the western side of this Plaza stands the cathedral.

This is a church of very considerable architectural value and interest.
It was commenced early in the twelfth century, under the direction of a
certain Maestro Raymundo, of Monforte de Lemos. His contract with the
bishop and canons was dated A.D. 1129; and by this it was agreed that he
should be paid an annual salary of two hundred _sueldos_ of the money
then current; and if there was any change in its value, then he was to
be paid six marks of silver, thirty-six yards of linen, seventeen
“cords” of wood, shoes and gaiters as he had need of them; and each
month two sueldos for meat, a measure of salt, and a pound of candles.
Master Raymundo accepted these conditions, and bound himself to assist
at the work all the days of his life; and if he died before its
completion, his son was to finish it.[132]

The church built by Raymundo is said to have been finished in A.D.
1177,[133] and still in part no doubt remains.[134] It consists of a
nave and aisles of ten bays in length, transepts, and a short apsidal
choir, with aisle and chapels round it. The large central eastern chapel
is an addition made in A.D. 1764; and the west front is a very poor work
of about the same period. There is an open porch in front of the north
transept, and a steeple on its eastern side.

The design and construction of the nave and aisles is very peculiar, and
must be compared with that of the more important, cathedral at Santiago.
This had been finished, so far as the fabric was concerned, in the
previous year, and evidently suggested the mode of construction adopted
at Lugo.

Here the arches, with few exceptions, are pointed; but otherwise the
design of the two churches is just the same. The nave has a pointed
barrel-vault; the triforium, however, has quadripartite vaulting
throughout, in place of the half barrel-vaults used at Santiago; and the
buttresses externally are connected by a series of arches below the
eaves. The triforium consists in each bay of two pointed arches under a
round enclosing arch, carried upon coupled shafts, which have rudely
sculptured capitals. The five eastern bays of the nave appear at first
sight to have no arches opening into the aisles; but upon closer
examination the outline of some low arches will be found behind the
stall work of the Coro. These arches are all blocked up; but if they
were originally open they are so low that they could not have made the
effect very different from what it now is. It looks, in fact, at first
sight, as if the present arrangement of the Coro were that for which the
church was originally built, and as if the nave proper was always that
part only of the church to the west of the present Coro which opens to
the aisles with simple pointed arches of the whole height of the aisle.
But on further examination we find that the vaulting of the aisles in
the four eastern bays is a round waggon-vault, and this, of course,
limited the height to which it was possible to raise the arches between
the aisle and the nave; and it is therefore probable that their height
is not to be attributed so much to the wish to define a Coro in the
nave, as to the fault of the architect, who did not at first
perceive the advantage of using a quadripartite vault instead of a
waggon-vault. The three bays west of these have the former kind of
vaulting without ribs, and with windows both larger and higher from the
floor than the simple round-arched openings which light the four eastern
bays. The eighth and ninth bays are evidently rather later than the
rest; and the western bays, again, are quite subsequent additions. The
crossing has a quadripartite vault, and the transepts waggon-vaults like
those of the nave.

[Illustration: No. 15.



[Illustration: LUGO:--Ground: Plan: of: the: Cathedral: Plate VII.

W. West, Lithr.

Published by John Murray, Albemarle St. 1865.]

It is pretty clear that the work was commenced upon the scheme which we
still see in the bays next the crossing, and carried on gradually with
alterations as the work went on, and probably as it went on the
architect discovered the mistake he was making in confining himself to
waggon-vaulting in the aisles. It is somewhat remarkable that, with the
example of Santiago so near, such a scheme should ever have been
devised, unless, indeed, the work was commenced earlier than the date
assigned, of which I see no evidence.

The choir shows the same gradual variation in style; and I have
considerable difficulty in assigning a precise date to it. It is clear,
however, that the whole of it is of much later date than the original
foundation of the cathedral; and it is probable, I think, that it was
reconstructed in the latter half of the thirteenth century. The windows
in the chapels of the chevet are of two lights, with a small quatrefoil
pierced in the tympanum above the lights. The mouldings of the groining
are extremely bold and simple. The aisle-vaulting, too, is very simple
and of early-pointed character, whilst the clustered columns round the
apse look somewhat later. There is, however, no mark of alterations or
additions; and I think, therefore, that the whole of this work must be
of the same date, and that the difference visible between the various
parts of it may be put down to the long lingering of those forms of art
which had been once imported into this distant province, and to the
consequent absence of development. The sculpture of the capitals in the
chevet is nowhere, I think, earlier than about the end of the thirteenth
century, though that in the chapels round it, being very simple, looks
rather earlier.

Unfortunately all the upper part of the choir was rebuilt about the same
time that the eastern chapel was added. It has strange thin ogee flying
buttresses, large windows, and a painted ceiling.

Here, as at San Isidoro, Leon, the Host is always exposed, and, as I
have mentioned before, two priests are always in attendance at
faldstools on each side of the Capilla mayor in front of the altar.

The interior, of course, has been much damaged by the destruction of the
old clerestory of the choir. It is, nevertheless, still very impressive,
and much of its fine effect is owing to the contrast between the bright
light of the nave and the obscure gloom of the long aisles on either
side of the Coro. The length of the nave, too, is unusually great in
proportion to the size of the church; and though much of the sculpture
is rude in execution, it is still not without effect on the general
character of the building.

On the north side of the nave a chapel has been added, which preserves
the external arrangement of the windows and buttresses in the earliest
part of the building, as they are now enclosed within and protected by
it. The simple and rather rude buttresses are carried up and finished
under the eaves’ corbel-tables with arches between them, so as to make a
continuous arcade the whole length of the building on either side.

The north doorway is of the same age as the early part of the church,
and has a figure of our Lord within a vesica in the tympanum, and the
Last Supper carved on a pendant below it. The head of the door-opening
is very peculiar, having a round arch on either side of this central
pendant. The door has some rather good ironwork. The porch in front of
it is a work of the fifteenth century, or perhaps later, and is open on
three sides.

The only good external view of the church is obtained from the north
side. Here the tower rises picturesquely above the transept, but the
belfry and upper stage are modern[135] and very poor. The bells are not
only hung in the windows, but one of them is suspended in an open iron
framework from the finish the centre of the roof.

The cloister and other buildings seem to be all completely modern, and
are of very poor style.

There are two old churches here--those of the Capuchins and of San
Domingo--both of them in or close to the Plaza of San Domingo. The
church of the Capuchins is evidently interesting, though I could not
gain access to its interior, which appears to be desecrated. It has
transepts, a low central lantern, a principal apse of six sides, and two
smaller apses opening into the transepts. These apses are remarkable for
having an angle in the centre, whilst their windows have a bar of
tracery across them, transome fashion, at mid-height. It is certainly a
very curious coincidence, that in both these particulars it resembles
closely the fine church of the Frari at Venice; and though I am not
prepared to say that the imitation is anything more than the merest
accident, it is certainly noteworthy. The eaves are all finished with
moulded corbel-tables; and there is a rather fine rose-window in the
transept gable. The circles in the head of the apse windows are filled
in with very delicate traceries, cut out of thin slabs of stone, a
device evidently borrowed from Moresque examples; and it is somewhat
strange to meet them here so far from any Moorish buildings or

The church of San Domingo is somewhat similar in plan. It has a
modernized nave of five bays, a central dome, which looks as though it
might be old, but which is now all plastered and whitewashed, a
principal apse of seven sides, transepts covered with waggon-vaults, and
small apses to the east of them. The capitals have carvings of beasts
and foliage; but none of these, or of the mouldings, look earlier than
the fourteenth century; yet the capitals are all square in plan, and the
arches into the chapels have a bold dog-tooth enrichment. There is a
fine south doorway to the nave, in which chevrons, delicate fringes of
cusping, and dog-tooth, are all introduced. In such a work the date of
the latest portion must be the date of the whole; and so I do not think
it can be earlier than the rest of the church, though at first sight it
undoubtedly has the air of being more than a century older.

Gil Gonzalez Dávila[136] says that Bishop Fernando gave permission for
the foundation of the convent of San Domingo in A.D. 1318, and that
_circa_ A.D. 1350-58 the Dominican Fray Pedro Lopez de Aguiar founded
it; and this date appears to me to accord very well with the peculiar
character of the work.

There is little more to be seen in Lugo. The old walls, though they
retain all their towers, have been to some extent altered for the worse
to fit them for defence in the last war; they have been also rendered
available as a broad public walk,--very pleasant, inasmuch as it
commands good views of the open country beyond the city.

The people here and at Santiago all go to the fountains armed with a
long tin tube, which they apply to the mouths of the beasts which
discharge the water, and so convey the stream straight to their pitchers
placed on the edge of the large basins. The crowd of water-carriers
round a Spanish fountain is always noisy, talkative, and gay; and many
is the fight and furious the clamour for the privilege of putting the
tube to the fountain in regular order.

I travelled between la Coruña and Lugo by night, so that I am unable to
say anything as to the country or scenery on the road, save that for
some distance before reaching Lugo it is cold, bare, and unattractive.

Betanzos, the only town of importance on the road, has two or three good
churches, which I missed seeing by daylight. They are of early date,
with apsidal east ends, and somewhat similar, apparently, to the
churches at la Coruña, though on a larger scale.

La Coruña is charmingly situated, facing a grand landlocked bay, but on
the inner side of a narrow ridge, a short walk across which leads to the
open sea, which is here very magnificent. The views of the coast, and
the openings to the grand bays or rios of Ferrol, Betanzos, and la
Coruña, are of unusual beauty, and it is rarely indeed that one sees a
more attractive country. But there is not very much to detain an
architect. The town is divided into the old and the new; and in the
former are two old churches, which, though small, are interesting;
whilst in the latter there is absolutely nothing to see but shops and

The Collegiata of Sta. Maria del Campo was made a parish church by King
Alonso X. in A.D. 1256, and in A.D. 1441 was made collegiate: it has a
nave and aisles of five bays, and a short chancel, with an apse covered
with a semi-dome vault.[137] The nave and aisles are all covered with
pointed waggon-vaults springing from the same level; and as the aisles
are narrow, their vaults resist the thrust of the main vault, without
exerting a violent thrust on the aisle walls. The capitals are rudely
carved with foliage, and the arches are perfectly plain. The bay of
vaulting over the chancel is a pointed waggon-vault, with ribs on its
under side, arranged as though in imitation of a sexpartite

[Illustration: Churches at LA CORUÑA:--SEGOVIA:--LÉRIDA: and BENAVENTE:
Plate VIII.

W. West, Lithr.

Published by John Murray, Albemarle Street 1865.]

The western doorway has a circular arch, with rudely carved foliage in
the outer orders; and ten angels, with our Lord giving His blessing in
the centre, in the inner order. The tympanum has the Adoration of the
Magi. The abaci and capitals are carved, but everywhere the carving is
overlaid with whitewash so thickly as to be not very intelligible. The
south door has storied capitals, and angels under the corbels, which
support the tympanum over the door-opening; this has a figure with a
pilgrim’s staff, probably Santiago, and there are other figures and
foliage in the arch. The abacus is carried round the buttresses, and a
bold arch is thrown across between them above the door. An original
window near this door is a mere slit in the wall, and not intended for
glazing. The north door is somewhat similar to the other, with a
sculpture of St. Katharine in the tympanum.

The apse has a very small east window, engaged columns dividing it into
three bays, and a simple corbel-table.

[Illustration: Sta. Maria, la Coruña.]

The west front is quaint and picturesque. It has a bold porch--now
almost built up by modern erections--and two small square towers or
turrets at the angles. Of these the south-western has a low, square
stone spire, springing from within a traceried parapet, and with some
very quaint crockets at the angles. A tall cross, with an original
sculpture of the Crucifixion, stands in the little Plaza in front of the
church. The Coro here is in a large western gallery, but both this and
the stalls are Renaissance in style.

The other church is that of Santiago. This has a broad nave, forty-four
feet wide, into the east wall of which three small apses open.[139] The
nave is divided into four bays by bold cross arches, which carry the
wooden roof; and of the three eastern arches, the central rises high
above the others, and has a circular window above it. The west front has
a very fine doorway, set in a projecting portion of the wall, finished
with a corbel-table and cornice at the top. This has a figure of
Santiago in the tympanum, and statues in the jambs. The north doorway
has heads of oxen supporting the lintel, and rude carving of foliage in
the arch. One of the original windows remains in the north wall. This is
roundheaded and very narrow, but has good jamb-shafts and
arch-mouldings. The detail of the eastern apse is of bold and simple
Romanesque character, with engaged shafts supporting the eaves-cornice.

There is not, so far as I know, any evidence as to the exact date of
these churches; but I think that the character of all their details
proves that they were founded about the middle of the twelfth century.
They are evidently later than the cathedral at Santiago, and tally more
with the work which I have been describing in the nave of Lugo
Cathedral. And though the dimensions of both are insignificant, they
appear to me to be extremely valuable examples, as showing two evident
attempts at development on the part of their architect, who, to judge of
the strong similarity in some of their details, was probably the same

Three barrel-vaults on the same level as at Sta. Maria are seldom seen;
and the bold cross arches spanning Santiago are a good example of an
attempt in the twelfth century to achieve what few have yet attempted to
accomplish in the revival of the present day--the covering of a broad
nave in a simple, economical, and yet effective manner.

In the church of Santiago there is preserved a fragment of an
embroidered blue velvet cope. The sprigs with which it is diapered are
so exactly similar in character to those of some of our own old
examples--the Ely cope in particular--as to suggest the idea that the
work is really English.

[Illustration: No. 16.

LA CORUÑA. p. 138.


From La Coruña to Santiago the road is, for the first half of the way,
extremely pleasant, and passes through a luxuriant country; gradually,
however, as the end of the great pilgrimage is reached, it becomes
dreary and the country bare; still the outlines of the hills are fine,
and some of the distant views rather attractive. But Santiago is too
important a city, and its cathedral is too grand and interesting, to be
described at the end of a chapter.



The journey from Lugo to Santiago is pleasant so far as the country is
concerned, and there is one advantage in the extremely slow and grave
pace of the diligences in this part of the world, that it always allows
of the scenery being well studied. Moreover, in these long rides there
is a pleasure and relief in being able to take a good walk without much
risk of being left behind, which can hardly be appreciated by the modern
Englishman who travels only in his own country. The general character of
the landscape is somewhat like that of the Yorkshire moors, diversified
here and there by beautiful valleys, the sides of which are generally
clothed with chestnut, but sometimes with walnut, oak, and stone-pines.
The heaths were in full flower, and looked brilliant in the extreme, and
here and there were patches of gorse. The road is fine, and has only
recently been made. The country is very thinly populated, so that we
passed not more than two or three villages on the way, and in none of
them did I see signs of old churches of any interest. It is difficult to
picture anything more wretched than the state of the Gallegan peasantry
as we saw them on this road. They were very dirty, and clothed in the
merest rags: the boys frequently with nothing on but a shirt, and that
all in tatters; and the women with but little more in quantity, and
nothing better in quality. The poorest Irish would have some difficulty
in showing that their misery is greater than that of these poor

My journey to Santiago was quite an experiment. I had been able to learn
nothing whatever about the cathedral before going there, and I was
uncertain whether I should not find the mere wreck of an old church,
overlaid everywhere with additions by architects of the Berruguetesque
or Churrugueresque schools, instead of the old church which I knew had
once stood there. In all my Spanish journeys there had been somewhat of
this pleasant element of uncertainty as to what I was to find; but here
my ignorance was complete, and as the journey was a long one to make on
speculation, it was not a little fortunate that my faith was rewarded
by the discovery of a church of extreme magnificence and interest.

The weary day wore on as we toiled on and on upon our pilgrimage, and it
was nearly dark before we reached the entrance of the city, and after
much delay found ourselves following a porter up the steep streets and
alleys which lead up from the diligence Fonda to the principal inn,
which happens fortunately to be very near the one interesting spot in
the city--the cathedral. The next morning showed us not only the
exterior of the city, but enabled us also to form a good idea of its
surroundings. It stands on the slope of a steep hill, with great bare
and bleak hills on all sides, rising generally to a great height. From
some of them the views are no doubt very fine, and the town with its
towers and walls may well look more imposing than it does on a nearer

For, to say the truth, if the cathedral be left out of consideration,
Santiago is a disappointing place. There is none of the evidence of the
presence of pilgrims which might be expected, and I suspect a genuine
pilgrim is a very rare article indeed. I never saw more than one, and he
proclaimed his intentions only by the multitude of his scallop-shells
fastened on wherever his rags would allow; but I fear much he was a
professional pilgrim; he was begging lustily at Zaragoza, and seemed to
have been many years there on the same errand, without getting very far
on his road. And there is not much evidence in the town itself of its
history and pretensions to antiquity; for, as is so often the case in
Spain, so great was the wealth possessed by the Church in the
seventeenth and early part of the eighteenth century, that all the
churches and religious houses were rebuilt about that time, and now, in
place of mediæval churches and convents, there are none but enormous
Renaissance erections on all sides; and as they are bad examples of
their class, little pleasure is to be derived from looking at them,
either outside or inside.

Perhaps some exception ought to be made from this general depreciation
of the buildings at Santiago in favour of the _entourage_ of the
cathedral; for here there is a sumptuous church opening on all sides to
Plazas of grand size, and surrounded by buildings all having more or
less architectural pretension. Steep flights of steps lead from one
Plaza to another, a fountain plays among quarrelsome water-carriers in
one, and in another not only does an old woman retail scallop-shells to
those who want them, but a tribe of market people ply their trade, cover
the flags with their bright fruit, make the ear tired with their eternal
wrangle, and the eye delighted with their gay choice of colours for
sashes, headgear, and what not.

The whole record of the foundation of this cathedral is a great deal too
long to enter upon here; but fortunately enough remains of its
architectural history to make the story of the present building both
intelligible and interesting, and to this I must now ask the attention
of my readers.

There seems to have been a church founded here in or about the year
868,[140] which is said to have been completed in thirty-one years,[141]
and consecrated in A.D. 899. Of this church nothing now remains; but the
contemporary deed of gift to the church by the King Alfonso III., and
the account of the altars and relics existing in it at the time, are of
considerable interest.[142]

I need hardly say how much store was laid by the clergy of Santiago on
their possession of the body of the Apostle. Mr. Ford[143] gives only
too amusing, if it is, as I fear, only too true, a version of the story
of the Saint’s remains. Suffice it here to say, that there no longer
seem to be great pilgrimages to his shrine, and that even in Spain the
old belief in the miracle-working power of his bones seems now
practically to have died out.[144] Nothing could, however, have been
stronger than the old faith in their patron, and the extreme wealth
brought to the church by the pilgrimages made of old to his shrine from
all parts of Europe would no doubt have involved the entire destruction
of all remains of the early church, in order to its reconstruction on a
far grander scale, had it not been destroyed, so far as possible, in the
century after its erection, by the Moors under Almanzor.

From the end of the tenth century I find no mention of the cathedral
until the episcopate of Diego Gelmirez, in whose time Santiago was made
an archbishopric. He was consecrated in the year 1100, and died in A.D.
1130, and the history of his archiepiscopate is given in great detail in
the curious contemporary chronicle, the ‘Historia Compostellana.’[145]
Here it is recorded that, in A.D. 1128, “forty-six years after the
commencement of the new church of St. James,” the bishop, finding that
the subordinate buildings were so poor that strangers absolutely
“wandered about looking for where the cloisters and offices might be,”
called his chapter together, and urged upon them the necessity of
remedying so grave a defect, finishing his speech by the offer of a
hundred marks of pure silver, thirty at once, and the rest at the end of
a year.[146] This would put the commencement of the new cathedral in the
year 1082, during the episcopate of Diego Pelaez, though, as will be
seen, the same History elsewhere says that the church was commenced in
A.D. 1178, a date which occurs also on the south transept door-jamb; and
the works must have been carried on during the time of his successors,
Pedro II. and Dalmatius (a monk of Cluny), to its completion under
Gelmirez.[147] It was in the time of this bishop, in the year 1117, it
is recorded in the Chronicle, that during a violent tumult in the city,
in which both the bishop and queen hardly escaped alive, the cathedral
was set on fire by the mob; but its construction is so nearly fireproof,
that doubtless it was the furniture only that was really burnt; for,
eleven years later, in A.D. 1128, the bishop, in his speech to the
chapter, already mentioned, speaks of the church as being extremely
beautiful, and, indeed, renowned for its beauty.[148] In A.D. 1124 two
canons of Santiago were collecting money for the works at the cathedral,
in Sicily and Apulia,[149] and the cloister, which was commenced in A.D.
1128, seems to have been still unfinished in A.D. 1134.[150] From this
date until A.D. 1168 I find no record of any alteration; but in this
year Ferdinand II. issued a warrant[151] for the payment of the master
of the works--one Matthew--and twenty years later, the same master of
the works put the following inscription on the under side of the lintel
of the western door:--

  “Anno: ab: Incarnatione: Dai: Mº. Cº. LXXXVIIIvo: Era Iª CCXXh. VI.:ª
        Die K-L. Aprilis: supra liniharia: Principalium: portalium.”

  “Ecclesiæ: Beati: Jacobi: sunt collocata: Per: Magistrum: Matheum: qui:
        a: fundamentis: ipsorum: portalium: gessit: magisterium.”[152]

In addition to these evidences, there are two others in the church
itself; one, to which I shall refer again, a date which I take to be
A.D. 1078, on the jamb of the south transept doorway; and the other, an
inscription which, with some modifications, is repeated several times
round the margins of circles let into the aisle walls, in the centre of
which are the dedication crosses. The date on one of these over the west
side of the transept, as well as I could read it, appeared to me to be
A.D. 1154;[153] but as the inscriptions vary somewhat round the
different crosses, it is possible that the dates may vary also with the
time of completion of the various parts of the building; and I regret
therefore that I did not make accurate copies of all of them. The
dedication crosses are all floriated at the ends, and have in the
spandrels between the arms of the cross--above, the sun and moon, and
below, the letters A and Ω. Three of these remain on each
side of the nave, two in each transept, and two in the choir aisle,
twelve in all. I saw none on the exterior; but so little of the old
external walls can now be seen that this is not to be wondered at.

It is now time to describe the building itself, the age of its various
parts having been pretty accurately defined by the documentary evidence
which I have quoted.

This cathedral is of singular interest, not only on account of its
unusual completeness, and the general unity of style which marks it, but
still more because it is both in plan and design a very curiously exact
repetition of the church of S. Sernin at Toulouse.[154] But S. Sernin is
earlier in date by several years, having been commenced by S. Raymond in
A.D. 1060, and consecrated by Pope Urban II. in A.D. 1096; and the
cathedral at Santiago can only be regarded, therefore, as to a great
extent a copy of S. Sernin, the materials being, however, different,
since granite was used in its construction in place of the brick and
stone with which its prototype was constructed.

The dimensions of the two churches do not differ very much; Santiago has
one bay less in its nave, but one bay more in each transept; it has only
one aisle, whilst S. Sernin has two on each side of the nave; and its
two towers are placed north and south of the west front, instead of to
the west of it, as they are at S. Sernin. The arrangement of the chevet
and of the chapels on the east of the transepts was the same in both
churches. Here they still exist in the chevet, but in the transepts
traces of them are only to be found after careful examination. Three of
them, indeed are quite destroyed, though slight traces still exist of
the arches which opened into them from the aisles, but the fourth has
been preserved by a piece of vandalism for which one must be grateful.
It has been converted into a passage-way to a small church which once
stood detached to the north-east of the cathedral, and the access to
which was by a western doorway. The erection of a modern chapel blocked
up the access to this doorway, and an opening was then made through the
northern chapel of the north transept, which has thus been saved from
the fate which has befallen the others. The position and size of these
chapels are indicated in the ground-plan.

The proportions of the several parts of the plans of the two churches
are also nearly identical; and owing in part to the arrangement of the
groining piers of the transepts, in which the aisles are returned round
the north and south ends, the transept fronts in both churches have the
very unusual arrangement of two doorways side by side--a central single
doorway being impossible. The triforium galleries surround the whole
church, being carried across the west end and the ends of the transepts,
so that a procession might easily ascend from the west end, by the tower
staircases--which are unusually broad and spacious--and make the entire
circuit of the church. Finally, the sections of both these great
churches are as nearly as possible the same; their naves being covered
with barrel-vaults, their aisles with quadripartite vaults, and the
triforia over the aisles with quadrant vaults, abutting against and
sustaining as with a continuous flying buttress the great waggon-vaults
of their naves.[155]

[Illustration: No. 17



The exterior of the cathedral at Santiago--to a more detailed
description of which I must now devote myself--is almost completely
obscured and overlaid by modern additions. The two old western steeples
shown on the plan are old only about as high as the side walls of the
church, and have been raised to a very considerable height, and finished
externally with a lavish display of pilasters, balustrades, vases, and
what not, till they finish in a sort of pepper-box fashion with small
cupolas. Between them is a lofty niche over the west front, which
contains a statue of the tutelar.[156] Fortunately the whole of the
façade between the steeples was built on in front of, and without
destroying, Master Matthew’s great work, the western porch. The ground
falls considerably to the west, and a rather picturesque quadruple
flight of steps, arranged in a complicated fashion, leads up from the
Plaza to the doors. There are two great and two lesser flights of steps,
so that a procession going up might be divided into four lines; a
doorway in the centre of the western wall below these steps leads into a
chapel constructed below the western porch. This is now called the
Chapel of St. Joseph, but seems to have been known of old as Santiago la
Vajo. The arrangement of its plan is very peculiar.[157] There are two
large central piers east and west of a sort of transept; to the west of
this are two old arches, and then the modern passage leading to the
doorway at the foot of the steps. To the east of the transept is an apse
consisting of an aisle formed round the great central pier, with small
recesses for altars round it. The aisle is covered with a round-arched
waggon-vault; it has five recesses for altars; the easternmost _seems_
to have a square east end, the next to it on either side have apses, and
the others are very shallow recesses hardly large enough for altars.
There can be no doubt whatever, I think, that this is the work on which
Master Matthew was first employed; it is exactly under the porch and
doorway, on which, as we know by the inscription on the lintel of the
door, he wrought; and as he was first at work here in A.D. 1168, and
finished the doors in A.D. 1188, we may safely put down this chapel as
having been begun and finished circa A.D. 1168-1175. In this the bases
are some of them square, some circular in plan; the sculpture of the
capitals is elaborate and similar in character to most of the later work
in the cathedral. The favourite device of pairs of animals regarding
each other is frequently repeated; and there are moulded and spiral
shafts in the jambs of the western arches. My view of the interior of
this interesting little chapel will best explain its general character
and peculiarities, and it will be felt, I think, that it is certainly
not earlier than the date I have assigned, and therefore, like the great
western door, of later date than the church in connection with which it
was built. Behind the eastern altar there is an arcade of three arches
forming a kind of reredos, but I am not at all sure whether they are in
their old places, and I am inclined to think it more likely that there
is an eastern apse behind them. There is nothing to prove whether there
were any western doors to this chapel, and as all the light must
originally have come through the western arches, it would seem to be
most probable that there were none. The chapel is now kept locked, and
is but seldom used for service.[158]

To return to the west front. This is the centre only of a vast
architectural façade; to the right of the church being the chapter-house
and other rooms on the west side of the cloister, and to the left
another long line of dependent buildings. The Plaza is bounded by public
buildings on its other three sides;[159] and beyond, to the west, the
ground falling very rapidly affords a fine view across the valley to the
picturesque mountain-like ranges which bound the landscape. This is the
Plaza Mayor or “del Hospital.”

Going northward from the west entrance, and turning presently to the
east, a low groined gateway is reached, which leads into another Plaza
fronting the north transept. This gateway is a work of the twelfth
century, but of the simplest kind. The Plaza de San Martin, to the north
of the cathedral, is picturesquely irregular; its north side is occupied
by a vast convent of St. Martin, and the ground slopes down steeply from
it to the cathedral. Here is the gayest and busiest market-place of the
town, and the best spot for studying the noisy cries and the bright
dresses of the Gallegan peasantry. They are to be seen on a Sunday,
especially, in all their finery,--bright, picturesque, and happy
looking, for those who can afford to dress smartly are happy, and those
who cannot don’t seem to come--selling and buying every possible kind of
ware, save, perhaps, the large stock of scallop-shells, which, though
they are kept for sale with due regard to the genius loci, seemed to me
never to attract any one to become a purchaser, and to adopt the badge
of St. James!

The whole of the northern front of the transept and church is
modernized. But to the east of it lies the little church used as the
Parroquia, and which will be better described when I go to the
interior, as externally it has no old feature save a simple little
window in its north wall.

[Illustration: Exterior of Chevet.]

A narrow passage from the Plaza de San Martin leads to the upper side of
a third Plaza opposite the east end; and here, though the cathedral has
been enclosed within square modern walls, there is fortunately just
enough left of the exterior of the eastern chapel and part of the apse
enclosed in a small court to explain its whole original design. The
entrance to this court is garnished with a number of statues, evidently,
I think, taken from a doorway, and perhaps from the destroyed north
doorway.[160] From this fragment of the chevet, it seems that the
eastern chapel was surrounded with a deeply recessed arcading, within
which were broad, round-arched windows with moulded archivolts carried
on shafts with sculptured capitals. The smaller chapels have
three-quarter shafts running up to the cornices placed between the
windows, and the corbel-tables at the eaves are simple and bold. The bay
between the chapels has a window occupying the whole space in width, and
above it is a small circular window, a feature which occurs in almost
exactly the same position in S. Sernin, Toulouse.[161] A string-course
is carried round the aisle wall above the roofs of the chapels, and the
wall is continued up to the same level as the walls of the aisles of the
church, and has alternately windows and arcading in its outer elevation.
This is perhaps the only serious difference between the design of this
church and that of S. Sernin. There the triforia are not carried round
the chevet, and consequently the aisle walls are not so lofty, and the
clerestory of the apse is shown in the usual way.

Continuing the circuit of the cathedral, we now reach the Plaza de los
Plateros, in front of the south transept. This is bounded on the west
side by the outer walls of the cloisters, and a broad flight of steps
all across the Plaza leads up to the transept. This has been to some
extent damaged by the erection of a lofty clock-tower projecting at its
south-east angle, in which are the clock and the bells. The rest of the
old façade is fortunately preserved. It has two doorways in the centre
division, and two grand and deeply recessed windows above them. The ends
of the aisles seem to have been similarly treated above. The finish of
the transept wall is modern, but there still remain two canopies in it,
under one of which is a figure of the Blessed Virgin, no doubt part of a
sculpture of the Annunciation.

The detail of the work in this front is of great interest, inasmuch as
it is clearly by another and an earlier workman than that of the western
part of the church. There are three shafts in each jamb of the doors,
whereof the outer are of marble, the rest of stone. These marble shafts
are carved with extreme delicacy with a series of figures in niches, the
niches having round arches, which rest upon carved and twisted columns
separating the figures. The work is so characteristic as to deserve
illustration. It is executed almost everywhere with that admirable
delicacy so conspicuous in early Romanesque sculpture. The other shafts
are twisted and carved in very bold fashion.

[Illustration: No. 18.



The jamb of this door retains an inscription deeply cut in large
letters, which appears to give the same date--Era 1116, 5 Ides of
July--that I have already quoted from the ‘Historia Compostellana.’ But
as the reading of this inscription is open to doubt, I think it well to
engrave it. This Era would make the date of these doors agree with the
commencement of the works. Figures on either side support the ends of
the lintels of the doors, but the tympana and the wall above for some
feet are covered with pieces of sculpture, evidently taken down and
refixed where they are now seen. They are arranged, in short, like the
casts at the Crystal Palace, as if the wall were part of a museum. One
of the stones in the tympanum of the eastern door has the Crowning with
Thorns and the Scourging; and on other stones above are portions of a
Descent into Hades, in which asses with wings are shown kneeling to our
Lord. Asses and other beasts are carved elsewhere, and altogether the
whole work has a rude barbaric splendour characteristic of its age.

[Illustration: Inscription on South Door.]

The windows above deserve special notice. Their shafts and archivolts
are very richly twisted and carved, and the cusping of the inner arch is
of a rare kind. It consists of five complete foils, so that the points
of the lowest cusp rest on the capital, and, to a certain extent, the
effect of a horseshoe arch is produced. This might be hastily assumed to
be a feature borrowed from the Moors; but the curious fact is that this
very rare form of cusping is seen in many, if not most, of the churches
of the Auvergnat type, to which reference has already been made, and it
must be regarded here, therefore, as another proof of the foreign origin
of most of the work at Santiago, rather than of any Moorish influence. I
have omitted to say that in addition to the other steeples there is a
modern dome over the crossing. The lower part of the lantern is old, and
the four piers which support it are somewhat larger than the rest.

The exterior of the cloister is rather Renaissance than Gothic in its
character, and has some picturesque small towers at the angles.

Altogether the impression which is first given here is of a church which
has been completely altered by Renaissance architects of rather a more
picturesque turn of mind than is usual; and the generally similar
character of the work in the Plazas on the several sides of the church
gives certainly a rather stately, though to me it was a very
disappointing, _tout ensemble_.

With such feelings about the exterior, the complete change in the
character of the work as one goes through the door is more than usually
striking, for you are at once transferred from what is all modern, to
what is almost all very old, uniform, and but little disturbed. The
interior of the transepts is very impressive; their length is not far
from equal to that of the nave, and the view is less interrupted than in
it, as the rails between the Coro and the Capilla mayor are very light,
and the stalls are all to the west of the crossing. The whole detail of
the design is extremely simple. The piers are alternated throughout the
church of the two sections given on my ground-plan. The capitals are all
carved, generally with foliage, but sometimes with pairs of birds and
beasts. Engaged columns run up from the floor to the vault, and carry
transverse ribs or arches below the great waggon-vault. The triforium
opens to the nave with a round arch, subdivided with two arches, carried
on a detached shaft. I have already described the construction, and I
need only add here that the buttresses, which appear on the ground-plan,
are all connected by arches thrown from one to the other, so that the
eaves of the roof project in front of their outside face. There is
consequently an enormous thickness of wall to resist the weight and
thrust of the continuous vault of the triforium, these arches between
the buttresses having been contrived in order to render the whole wall
as rigid and uniform in its resistance to the thrust as possible. The
height of the interior, from the floor to the centre of the barrel-vault
of the nave, is a little over seventy feet. This dimension is, of
course, insignificant if compared with the height of many later
churches; but it must be borne in mind that here there is no clerestory,
and that, owing to its absence, there is much less light in the upper
part of the church than is usual, and one consequence of this partial
gloom is a great apparent increase in the size of every part of the
building. The original windows remain throughout the greater part of the
church. In the aisles they have jamb-shafts inside, and in both aisles
and triforia there are jamb-shafts outside. Occasionally at the angles
of the aisles, and elsewhere where it was impossible to pierce the walls
for windows, sunk arcading, corresponding with them in outline and
detail, is substituted for them.

The chevet has been a good deal altered; most of the chapels remain, but
the columns and arches round the choir have all been destroyed, or, at
any rate, so covered over with modern work as to be no longer visible. A
thirteenth-century chapel has been added on the north of the apse, and a
small chapel of the fifteenth century and a large one of the
Renaissance period on its south-west side. The other alterations are
clearly indicated on the engraving of the ground-plan.

[Illustration: No. 19



I have already said that the existing Renaissance steeples at the west
end are built upon the lower portions of the original Romanesque towers.
The only peculiarity about these is the planning of their staircases.
The steps are carried all round the steeple in the thickness of the
wall, and the central space is made use of for a succession of small
chambers one over the other. These staircases are unusually wide and
good, and their mode of construction is obviously very strong.

The only other part of the church of the same age as the original fabric
is the detached chapel to the north-east of it. This seems to have had
originally no connexion whatever with the cathedral, the passage which
now leads to its western doorway from the north transept being quite
modern, and made for the reason already mentioned. Its western door is a
good late Romanesque work, with shafts in the jambs, and carved
capitals. The church itself consists of a nave and aisles of two bays in
length, and a chancel with an aisle on either side. The columns are
cylindrical, with carved capitals. The aisles have quadrant vaults, and
the nave a semi-circular ceiling, but I could not ascertain certainly
whether this was of plaster or stone. If the latter, then this little
church affords a very interesting example of the adaptation of precisely
the same mode of construction that we see in the great cathedral by its
side, viz. the waggon-vault in the nave supported on either side by the
quadrant vaults of the aisles.

[Illustration: Central Shaft of Western Doorway.]

It is now necessary to say something about what is to an architect the
chief glory of this noble church--its grand western entrance, fitly
called the Portico de la Gloria. On the whole, with no small experience
to warrant my speaking, and yet with a due sense of the rashness of too
general an approval, I cannot avoid pronouncing this effort of Master
Matthew’s at Santiago to be one of the greatest glories of Christian
art.[162] Its scale is not very grand, but in every other respect it is
quite admirable, and there is a freshness and originality about the
whole of the detail which cannot be praised too much. If we consider the
facts with which we are acquainted, we may understand how it is that it
has these great merits. Let us assume that Master Matthew was, as he no
doubt was, extremely skilled when the king sent him to Santiago with
his special warrant and recommendation. From that time until the happy
day came, after twenty years of anxious labour, when he was able to
write his inscription on the lintel of the door, it is probable that
this same man wrought on slowly but systematically on this great work.
During all this time he had but a very moderate opportunity of studying
similar works in his own neighbourhood, or of receiving incitement by
the competition of others of his craft; and I think the whole work bears
about it evidence that this was its history. There is up to a certain
point a conformity to common custom and precedent, and yet at the same
time a constant freshness and originality about it which seems to me to
show that its sculptor was not in the habit of seeing other similar
works during its progress. The figures are almost all placed in
attitudes evidently selected with a view to giving them life and
piquancy. But these attitudes are singularly unconventional; and though
they are by no means always successful to an eye educated in the
nineteenth century, they have all of them graces and merits which are
almost entirely unseen in the productions of nineteenth century
sculptors; whilst, again, in strong contrast to what is now almost the
invariable rule, there is no doubt that here we have the absolute
handiwork of the sculptor, and not a design only, the execution of which
has been relegated to a band of unknown and unrewarded assistants! The
detail of some of the smaller portions, as _e.g._ of the sculptured
shafts, is exquisitely refined and delicate, beautifully executed, and
with a singular appreciation, in some respects, of the good points of
classic sculpture.

The doorways are three in number, of which that in the centre opens into
the nave, and those on either side into the aisles. In front of these
doors is a western porch, of three groined divisions in width, the outer
face of which has been built up and concealed by the modern western
façade. The groining ribs of this porch are very richly decorated with
sculpture of foliage in their mouldings. The general design of the doors
will be best understood by reference to the engraving which I give of
them. The bases are all very bold, and rest generally on monsters. That
under the central shaft has a figure of a man with his arms round the
necks of two open-mouthed winged monsters;[163] whilst on the other side
is a figure of a person kneeling towards the east, in prayer, and about
life-size. The central shaft is of marble, and carved all over with the
tree of Jesse. The detail of this shaft is so delicate and
characteristic of the whole work, that I give an engraving of a portion
of it; nothing can be prettier or more graceful than the design, and the
execution is admirable. The corresponding shaft in either jamb is also
sculptured, but in these there is no story, the shafts being twisted
with carving of foliage and figures in the alternate members. The
capital of the central shaft has the figures of the Holy Trinity, with
angels on either side censing; and above is a grand sitting figure of
St. James, with a scroll in his right hand, and a palmer’s staff in the
other. His nimbus is studded with large crystals; but as none of the
other figures throughout the door have nimbi, I suspect it has been
added in his case. The main capital of the central shaft, above the
saint’s head, has on three sides the Temptation of our Lord, and on its
fourth side angels coming and ministering to Him.

The tympanum of this central door has a central seated figure of our
Lord, holding up His open hands. Around Him are the four Evangelists,
three of them with their emblematic beasts standing up on their hind
legs, with their paws in the Evangelists’ laps. Beyond them are angels
holding the various instruments of the passion, and above these angels a
multitude of small figures worshipping--the hundred and forty-four
thousand, many of them naked, _i.e._ free from sin. The archivolt is
perhaps the most striking feature in the whole work, having sitting
figures of the four-and-twenty elders arranged around its circumference,
in a manner at once quite original and singularly effective. The skill
and fancy shown in the treatment of this crowd of figures is beyond
praise, and there is a certain degree of barbaric splendour about the
profuse richness of the work which is wonderfully attractive. Traces
everywhere remain of the old delicate colouring with which the sculpture
was covered, and this just suffices to give a beautiful tone to the
whole work.

The side jambs have standing figures on a level with that of St. James.
On the north jamb are Jeremiah, Daniel, Isaiah, and Moses, and on the
opposite side St. Paul, and, I suppose, other New Testament saints,
though I could not tell which. The side doorways, though there is no
sculpture in their tympana, have figures corresponding with the others
in their jambs. Under the groining against the north wall is an angel
blowing a trumpet, and there are other angels against the springing of
the groining ribs holding children in their hands.

The whole scheme is, in fact, a Last Judgment, treated in a very
unconventional manner; the point which most invites hostile criticism
being the kind of equality which the sculptor has given to the figures
of our Lord and St. James, both being seated, and both in the central
position; and though the figure of the apostle is below that of his
Lord, it is still the more conspicuous of the two.

The design of the interior of the west end is peculiar. The doorway
occupies the same space in height as the nave arches; above it the
triforium is carried across over the porch, opening into the nave with
two divisions of the same arcade as in the side galleries. Above this is
a large circular window, with sixteen small cusps and a small pierced
quatrefoil on either side. These openings now all communicate with the
western triforium gallery; and I found it impossible to make out, to my
own satisfaction, what the original scheme of the west end could have
been. It does not appear clear whether there ever were any doors hung in
the doorways, but I think there never were; and, perhaps, as we are told
that the first church built over the body of the saint was of two stages
in height, and open at the ends[164] (somewhat like the curious church
still remaining at Naranco, near Oviedo), we may be safe in assuming
that this western porch was in the same way open to the air. Above it
the vault of the nave may have been prolonged between the towers, and
under this the circular window would have been seen from the outside as
it is still from the inside. Whether there was any direct access to this
western porch from the ground, may admit of question; but it seems
difficult to see how it would have been contrived without blocking up
the chapel below the porch, which I have already described.

The only remaining work of any importance is the cloister, with its
adjacent buildings,--the sacristies, chapter-room, library, &c. The
present erections show no relics whatever of the work which, as we have
seen, the Archbishop Diego Gelmirez undertook in the twelfth century. It
is uncertain, indeed, whether his constructions were on this side of the
church, for there are still remains of walls which seem to be coëval
with the church round a courtyard on the north side of the nave. The
cloisters now in existence are the work of Fonseca, afterwards
Archbishop of Toledo, and were commenced in A.D. 1533. As might be
expected by the date, there is very little Gothic character in their
design; they have the common late many-ribbed Spanish groining; and if
they have ever had traceries in the arches, these are now all destroyed.

The festival of St. James is celebrated with special solemnity whenever
it happens to fall upon a Sunday. Then the people, I was told, ascend a
staircase behind the altar, pass in front of some of his relics, and
descend by another staircase[165] on the other side. The body of the
saint is said to be contained in a stone tomb below the high altar,
which lies north and south, with a modern sarcophagus over it, and there
is a rather good old statue of him on horseback against the west wall of
the south transept.

The ritual arrangements here are the same as they usually are in Spain.
The Coro occupies four bays of the nave, and there is a passage railed
off between the Reja of the Coro and that of the Capilla mayor, and
there are not many altars now in use, but the number of clergy is very
great, and the church is constantly crowded with worshippers.

On a Sunday morning during my stay the Archbishop said Mass, and there
was a procession with tapers all round the church. As the slow chant
rose from among the dense crowd of worshippers, and the flickering
lights of the tapers struck here and there on the walls of the dark old
church, one of those pictures was produced which one must, I suppose, go
to Spain to see really in perfection. The number of communicants seemed
to be extremely small, but the number of those at confession unusually
large. The penitents have a way of kneeling with their cloaks held up
over them against the confessional, so that their heads are quite
concealed. Spanish women are fond of squatting on the floor, fanning
themselves, before an altar; but here they often kneel, with their arms
stretched out as in wild entreaty, for a long time together, and with
rather striking effect. I think I am within bounds in saying that fifty
or sixty priests are to be seen in this church at one time, some at the
altars, some hearing confessions, and others with a large staff of
singing men and boys in the choir.

I have but little more to say about Santiago. The churches seemed
everywhere to be modern, and, though some of them are very large,
extremely uninteresting. The streets are narrow, picturesque, and
winding, but with far fewer traces of any antiquity in the houses than
might have been expected. The only Gothic domestic building that I saw
is the great hospital, close to the cathedral, which has four fine
courts, and the principal entrance through a chapel or oratory, with an
altar in it. The detail of this work is, however, extremely late and
poor; it was founded in A.D. 1504 by Ferdinand and Isabella, Henrique de
Egas being the architect.

The interest which, as an architect, one must feel in a building which
is--as I have shown the cathedral here to be--a close copy of another
church in another country, is very great. And the only regret I feel is
that I am unable to give any evidence as to the nationality of the men
who wrought the exquisite work in the western porch. My feeling is
certainly strong that they must have been Frenchmen, and from the
district of Toulouse. This I infer from the execution of their work.
Moreover, I do not know where in Spain we are to find the evidence of
the existence of a school in which such artists could have been trained,
whilst at Toulouse no one can wander through the Museum in the
desecrated convent of the Augustines without recognizing the
head-quarters of a school of artists from among whom the sculptor of
Santiago might well have come thoroughly educated for his great work.

[Illustration: SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELLA:--Ground Plan of the Cathedral
&c. Plate IX.]

From Galicia I travelled back by the same road along which I had already
journeyed as far as Leon; and from thence by Medina del Rio Seco--a
poor, forlorn, and uninteresting town--to Valladolid. The plain between
Leon and Valladolid is most uninteresting; and the whole journey from
the coast of Galicia to the last-named city is one of the most wearisome
I ever undertook. The occasional beauty of the scenery,--and on this
road it is oftentimes very beautiful,--does not prevent one’s feeling
rather acutely a diligence journey of sixty-six hours with few and short
pauses for meals; and the only solace--if solace it is--one has, is that
the _adalantero_ or postilion, who has to ride the whole distance, is in
infinitely worse case than oneself! Fortunately the least interesting
part of the road is now superseded by the opening of the railway from
Palencia to Leon.



In going by the railroad from Valladolid to Madrid the decayed old town
of Medina del Campo is passed, and few travellers can have failed to be
struck by the size and magnificence of the great castle, under whose
walls they are hurried along--the Castle “de la Mota,” founded in 1440,
and built under the direction of Fernando de Carreño, as master of the

The castle founded at this time evidently took the place of one of much
earlier date; for at some distance from its walls there still remain
great fragments of old concrete walls lying about, mis-shapen, decayed,
and unintelligible; whilst the greater part of the existing castle is a
uniform and simple work entirely executed in brick, incorporating and
retaining, however, in one or two parts, portions of the walls of the
earlier building. The outline is a very irregular square, with round
towers at all its angles rising out of the sloping base of the walls,
and overlooking the moat which surrounds the whole. Within these outer
walls rise the lofty walls of the castle, flanked by occasional square
towers, and with an unusually lofty keep at one angle. The entrance is
protected with much care, the gateways always opening at right angles to
each other, so as to give the best possible chance of easy defence.
Entering by the gateway in the centre of the principal front, across the
now destroyed bridge, the path turned round the walls of the keep, and
then through a small gate by its side into the great inner courtyard,
the shape of which is very irregular, and the buildings opening into
which are almost all destroyed. There seems to be no direct mode of
getting into the keep save by climbing up the face of the wall some
twenty feet from the ground; and to this I was unequal, though it was
evident, from the well-worn holes in the brick-work, that some of the
natives are not so. Possibly there may have been an entrance from below,
for the whole of the walls surrounding the castle, and looking out
upon the moat, are honeycombed with long vaulted galleries at various
levels, along which I tramped for a long time, looking in vain for an
outlet towards the keep. The architectural detail here is all of the
simplest possible kind; the arches are pointed, but square in section,
and only remarkable for the great depth of their archivolts, which gives
them an air of strength very fitting to such a building. The bricks are
generally a foot long, eight inches wide, and an inch and three-eighths
thick, and the mortar-joints are generally an inch and three-quarters
wide. Little as such a work affords for mere technical description, I
have seldom seen one of its kind altogether more magnificent. The great
height of the walls, the simplicity of the whole detail, and the bold
vigour of the outline sufficiently account for this.

[Illustration: No. 20.



Medina del Campo is the dullest and saddest of towns now, though three
hundred years ago it seems to have been one of the most important places
in the district. Nor is there much to detain the ecclesiologist or
architect. The principal church--S. Antholin--seems to have been founded
in the sixteenth century. An inscription round the chancel gives the
date of its erection as A.D. 1503,[167] and the church was probably
built at the same time. The plan consists of nave and aisles of three
bays in length, and a chancel of one bay. The nave and aisles cover an
area of about ninety feet each way, the dimensions being, as they
usually are here, very considerable. The columns are really clusters of
groining-ribs banded together with a very small cap at the springing,
and then branching out into complicated vaulting-bays, most of which are
varied in pattern. The Coro is near the west end of the nave, and about
equal in length to one of its bays, nearly two bays between its Reja and
the Capilla mayor being left for the people; its fittings are all of
Renaissance character, and there is a very picturesque organ above it,
on the south, bristling with projecting trumpet-pipes, and altogether
very well designed. The columns are lofty, and the church is lighted by
small round-headed windows of one or two lights placed as high as
possible from the floor; there is one light in each southern bay, and
two in each on the north side; evidently therefore the whole work is
carefully devised for a hot country; and it is an undoubted success in
spite of the extremely late character of all its detail. Twenty years
only after the foundation of the chancel, and just about the time that
Segovia Cathedral was being commenced, a chapel was added on the north
side of the altar, covered with a dome, and thoroughly Pagan in almost
all its details.

There are three pulpits in this church--one on each side of the chancel,
and one in the nave; and low rails keep the passageway from the Coro to
the Capilla mayor.

There is a good painting of the Deposition in the sacristy of S.
Antholin; and a still more interesting work is the Retablo of a small
altar against the eastern column of the nave. This has the Mass of St.
Gregory carved and painted, with other paintings of much merit. That of
the Pietà recalls Francia, and the figure of the Blessed Virgin in an
Annunciation is full of tender grace and sweetness. It is strange how
completely the Inquisition altered the whole character of Spanish art,
and deprived it at once and for ever apparently of all power of
regarding religion from its bright and tender side!

An uninteresting country is passed between Medina and Avila. This old
city is indeed very finely situated; and if it be approached from
Madrid, seems to be a real capital of the mountains, with ranges of
hills on all sides. It lies, in fact, on the northern side of the
Sierra, and just at the margin of the great corn-growing plains which
extend thence without interruption to Leon and Palencia. Of the many
fortified towns I have seen in Spain it is, I think, the most complete.
The walls are still almost perfect all round the city; they are
perfectly plain, but of great height, and are garnished with bold
circular towers not far apart; and for the gateways two of these towers
are placed near together, carried up higher than the rest, and connected
by a bold arch thrown from one to the other. There are in all no less
than eighty-six towers in the circuit of the walls, and ten gateways;
and so great is their height[168] that nothing whatever is seen of the
town behind them, and they follow all the undulations of the hill on
which they stand with a stern, repulsive, savage look which seems almost
to belong to a city of the dead rather than to a fairly lively little
city of the present day.

The space within the walls was very confined, and no doubt it was found
impossible for any new religious foundations to be established within
their boundaries. Several of the great churches, and among these some of
the most important--as San Vicente, San Pedro, and San Tomás--were
therefore built outside the walls; and the Cathedral itself, cramped by
its close neighbourhood to them, was built out boldly with its apse
projecting beyond the face of the walls, and making an additional
circular tower larger and bolder than any of the others.

[Illustration: Puerta de San Vicente.]

The walls of Avila were commenced in A.D. 1090, eight hundred men having
been employed on them daily in that year;[169] among them were many
directors who came from Leon and Biscay, and all of them wrought under
Casandro, a master of geometry and a Roman, and Florin de Pituenga, a
French master; so at least we learn from the contemporary history
attributed to D. Pelayo, Bishop of Oviedo. The walls were finished in

In 1091 the Cathedral of San Salvador was commenced by an architect
named Alvar Garcia, a native of Estella, in Navarre;[170] the work was
completed in sixteen years, as many as nineteen hundred men, according
to the authority already quoted, having been employed on the works. D.
P. Risco[171] throws considerable doubt on the veracity of D. Pelayo;
and his figures certainly seem to be on too grand a scale to be at all

I doubt very much whether any part of the existing Cathedral is of the
age of the church whose erection is recorded by Don Pelayo, except
perhaps the external walls of the apse. Its general character is
thoroughly that of the end of the twelfth or early part of the
thirteenth century, with considerable alterations and additions at later
periods; and we may safely assume that the chevet, commenced in A.D.
1091, was continued westward very slowly and gradually during the
following hundred years or more. The ground-plan will show the very
singular disposition of the plan; in which the chevet, with its double
aisle and semi-circular chapels in the thickness of the walls, is, I
think, among the most striking works of the kind in Spain.[172] The
external wall of the apse is a semi-circle divided into bays by
buttresses of slight projection alternating with engaged shafts. The
chapels do not therefore show at all in the external view; and indeed
all that does appear here is a projecting tower of vast size pierced
with a few very small windows--mere slits in the wall--and flanked on
either side by the wall and towers of the town. It is finished at the
top by a corbel-table and lofty battlemented parapet; and behind this
again, leaving a passage five feet and a half in width, is a second and
higher battlemented wall, from within which one looks down upon the
aisle-roof of the chevet, and into the triforium and clerestory windows
of the central apse. From below very little of the apse and flying
buttresses which support it are seen; and one is more struck perhaps by
the strange unlikeness to any other east-end one has ever seen, than by
any real beauty in the work itself; though at the same time it is
pleasant to see that not even so difficult a problem as that of a
windowless fortified chevet presented any serious difficulty to these
old architects.

[Illustration: No. 21



[Illustration: East End, Avila Cathedral.]

Assuming as I do that the external wall of the apse is as old as the end
of the eleventh century, I think it nevertheless quite impossible that
the chapels within it, in their present state, should be of the same
early date. In general plan it is true that they are similar to those
round the chevet of the abbey at Veruela,[173] the eastern chapels in
the transepts being apsidal in both cases, and similarly planned in
connection with those of the apse. The church of Veruela was completed
by about the middle of the twelfth century, and is beyond all question
earlier in style than the interior of Avila. The great beauty of the
latter arises from the narrow, recessed aisle round the apse, the
groining of which is carried on lofty and slender shafts, whilst the
columns round the apse itself consist of a bold single column with three
detached shafts on the side next the aisle. The groining throughout
is extremely good, and, in the chapels, is carried on clustered shafts.
A careful examination of the groining of the choir shows clearly how
much the design of the church was altered during its progress, though it
is certainly not an illustration of the advantage of such a course. The
lines of the groining on the plan explain that it is planned with hardly
any reference to the structure below: some of the groining shafts not
being over the piers, and everything having been sacrificed by the
architect of the triforium and clerestory in order to make all their
bays equal in width both in the apse and in the side walls. East of the
Crossing there is a narrow quadripartite bay of vaulting, then a
sexpartite bay, and then those of the apse, and each of the three bays
of the choir is thus made about equal to those of the apse, though the
arches below are quite unequal. Externally all of them are supported by
regularly arranged flying-buttresses, some of which must, I think, be
supported on the cross-arches of the aisle in front of the chapels. The
triforium is round-arched, of two horseshoe-headed lights divided by a
shafted monial; and the clerestory is of round-headed broadish windows,
with jamb-shafts and richly-chevroned arches. The flying-buttresses are
all double, the lower arch abutting against the triforium, and the upper
against the wall above the clerestory windows; and all appear to me to
have been added after the original erection of the clerestory. The
parapet here, as well as in the aisles, is battlemented, the battlements
being finished with pyramidal copings of the common Moorish type. I
should have observed that the passage round the town walls is connected
with that round the aisle walls, and that the two levels of battlements
in the latter are connected by occasional flights of stone steps.

The transepts have the same triforium in their eastern walls as the
choir; and here, too, the same kind of construction was ventured on, the
groining shafts not being over the clustered column which divides the
arches of the aisles round the chevet. When this was done the intention
was evidently to erect one bay of sexpartite vaulting next the Crossing,
and then a quadripartite bay beyond it. At present both bays are
similar--quadripartite--and the clerestory is filled with large
traceried windows.

The remainder of the church was so much altered in the fourteenth
century, that its whole character is now of that period. The north
transept façade has in its lower stage two windows of two lights, the
traceries of which are precisely similar to those of our own early
geometrical style, and there is a very fine rose window above them. This
rose is of sixteen divisions, each containing two plain pierced circular
openings, but the dividing lines between them being marked, give the
whole tracery that effect of radiation from the centre which is so
important a feature in the designs of many wheel-windows. All the
windows in this façade are richly moulded, and there are well-developed
buttresses at its angles, but, unhappily, the gable has been entirely
destroyed, and the present termination of the wall is a straight line of
brickwork below the eaves of the hipped roof. The question of the
original pitch of the roof--always so interesting--is therefore left
uncertain and undecided. The clerestory throughout is filled with
enormous six-light traceried windows, with transomes, and the double
flying buttresses between them are very large, and are finished at the
top with a line of traceries below their copings, and with crocketed
pinnacles in front. There are two towers at the ends of the aisles,
which do not open into them, but only into the nave. The south-west
tower has never been completed, but the north-west steeple is a very
fine work of the same age as the clerestory of the nave. It has bold
buttresses, and a belfry stage lighted by two windows on each side, with
tall crocketed pediments above them, and below the battlemented parapet
a line of rich sunk tracery. The angles--internal as well as
external--are carved with a ball enrichment, which at a distance
produces the same effect as our English ball-flower ornament; and, like
it, gives an air of richness to the whole work. The buttresses finish
above the parapet with crocketed pinnacles, and the parapet with a
pointed coping, which somewhat recalls the outline of the Moorish
battlement. The whole effect of the steeple, transept, and nave is
certainly very noble, and they are marked by an entire absence of any of
those foreign peculiarities which usually strike an English eye. The
whole might, in fact, be English work of the fourteenth century. The
north door of the nave is of grand dimensions, having six statues in
niches in each jamb, and others against the buttresses on either side.
The tympanum is sculptured with our Lord in an aureole in the centre,
the Betrayal and the Last Supper below, angels censing on either side,
and the Coronation of the Blessed Virgin above. The orders of the
archivolt are filled with figures, some representing the resurrection of
the dead, and others figures of kings and saints worshipping the central
figure of our Lord. The door-opening has the peculiarity of having an
elliptical or three-centred arch. This feature I noticed also in doors
evidently of about the same age at Burgos and at Leon, and it is just
one of those evidences which go surely to prove that the several works
are all designed by the same architect. The resemblance of the mouldings
in the jamb of this doorway to those in the western end of Leon
Cathedral is very close, and all these doors have an order of very
similar foliage between the several sculptured or storied orders of the
archivolt. I do not think the work here is quite as good as that at
Leon, though the filling in of the tympanum with a well-marked vesica in
the centre, and four rows of subjects divided by well-defined horizontal
lines, is uncommonly good. A sort of shallow porch has been formed by
some later groining, which occupies the space between the buttresses on
either side of the doorway, and this is finished in front with a rich
open traceried parapet and pinnacles.

It was during the prelacy of Don Sancho III., Bishop of Avila from A.D.
1292 to 1353, that most of the later works of the cathedral were
executed, and his arms are sculptured upon the vault of the Crossing.
The character of all the work would agree perfectly with this date,
which is given by Gil Gonzalez Dávila[174] in his account of the church.

[Illustration: Roofing, Avila.]

A staircase in the south-west tower leads up into the roof of the
aisles, which now partly blocks up the too large clerestory; and passing
through this, and then over the roofs of the sacristies, we reach the
exterior of the chevet and the fortified eastern wall. Over the
sacristies is some original stone roofing, of an extremely good, and, so
far as I know, almost unique kind, with which it, seems very probable
that the whole of the roofs were originally covered. But it is now, as
well as all the others, protected by an additional timber roof covered
with tiles, and is not visible from the exterior. This roofing is all
laid to a very flat pitch with stones, which are alternately hollowed on
the surface for gutters, and placed about eight and a half inches apart,
and other square stones, which rest on the edges of the first, so as to
cover their joints. The stones are of course all of the same
length--two feet seven inches--and set over each other so as to form a
drip. The cornice at the eaves of this roof is very well managed, and
looks as if it were of the thirteenth century. Its construction reminded
me much of the stone guttering so frequently seen in the early Irish
buildings, and which, being so much less perishable than lead, has often
preserved them, where the common English construction would long ere
this have involved the whole building in ruin.

[Illustration: CATHEDRAL OF SAN SALVADOR AVILA--Ground Plan of Church
and Cloister &c. Plate 3

Published by John Murray. Albermarle St. 1865.]

The cloister on the south side of the nave is much decayed and
mutilated. It was built probably in the early part of the fourteenth
century, and has good traceried windows, generally of four lights, but
blocked up, and with all their cusping destroyed. On its east side is a
fine fifteenth century chapel, with an altar at the south end, and a
passage through its other end, screened off by an iron Reja, leading to
the priests’ rooms, and so round to the sacristies. The windows of this
chapel are covered with a rude ball ornament, constantly seen in works
of the fifteenth century.

I must not forget to notice the furniture of the interior of the
cathedral, some of which is very fine. The Retablo of the high altar is
very grand, having five sides, which follow the outline of the apse, and
it is of three stages in height. The lowest stage has the four
evangelists and the four doctors painted on its side panels, and SS.
Peter and Paul in the centre; the next has the Transfiguration in the
centre, and the Annunciation, the Nativity, the Adoration of the Magi,
and the Presentation in the Temple at the sides; and the upper stage the
Crucifixion in the centre, and the Agony, the Scourging, the
Resurrection, and the Descent into Hell at the sides. These paintings
were executed in A.D. 1508 by Santos Cruz, Pedro Berruguete, and Juan de
Borgoña: and some of them are not only valuable in the history of art,
but of great merit. The St. Matthew attended by an angel, who holds his
ink for him, is designed with great grace; and the Adoration of the
Magi, and some of the other subjects, are admirably designed and
painted. The drawing is rather sharp and angular, and has more the
character of German than of Italian art. The woodwork in which the
paintings are framed is richly carved and gilt, but in a jumble of
styles; the canopies over the pictures being Gothic, and the columns
which support them thoroughly Renaissance in style.[175]

The fittings of the Coro are all Renaissance, and there is a screen of
the same age across the nave on its western side. To the east is the
usual metal Reja, and low rails enclosing the passage from the Coro to
the Capilla mayor. A flight of seven steps in front of the altar, the
magnificent colour of its Retablo, and the contrast of the extremely
light choir and the almost windowless aisles and chapels round it, make
the pictorial effects here extremely fine; and they are heightened by a
good deal of stained glass, which, though of late date, has some fine
rich colour. It was executed at the end of the fifteenth century.

Fine as this cathedral is, I think, on the whole, I derived almost as
much pleasure from the church of San Vicente, built just outside the
walls, a little to the north of the cathedral. This is a very remarkable
work in many respects.

[Illustration: No. 22



The church--dedicated to the three martyrs, Vicente, Sabina, and
Cristeta, who are said to have suffered on the rock still visible in the
crypt below the eastern apse--is cruciform in plan,[176] with three
eastern apses, a central lantern, a nave and aisles of six bays in
length, two western steeples with a lofty porch between them, and a
great open cloister along the whole south side of the nave. The south
door is in the bay next but one to the transept, and there are staircase
turrets in the angles between the aisles and the transepts. The design
and detail of the eastern apses recall to mind the Segovian type of
apse. Their detail as well as their general design are, in fact, as
nearly as possible identical, and no doubt they are the work of the same
school of late Romanesque architects. They are very lofty, the ground
being so much below the floor of the church that the windows of a crypt
under the choir are pierced in the wall above the plinth. They have,
too, the usual engaged shafts between the windows, dividing each apse
into three vertical compartments, each pierced with a round-headed
window. These shafts are finished with finely carved capitals under the
eaves’ corbel-tables; and the stringcourses which occur below the
windows, on a level with their capitals, and again just over their
arches, are generally delicately carved, but sometimes moulded. The
central apse is higher than those on either side, and consequently none
of the horizontal lines are continuous round the three apses; and as the
eastern walls of the transepts have no openings, and no stringcourses or
enrichments of any kind between the ground and the eaves, there is a
certain air of disjointedness in the whole design which is not pleasing.
The transept façades are very simple: both are pierced with windows of
one light high up in the wall, and the northern transept is vigorously
treated with a grand system of buttressing, used as mediæval artists
alone apparently knew how! The buttresses are mere pilasters at the top,
and the eaves-cornices are carried round them and up the flat-pitched
gable-line in the way so commonly seen in Italian Gothic. But at
mid-height these pilasters are weathered out boldly, and run down to the
natural rock on which the church is built, and which here crops up above
the surface of the ground: a central buttress is added between the
others, and between the buttresses the whole wall is battered out with a
long succession of weatherings to the same thickness at the base as the
greatest projection of the buttresses. Probably the lower part of this
front has been added long after its first erection for the sake of
strength; and undoubtedly the somewhat similar system of buttressing
which is carried along the north wall of the nave is long subsequent in
date to the early church, to which it has been applied. The south
transept, owing to the rapid rise of the ground to the south, is much
less lofty than the other, and has between its buttresses three high

The whole south side of the nave is screened, so to speak, by a very
singular lofty and open cloister, which extends from the west wall of
the transept to a point in advance of the west front. It is very wide,
and is entirely open to the south, having occasional piers, with two
clustered shafts between each. There is something at first sight about
the look of these clustered shafts which might lead one to suppose them
to be not later than the thirteenth century; and as the lofty arches are
semi-circular, this idea would be strengthened were it not that a
careful comparison of the detail with other known early detail proves
pretty clearly that they cannot be earlier than about the middle of the
fourteenth century. The material--granite--favours this view, for here,
just as in our own country, the early architects seem to have avoided
the use of granite as much as possible, even where, as at Avila, it lies
about everywhere ready for use. There is something so novel and singular
about this open loggia or cloister, that I could not help liking it
much, though it undoubtedly destroys the proportions, and conceals some
of the detail, of the old church in front of which it has been added.

The bays of the aisle are divided by pilaster-buttresses, and lighted
with round-headed windows which have external jamb-shafts.

The west end is, perhaps, the noblest portion of this very remarkable
church. There are two towers placed at the ends of the aisles. These are
buttressed at the angles, and arcaded with sunk panels of very
considerable height on the outer sides; they are groined with
quadripartite vaults, and do not open into the church, but only into the
bay between them, which, though it is a continuation of the full height
of the nave, is treated simply as a grand open porch, with a lofty
pointed arch in its outer (or western) wall, and a double doorway in its
eastern wall opening into the church. This porch is roofed with a vault
of eight cells, level with that of the nave, and extremely lofty and
impressive, therefore, from the exterior, and over the doorway a window
opens into the nave. The western, as well as the side arches, have bold
engaged shafts, and the groining is also carried on angle shafts. The
whole effect is fine, and the light and shade admirable and well
contrasted: but the charm of the whole work seemed to me to lie very
much in the contrast between the noble simplicity and solid massiveness
of the architecture generally, and the marvellous beauty and delicacy of
the enrichments of the western doorway, which is certainly one of the
very finest transitional works I have ever seen. It is, as will be seen
by the engraving, double, with round arches over each division, and the
whole enclosed under a larger round arch. Statues of saints are placed
in either jamb, and against the central pier in front of the shafts
which carry the archivolt, and the latter and the capitals are carved
with the most prodigal luxuriance of design and execution, and with a
delicacy of detail and a beauty of which an idea cannot be conveyed by
words. Sculptured subjects are introduced in the tympana of the smaller
arches, and a richly carved stringcourse is carried across under a
parapet which is placed over the doorway. The figures and carving are
all wrought in a very fine and delicate stone. The tympana are
sculptured on the left with the story of Dives and Lazarus, and on the
right with a death-bed scene, where angels carry up the soul to
Paradise. The detail of the foliage seemed to me to have a very
Italianizing character, being mostly founded on the acanthus-leaf. The
capitals are very delicate, but copied closely from Classic work, and
the figures are dignified in their pose, but their draperies are rather
thin and full of lines. Some of the shafts are twisted, and beasts of
various kinds are freely introduced with the foliage in the sculpture.

[Illustration: No 23.



To me the sight of such work as this is always somewhat disheartening.
For here in the twelfth century we find men executing work which, both
in design and execution, is so immeasurably in advance of anything that
we ever see done now, that it seems almost vain to hope for a revival of
the old spirit in our own days: vain it might be in any age to hope for
better work, but more than vain in this day, if the flimsy conceit and
impudent self-assertion which characterize so much modern (so-called)
Gothic is still to be tolerated! for evil as has been the influence of
the paralysis of art which affected England in the last century, it
often seems to me that the influence of thoughtless compliance with what
is popular, without the least study, the least art, or the least love
for their work on the part of some of the architects who pretend to
design Gothic buildings at the present day, may, without our knowing it,
land us in a worse result even than that which our immediate ancestors
arrived at. Here, however, at Avila, in this porch of San Vicente, let
us reverence rightly the art and skill of him who built, not only so
delicately and beautifully, but also so solidly and so well; let us try
to follow his example, knowing for certain that in this combination lies
the true merit of all the best architecture--Pagan or Christian--that
the world has ever seen.

The three stages of the western towers are, I think, respectively of the
twelfth, thirteenth, and fifteenth centuries. The second or intermediate
stage is arcaded, and has its angles planned with a shaft set in a broad
splay precisely in the mode we see so commonly adopted in the Segovian
towers.[177] The upper stage is finished with gables on each face, the
gable being fringed with a line of granite trefoils in not very good
taste. Gil Gonzales Dávila[178] says that the tower of this church was
built by alms in A.D. 1440. He refers, no doubt, to the upper stage, the
design of which agrees with this statement. I was not able to learn how
it had originally been roofed; but my impression is that it probably had
two stone gabled roofs intersecting each other.

In addition to the western door there is another fine entrance on the
south side of rather earlier date than the other, and now always in use
as the ordinary entrance to the church. Descending here by some steps
from the cloister, we find ourselves in the impressive interior, and are
at once struck by some features which are of rare occurrence in this
part of Spain. The columns are of very bold, perhaps heavy, design, and
rest on circular bases. Their front portion is carried up on a bold and
massive groining pier in front of the main wall; the arcades are
severely simple, the arches semi-circular, and the capitals richly
carved. A carved stringcourse is carried round the church above the
arches, and there is the very uncommon arrangement (in this country) of
a well-developed triforium; each bay here having a round-arched opening,
subdivided into two smaller openings, divided by a massive column with
sculptured capital. Another stringcourse divides the triforium and
clerestory, which has also round-arched windows of one light. The
vaulting, both in the nave and aisles, is quadripartite, the only
remarkable feature in it being the massive size of the ribs.

The three eastern apses are vaulted with waggon-vaults over their
western compartments, and semi-domes over the apses, and the transepts
are roofed with waggon-vaults. All the latter have cross arches or ribs
below them carried on engaged shafts, and the side walls of the chancel
and chancel-aisles are arcaded below the vaulting.

The central lantern is carried on piers, which have evidently been in
great part rebuilt at some time subsequent to the foundation of the
church. They carry pointed arches of granite, clumsily moulded, and have
rudely-carved capitals. Two piers on the south of the nave next the
Crossing, and one on the north, were either partly or altogether rebuilt
at the same time, and it looks very much as though the first lantern had
partly fallen, and then, two centuries after the original foundation of
the church, the existing one had been erected, for over the pointed
arches there still seem to be remains of the older round arches. The
lantern is rather loftier than is usual; it is vaulted with an
eight-ribbed dome, carried on arched pendentives, and is lighted by
small windows of two lights in its upper stage. Dávila[179] says that
this church was rebuilt in the time of Ferdinand “El Santo” (1252-1284),
who endowed it with certain rents for the purpose. But other authorities
say, with more show of probability, that the work undertaken in this
year was the repair of the church. The rebuilding at this date, which is
utterly inconsistent with the whole character of the church, agrees,
nevertheless, very well indeed with that of the lantern. Subsequently,
in A.D. 1440, according to Dávila,[180] the tower of the church was
built, and this statement probably refers to the upper stages of the
western steeples. The crypt under the choir, called Nra. Sra. de
Soterraña, is important only for its position: it is entered by a long
flight of steps from the east end of the north aisle, and extends under
the three eastern apses. It is mainly modernized, and the great
attraction seems to be the hole in which, as I understood, people who
wish to take a solemn oath put their hands whilst they swear.

There are no original ritual arrangements remaining here; but an iron
Reja is carried across the nave and aisles one bay to the west of the
crossing, and here probably was the old place for the Coro, as the
position of the shrine of San Vicente under one side of the lantern
would have made it impossible for the Coro to be placed nearer the east.

Some features still remain to be noticed, and the most important is the
tomb or shrine of the tutelars--San Vicente and his brethren. This is
picturesquely placed on one side of the space under the lantern, with
entire disregard to that desire for balance everywhere which so
painfully affects almost all of us now-a-days. It is a
thirteenth-century erection standing on detached shafts, within which
appears to be a tomb which is always kept covered with a silken pall.
Over this is a lofty canopy carried on four bold shafts at the angles,
and consisting of a deep square tester, above which is a lofty pyramidal
capping with its sides slightly concave and crockets at the angles. It
is rather difficult to convey an idea of this very remarkable work
without large and careful illustrations. The inner tomb or shrine is the
really important work, the outer canopy or tester being evidently a much
later addition.[181] The shrine has all the character of an early
pointed Italian Gothic work. Its canopy is carried on clusters of four
shafts twisted together, at each of the angles; between them, on each
side, are three coupled columns, and at the east and west ends are
single shafts. These carry trefoiled or many-cusped arches, the
spandrels of which are sculptured; and above this is a sort of shrine
with a sloping stone scalloped all over on either side, and a steep
diapered roof rising out of the centre. A series of subjects is carved
in panels all along the sides of the shrine, which seem to have
reference to three saints and martyrs--probably to San Vicente and his
companions. Figures of the Twelve Apostles are introduced, two and two,
at the angles, and other figures sitting and reading between the
subjects. A late iron screen between the columns of the outer baldachin
makes it rather difficult either to see or to sketch this interesting
work carefully. Its detail is all very peculiar, and in the twisted and
sculptured shafts, the strange form of some of the cusping, and the iron
ties with which it is undisguisedly held together, I thought I saw
evident traces of the influence of Italian art. I take the shrine to be
a work of the thirteenth century, though the baldachin is no doubt of
later date.

Near this shrine in the south aisle is some very fine rich and delicate
wrought-ironwork in a _grille_ round a side altar. It is possibly part
of the old choir-screen, and at any rate does not belong to the place in
which it is now preserved. The beauty of this work consists in the
delicacy of the thin strips of iron, which are bent into a succession of
circular lines ending in roses, and on an excessively small and delicate
scale. Some similar work is still to be seen in one of the windows of
the apse.

The arches on either side of the great western porch are filled in with
open trellis-work wood-screens, which show how good occasionally may be
the adaptation by Gothic hands of Moorish work. Here the lines of wood
cross each other at intervals, leaving, of course, a regular series or
diaper of open squares. The edges of all these are simply cut out in a
pattern, or notched, in a variety of forms, and the effect is extremely
good. The same kind of work is common in Moorish buildings, but I had
not seen it before so boldly used by Christians.

[Illustration: AVILA: San Vicente and MEDINA DEL CAMPO: S: Antholin:
Plate XI.

Published by John Murray, Albermarle Street 1865]

San Vicente stands outside the walls of Avila, close to one of the
principal gates, and near the north-east angle of the city. The church
of San Pedro is similarly placed at the south-east angle, and at the end
of a large open Plaza called the Mercado Grande. It is not a little
remarkable that so soon after the enclosure of the city within enormous
walls two of the most important of its churches should have been built
deliberately just outside them, and exposed to whatever risks their want
of defence entailed. In plan and general design San Pedro is very
similar indeed to San Vicente. It has a nave and aisles of five bays,
transepts of unusual projection, a central lantern, and three apsidal
projections to the east. The doors, too, are in the centre of the west
front, and in the next bay but one to the transept on both sides. The
detail is almost all of a simple and extremely massive kind of
Romanesque, round arches being used everywhere and uncarved capitals
with square abaci. The nave piers are of the commonly repeated section,
but very large in proportion to the weight they have to carry. There is
no triforium, and the clerestory windows are of moderate size, whilst
those in the aisles are very small, and placed as high as possible from
the floor. The groining generally is quadripartite, and some of the ribs
boldly moulded in a manner which suggests the possibility of this severe
Romanesque-looking work being in truth not earlier than circa 1250. The
transepts and the western portion of the apses are covered with
waggon-vaults, and the apses themselves with semi-domes. The lantern
over the Crossing is probably not earlier than A.D. 1350, the mark of
the junction with the old work just over the arches into the transepts
being still very plainly visible. The vaulting here is very peculiar.
Groined pendentives at the angles are introduced to bring the vault to
an octagon in plan, but the eight compartments are variously treated;
those on the cardinal sides having ordinary vaulting cells over the
windows, whilst those on the intermediate or diagonal sides are crossed
with four segments of a dome with the masonry arranged in horizontal

The west front has three circular windows, that in the centre having
wheel tracery; the north doorway has a richly-sculptured archivolt,
which is later in character than the general scheme of the church,
having an order of good dog-tooth enrichment, and the abacus is carved
with rosettes. There are staircases in the usual position in the angle
between the transepts and the aisles, and the apses are divided into
bays by engaged shafts with sculptured capitals. There is, in fact, not
very much to be said about this otherwise noble and remarkable church,
because it repeats to so great an extent most of the features of its
neighbour San Vicente. Yet its scale, character, and antiquity are all
such as would make us class it, if it were in England, among our most
remarkable examples of late Romanesque.

There are several other churches in Avila,[182] but the only one besides
those already mentioned of which I made any notes is that of the
Convent of San Tomás built between A.D. 1482 and 1493.[183] In a charter
of Ferdinand the Catholic, dated May 29, 1490, reference is made to this
monastery, together with those of Sta. Cruz, Segovia; San Juan de los
Reyes, Toledo; Sta. Engracia, Zaragoza; and other churches in Granada,
&c., all of them founded by that King and Queen Isabella. They founded
this convent on the petition of Confessor P. W. Tomás de Torquemada.

The convent has been closed for some years, but has just been purchased
by the Bishop of Avila, who is now repairing it throughout, with the
intention, I believe, of using it as a theological seminary. The detail
of the conventual buildings, which surround two cloisters, one of which
is of great size, is, as might be expected, of the latest kind of
Gothic, and extremely poor and uninteresting, whilst the design of the
church, as so often seems to be the case with these very late Spanish
churches, is full of interest. It has a nave of five bays with side
chapels between the buttresses, short transepts, and a very short square
chancel to the east of the Crossing; but the remarkable feature is, that
not only is there a large gallery filling the two western bays of the
nave and fitted up with seventy stalls with richly-carved canopies, the
old choir-book desk in the centre, and two ambons projecting from the
eastern parapet, but that there is also another gallery at the east end,
in which the high altar, with its fine carved and painted Retablo, is
placed. This eastern gallery has also gospel and epistle ambons
projecting from its front. Strange as the whole arrangement of this
interior is, it strikes me as almost more strange that it should not
have been one of constant occurrence in a country where at one period
the Coro was so constantly elevated in a western gallery. For there is a
sort of natural propriety, as it seems to me, in the elevation of an
altar, where folk care at all for the mysteries celebrated at it, to at
least as high a level as any part of the church used for service; and
undoubtedly the effect of the altar-service to those in the raised Coro
is much, if not altogether, marred where the altar is in its usual place
on the floor. Here the effect is certainly very fine, whether the altar
is looked at from the Coro or from the floor of the nave below it; and
from the former in particular, the strangeness of looking across the
deep-sunk well of the nave to the noble altar raised high above it at
the east is in every way most attractive. The detail of all the
architecture here is very uninteresting, though the many-ribbed vaulting
is certainly good, and the effect of the dark cavernous nave under the
western gallery is very fine in light and shade. Rarely as I trouble my
reader with any reference to Renaissance works, I must here in justice
say that the great tomb of Don Juan, the son of Ferdinand and Isabella,
which occupies the floor below the altar, is one of the most tender,
fine, and graceful works I have ever seen, and worthy of any school of
architecture. The recumbent effigy, in particular, is as dignified,
graceful, and religious as it well could be, and in no respect unworthy
of a good Gothic artist. It was executed by Micer Domenico Alexandra
Florentesi, who refers to it in a contract which he entered into with
Cardinal Ximenes in 1518; but it is said to have been completed as early
as A.D. 1498.[184] At present it is necessary to get an order to see it
from the Bishop, who has the key of the church; doubtless before long
this will not be necessary, but it is well to give the caution, as the
convent is some little distance beyond the town-walls, and the Bishop’s
palace is in the very centre of the city.

It will be felt, I think, that Avila is a city which ought on no account
to be left unseen in an architectural tour in Spain. Fortunately it is
now as easy of access as it was once difficult, for the railway from
Valladolid to Madrid, in order to cross the Sierra de Guadarrama, makes
a great détour by Avila, and thence on to the Escorial is carried on
through the mountain ranges with considerable exhibition of engineering
skill, and with great advantage to the traveller, as the views
throughout the whole distance are almost always extremely beautiful.

I did not stop on my road to see the Escorial: as far as the building is
concerned, it is enough I think to know that Herrera designed it, to be
satisfied that it will be cold, insipid, and formal in character. And
the glimpses I had of it as I passed amply justified this expectation.
It is, too, as utterly unsuited to its position on the mountain-side as
it well could be. On the other hand, I no doubt lost much in neglecting
to make the excursions to the various points of view which it is the
fashion for visitors to go to, though it seemed to me that the country
in the neighbourhood of La Granja, which one passes on the road from the
Escorial to Segovia, was more interesting than this, the mountains being
as high and much more finely wooded.



Few journeys can be made by the ecclesiologist in Spain which will be
altogether more agreeable or more fruitful of results than one to this
time-honoured city; for not only does it contain within its walls more
than the usual number of objects of architectural and ecclesiological
interest, but the road by which it is usually approached, across the
Sierra de Guadarrama, presents so much fine scenery as to be in itself
sufficient to repay the traveller for his work. It was from Madrid that
I made my way to Segovia, taking the railway as far as the little
station at Villalba, near the Escorial, and travelling thence by a
fairly-appointed diligence. The very fine and picturesque granite ranges
of the Guadarrama are generally bare and desolate on their southern
side, though here and there are small tracts of oak-copse, or fern, or
pine-trees; but, after a slow ascent of some three or four hours, when
the summit of the pass is reached, the character of the scenery changes
entirely, and the road winds down through picturesque valleys and dips
in the hills, which are here thickly covered everywhere with pine-trees
of magnificent growth. It is necessary to travel for a time in the
dismal plains of Old Castile, to enjoy to the full the sudden change to
the mountain beauties of the Guadarrama; and it is impossible not to
sympathize with the kings of Spain, who at La Granja, on the lower
slopes of the northern side of the range, have built themselves a palace
within easy reach of Madrid, and--owing to its height above the sea--in
a climate utterly different from, and much more endurable than, that of
the capital. Of the palace they have built I must speak with less
respect than I do of their choice of its site, for it is now untidy in
its belongings and apparently little cared for. A church forms the
centre of it, and the whole group of buildings has slated roofs,
diversified by an abundance of _tourelles_. The walls are all plastered
and covered with decaying paintings of architectural
decorations--columns, cornices, and the like--which give a thoroughly
pauperized look to the whole place. But probably the interior of the
palace and its famous gardens would correct the impression which I
received from a hurried inspection of the exterior only. It is an
uninteresting drive of about an hour from La Granja to Segovia. The
tower of the cathedral is seen long before reaching the city; but it is
not till one is very near to it that the first complete view is gained,
and this, owing to the way in which the Alcazar and cathedral stand up
upon a rocky height above the suburbs, and the streams which girt it on
either side, is very picturesque. Even finer is it as one drives on
through the suburb and first finds oneself in presence of the grand old
Roman aqueduct, which, still perfect and still in use, spans with its
magnificent ranges of arch upon arch the valley which separates the city
rock from the hills beyond. Its base is girt closely round by houses and
the diligence road passes under one of its arches, so that the enormous
scale upon which it is built is thoroughly appreciated, and it is quite
impossible not to admire the extreme simplicity and grandeur of the
work. Nothing here was done that was useless or merely ornamental, and
the whole still stands with but little repair--and that little well
done--after so many centuries of good service, as useful as at the

A steep hill leads up from the valley below the aqueduct through a
gateway in the walls into the city, and after threading the narrow
winding streets we find ourselves in the fine Plaza de la Constitucion,
which is surrounded by picturesque balconied houses, save at its
north-west angle, where it opens so as to allow a fine view of the east
end of the cathedral. The houses have generally extremely picturesque
open upper stages of wood arcading, and the windows and balconies are
all gay with the heavy curtains which protect them from the sun.

The situation of the city is in every way striking. On either side of it
there is a deep valley, and these at their meeting have between them the
great rock on which the Alcazar is built--as admirably secure a site for
a castle as could have been selected. Going eastward along the narrow
ridge the cathedral is soon reached, and this is the centre of the city,
which then widens somewhat, before the edge of the hill is reached which
leads down to the suburb below the aqueduct. In the two valleys are some
of the best of the buildings: San Millan in one, the Templars’ Church
and the Convent of El Parral in the other; but most of the old churches
are crowded closely together on the summit of the hill.

I shall begin my architectural notes with the cathedral, in deference
only to its rank, and not at all to its age or architectural merits. It
is nevertheless a building of no little value in the history of Spanish
art, as being perhaps the latest Gothic building erected, and one which
was yet but little influenced by Renaissance art. In the Appendix I give
a translation of the interesting contemporary account of the church,
written by one Juan Rodriguez, who appears to have been the canon in
charge of the work. According to his account, Juan Gil de Hontañon, the
architect of Salamanca Cathedral, was appointed in A.D. 1522 to
superintend the work, and on the 8th of June in the same year the Bishop
ordered a procession, and, going himself to the site of the church, laid
its foundation-stone at the western end. Cean Bermudez, in his account
of this cathedral, speaks of a competition among several architects for
the work, and says that the design of Rodrigo Gil de Hontañon--the son
of Juan Gil--was selected.[185] But this seems to be clearly contrary to
the distinct statement of the Canon Juan Rodriguez. The work was
commenced, as we have seen, in 1522, and Juan Gil seems to have died
circa 1531. His son Rodrigo was not made Maestro mayor until 1560, and
on the 5th of August, 1563, laid the first stone of the Capilla mayor.
The inscription on his tombstone in the cloister[186] says that he laid
the first stone of the church; but if he did so it was on behalf of his
father, who was then undoubtedly the Maestro mayor, and we may assume, I
believe, that the greater part of the church, as we now see it, was
finished before the year 1577, in which he died, though, indeed, Madoz
says that the Sacrament was moved to the new cathedral as early as 1558,
though the chapels of the apse were not completed until 1593. The north
door, by Juanes de Mugaguren, was added in A.D. 1626, and is thoroughly

The plan[187] of this church must be compared with that of the new
cathedral at Salamanca, built by the same man. The details of the two
churches are very similar; but the scale of Segovia is slightly greater
than that of Salamanca, and it has the enormous advantage of having a
grand chevet in place of a square east end. It will be seen, on
reference to my account of Salamanca, that the architects who drew up
the scheme for the cathedral there, intended that its end should be
circular, but that nevertheless it has not been so built. It seems
probable, therefore, that Hontañon felt that this alteration was a
mistake, or else that we owe the amended plan of Segovia to the better
taste of his son Rodrigo, who was master of the works of the eastern
portion of the church. But in any case, whether it is to the father or
the son that we owe it, the internal effect is undoubtedly very noble,
in spite of all the shortcomings which must be looked for in a work of
such a date. The main columns are of grand dimensions, moulded, and
rising from lofty bases planned with that ingenious complication of
lines which was always so much affected by the later German and Spanish
architects. The arches are very lofty, and there is no triforium, but
only a traceried balustrade in front of the clerestory, which consists
of uncusped triplets filling the wall above the springing of the
groining, and very low in proportion to the great height of the church,
though at the same time amply sufficient for the admission of all the
light necessary in such a climate. The aisle has a somewhat similar
clerestory, but without the traceried balustrade which we see in the
nave clerestory, and the aisles and chapels are all lighted with
windows, each of one broad light. Most of the smaller arches here are
semi-circular; but though this is the case, and though so many of the
windows are of one light, there is no appearance anywhere of any attempt
to revive the form or detail of earlier work.

On the exterior the general character is just the same as that of
Hontañon’s work at Salamanca. There are the same pinnacles and
buttresses, the same parapets, and the same concealment of the roofs and
roof-lines everywhere--even in the transepts, which have no gables--and
there is also a domed lantern over the Crossing and a lofty tower at the
west end, finished with an octagonal stage covered with a dome, and
rising from between four great pinnacles. So great, in short, are all
the points of similarity, that I can well believe that portions of the
two works may have been executed from the same plans, and this close
copying of the earlier work at Salamanca may perhaps have been the true
reason of the respectably Gothic detail of the chevet, built as it was
so near the end of the sixteenth century. The groining is all of the
kind so common in Spain, having ogee lierne ribs in addition to the
diagonal, and in place of ridge ribs.

Not a little of the grand effect of the interior is owing to the rich
stained glass with which all, or nearly all, the windows are filled. It
is all, of course, of the very latest kind, and poor in much of its
design; yet nevertheless it is often magnificent in colour, and in this
respect quite beyond anything that most of our artists in glass seem to
me to accomplish nowadays. The Coro is here--and probably was from the
first--in the nave; but there is nothing either in its fittings or in
those of the Capilla mayor which struck me as worthy of note. The detail
of the central dome is quite Pagan, and here and there throughout the
work little indications of the same spirit peep out, and show how narrow
was the escape which the whole church had of being from first to last
executed in the Renaissance style.

With all its faults this church has grand points: this every one will
allow who has seen it rising in a noble pyramidal mass above the houses
of the town from the open space in front of the Alcazar, from whence all
its parts are seen to great advantage. Of the other subordinate
buildings I need not say much. The canon, whose account I give in the
Appendix, is much more enthusiastic about them than I was, for in truth
they are cold and tame in design and meagre in detail; and wanting the
effect of height and colour of the interior of the cathedral, want all
that makes it so striking. I saw no great, if any, difference of style
between the cloisters and the church; but they were the cloisters of the
old church, and were removed here by a contract entered into by one Juan
de Campero in 1524. Campero was one of the architects consulted as to
the rebuilding of Salamanca Cathedral, and was evidently a mason or
builder as well as an architect. I was not aware of the history of the
cloister when I was at Segovia, and I did not notice any evidence of the
work having been rebuilt and added to in the way described.

The cathedral is the largest and most important, but at the same time
the most modern mediæval building in Segovia; whilst, on the contrary,
one of the smallest, the church of the Templars, is also one of the most
ancient and curious; it is situated by the roadside just out of the
city, on its north-west side, and below the great rock which is crowned
by the Alcazar. The date of its consecration in A.D. 1208 is given by an
inscription which still remains in the interior, and which has been
incorrectly given by Cean Bermudez. It is as follows:--

    Hæc sacra fundantes cœlesti sede locentur;
    Atque suberrantes in eadem consocientur.
    Dedicatio ecclesiæ beati Sepulchri Xrti
    Idus Aprilis Era MCCXLVI. +.

[Illustration: No. 24.

SEGOVIA p. 184.


The plan is very peculiar.[188] The nave is dodecagonal, and has a small
central chamber enclosed with solid walls, round which the vaulted
nave forms a kind of aisle. This central chamber is of two storeys in
height, the lower entered by archways in the cardinal sides, and the
upper by a double flight of steps leading to a door in its western side.
The upper room is vaulted with a domical roof which has below it four
ribs, two parallel north and south, and two parallel east and west, and
it retains the original stone altar, arcaded on its sides with a
delicately wrought chevron enrichment and chevroned shafts. The upper
chapel is lighted by seven little windows opening into the aisle around
it. The room below the chapel has also a dome, with ribs on its under
side. On the east side of the building are the chancel and two chapels,
forming parallel apses, to the south of which is a low steeple, the
bottom stage of which is also converted into a chapel. The chapel in the
centre of the nave is carried up and finished externally with a pointed
roof, whilst the aisle is roofed with a lean-to abutting against its
walls. There are pilasters at the angles outside, small windows high up
in the walls, and a fine round-arched doorway on the western side. The
character of the whole of this interesting church is late Romanesque,
and its value is considerable, as being an accurately dated example. It
is not now used, the Templars having been suppressed in A.D. 1312.

Within a few minutes’ walk of this church of La Vera Cruz (for this is
its dedication) is the convent of El Parral, founded in the fifteenth
century,[189] by a Marquis de Villena, on a spot once so beautiful as to
give rise to the saying, “Los huertos del Parral, Paraiso terrenal,” but
now so dreary, desolate, decaying, and desecrated, that the eye refuses
to rest on it, and seeks relief by looking rather at the grand view of
the town on the rocky heights on the other side of the little valley.

Juan Gallego, a native of Segovia, was the master of the works here in
1459, and it is recorded that before beginning to construct the convent
he collected all the waters from the hill above its site, and
distributed them by aqueducts for the service of the convent. The
Capilla mayor was not commenced until A.D. 1472, in which year a
contract was drawn up with Bonifacio and Juan de Guas, of Segovia, and
Pedro Polido, of Toledo, binding them to complete the work within three
years, for the sum of 400,000 maravedis. Then the tribune of the Coro
was found to be too low for the taste of the monks, and it was taken
down and rebuilt by Juan de Ruesga, of Segovia, for 125,000 maravedis;
and by a contract signed in July, 1494, he bound himself to complete the
work before the end of the same year. After this, in 1529, Juan Campero,
whose name has already been mentioned in connexion with the rebuilding
of the cloister of the cathedral, undertook to raise the tower
twenty-nine feet.[190]

The ground-plan and general design of this church are very peculiar. The
accompanying sketch-plan[191] will explain them better than any words;
and, strange as the planning of the transepts looks, it is,
nevertheless, very fine in effect. This is mainly the result of the very
remarkable distribution of light. The western part of the church is
almost without windows, and the great western gallery coming forward
just half the length of the nave, adds much to the impression of gloom
at this end of the building. The eastern end seems to be by contrast all
window, being lighted by twelve large three-light windows, with statues
of the Apostles in their jambs. The effect of the brilliant light at the
east end, and the deep gloom of the west, is most impressive, and shows
how much architects may do by the careful distribution of light. Few old
buildings are altogether without some sign of attention to this
important element of beauty in building, whilst few modern buildings
seem to me ever to have been devised with even any thought of the
existence of such a phenomenon as a shadow! The front of the gallery is
elaborately panelled, and returned eastward on the north side, to form a
gallery in front of the organ; and on the south, to make a passageway to
the staircase by which the monks reached the Coro. The arch under the
gallery is struck from three centres and richly cusped, and the whole is
carried on a stone vault. A very richly carved and cusped doorway leads
from the south transept to the cloisters, and to an elaborately painted
chapel, which has been added on the south-east of the choir. The
exterior of the church and convent is poor and uninteresting, though
there is a rather fine double west door, with a statue of the Blessed
Virgin in the centre, and saints on either side in the jambs.

The conventual buildings deserve but little notice. In the modern
cloister--fast falling to ruin--are retained the traceried balustrades
which probably adorned the cloister built at the time of the foundation
of the convent.

[Illustration: No. 25.



A very picturesque path loads up from El Parral into the city. The
effect of the Alcazar from hence is very imposing, the enormous
keep-tower which rises out of its western face being very prominent,
with its outline marked by round corner turrets projecting from the
angles so often seen in the old castles of Castile. Its walls, as well
as many others in the Alcazar, are covered with diapers in plaster, with
the pattern left slightly in relief, a mode of decoration which seems to
have been extremely popular in Segovia in the fourteenth and fifteenth
centuries. Until very lately this Alcazar was covered with picturesque
tall slated roofs, but, unfortunately, a fire has completely gutted the
whole building, and left nothing but the outside walls, which still,
however, are most imposing in their effect. The old town walls diverge
slightly from the Alcazar, and enclose the whole city; their outline is
broken picturesquely with towers, sometimes round and sometimes square,
and they wind about to suit the uneven and rugged surface of the rock on
which they are built. The gateways are not very remarkable, though
always effective. One of them is passed in coming from El Parral, and,
as soon as the town is reached, the noble steeple of San Esteban--one of
its finest architectural features--is seen in front.

I have seldom seen a better work than this. It is evidently one of a
large class, most of the other steeples here reproducing the unusual
arrangement of the angles. They are boldly splayed off, and in the
middle of the splay is set a shaft, which finishes with a sculptured
capital. The effect of this design is to give great softness of contour
to the whole steeple, and yet to mark boldly and broadly the importance
of the angles. The arcading of the various stages is richly and
admirably managed, and the details throughout are very pure and good. I
have found no evidence of its exact date, though it is evidently a work
of the first half of the thirteenth century.

The church to which this steeple belongs is remarkable for the remains
of an external cloister against the walls of the nave. There are several
churches here which have the same feature, and in other parts of this
book I have mentioned similar cases at Las Huelgas, Burgos, and at La
Antigua, Valladolid. It looks like an arrangement for keeping the
building cool, and is as good in its effect, as in so hot a climate it
must be convenient.

Of the early churches here none is altogether so fine as that of San
Millan. It stands in the southern valley, not far from the aqueduct, and
exactly on the opposite side of the town to the Templars’ Church. Like
that, too, it is outside the walls, and in a scantily-peopled suburb.
It consists of a nave and aisles,[192] all finished at the east end with
apses, and protected on both sides by cloisters similar to those of San
Esteban, save that they are confined to the sides, and do not return
across the west front. There is a low square lantern at the Crossing,
and transepts which do not project beyond the aisles, and hardly show
themselves, therefore, on the ground-plan. The central lantern is
finished with a corbel-table, roofed with a low tiled roof, and lighted
by a small window in each face. The apses are similar in style and
detail to most of the early Spanish apses, having engaged shafts at
intervals, richly wrought corbel-tables, and round-arched shafted
windows. Both the transepts probably had flat gables, with single
windows, like those in the apse, but the north transept has been
destroyed for the erection of a steeple, which seems to have formed no
part of the original plan. The most striking view of the church is from
the north-west. The west front is quite unaltered, save by the addition
of three little windows over the west door, and is a capital example of
simple Romanesque. The gables are all of the same pitch, and the aisle
walls are arcaded and pierced with windows above the cloister roofs. The
cloister is a very rich composition, the shafts being coupled, with
finely sculptured capitals, and the arches enriched with billet
mouldings. The corbel-tables and cornices to these cloisters have
evidently been carved at a date long after the original foundation of
the church, the edge of the eaves-cornice being cut in a rich
interlacing pattern of ivy-leaves, which cannot, I think, be earlier
than from A.D. 1250 to 1270, and the heads, figures, and foliage on the
corbels under it are all of the same character. There are fine north and
south doors here, and there is a local peculiarity in their design which
deserves notice. Their jambs consist of shafts set within very bold
square recesses; and the number of orders in the arch is double that of
those in the jamb, they being alternately carried on the capitals of the
shafts, and upon the square order of the jambs. The effect is good, the
bold spacing of the shafts, and the massiveness of the intermediate
square jambs, tending to give that effect of solidity which these early
Spanish architects never tired in their attempts to attain.

[Illustration: No. 26.



The interior of the church has been much modernized, but still enough
remains to render the whole scheme intelligible. The arcades between the
nave and aisles are all perfect; they are very plain, but spring from
carved capitals of large size. The capitals of the nave arcades have
their abaci planned with re-entering angles, so as exactly to fit the
plan of the two square orders of the archivolt. Some of the caps are of
foliage only, others are _historiés_; one I remember having all round it
the Adoration of the Magi, who are represented as large figures on
horseback, and produce a most strange effect in such a place. The cross
arches under the lantern are old, as also are those across the aisles,
but the roof of the nave is now all under-drawn with plaster, and there
are no means of telling precisely how it was originally covered; but, on
the whole, I incline to the belief that it must have had a cylindrical
vault, with quadrant vaults in the aisles, though it is possible, of
course, that it had a flat wooden ceiling. The square piers in the nave
favour this alternative, inasmuch as they seem to rise higher than they
would have done had the roof been a stone vault. The pilasters against
the aisle walls also run up to the level of the plate inside, and this
(though it is modern) is higher than the springing of the nave arcades,
and seems to prove that there have never been cross arches in the
aisles. The external walls of the aisles above the cloister roofs are
arcaded with plain arches between the pilasters, by which it is divided
into bays, and the aisle windows are set within these arches. The
lantern is modernized, but there still remain coupled cross ribs on its
under side, and these, though they are plastered, being similar to those
under the central vault of the Templars’ Church, are probably original.

I wish much that I could put my hands on some documentary evidence which
would fix the exact date of this very fine and interesting church, for,
from its importance, it may be considered to be a leading example; and
there is no doubt that it very largely influenced the other churches of
this important city. It is possible, however, from the character of some
of the detail, that part of it is older than the Templars’ Church,
consecrated, as we have seen, in A.D. 1208; though other parts of the
detail--as, for instance, that of the external cornices--cannot be
earlier than A.D. 1250-1270. Before the last of these dates, therefore,
I have no doubt the church was erected, though, as the arches are all,
or nearly all, semi-circular, the greater part of the work was probably
finished early in the century, if not in the twelfth century, and the
decorations may have been completed afterwards.[193]

The non-introduction of pointed arches is certainly in favour of the
earlier date, seeing that in the Templars’ Church most of the main
arches, rude as they are, are pointed; and were it not for the late
character of some parts of San Millan, and looking only to the character
of the plan and general design, I might have assumed its date to be
about A.D. 1150. It is possible that the cloisters were added after the
erection of the church.

The object of these external cloisters has been, I believe, matter of
considerable discussion, yet I confess that they always seemed to me to
be adopted mainly, if not solely, on account of the excessive heat in
Spain in summer, and to be well worth our imitation when we have to
erect churches in tropical climates. That they were confined very much
to certain localities is perfectly true, but this is constantly the
case, with local developments, in all parts of Europe; and here, no
doubt, the idea once suggested by some early architect was frequently
repeated by him, without taking the fancy of his brethren generally
enough to make them repeat it elsewhere.

[Illustration: Capital in Cloister, San Martin, Segovia.]

Another example of the same class, which in its original state must have
been finer than San Millan, is to be seen in the church of San Martin.
Here the cloister was carried not only along the sides, but across the
west front also, with a bold projecting west porch, breaking its lines,
and giving great character and dignity to the whole scheme. The west
doorway of the porch has statues in its jambs, and the detail seems to
me to be all genuine thirteenth century work. The illustration of one of
the cloister capitals will, I think, prove this; for though the old
favourite device of couples of birds is repeated here, the lines are all
extremely fine and graceful, and the carving of the abacus of an
advanced kind. This church is, unfortunately, very much modernized
throughout. It seems to have had three parallel apses at the east end,
and transepts, against which the side cloisters of the nave were
stopped. There is a modern lantern over the old crossing, and a tower to
the west of it rising from out of the centre of the nave, which seems to
be in part old. There were northern and southern as well as western
doors, and openings in the cloister opposite each of them.

San Roman, a desecrated church near the palace of the civil governor,
has a short nave, chancel, and apse, with a tower on the south side of
the chancel. The walls are very lofty, and are all finished with
corbel-tables at the eaves. The apse has three round-headed windows, and
there is a noble north door, similar in design to those of San Millan,
and with the abaci and labels richly carved. The west end has a small
doorway, and a circular window over it, the former certainly, and the
latter probably, not original. The lower stage only of the tower
remains. This church must be of about the same age as San Millan.

San Facundo is similar in plan to San Roman, and of the same date. The
detail of the apse is precisely the same as that of San Millan. There is
a large west door, modernized, and an open cloister seems to have been
added at a later date to the side of the church, and is now walled up.
This church is desecrated, and converted into a Museum of Paintings.

Santa Trinidad has a fine apse, and this is again of the San Millan
pattern. It has carved stringcourses at the springing of the windows,
and again just over their arches, and there are three-quarter engaged
wall-shafts between the windows, and a richly sculptured eaves-cornice
and corbel-table.

San Nicolas, close to Santa Trinidad, has two apses, each lighted with a
single window, engaged wall-shafts, and the usual carved labels, abaci,
and corbel-tables. The tower is on the north side, rises one stage above
the roof, and is lighted with two round-arched belfry windows. A small
apse was added rather later than the original fabric to the east of this
tower, and before its erection the plan must have been almost the same
as that of San Roman, but reversed. About a hundred yards from San
Nicolas is another church which is almost an exact repetition of San

San Luine (?), in the Plazuela de Capuchinos, is of just the same class
as the rest, with nave, chancel, and apse, and a second apse east of the
tower on the south side. There are no side windows here, and only a
single light at the east end.

Another church, in the Plaza de Isabel II., is of the same plan as the
last, with a modernized tower. The carving on the string-courses here
is of the same kind of natural foliage that I have described at San

Near the aqueduct are two churches. One of them, S. Antholin (I think),
has a tower at the north-east of the nave; its two upper stages have on
each face two round-arched shafted windows, and the angles are treated
in a precisely similar way to those of San Esteban, having bold splays
with engaged shafts in their centres. Another church close to this is
modernized, but retains its old tower, with the angles treated in the
same way.

The church of San Juan has remains of an external cloister on one side.

The last church of this long, and I fear very dry, catalogue, is that of
San Miguel, which stands in the Plaza near the cathedral. It has four
bays of nave, shallow transepts, and a very short choir, which is, I
think, apsidal, but almost concealed by a pagan Retablo. The whole is of
late fifteenth-century date, and must, I think, be the work of the same
hand as the cathedral. Some figures at the west end, representing St.
Michael and the Annunciation, have evidently been taken from some older
building, and built into the walls here. There is a very beautiful
triptych in the north transept, with a Descent from the Cross in the
centre, which ought to be looked at. It is a fine work of, I suppose,
the latter part of the sixteenth century.[194]

I have already mentioned the great Alcazar, and the old town walls and
gateways. They are magnificent in their scale, and very picturesque. The
Alcazar was burnt some two or three years ago, and is now roofless, and
I was told that its interior had been completely destroyed. I foolishly
omitted to verify this statement by personal inspection, and contented
myself with the sight of the exterior. The walls of the front towards
the city are all diapered in plaster, and here and there about the town
several other examples of the same kind of work are to be seen. The
patterns are generally tracery patterns of the latest Gothic, repeated
over and over again, so as to produce a regular diaper throughout. I
presume that it was executed with a frame cut out to the required
pattern, so as to allow of the ground being cut back slightly, leaving
the pattern lines formed in the original face of the plaster. This kind
of decoration seems to be perfectly legitimate, and here, owing to the
care with which the plaster has been made and used, it has stood
remarkably well, though most of the patterns that I saw had evidently
been executed in the fifteenth century.

In the front of the Alcazar these plaster patterns are carried not only
all over the plain face of the walls, but also round the towers and
turrets at the angles, so that the very smallest possible amount of
wrought stone is introduced. The great tower or keep standing back a few
feet only from the front is similarly ornamented, but has stone quoins
bonded irregularly into the walls; in its upper stage it has windows
surmounted by quaint stone canopies, and then a series of great circular
turrets, corbelled boldly out from the face of the wall, and carried up
a considerable height, give its extremely marked and Spanish air to this
grand tower. These turrets are of stone, and between them is a parapet
boldly corbelled out on machicoulis from the walls. With that contempt
for uniformity which marks mediæval artists, the keep is more than twice
as broad on one side as on the other, and the great mass of wall and
turret, roofs and spirelets, which crowned the whole building before the
fire, well sustained its picturesque irregularity of shape.

The front of a private house near the walls, not far from San Esteban,
is another capital example of the same kind of plaster-work. Here the
façade is a perfectly smooth and unbroken surface, pierced for doors and
windows, which are set in square panels of stone, and with a regular and
straight line of stone quoining at the angles. At one end a low tower is
carried up a few feet above the general line of the building. The
windows are generally mere plain square openings; but two set side by
side in the principal stage have delicate _ajimez_ windows of two
lights, with elaborately traceried heads. The patterns in the plaster
are three in number: the first carried from the stone plinth up to the
sills of the principal windows, where it is cut by a narrow band of
ornament, acting as a stringcourse to divide it from the second pattern,
which is carried up to the eaves, the tower being covered with a third
diaper, rather less intricate than the others.

Near this house is a tower in the walls even more worthy of notice. It
is of very considerable height, quite plain in outline, and pierced with
only one or two square-headed windows, but surmounted by a fine parapet
supported on machicoulis. The whole tower is built with bold stone
quoins and horizontal bands of brickwork, each band two courses in
height, at intervals of about three feet. Between these bands the walls
are plastered and diapered. Here, as in the other house, only two or
three patterns are used, but I think great judgment is shown in the
repetition for the greater part of the height of the same pattern, which
is changed at last near the top, where it was desirable to emphasize the
work. Most men having three patterns to use would have divided them
equally, but the real artist gives all their value to his simple
materials by not doing so. The construction of this tower led naturally
to its decoration. The wrought stone at the angles, the rough stonework
of the walls, and the occasional bonding-courses of brick, were all used
simply as the best materials for their respective parts; and the rough
stonework being plastered and diapered, gave a richness and polish to
the whole work which it would otherwise have wanted, whilst it in no
degree destroyed the air of stability of the wall, which is secured by
the obviously constructional arrangement of the stone and brick.

The Moors were always distinguished by the beautiful use they made of
plaster; and whether or no these Segovian buildings were executed by
Moorish architects, it is quite certain that at any rate we owe them to
their influence and example. The patterns used are generally such as in
stone-work would be unhesitatingly attributed to the end of the
fifteenth or first half of the sixteenth century, and to this period no
doubt the works I have been describing belong. They deserve a detailed
notice because they prove, as do most Moorish works, that plaster may be
used truthfully and artistically, and that without any approach to the
contemptible effect which the imbecility and dishonesty of the
nineteenth-century designers of plaster-work have contrived to impress
on almost all their productions.

My last work in Segovia was to go to the Alcazar to get a sketch of the
town, with the cathedral rising in a noble mass in its very centre,
backed by the line of the Guadarrama mountains, looking black and angry
with the storm-clouds which swept over the sky and around their summits
at sunset; and then strolling quietly back into the town, I went into
the cathedral, to be impressed, as one always must be in such a place,
by the aweful solemnity which even the latest Gothic architects in Spain
knew how to impart to their buildings.

[Illustration: SEGOVIA:--Ground Plan of the Cathedral: Plate XII.

W. West, Lithr. Published by John Murray, Albemarle St. 1865.]



On my first journey to Madrid I travelled most of the way from
Valladolid by diligence, and though the way was long and weary, the
passage of the Sierra de Guadarrama was very fine, and I remember few
pictures more lovely than that which we saw at sunrise, as we climbed
the northern side of the mountains amid groups of stone-pines; whilst
the steep descent to the village of Guadarrama, on the south, with a
slight distant view of Madrid, and a near view of the Escorial, was
quite a thing to be remembered with pleasure. Now, however, instead of
arriving at Madrid hot, dusty, and sore with a diligence journey, the
railway is completed, and the line of country it takes is so beautiful
between Avila and Madrid as to leave no room for regrets for the old
passage of the mountains by road.

The entrance to Madrid is not very striking. For the last three or four
miles the road passes by a fair amount of planted woods, but the river
by its side is dry and dreary, and every one in the hot season at which
I arrived seemed to be gasping for breath. A very small suburb only is
passed before the Queen’s palace is reached: this is built on the edge
of a steep hill overhanging the river, and commands a grand view of the
Sierra de Guadarrama. This is indeed the one and only glory of such a
site as that of Madrid, for were it not for this distant view, I know
nothing more dreary and unhappy than the country with which it is
surrounded. At the same time, partly owing to the great height above the
sea, and partly, probably, to the neighbourhood of this mountain range,
the climate here is most treacherous, changing rapidly from the most
violent heat in the daytime, to what seems by contrast to be icy
chilliness at night.

A garden with statues is laid out in front of the palace, and beyond
this, passing some narrow streets, one soon reaches the Puerta del Sol,
a fine irregular space in the centre of the city, with a fountain in the
centre which is always playing pleasantly, and on great occasions sends
up a jet to an unusual height. The Puerta del Sol is very irregular,
and on sloping ground, and hence it has a certain pleasing
picturesqueness, which probably accounts for the reputation it has

There is one great attraction to me in Madrid, and only one--the Picture
Gallery. And it is as well for travellers to take up their quarters in
one of the hotels near the Puerta del Sol, where they are within a walk
of it, rather than in the respectable Fonda de Ynglaterra, where I found
myself quite too far from everything that I wanted to see.

I discovered no old churches here. Madrid is, in fact, a thoroughly
modern city, and is remarkable as not being the see of a bishop, the
Archbishops of Toledo having succeeded in retaining it in their diocese.

I found, therefore, nothing whatever to do in the way of
ecclesiologizing; and yet, on the whole, having formed a very low
estimate of the place beforehand, I was rather agreeably disappointed.
The situation is unquestionably fine, the views of the mountains
beautiful, the streets busy and smart, and the fountains, which seem to
be innumerable, are on a scale which would astonish our London
authorities. The evenings are always deliciously cool, and then all
Madrid is on the move; the very well laid out and planted Prado is
thronged with smart people on foot, and smarter people in carriages; and
until one has suffered as one does from the extreme heat of the day, it
is hardly possible to imagine the luxurious freshness of the cool night.
It is said, however, to be a dangerous pleasure, pulmonary complaints
being very common.

The two great sights are the Museo and the Armeria; the latter is said
to be the best collection of arms in Europe, but somehow I always
managed to want to go there too early or too late, and, after divers
mistakes, in the end did not see it at all. Of the Museo it is difficult
to speak with too much enthusiasm: the number of pictures is enormous,
and it seemed to me that there was a larger proportion than is usual of
very first-rate works. Its deficiency is mainly in early
pictures--Italian, German, and Spanish. The early Italian schools are
represented by one Angelico da Fiesole only: this is a beautiful
example; an Annunciation, with the expulsion of Adam and Eve from Eden
on the left of the picture, and five subjects from the life of the
Blessed Virgin in the predella. Among these, the Marriage of the Blessed
Virgin has a close resemblance to Perugino’s and Raffaelle’s celebrated
pictures. I could see no examples of Francia or Perugino, not to speak
of earlier men; whilst the few early German works were none of them of
any great interest.

On the other hand, the pictures by Titian, Velasquez, Raffaelle,
Veronese, Tintoret, Murillo, and others of the great masters of their
age, are numerous and magnificent beyond description.

Velasquez and Titian are both so grand that I hardly knew which to
admire the most; of the former, perhaps on the whole the most charming
work is the portrait of Prince Balthazar, a noble boy, galloping forward
gallantly on his pony; whilst of the Titians, I think the most striking
was a weird-looking portrait of Charles V. in armour on horseback.
Murillo of course is in great force; he has frequent representations of
the Assumption, always treated in the same way: his work has a religious
spirit wanting in the manlier work of Titian and Veronese, but yet not
the true religious spirit so much as a sentimental affectation of it. Of
Ribera--better known in England as Spagnoletto--there are a great many
examples, generally disagreeable portraits of emaciated saints in
distorted attitudes, and a horrible elaboration of ghastliness. Juan
Juanes, an earlier Spanish painter, is much more agreeable, and he seems
to have been largely inspired by Perugino and his school; a series of
five subjects from the life of St. Stephen are perhaps the most
interesting of his works here.

The room in which the greatest treasures of the Gallery are collected is
called the Salon de la Reyna Isabel. Unfortunately a large opening in
the floor, to give light to a gallery of sculpture below, makes it a
little difficult to see some of the pictures at all well. At its upper
end is the famous Spasimo de Sicilia, a noble work, but spoilt by the
awkward and distorted drawing of the soldiers on the left. Near it is a
very fine Giovanni Bellini, the Delivery of the Keys to St. Peter; and
by its side a Giorgione, with a man in armour, as fine as anything I
know,--the subject, the Virgin and Saints. By Bronzino there is a
violin-player, a lad with a face beyond measure loveable. But it were
endless to go on through a list even of the _chefs-d’œuvre_ in such a
collection; and it is the less necessary to say much more than generally
to praise the whole Gallery as one of the first, if not the first, in
Europe, because, now that railways make the journey thither so much more
easy, some, no doubt, of our thousands of annual travellers will make
their way to Madrid, to make lists for themselves of the best of its

There is as little interest in modern as in earlier architecture here;
the only development that struck me being a fashion the people have of
diapering houses all over with a kind of thirteenth-century painting on
plaster; but I was not struck with the beauty of the development. The
best street is the Calle de Alcalá, leading from the Puerta del Sol to
the Prado. It is of great width, rising from the Puerta del Sol and
falling to the Prado, and not straight, all which points are much in its
favour: but the houses on either side are not generally so fine as they
should be, and there is consequently a slightly faded look about it,
which is not otherwise characteristic of Madrid. To see the Calle de
Alcalá to advantage, the day of a bull-fight should be selected. Then
from half-past three to four all the world streams along it to the
arena, excited, running, pushing, buying red and yellow paper fans for
the seats in the sun, and as noisy, boisterous, and enthusiastic as all
the world at any of our own national gatherings. The _picadors_ in their
quaint dresses come galloping along on their sorry steeds, each attended
by a man in a blouse riding on the same horse, and whose office it is
afterwards to make the poor wretch face the bull by beating him with a
long stick. Omnibuses and vehicles of all kinds bring their share of the
mob; and when I took my seat, I believe there were not less than twelve
thousand people assembled, every seat in the rather shabby but vast
arena being full. Women formed a very small proportion only of the whole
number, and I noticed that a lady who sat near me seemed as much shocked
as I was at the brutal parts of the exhibition; for all parts of it are
by no means brutal, and, indeed, I should be inclined to limit the term
to those parts in which horses are introduced. It would be quite as
pleasant to indulge oneself by an occasional visit to a knacker’s yard,
as to sit quietly looking on whilst a furious bull rips up a miserable
beast, usually blindfolded, in order that it may not move from the spot
at which the _picador_ chooses to receive the attack; but this part of
the performance over, there is little that is disgusting, and a great
deal that is singularly exciting and skilful. The men seldom seem to be
in any real danger of being caught by the bull, and nothing can be
cleverer than the way in which one of the _chulos_ will dance before him
half across the arena, always avoiding his charge by a hair’s-breadth
only, or in which one of the _banderilleros_, seated in a chair, will
plant his two arrows exactly on each side of the bull just as he stoops
to toss him, and the next instant jump out of his seat, whilst the chair
is dashed to atoms by the furious beast.

I felt, however, that one bull-fight was enough for me; the treatment of
each bull is of necessity the same, and the mules have no sooner
galloped out of one door trailing the dead bull and his victims out of
the arena, than another dashes in from the opposite side, only to meet
the same fate. The way in which the bulls come in is very striking: they
rush in madly like wild beasts, and generally charge rapidly at one of
the _picadors_ or _chulos_. I asked a Spaniard how this was managed, and
he explained that in the den from which they emerge they are goaded with
sharp-pointed spears just before the doors are opened, and of course
come into the arena mad with rage!

The object of bull-fights seems to be generally charitable--in the sense
that charity bazaars are so. At Valencia, where they have recently
erected an arena which almost rivals in size the Roman amphitheatres,
the work has been done by the trustees of the hospitals, and this seemed
to be usually the destination of the receipts whenever I saw them
advertized. That it is possible to have a bull-fight of even a worse
kind than the Spanish I learnt at Nîmes, where the cicerone showing me
the amphitheatre explained that they had a bull-fight every Sunday, but
never killed their bulls--only goaded them week after week!

Whilst I was at Madrid I made an excursion to Alcalá de Henares, the
seat of Cardinal Ximenes’ famous university, under the impression that I
should find a good deal to reward me. In this, however, I was
disappointed, as the churches are mostly works of the seventeenth and
eighteenth centuries, and the whole place is decayed, unprosperous, and
uncared for, without being picturesque and venerable.

The principal church, “El Magistral,” of SS. Just y Pastor--the tutelars
of the city--is a large, late church of poor style. It has a nave and
aisles of five bays, transepts and choir of one bay, and an apse of
three sides. The aisle round the apse is contrived with three square
bays and four triangular, and is evidently founded on the beautiful plan
of the chevet of Toledo cathedral; but I must say that Pedro Gumiel “el
Honrado,” Regidor of Alcalá, and architect of this church, has perfectly
succeeded in avoiding any repetition of the beauties of Toledo; his work
being thoroughly uninteresting and poor. The three western bays of the
nave are open; the two eastern enclosed with screens and stalled for the
Coro. A bronze railing under the Crossing connects the Coro with the
Capilla mayor. There are no less than six pulpits here! two at the
entrance to the choir for the Epistoler and Gospeller, two on the west
of the Crossing, and two more opposite each other against the second
column from the west in the nave. It looks just as though they had
ordered a pair of pulpits as they did a pair of organs; and as preaching
does not seem to be much the fashion now in Spain, I had no opportunity
of learning how these many pulpits were to be used. There are two
organs, one on each side over the Coro; that on the south so picturesque
as to be worthy of illustration.

[Illustration: Organ, Alcalá.]

Two great monuments--one in the nave, and one under the Crossing--are
remarkable for the position of the effigies with their feet to the west.
On the south side of the south transept is a small chapel roofed with a
most rich and delicate Moorish plaster ceiling; the whole was richly
coloured. It did not appear to be earlier than the church, which is said
to have been constructed between the years 1497 and 1509.

The University founded by Ximenes is in a wretched state of
dilapidation; it is said to have been designed by the same Pedro Gumiel
who built SS. Just y Pastor, but the work, so far as I saw it, was all
Renaissance. The façade and court behind it were the work of Rodrigo Gil
de Hontañon, between A.D. 1550 and 1553, and he destroyed Pedro Gumiel’s
work in order to erect it. By the side of the college stands the church
of San Ildefonso, which I suppose must be the chapel built by Pedro
Gumiel. It is, I believe, desecrated, and no one could tell me where the
key was to be found, so that I was unable to do more than get a note of
the curious Cimborio from the exterior. It is not a lantern, but rather
a raising of the whole centre of the church above the remainder. It is
constructed of brick and stone, and is evidently of late date. Under
this Cimborio, I believe, is the monument of the great Cardinal.

[Illustration: Domestic Window, Alcalá.]

There are considerable remains of the old walls, with circular towers
rather closely set around them. The bishop’s palace retains a fine
tower, which seems to have been connected with the town walls. It is
plain below, but has turrets picturesquely corbelled out on machicoulis
over the centre of each side and at each angle. A wing of the palace
which joins this tower has some very remarkable domestic windows, which
deserve illustration. The shafts are of marble, the tracery and the wall
below the sill of stone, but the wall of brick. The shafts are set
behind each other, there is a good ball-flower enrichment in the label,
and the mouldings are rich and good of their kind. Such a window seems
to unite the characteristics of two or three countries, and is, indeed,
in this, an epitome of Spanish art, which borrowed freely from other
lands, and often imported foreign architects, yet, in spite of all this,
is still almost always national in its character.

It is an easy journey from Alcalá to Guadalajara; and though the latter
place disappointed me much, it is still worthy of a few hours’ delay to
those who pass by it on the Madrid and Zaragoza railway. Seen from the
distance it is an imposing city, and if it be seen as I saw it during
fair time, full of peasants in gay costume, the general impression may
be not unpleasant; but unfortunately, the early architectural remains
are few and generally insignificant.

The church of Sta. Maria is the subject of a picturesque view in Villa
Amil’s book, and he deserves great praise for the skill with which he
has created something out of nothing. I could find no feature worth
recording save its two Moresque doorways, in one of which--that at the
west end--the arch is of the pointed horseshoe form, and the archivolt
is built of bricks, some of which are set forward from the face of the
wall in the fashion of the rustic work in the execution of which certain
schools of architects everywhere seem to take a grave pleasure, of
which, perhaps, it would be unkind to wish to deprive them.

The church of San Miguel has a portion of the exterior built in a rich
nondescript style--debased Moresque is, perhaps, the right term for
it--in the year 1540, as an inscription on the church records. The lower
part of the only original portion remaining is built of rough stone, the
upper of brick; and it is argued by some, I believe, that the use of the
two materials proves that the work was executed at different epochs. To
me it seemed that the whole was uniform in style, and evidently the work
of sixteenth-century builders. It has large circular projections at the
angles, which are finished with fantastic cappings, and sham machicoulis
below the ponderous overhanging cornices which ornament the walls both
at the end and sides. These cornices have deep brick consoles at
intervals, the spaces between them filled with crosses on panels of
terracotta. The rest of the church seems to be modernized. Both here and
at Sta. Maria there are external cloister passages outside the church
walls, modern in style and date, but similar in object to those of
Segovia and Valladolid already described. Another little church, called
La Antigua, has an eastern apse of brick and stone, with window openings
of many cusps formed very simply with bricks of various lengths. This
work is similar to much of the Moresque work at Toledo, and it is rather
remarkable how continuous the line of Moresque buildings from Toledo
to Zaragoza seems to be.

[Illustration: No. 27.



I saw no other old church here; but the very fine late Gothic palace del
Infantado is well worth a visit. It is like so much Spanish work, a
strange jumble of Gothic and Pagan, slightly dashed perhaps with Moorish
sentiment, and with the somewhat strange feature that the most Gothic
portion is above, and the most Pagan below. The façade has a rich late
Gothic doorway, and the face of the wall is diapered all over with what
look like pointed nail-heads. The two lower stages have windows of the
commonest type, with pediments, whilst the upper stage has a rich open
arcade, every third division of which has a picturesque projecting
oriel, boldly corbelled forward from the face of the wall. Some Pagan
windows have evidently been inserted here; and it is possible that some
of the other details have been, but if so the work has been done so
neatly that it is difficult to detect the alteration. The courtyard or
_patio_ has seven open divisions on two sides, and five divisions on the
others, and is of two stages in height. The lower range of columns has
evidently been modernized, but in the upper they are very richly carved
and twisted. The arches are ogee trefoils cusped, and their spandrels
are clumsily filled with enormous lions cut in deep relief, and boldly
standing on nothing, whilst they manage to hold up a diminutive coat of
arms as a sort of finial to the arch. In the upper arcades griffins take
the place of the lions, and the arches are again richly cusped. I
noticed the date of A.D. 1570 on the capital of one of the columns, but
this I have no doubt was the date of the Pagan alterations, and not that
of the original fabric, which is said to have been erected in the year

The Dukes del Infantado had a grand palace in this building, and though
it has long been neglected and disused, it seems as if it were again
about to be occupied, as I found workmen busily engaged in a sort of
restoration of the sculptures in the _patio_, which they were repairing,
if I remember right, with plaster.

The sight of a river is always pleasant in this part of Spain, and so,
though there is not much water in the Henares, I looked gratefully at
it, and at the trees growing by its banks, as I sauntered down to the
railway station after a rather weary day spent in vainly trying to find
enough to occupy my time and my pencil.

A railway journey of two or three hours carries one hence to a far
pleasanter and more profitable city, Sigüenza, whose cathedral is of
first-rate interest, and, generally speaking, well preserved. It is,
like so many of the Spanish churches, unusually complete in its
dependent building’s; and though these sometimes obscure parts of the
building which one would like to examine, they always add greatly to the
general interest. The plan[196] here consists of a nave and aisles of
only four bays in length, but the dimensions are so considerable that
the interior does not look short. Two western towers are placed at the
angles, touching the main walls only at one corner, and giving
consequently great breadth to the façade. There are transepts and an
apsidal choir, with an aisle, or procession-path--and no chapels--all
round it. The choir is old, the procession-path of Renaissance
character, and it is clear that when first built this church had no
choir-aisle with surrounding chapels, and it was, I have no doubt,
terminated in the usual early Spanish fashion, with three eastern
apsidal chapels.

I have not met with any notice of the foundation of this church, save
that given by Gil Gonzalez Dávila.[197] He says that the king Don
Alonso, after having gained Toledo from the Moors, and appointed
Bernardo archbishop, took Sigüenza, Al-maçan, Medina Celi, and other
places of importance. He then restored the cathedral here, which was
dedicated on June 19th, 1102, and appointed as first bishop Don
Bernardo, a Benedictine monk, who had taken the habit at Cluny, and who
was a native of France. The Archbishop of Toledo was his patron, and he
was one of the many French bishops appointed at this time to Spanish
sees through his great influence. The epitaph of D. Bernardo, given by
Dávila, records that he rebuilt this church, and consecrated it on the
day of St. Stephen in the year 1123. This inscription, however, is not
of much value, as it was written after the translation of the bishop’s
body in 1598. The second bishop was also a Frenchman, and a native of

[Illustration: No. 28



A very small portion--if indeed any--of the work of the first bishop now
remains. There is one fragment of early Romanesque work to the east of
the cloister, which no doubt formed part of it; and it is just possible
that the three enormous cylindrical columns, which still remain in the
nave, are of the same age. If this be so, I should be inclined to assume
that the choir only was consecrated in A.D. 1123, and that the nave was
commenced and carried on very slowly, until, as the style developed,
the simple cylindrical columns were abandoned for the fine groups of
clustered shafts which are elsewhere used. The general style of the
church is a very grand and vigorous first-pointed, early in the style,
but still not at all Romanesque in character; and I know few interiors
which have impressed me more with their extreme grandeur and stability
than this. The truth is, that the somewhat excessive solidity of the
work--as heavy and ponderous in substance as the grandest Romanesque--is
singularly noble when combined as it is here with very considerable
height in the columns and walls, and with fine pointed arches, early
traceried windows, and good sculpture. Unfortunately this massive
grandeur is only a matter of envy to a wretched architect in the
nineteenth century, whose main triumph, if he would prosper, must be to
use as few bricks and as small fragments of stone as he can, to the
intent that his work should certainly be cheap, and in forgetfulness, if
possible, that it will also certainly be bad! Here, however, the
architect wrought for eternity as far as was possible, and with a
success which admits of no doubt and no cavil. He has been singularly
fortunate, too, in the comparative freedom from subsequent alterations
which his work has enjoyed. The Renaissance procession-path round the
choir, which is the most important addition, certainly spoils the
external effect; but it is hardly noticed in the interior, until you
find yourself under its heavy and tame panelled roof, and outside the
solid wall which still encircles the ancient apse.

The groining of the choir and transepts is sexpartite, but everywhere
else it is quadripartite; and the ribs, which are very bold in their
dimensions, are generally moulded, but over the crossing are enriched
with the dog-tooth ornament. The same decoration is also carved on the
clerestory windows of the choir and transepts.

The original windows generally still remain. Those in the aisles are
single round-headed lights of grand size, with double engaged shafts,
both inside and outside: those in the clerestory are of more advanced
character, some being of two and some of four lights, of the best early
plate tracery, with pointed enclosing arches. The western bay of the
choir has lancet clerestory windows, and the apse of seven sides has
also a lancet in each face, with a sort of triforium below, which is now
closed, but which before the addition of the procession-path was
probably pierced. Below this quasi-triforium the wall of the apse is
circular in plan, whilst above it is polygonal, and the difference shows
the very gradual way in which the building was erected, one of the most
usual points of distinction between the Romanesque and the early-pointed
planning of an apse being that in the former it is circular, and in the
latter polygonal.

In speaking of the windows, I have omitted to mention the finest, which
are undoubtedly the roses in the principal gables. That in the south
transept is one of the finest I know;[198] and whilst it is remarkable
for the vigorous character of its design it is also to be noted for a
peculiarity which I have before observed in early Spanish traceries.
This is the mode in which the traceries are, as it were, packed against
each other. It is especially noticeable in the outer line of circles
which are inserted like so many wheels abutting against each other, and
without the continuous central moulding to which we are generally
accustomed. Here, as well as in the interior, the dog-tooth ornament is
freely used; and the outer mouldings of the circle are of good

The exterior of this church is of as great interest as the interior. The
two western steeples are of the very plainest possible character,
pierced merely with narrow slits, which light the small chambers in the
interior of the tower.

The buttresses are of enormous size; and in the angles between them and
the walls are set engaged shafts, which run up to and finish under the
arcaded eaves-cornices with which the walls are finished under the roof.
At the west end these shafts are carried up to a greater height, and
support three bold arches, one in each division of the façade,
corresponding in height pretty nearly with the groining inside. I find,
on looking at my notes on this church, that I observed upon this as a
feature which I recollected at Notre Dame, Poitiers; and there is some
significance, therefore, in the record of the fact that the second
bishop, in whose time probably this part of the church was built, was a
native of that city.

The western door is round-arched, but the cornice over it has been
destroyed; and the finish of the buttresses and whole upper part of the
west front have been modernized. The transept doors are not old, but
seem to be in their old places, placed close to the western side, so as
not to interfere with the placing of an altar against the eastern wall.
At Tudela cathedral the old doorways still remain just in the same
place; and viewed in regard to convenience, and not with a view to
making the most important and regular architectural elevation, there is
no doubt as to the advantage of the plan.

In addition to the two western steeples there is also one of more modern
erection and smaller dimensions on the east side of the south transept.
The other late additions to the church are some chapels on the south
side of the choir, a grand sacristy on its north side, some small
chapels between the buttresses on the north side, and the Parroquia of
San Pedro, running north and south, near the west end. This and the
chapel on the south side of the choir are of late Gothic date, and of
very uninteresting character. Indeed it is remarkable how little the
work of the later Spanish architects ordinarily has in it that is of
much real value. The early works always have something of that air of
mystery and sublimity which is the true mark of all good architecture,
whilst the later have generally too much evidence of being mere
professional cut-and-dried works, lifeless and tame, like the large
majority of the works to which a vicious system of practice has reduced
us at the present day.

The cloister, to which also the same remark will apply, was finished in
A.D. 1507 by Cardinal Mendoza, as we learn from an inscription in Roman
letters with a Renaissance frame round them, which is let into the wall
on the south side;[199] and I noticed that the very florid early
Renaissance altar-tomb and door to the cloister, which fills a great
part of the inside of the north transept, is inscribed to the memory of
the same cardinal.[200]

The buildings round the cloister are not remarkable. The summer
Chapter-house is of grand size, with a rather good flat painted ceiling,
and pictures of the Sibyls against the walls. At the south end is a
chapel with an altar, divided by an iron Reja from the Chapter-room.

A Renaissance doorway to another room on the east side of the cloister
has the inscription, _Musis. sacra. domus. hec_, and leads to the
practising-room for the choir.

The ritual arrangements here are of the usual kind. The bishop’s stall
is in the centre of the west end, and was made for its place; but the
whole of the woodwork is of the latest Gothic, and proves nothing as to
the primitive arrangement. Gil Gonzalez Dávila[201] gives an
inscription from the tomb of Simon de Cisneros, who died in 1326, and
who is there said to be the bishop: “Qui hanc ecclesiam authoritate
apostolica ex regulari in secularem reduxit ac multis ædificiis
exornavit.” I hardly know what buildings still remaining can be exactly
of this date; but it is evident that the statement refers to subordinate
buildings and not to the main fabric of the church.

The people of Siguëuza seem to be more successful than is usual in Spain
in the cultivation of green things. The cloister garden is prettily
planted, and has the usual fountain in the centre. There is a grove of
trees in the Plaza, on the south side of the church; and a public garden
to the north is really kept in very fair order, and looks pleasantly

I saw no other old building here except a castle on the hill above the
town, with square towers projecting at intervals from the outer wall;
but it seemed to have been much modernized, and I did not go into it.

[Illustration: SIGÜENZA: Ground Plan of the Cathedral &c. Plate XIII.

Published by John Murray. Albemarle Street 1865]



Toledo is now extremely easy of access from Madrid, a branch from the
main line of the Alicante railway turning off at Castellejon, and
reducing the journey to one of about two or three hours only, from the
capital. Of old the road passed through Illescas, and the picturesque
church there, illustrated by Villa Amil, made me regret that the less
interesting railroad rendered the journey by road out of the question.

The country traversed by the railway is very uninteresting, and
generally looks parched and arid to a degree. Near Aranjuez the waters
of the Tagus have been so assiduously and profitably used, that a great
change comes over the scene, and the train passes through woods where
elms and other forest trees seem to thrive almost as well as they do in
damp England; and one can easily understand how this artificial verdure
in the plain must delight the Castilian, who otherwise, if he wishes to
enjoy such sights, must leave the heat of the plain for the cold winds
of the mountain ranges of the Guadarrama. Aranjuez is, however, but an
oasis in this Castilian desert, and the railway, soon leaving it behind,
wends its way along the treeless, leafless plain to the ecclesiastical
capital of the kingdom. On the opposite or right bank of the Tagus, the
hills rise to a considerable height, and here and there their dull brown
outlines are marked, though hardly relieved, by large clusters of houses
surrounding the lofty and apparently uninteresting churches which mark
the villages, whose _tout ensemble_ seems everywhere on nearer
inspection most uninviting to the eye. The banks of the Tagus are more
refreshing, for here the water-wheels for raising water, which line the
margin of the stream, suggest some desire on the part of the people to
make the most of their opportunities, and they are rewarded by the
luxuriant growth which always attends irrigation in Spain.

I looked out long and anxiously for the first view of Toledo, but the
hills, which nearly surround it, conceal it altogether until one has
arrived within about two or three miles distance; and here, with the
Tagus meandering through its _vega_ in the foreground, the great mass
of the hospital outside and below the city to the right hand, and the
wall-encircled rock on which the city is perched, crowned by the vast
mass of the Alcazar to the left, the view is certainly fine and

From most points of view, both within and without the city, the
cathedral is seldom well, and sometimes not at all, seen, standing as it
does on much lower ground on the side of the rock which slopes towards
the least accessible part of the river gorge, and much surrounded by
other buildings, whilst the Alcazar, which occupies the highest ground
in the whole city, is so vast and square a block of prodigiously lofty
walls (old in plan, but modern in most of their details), as to command
attention everywhere. The other side of the river is edged by bold
hills, and all along its banks are to be seen water-wheels so placed as
to raise the water for the irrigation of the land on either side. It is
not, however, until after more intimate knowledge of the city has been
gained, that its extreme picturesqueness and interest are discovered.
The situation is, indeed, most wild and striking. The Tagus, winding
almost all round the city, confines it much in the fashion in which the
Wear surrounds Durham. But here the town is far larger, the river banks
are more rocky, precipitous, and wild than at Durham: whilst the space
enclosed within them is a confused heap of rough and uneven ground, well
covered with houses, churches, and monasteries, and intersected
everywhere by narrow, Eastern, and Moorish-looking streets and alleys,
most of which afford no passage-room for any kind of carriage, and but
scanty room for foot passengers. It is, consequently, without exception,
the most difficult city to find one’s way in that I have ever seen, and
the only one in which I have ever found myself obliged to confess a
commissionaire[202] or guide of some sort to be an absolute necessity,
if one would not waste half one’s time in trying to find the way from
one place to another.

The railway station is outside the city, which is entered from it by the
famous bridge of Alcantara, which has a single wide and lofty arch above
the stream, guarded on the further side by a gateway of the time of
Charles V., and on the town side by one of semi-Moorish character. Above
it are seen, as one enters, the picturesque apses of the old church of
Santiago, and the tolerably perfect remains of the double _enceinte_ of
the city walls; whilst on the opposite side of the river, as a further
guard to the well-protected city, was the Castle of San Cervantes[203]
(properly San Servando), of which nothing now remains but a few rugged
towers and walls crowning the equally rugged rocks.[204]

The road from the bridge, passing under the gateway which guards it into
a small walled courtyard, turns sharply to the right under another
archway, and then rises slowly below the walls until, with another sharp
turn, it passes under the magnificent Moorish Puerta del Sol, and so on
into the heart of the city.

The Alcazar is the only important building seen in entering on this
side; but from the other side of the city where the bridge of San Martin
crosses the Tagus, the cathedral is a feature in the view, though it
never seems to be so prominent as might be expected with a church of its
grand scale. From both these points of view, indeed, it must be
remembered that the effect is not produced by the beauty or grandeur of
any one building; it is the desolate sublimity of the dark rocks that
bound the river; the serried phalanx of wall, and town, and house, that
line the cliffs; the tropical colour of sky, and earth, and masonry;
and, finally, the forlorn decaying and deserted aspect of the whole,
that makes the views so impressive and so unusual. Looking away from the
city walls towards the north, the view is much more _riant_, for there
the Tagus, escaping from its rocky defile, meanders across a fertile
_vega_, and long lines of trees, with here a ruined castle, and there
the apse of the curious church of the Cristo de la Vega, and there
again the famous factory of arms, give colour and incident to a view
which would anywhere be thought beautiful, but is doubly grateful by
comparison with the sad dignity of the forlorn old city.

The buildings to be studied here are of singular interest, inasmuch as
they reflect in a great degree the striking history of the city itself,
as well as of the kingdom of which it was so long the capital. There is
no doubt that there was a cathedral, as well as some churches,[205] here
before the conquest of this part of Spain, in A.D. 711, by the Moors;
and in the course of the long period of nearly four centuries during
which the Mahomedan rule lasted, many buildings were erected, and a
Moorish population was firmly planted, which, when Alonso VI. regained
the city in 1085, was still protected, and continued to live in it as
before. The Moors had, indeed, set an example of toleration[206] worthy
of imitation by their Christian conquerors; for though it is true that
they converted the old cathedral into their principal mosque, they still
allowed the Christians to celebrate their services in some other
churches[207] which existed at the time of the Conquest; and during the
greater part of the Christian rule, their tolerant example was so far
followed, that the Moors seem to have enjoyed the same freedom, and to
have lived there unmolested, whilst they built everywhere, and acted, in
fact, as architects, in the old city, not only for themselves, but also
for the Christians and the Jews, down to the establishment of the
Inquisition. It is a very remarkable fact, indeed, that with one grand
exception nearly all the buildings of the twelfth, thirteenth, and
fourteenth centuries, which are to be seen here, are more or less
Moorish in their character;[208] and though the cathedral, which is the
one exception, is an example of thoroughly pure Gothic work almost from
first to last, there never seems to have been any other attempt to
imitate the Christian architectural idea of which it was so grand an
exponent. I have purposely avoided going to those parts of Spain in
which the Moors were undisputed masters during the middle ages; but here
it is impossible to dismiss what they did without proper notice, seeing
that, after Granada and Cordoba, perhaps nowhere is there so much to be
seen of their work as in Toledo.

The buildings to be examined will be best described under certain heads,
reserving the cathedral for the last, because some of the Moorish
buildings are the oldest in the city, and these lead naturally on to the
later works of the same class. The order in which I shall attempt to
take them will be therefore as follows:--

  I.   The Moorish mosque;
  II.  The Jewish synagogues;
  III. The Moorish houses;
  IV.  The Moorish work in churches;
  V.   The gateways, walls, and bridges;
  VI.  The cathedral and other examples of Christian art.

There are, indeed, some works anterior to the rule of the Moors, for
below the walls, in the _vega_, are said to be some slight remains of a
Roman amphitheatre;[209] in addition to which there are still some
fragments of work _possibly_ Visigothic, and anterior therefore to the
Moorish Conquest of 711. These are confined to a few capitals which have
some appearance of having been re-used by the Moors in their own
constructions, such _e.g._ as the capitals of the Mosque now called the
“Cristo de la Luz,” and those of the arcades on either side of the
church of San Roman, together with some fragments preserved in the court
of the hospital of Sta. Cruz. They are very rudely sculptured, and bear
so slight a resemblance to the early Romanesque work of the same period,
that it is difficult, I think, to decide positively as to their age. It
is certain, however, that the earliest distinctly Moorish capitals are
entirely unlike them in their character, and quite original in their
conception; and it is, of course, very possible that the Moors, pressed
by the necessity of the case, would, after their conquest, not only have
retained some of the existing buildings, but also have re-used the best
of their materials in their new works.

[Illustration: S. Cristo de la Luz, Toledo.]

The earliest of the distinctly Moorish buildings is a little
mosque--now called the church of “Cristo de la Luz”--which was standing
at the time of the entrance of Don Alonso VI. into the city, on Sunday,
May 25, 1085. He entered by the old Puerta de Visagra, and, turning into
this the first mosque on his road, ordered mass to be said, and hung up
his shield there before he went further. No doubt the nave of the
building is still very much in the state in which he found it; it is
very small, only 21 ft. 7¼ in. by 20 ft. 2 in., and this space is
subdivided into nine compartments by four very low circular columns,
which are about a foot in diameter. Their capitals are some of those of
which I have just spoken; they are all different, and, it seemed to me,
more like Moorish work than the other capitals of the same class at San
Roman and Sta. Cruz. The arches, of which four spring from each capital,
are all of the round horseshoe form; above them is a string-course, and
all the intermediate walls are carried up to the same height as the main
walls. They are all pierced above the arches with arcades of varied
design, generally cusped in very Moorish fashion, and supported on
shafts; and above these each of the nine divisions is crowned with a
little vault, formed by intersecting cusped ribs, thrown in the most
fantastic way across each other, and varied in each compartment. The
scale of the whole work is so diminutive that it is difficult, no doubt,
to understand how so much is done in so small a space; but, looking to
the early date of the work, it is impossible not to feel very great
respect for the workmen who built it, and for the ingenious intricacy
which has made their work look so much larger and more important than it
really is.[210] It is, indeed, an admirable instance of the skill and
dexterity in design which seem to have marked the Moors so honourably
from the first, and which must have made them, as far as one can judge,
in every respect but their faith so much the superiors of their
Christian contemporaries. An apse has been added for the altar, but this
is evidently a much later addition to the old mosque. The exterior face
of the walls is built of brick and rough stone. The lower part of the
side wall being arcaded with three round arches, within the centre of
which is a round horseshoe arch for a doorway; above is a continuous
sunk arcade of cusped arches, within which are window openings with
round horseshoe heads. The lower part of the walls is built with single
courses of brick, alternating with rough stonework; the piers and arches
of brick, with projecting labels and strings also of unmoulded brick.
The arches of the upper windows are built with red and green bricks
alternated. The horseshoe arches here are built in the usual Moorish
fashion, the lower part of the arch being constructed with bricks laid
horizontally, and cut at the edge to the required curve; and about
halfway round the arch they are cut back to receive the arch, which is
there commenced. In the same way the cinquefoiled arches of the upper
arcade have their lowest cusps formed by the stone abacus, the
intermediate cusps by bricks laid horizontally and cut at the edge, and
the upper central cusp alone has any of its masonry constructed as an

The upper stage of the mosque called De las Tornerias is Moorish work of
the same plan as the Cristo de la Luz; but I am much inclined to doubt
whether it is equally ancient. The rosettes cut in the vaults, and the
cusped openings, give this impression, and the vaults are quadripartite
and domical in section, the centres of the nine small bays of vaulting
being raised higher than the others, and having two parallel ribs
crossing each other both ways, in the way I have already noticed in the
Chapter-house at Salamanca, and the Templars’ Church at Segovia.

There is, so far as I know, no other mosque in the city so little
altered as these; but among the churches some are said to have been
first of all built for mosques. San Roman is one of these. It was
converted into a parish church at the end of the eleventh century,[211]
and the column and arches between the nave and aisles are probably of
this date. The arches are of the horseshoe form, and the capitals are, I
think, commonly quoted as some of the earlier works re-used by the
Moors. But I very much doubt whether their style justifies my
attributing to them any date earlier than the eleventh century. The
church was not consecrated until June 20th, 1221, but there can be no
doubt that it was built before this date. The noble steeple is one of
the works built by Moorish architects for Christian use, and it will be
better, perhaps, to reserve it for description with other works of the
same class.

Of the two synagogues the older is that which was founded in the twelfth
century, but seized in A.D. 1405 by the Toledans--instigated by the
preaching of San Vicente Ferrer--and dedicated as a church under the
name of Sta. Maria la Blanca.[212] The modernized exterior is of no
interest, but the interior is fairly preserved by the zeal, I believe,
of some Spanish antiquaries, having long been disused as a church. In
plan it consists of a nave, with two aisles on either side. A
quasi-chancel was formed at the east end (in the sixteenth century
apparently) by the prolongation of the central compartment or nave
beyond the aisles, and the intermediate aisles were also lengthened to a
less extent at the same time. There are eight horseshoe arches rising
from octagonal columns in each of the arcades, and the whole of them, as
well as their capitals, are executed in brick, covered with plaster. The
capitals are exceedingly elaborate, but very slightly varied in pattern:
they have but little connexion with any of the usual types of Byzantine
or Romanesque capitals, though they have rather more, perhaps, of the
delicate intricacy of the former than of any of the features of the
latter, and they are, I imagine, very much later than the original
capitals which they overlay. All the Moorish decorative work seems to
have been executed in the same way in plaster. This was of very fine
quality, and was evidently cut and carved as if it had been stone, and
seldom, if ever, I think, stamped or moulded, according to the mistaken
practice of the present day. The consequence is that there is endless
variety of design everywhere, and--wherever it was desired--any amount
of undercutting. The spandrels above the arches are filled in with
arabesque patterns, and there is a cusped wall arcade below the roof;
but almost all of this is evidently of much later date than the original
foundation, as the patterns are all of that large class of Moorish
devices which, though they retain many of their old peculiarities,
borrow largely at the same time from the traceries and cusping of late
Gothic work. Unfortunately in such work the material affords so small an
assistance in the detection of alterations, that it requires the
exercise of considerable caution to ascertain their exact limits; and in
Toledo, as in most places, people seem always disposed to claim the
highest possible antiquity in all cases, seldom allowing anything to
have been done by the Moors after the restoration of the Christian rule,
though, in fact, the exact converse of this would be nearer the truth.
The roof has coupled tie beams--placed a very slight distance apart--an
arrangement of which the Moorish carpenters seem to have been always
very fond. The pavement is very good, but must, I imagine, be of about
the date of the conversion of the synagogue into a church. It is divided
into compartments by border tiles, laid down the length of the church on
either side of the columns. The spaces between these are filled in with
a rich diaper of encaustic and plain red tiles, whilst the general area
between these richer bands is paved with large red, relieved by an
occasional encaustic tile. The latter have patterns in white, dark blue,
and yellow, and in all cases they are remarkable for the beautiful
inequality both of the colours and of the surface of the tiles. Both
colour and material are in themselves better than the work of our
tile-manufacturers at the present day, and illustrate very well the
difference between hand-work and machine-work, which I have already
noticed in comparing the old and new modes of dealing with plaster. The
Moorish tiles are very commonly seen in Toledo, and were used both for
flooring and inlaying walls, and in some cases for the covering of
roofs. This synagogue of Sta. Maria la Blanca is on the whole
disappointing. I went to it expecting to see a building of the ninth or
tenth century, and found instead a fabric possibly of this age, but in
which--thanks to the plasterers of the fourteenth or fifteenth
centuries--nothing of the original building but the octagonal columns
and the simple form of the round horseshoe arches is still visible.
Nevertheless it well deserves examination, and a more accurate
knowledge of the detail of Moorish work would, I dare say, have enabled
me to separate more clearly the work of the original church from the
additions with which it has been overlaid.

[Illustration: No. 29.



The other synagogue is now converted into the church called “del
Transito,”[213] and about the date of this there is no doubt. It was
erected by Samuel Levi,[214] a rich Jew, who held the office of
treasurer to Pedro the Cruel, and was completed in A.D. 1366; but it did
not long retain its first purpose, the Jews having been expelled the
kingdom in 1492,[215] and this synagogue having then been given by
Ferdinand and Isabella to the order of Calatrava.

The building is a simple parallelogram, 31 feet 5 inches wide, by 76
feet in length. The lower portion of the side walls is quite
unornamented for 20 or 25 feet in height; but above this is very richly
adorned with plaster-work. There is, first, a broad band of foliage,
with Hebrew inscriptions above and below it, and above this on each side
an arcade of nineteen arches, springing from coupled shafts, eight of
its divisions being pierced and filled with very elaborate lattice-work.
The end wall (now the altar end) has a very slight recess in the centre,
and the whole of it to within some seven feet of the floor is covered
with rich patterns, inscriptions, and coats of arms, whilst above the
arcade is continued on from the side walls in eight divisions. The
arcades are all cusped in the usual Moorish fashion, the outline of the
cusps being horseshoe, but without an enclosing arch. The end opposite
to the altar has two windows pierced in the upper arcade, and three
windows below breaking up into the band of foliage and inscriptions.
The whole is now whitewashed, and though the detail is all fantastic and
overdone, the effect is nevertheless fine, owing to the great height of
the walls and to the contrast between the excessive enrichment of their
upper and the plainness of their lower part.

The Retablo over the principal altar is a work of the end of the
fifteenth century, but not of remarkable merit, having paintings of
Scripture subjects under carved canopies; there is another of the same
class against the north wall. The roof is a grand example of the Moorish
“_artesinado_”[216] work. It has coupled tie-beams, and a deep cornice,
which is carried boldly across the angles, so as to give polygonal ends
to the roof, which is hipped at the ends, the rafters sloping equally on
all four sides. These rafters are only introduced to improve the
appearance of, and--it may be--the possibility of hearing what was read
in, the synagogue. The pitch of the real roof is very flat, and where a
flat roof is absolutely necessary, this kind of ceiling is undoubtedly
very effective. At some height above the plate the sloping rafters are
stopped by a flat ceiling below the collar rafters, panelled all over in
the ingeniously intricate geometrical figures of which the Moorish
architects were so fond, and in the device of which they were always
only too ingenious. The rafters as well as the tie-beams are used in
pairs placed close to each other, and the space between them is divided
into panels by horizontal pieces at short intervals, with patterns sunk
in the panels. There is a western gallery, and some seats made of glazed
encaustic tiles on each side of the sanctuary.

The exterior has arcades answering to those of the interior: it is built
mainly of brick, with occasional bands of rough stonework. The bricks
are 11 in. by 7¾ in. by 1¼ in. in size, and are used with a mortar joint
1¼ in. in thickness.

It is impossible to deny the grandeur of the internal effect of this
room. The details are entirely unlike what I should wish to see
repeated; but the proportions, the contrasted simplicity and intricacy
of the lower and upper part of the walls, the admission of all the light
from above, and the magnificence of the roof, might all be emulated in a
Gothic building, and I have seen few rooms which have appeared to me to
be more suggestive of the right form and treatment for a picture gallery
or saloon for any state purpose.

The two synagogues I have described stand now in the most deserted and
melancholy part of Toledo. The old _Juderia_, or Jews’ quarter, is
decayed and abandoned. The Jews, of course, are all expelled from it,
and the Christians seem to have avoided their quarter as though there
were a curse on it. Samuel Levi, the founder of El Transito, built for
himself a magnificent palace near it, of which, I believe, some part
still exists, though I did not see it.

The Moorish houses, which I must now shortly describe, appear to be very
numerous and of all dates, from the twelfth century down to the conquest
of Granada; and it seemed to me that up to this time almost _all_ the
houses must have been the work of Moorish architects. The Jews and Moors
were both very numerous bodies--so much so that Toledo is charged by an
old writer with having had in it none others,--and there is nothing to
show that the Christians ever employed any other architects. The common
type of house is one which is completely Moorish in plan, even when the
details are not so. It almost always had a long dark entrance passage,
with an outer door to the street, studded thickly with nails of the most
exaggerated size, and furnished with great knockers. The outer room or
passage--ceiled with open timbers, boarded or panelled between--opens
into the _patio_ or central court, over which in hot weather an awning
or curtain could be hung. This _patio_ is surrounded by open passages on
all sides, supported by wooden posts, or sometimes on granite columns,
and the staircase to the upper floors rises from one angle of it. The
woodwork is generally well wrought with moulded ends to the joists and
moulded plates. Here are usually one or two wells, the court having been
the impluvium where all the water from the roof was collected in a large
cistern below the pavement, Toledo is still a clean city, and Ponz,[217]
defending its credit from an attack by an Italian writer, maintains that
the women are so clean that they wash the brick-floors of their houses
as often as they do their dishes!

[Illustration: Knocker and Nails on Door, Toledo.]

This is the type of house to be seen probably in every street in the
city; but here and there are still left other houses of distinctly
Moorish architecture, and of extreme magnificence in their adornment,
Looking to the frail material of all these enrichments, the wonder is,
not that so few houses remain, but rather that anything at all exists;
and even in their present forlorn state there is something very
interesting in these houses and rooms and decorations, so utterly
unlike anything to which a northern eye is ever accustomed at home. The
examples of this class which I saw seemed to be all of the same
date--either of the fourteenth or fifteenth century--and though full of
variety in their detail, extremely similar in their general effect. A
room in the Casa de Mesa is the finest I saw, and I suppose that even in
the South of Spain there are few better examples of its class. Its
dimensions are 20 ft. 3 in. in width, by about 55 ft. in length and 34
ft. in height. The walls are lined at the base with very good encaustic
tiles, rising nearly 4 ft. from the floor; above this line they are
plain up to the cornice, save where the elaborately-decorated entrance
archway--an uncusped arch, set in a frame, as it were, of the most
fantastic and luxuriant foliage, arcading, and tracery--occupies a
considerable part of one of the side walls. A very deep cornice of but
slight projection, with a band of enrichment below it, surrounds the
room, and this is interrupted by the doorway at the side, and by a small
two-light window at one end. This window of two lights, with a cusped
round-arched head to each light and some delicate tracery above, is
framed in a broad border of tracery work, copied from the latest Gothic
panelling, so that the whole design is a complete mixture of Gothic and
Moorish detail. The ceiling is in its old state and of the usual
_artesinado_ description. Its section is that of a lofty-pointed arch,
truncated at the top, so as to give one panel in width flat, the rest
being all on the curve. The roof is hipped at both ends and panelled
throughout, each panel being filled in with a most ingenious star-like
pattern, of the kind which one so commonly sees in Moorish work. The
patterns are formed by ribs (square in section) of dark wood, with a
white line along the centre of the soffeit of each. The sides of the
ribs are painted red, and the recessed panels have lines of white beads
painted at their edges, and in the centre an arabesque on a dark blue
ground. The colours are so arranged as to mark out as distinctly as
possible the squares and patterns into which it is divided, and the
sinking of some panels below the others allows the same pattern to be
used for borders and grounds with very varied effect. The reds are
rather crimson in tone, and the blues very dark. The plaster enrichments
on the walls seemed, as far as I could make out, to have been originally
left white, with the square edges of the plaster painted red; but I
cannot speak quite positively on this point.

A room in a garden behind the house No. 6, in the Calle la Plata, is an
almost equally good example, though on a smaller scale, and with a flat
ceiling. The great entrance archway in the middle of one side is fringed
with a crowd of small cusps, but otherwise it is treated very much in
the same way as the door in the Casa de Mesa. The cornice here also is
very deep, and the band of plaster enrichment below it is filled with
Gothic geometrical tracery patterns. The ceiling is particularly good,
being diapered at regular intervals with figures formed by two squares
set across each other, with an octagonal cell sunk in the centre of
each. This room is about 36 ft. long by 11 ft. 8 in. wide, and 11 ft. 5
in. high to the band below the cornice, and a little over 16 ft. in
total height.

The “Taller del Moro,” so called because it was turned into a workshop
for the cathedral, and is in the Calle del Moro, is a more important
work, consisting of three apartments, lavishly decorated. Don Patricio
de la Escosura, in the letterpress to ‘España Artistica y Monumental,’
considers the date of this building to be between the ninth and tenth
centuries;[218] but I see no reason whatever for believing that its
plaster decorations are earlier than 1350, or thereabouts.

The list which I have already given of Moorish works will show how many
I have to leave undescribed; but I had not time to see all, and it is
not worth while to describe with any more detail those that I did manage
to see, for they are all extremely similar in the character of their

The work of the same kind in the churches of Toledo is of more interest,
because here it is of that partly Moorish and partly Christian
character, which shows that the Mahomedan architects, to whom no doubt
we owe most of it, wrought under the direction to a considerable extent
of their Christian masters, and in some respects with very happy
results. In most of the general views of Toledo, some steeples which are
attached to churches of this class are to be seen, and they give much of
its character to the city. I saw six of these, namely, those of San
Tomé, San Miguel, San Pedro Martyr, Sta. Leocadia, San Roman, and La
Concepcion; whilst among the churches in the same style are parts of
Sta. Isabel, San Eugenio, San Bartolomé, Sta. Ursula, Sta. Fé, Santiago,
and San Vicente.

The whole of these works are very similar in their general character,
being built rather roughly of brick, with considerable use of cusped
arcades in a succession of orders one over the other, the churches
generally being finished with apses at the east end, and the towers
being built without buttresses, and roofed with tiled roofs of moderate

The steeple of San Roman is the finest example of its class to be seen
here. For half its height it is perfectly plain, built of rough stone,
with occasional courses of brick, and quoined with brick. The
string-courses are all of brick, unmoulded. The character of the three
upper stages will be best understood by the illustration which I give.
The cusped arch of the lower of these stages is certainly very pretty,
but the common form of trefoiled Moorish arch enclosed within it seems
to me to be the most frightful of all possible forms. It is neither
graceful in itself, nor does it convey the idea of repose or strength;
and it is so completely non-constructional, that the lower portion of
the apparent arch is never built as an arch, but always with horizontal
courses. In the belfry stage the bold variation of the openings is
worthy of notice; and throughout the whole the utmost praise is due to
the architect who, with none but the commonest materials, and at the
least possible expense in every way, has, nevertheless, left us a work
much more worthy of critical examination than most of the costly works
in brick erected by ourselves at the present day. It is amazing how much
force is given by the abandonment of mouldings and chamfers, and the
trust in broad, bold, square soffeits to all the openings. I must not
omit to mention that the small red shafts in the arcade below the
belfry seem to be made of terracotta.

[Illustration: San Roman. Toledo.]

The construction of the steeple is very peculiar. In the lowest stage it
is divided by two arches springing from a central pier, and the two
compartments thus formed are roofed with waggon-vaults. In the next
stage the central pier is carried up, and has four arches springing from
it to the walls. The four spaces left between these arches are vaulted
with barrel-vaults at right angles to each other. The steps of the
ascent to this tower are carried on arches against the side walls, with
occasional openings in the vaults when necessary for passing.

San Roman has a nave and aisles, with arcades of two arches between
them; a chancel, mainly of Renaissance style, covered with a dome, but
with some late Gothic groining to its apse; and a south chancel aisle
ending without an apse. The tower is on the north side of the chancel.
The whole church is plastered and whitewashed most painfully, but still
retains one or two interesting features. The footpace in front of the
altar has a good pavement of large plain red tiles, laid diagonally,
with small encaustic blue and white glazed tiles at intervals. The whole
pavement is divided into a number of strips by rectangular bands of blue
stone. The altar at the east end of the south choir aisle also deserves
a note, being built with a solid black stone front, carved in imitation
of embroidery and fringes, with an inscription on the superfrontal, and
a shield suspended in the centre of the frontal. This strange device for
economizing altar vestments was not common, I think, here, but several
examples remain in the new cathedral at Salamanca. The reredos over this
altar has a very sweet painting of the Last Supper, the figure of our
Lord being much raised above those of the apostles, and the table at
which He sits being polygonal.

[Illustration: Santa Magdalena. Toledo.]

Sta. Magdalena has a smaller and simpler tower of the same class; it is
perfectly plain below the belfry stage, which has two windows in each
face. The bells hang here, as is so often the case in Southern
buildings, in the window; and in all these buildings, as in most other
old examples of brickwork, the putlog-holds (or holes for the insertion
of the scaffold-poles) are left open. The bricks, too, are used very
roughly and picturesquely with a very thick mortar-joint, and the
consequence is that every part of this work has a value in texture and
light and shade undreamt of by those who have never seen anything but
our own smooth, smart, and spiritless modern brick walls, built with bad
bricks and no mortar.[219]

The steeple of San Tomé is so absolutely identical in its details--save
that its shafts of glazed earthenware are alternately green and
yellow--with that of San Roman, that it is unnecessary to describe

San Pedro Martyr has a steeple which is much wider on one side than on
the other, but is otherwise similar to that of San Roman in its general
design. San Miguel, and Sta. Leocadia, and La Concepcion, have steeples
more like that of La Magdalena, the towers being small, and with only
one arcaded stage below the belfry. The masonry and brickwork is the
same in all these examples, but their scale differs considerably, the
steeple of San Roman being by far the largest and loftiest, that of San
Tomé the next, and the others a good deal smaller.

All these steeples seem to me to illustrate not only the proper use of
brick, already mentioned, but also the great difference between old and
new works in the degree of simplicity and amount of cost with which
their authors appear to be satisfied. It is seldom, indeed, at the
present day, that we see a steeple erected which has not cost twice as
much, in proportion to its size and solidity, as either of these old
Toledan examples; and it is to be feared that few of us now have the
courage to trust entirely in the virtue of doing only what the money
given to us to spend will properly allow, without raising that silly and
too-frequently-heard wail about our work having been spoilt for want of
money, which no medieval work, however poor, ever was!

I have been unable to satisfy myself, by any documentary evidence, as to
the age of these buildings. There is some record of extensive works in
the church of San Tomé, in the beginning of the fourteenth century,[221]
but, as we see that the church has since been paganized without damage
to the town, it is possible that they may also have escaped the previous
works. On the other hand, the king Don Alonso VIII. is said to have been
proclaimed from the steeple window of San Roman, in 1166; and, looking
to the character of the Puerta Visagra--an undoubted work of the
commencement of the twelfth century--I do not know whether we should be
justified in refusing to give the steeple of San Roman the date claimed
for it, though my impression when I was looking at it, without
consulting any authorities, was, that this work was none of it older
than the end of the thirteenth century. The first impressions of an
English eye in looking at this Moorish work are not, however, much to be
depended on, the profusion of cusped arches, in which the Moorish
architects so early indulged, always giving their work a rather late

Among the churches of Moresque character that I saw, I may specially
mention those of Santiago and Sta. Leocadia. The former appeared to me
to be a work mainly of the fourteenth century. It is a
parallel-triapsidal church, and has some old brick arcading on the
exterior of the chancel aisle, but is generally so bedaubed with plaster
and whitewash as to be uninteresting. It is said to have an _artesinado_
ceiling, but I do not recollect this, and I believe it has a plaster
ceiling below the old one. The pulpit is a rather striking work of that
mixed Moorish and Gothic detail which prevailed in the fifteenth
century. One fact I noticed here, and again at Valencia Cathedral, was,
that the pulpit had no door, and the only access seemed to be over the
side, by aid of a ladder! When pulpits were erected, it is fair to
suppose that they were meant to be used; but in the Spain of the present
day it is, perhaps, not of much consequence if they are unusable, as
sermons do not seem to be very much in vogue.

Of the other churches in the city Sta. Isabel has a polygonal apse, with
each side arcaded with a Moorish trefoil arch. San Eugenio has a similar
apse, with a second stage, with multifoil arcading all along it; and San
Bartolomé has three of these cusped and arcaded stages in its apse. Sta.
Ursula has a stone apse, circular in plan, coursed with brick, and
pierced with three Moorish windows. La Concepcion has a polygonal apse
of rude stonework below, and is coursed with bricks from mid-height
upwards, with three Moresque windows set within square recessed panels;
whilst Sta. Fé presents the unusual feature of buttresses to the apse,
and has an interlacing arcade below the eaves, and long lancet windows
set within Moresque cusped panels. Sta. Leocadia (commonly called Cristo
de la Vega), just outside the city, and in the valley below its walls,
also retains the apse of its church, erected on a site which is said to
have been first built upon as early as the fourth century. This is
entirely covered with arcading from the ground to the eaves, arranged in
three equal orders, the lower cusped, the next having the common Moorish
trefoil, and the upper being round-arched. Some of the panels of these
arcades are pierced for light. The existing building is probably in no
part earlier than the twelfth century; it consists of a small modern
nave, a sanctuary of two bays with round transverse arches, and cusped
Moresque arches in the side walls. The apse at the east end is roofed
with a semi-dome. At the west end is a small modern cemetery, full of
gravestones, inscribed at least as fully, fondly, and foolishly, as
those we indulge in in our own cemeteries.

In addition to these more important works there are, in the cathedral, a
door leading into the chapter-room, and a recessed arch in one of the
chapels on the south side of the nave, executed by Moorish artists
probably in the fifteenth or sixteenth century. It has been absurdly
enough suggested that these are parts of the ancient mosque which stood
on the same site; but there is no ground whatever for the idea, the work
being evidently of much later date, and it being at the time a common
fashion to introduce some work of this kind into buildings which
otherwise are purely Gothic.

The last head under which I have to describe Moorish work, is, perhaps,
also the most interesting. The walls, gateways, and bridges of Toledo
are, I think, the finest I have anywhere seen; in part, at least, of
extreme age, very perfectly preserved, and on a grand scale. There is a
double line of wall on the unprotected side of the city towards the
_Vega_, the inner line said to be the work of the Visigoths, before the
Moorish conquest, in 711,[222] and the outer built in 1109, by Alonso
VI. Both walls seem to go from the Bridge of Alcantara on one side of
the city, to the Bridge of St. Martin on the other. Outside the wall the
hills and walls slope down rapidly to the valley; whilst within them the
uneven surface is covered thickly with houses everywhere, until the
Tagus, winding round three parts of the city in its deep, savage, and
solitary defile--a solitariness all the more impressive from being so
near to the busy hive of men--encloses it, and makes defensive erections
almost unnecessary.

[Illustration: Puerta del Sol. Toledo.]

I have already given some account of the Bridge of Alcantara.[223] It is
of two lofty arches, with a bold projecting pier between them. Here is
one of the best points of view of the two lines of wall, which are
broken constantly by round or square projecting towers, and ascend and
descend in the most picturesque fashion, to suit the rugged inequality
of the rocks on which they are built. I know no view more picturesque
and magnificent. The first gateway reached is the Puerta del Sol, which
is so admirable an example of the picturesqueness of which the style is
capable, that I cannot resist giving an illustration of it. It is,
indeed, not only picturesque, but in all respects a dignified and noble
work of art. The variety of arches, one behind the other, which is seen
here, was a very favourite device with the Moorish architects. Here, I
think, there are four, two pointed and two round, but all horseshoe in
their outline. The outer gateway on the old Bridge of St. Martin has
five such arches, two of them being round and one pointed horseshoe, one
a plain round, and one a plain pointed arch. In the Puerta del Sol the
intersecting arcades in brickwork over the arch, and the projecting
turrets on a level with them, are extremely picturesque. The materials
used are wrought stone, rough walling stones, and brick. The battlements
are of a type which was repeated by the Christians in most parts of
Spain, but was, no doubt, derived first of all from the Moors. The
situation of the gateway is charming; with due regard to military
requirements it turns its side to the enemy, and is reached by a winding
road, which bends round at a sharp angle just before reaching it. To the
left is seen the sweet view over the _Vega_, watered and made green by
the kind river; a view which gains immensely on one’s liking, compared,
as it always is, with the dreary arid hills beyond, and with
recollections of the weary waste over which so much of the traveller’s
road to Toledo must needs lie. The age of this gateway is not known, but
it dates probably from the end of the twelfth, or beginning of the
thirteenth century. So, at least, I judge by comparing it with the next
gateway, that called the Puerta de Visagra, the finest gateway in the
outer wall (which was erected circa 1108-26), and which cannot,
therefore, be earlier than the beginning of the twelfth century.

The design of this Puerta de Visagra is clearly due to a Moorish
architect, and it is extremely interesting to find the Christian king,
so soon after his conquest of the city, making use of the Moors for his
work, and to find them doing their best, apparently in their capacity as
builders, to second his endeavours to make the recapture of the city by
the Infidels impossible. The materials of this gate are the same as
those of the other, but its character is much heavier and ruder. The
contrast between the grand outer arch and the extremely small inner arch
is very curious; the ground has, however, risen considerably in front of
it, so that its real proportions are very much concealed. The wall is
carried out in advance of this gateway, and has an angle-tower, which
was schemed, no doubt, to secure the proper defence of the entrance.
Further along, beyond the point at which the two walls unite, we reach
the Bridge of St. Martin--a noble arch of even grander scale than that
of Alcantara, and, like it, guarded at either end by gateways, of which
that on the further side has the remains of Moorish work in the arches
which span it, and which have been already mentioned; it is finished
with the Moorish battlement. This bridge has five arches, of which the
largest is magnificent in scale,--no less than 140 (Spanish) feet wide
by 95 high. The arches are very light and lofty, and spring from grand
piers, behind which the rocky defile is seen in its greatest grandeur.
It seems to have been built in 1212, and repaired, the central arch
being rebuilt,[224] by Archbishop Tenorio, circa 1339.

My notice of these various works has been, as it were, only the preface
to the real glory of Toledo; for interesting and unique as some of them,
and strange and novel as all of them are, there is a higher value and a
greater charm about the noble metropolitan church of Spain than about
any of them: a charm not due only to its religious and historical
associations, but resulting just as much from its own intrinsic beauty
as an example of the pure vigorous Gothic of the thirteenth century,
such as when I left France on my first Spanish journey I supposed I
should not see again till my eyes rested once more on Chartres, Notre
Dame, Paris, or Amiens! Here, however, we have a church which is the
equal in some respects of any of the great French churches; and I
hardly know how to express my astonishment that such a building should
be so little known, and that it should have been so insufficiently if
not wrongly described whenever any attempt at a description has been
made by English travellers who have visited it.

The cathedral is said to have occupied the present site before the
capture of the city by the Moors.[225] They converted it into a mosque,
and in course of time enlarged and adorned it greatly. At the
capitulation to Alonso VI., in 1085, it was agreed that the Moors should
still retain it; but this agreement was respected for a few months only,
when the Christians, without the consent of the king, took it forcibly
from them and had it consecrated as their cathedral.[226] Of this
building nothing remains. The first stone of the new cathedral was laid
with great ceremony by the king Don Fernando III., assisted by the
Archbishop, on the 14th of August, A.D. 1227;[227] and from that time
to the end of the seventeenth century additions to and alterations of
the original fabric seem to have been constantly in hand.

The cathedral is built east and west, “according to the universal
tradition of the Church,” says Blas Ortiz, forgetting apparently that
this is no tradition of the Roman Church. I think it is always attended
to in Spain, save in cities like Barcelona, where the commercial
intercourse with Italy perhaps introduced the Italian tradition. The
feeling about the Orientation of churches was stronger among the English
and Germans than anywhere else, and possibly the Spanish tradition dates
from the time of the Visigothic kings.

It was the same king who laid the first stone of Burgos Cathedral in
1221, and it will be remembered that Maurice, the then Bishop of Burgos,
is said to have been an Englishman, and had been Archdeacon of Toledo.
Ferdinand’s first wife was a daughter of the Duke of Suabia, his second
a Frenchwoman. The name of the architect was preserved on his epitaph,
which I copy from Blas Ortiz:--

    “Aqui: jacet: Petrus Petri: magister
     Eclesia: Scte: Marie: Toletani: fama:
     Per exemplum: pro more: huic: bona:
     Crescit: qui presens: templum: construxit:
     Et hic quiescit: quod: quia: tan: mire:
     Fecit: vili: sentiat: ire: ante: Dei:
     Vultum: pro: quo: nil: restat: inultum:
     Et sibi: sis: merce: qui solus: cuncta:
     Coherce: obiit: x dias de Novembris:
     Era: de M: et CCCXXVIII (A.D. 1290).”

I did not see this inscription, and am unable to say, therefore, whether
it is original; but I believe there is little doubt of this.[228] I
should have much more doubt as to the nationality of the architect. The
Spanish writers all talk of him as “_Pedro Perez_;” but as the Latin
inscription is the only authority for his name, he may as fairly be
called Pierre le Pierre, and so become a Frenchman; and I cannot help
thinking that this is, on the whole, very much more likely than that he
should have been a Spaniard. This, at any rate, is certain: the first
architect of Toledo, whether he were French or Spanish, was thoroughly
well acquainted with the best French churches, and could not otherwise
have done what he did. In Spain itself there was, as I have said before,
nothing to lead gradually to the full development of the pointed style.
We find, on the contrary, buildings, planned evidently by foreign hands,
rising suddenly, without any connexion with other buildings in their own
district, and yet with most obvious features of similarity to works in
other countries erected just before them. Such, I have shown, is the
case with the cathedrals at Burgos, at Leon, and at Santiago, and such
even more decidedly is the case here. Moreover, in Toledo, if anywhere,
was such a circumstance as this to be expected. In this part of Spain
there was in the thirteenth century no trained school of native artists.
Even after the conquest the Moors continued, as has been said before, to
act as architects for Christian buildings whether secular or
ecclesiastical, and, indeed, to monopolize all the science and art of
the country which they no longer ruled. In such a state of things, I can
imagine nothing more natural than that, though the Toledans may have
been well content to employ Mahomedan art in their ordinary works, yet,
when it came to be a question of rebuilding their cathedral on a scale
vaster than anything which had as yet been attempted, they would be
anxious to adopt some distinctly Christian form of art; and, lacking
entirely any school of their own, would be more likely to secure the
services of a Frenchman than of any one else; whilst the French
archbishop, who at the time occupied the see, would be of all men the
least likely to sympathise with Moresque work, and the most anxious to
employ a French artist. But, however this may have been, the church is
thoroughly French in its ground-plan and equally French in all its
details[229] for some height from the ground; and it is not until we
reach the triforium of the choir that any other influence is visible;
but even here the work is French work, only slightly modified by some
acquaintance with Moorish art, and not to such an extent as to be
recognized as Moresque anywhere else but here in the close neighbourhood
of so much which suggests the probability of its being so. The whole
work is, indeed, a grand protest against Mahomedan architecture, and I
doubt whether any city in the middle ages can show anything so
distinctly intended and so positive in its opposition to what was being
done at the same time by other architects as this. It is just what we
see at the present day, and we owe an incidental debt of gratitude to
this old architect for showing us that in the thirteenth century, just
as much as in the nineteenth, it was possible for an artist to believe
in the fitness and religiousness of one style as contrasted with
another, and steadily to ignore the fantastic conceits of the vernacular
architecture of the day and place in favour of that which he knew to be
purer and truer, more lovely and more symbolical.

From A.D. 1290, the date of the death of the first architect, to A.D.
1425, I have not met with the name of any architect of this cathedral;
but from that year to the end of the last century the complete list is
known and published,[230] and contains of course many well-known names.

The plan of the cathedral is set out on an enormous scale, as will be
seen by the table of comparative dimensions which I give below, as well
as by comparison with the other plans in this volume.[231] In width it
is scarcely exceeded by any church of its age, Milan and Seville
cathedrals--neither of them possessing any other great claim to
respect--being, I think, the only larger churches in Christendom; and
the area covered by the cloisters, chapels, and dependencies of Toledo,
being on the same large scale, is of course in excess altogether of
Milan, which has none. The original plan consisted of a nave with double
aisles on either side, seven bays in length; transepts of the same
projection as the aisles; a choir of one bay; and the chevet formed by
an apse to the choir of five bays, with the double aisles continued
round it, and small chapels--alternately square and circular in
plan--between the buttresses in its outer wall. Two western towers were
to have been erected beyond the west ends of the outer aisles;[232] and
there were grand entrances in each transept, and three doorways at the
west end. The great cloister on the north side, and all the chapels
throughout (save two or three of the small chapels already mentioned,
which still remain in the apse), are later additions. Scarcely a
fragment of the lower and visible part of the exterior of the cathedral
has been left untouched by the destructive hands of the architects of
the last three centuries; and the consequence is, that it is after all
only the interior of this noble church that is so magnificent, there
being very little indeed that is either attractive or interesting on the
exterior. There is absolutely no good general view to be had of it; for
a network of narrow winding lanes encompasses the building on all sides,
leaving no open space anywhere, save at the west end; and here the
exterior has been so much altered as to deprive the view of its value. I
had some difficulty in mounting to the roof, the canon in authority
sternly and rudely refusing me permission; but as the sacristan
considered that I had done my duty in asking, and that the canon had
exceeded his in refusing, in the end he took me everywhere. We ascended
by a staircase in the archbishop’s palace, which leads by a gallery
thrown over the road to the upper cloister. This extends above the whole
of the great cloister, and has a timber roof carried on stone shafts,
which appear by their mouldings to be of the fifteenth century. This
upper cloister is entirely surrounded by houses occupied, some by
clergy, and some by the servants of the church, and where little
choristers in red _capotes_ and white laced albs run about playing in
their spare moments. Nothing that I have met with in Spain exceeds the
intolerable stench which everywhere pervades these ecclesiastical
tenements! But the look-out is rather pleasant, for the cloister court
is planted thickly with fine shrubs and trees which shoot up as high as
the top of the walls.

[Illustration: Stone Roof of Outer Aisle and Chapels, Toledo.]

The exterior of the church, seen from this point, is altogether in a
great mess--no other word so well describes its state! So far as I could
make it out, I think the original mode of roofing the church was as
follows: the aisle next the nave was covered with a timber roof sloping
down from the clerestory windows; whilst the outer aisle and the chapels
beyond it were roofed with stone roofs laid to a flat pitch, and sloping
down to a stone gutter between the two, which again carried the water
east and west till it discharged in a pipe through each buttress. In
place of this, a gabled roof now covers both aisles with a gutter
against the clerestory and overhanging eaves on the outside. The main
roofs were probably steep and tiled; that of the choir appears to have
been carried on stone columns or piers, in front of which was the
parapet, so that there was a current of air throughout. In the apse I
was able to see my way a little more clearly; for here the stone roofs
of the chapels and outer aisle are still perfect, and most ingeniously
contrived, as the accompanying diagram will explain. Here again I was
unable to find out what was the original roof of the inner aisle; but it
was possibly of stone like the others, though my impression on the spot
was that it must have been of wood, and covered with tiles. The diagram
shows the roof over one of the circular and two of the square chapels of
the apse, and the three corresponding bays of the outer choir aisle. The
triangular bays and square chapels have stone roofs sloping down to a
gutter between them; whilst the bay between them had a square roof
sloping slightly all ways, and over the outer chapel a roof sloping back
to the same gutter. The water is all carried away by stone
channel-drains to the outside of the walls. The whole of this
contrivance is now obscured by an extraordinary jumble of tiled roofs
one over the other, added, I suppose, from time to time as the original
roof required repair.[233] There are double flying-buttresses wherever
there are transverse arches in the groining. These were altered in the
fifteenth century by the addition of a fringe of cusping on the edge of
their copings, which of course spoilt their effect, though this is not
of much consequence now, as they are never seen. The nave also has
double flying-buttresses; and its clerestory and triforium were thrown
into one, and large windows inserted, in the fourteenth century in place
of the original work. The only portion of the original external walls of
the aisle that I could see was on the south side of the choir. Here in
the apse chapels there are good and rather wide lancet-windows with
engaged shafts in the jambs, well moulded, and labels adorned with
dog-tooth. The old termination of the buttresses seems to be everywhere
destroyed. The flying-buttresses in the apse were finely managed. Owing
to the arrangement of the plan two flying-buttresses support each of the
main piers, and they are double in height. Their arches are moulded with
a very bold roll-moulding, with a smaller one on either side, and the
piers which receive them are faced with coupled shafts with carved
capitals. The arrangement of the buttresses follows exactly (and of
necessity) the planning of the principal transverse arches of the
groining. From each angle of the apse there are two flying-buttresses;
these each abut against a pinnacle, which is again supported by two
diverging flying-buttresses. It might be expected that the effect would
be confused, as it is in the somewhat similar plan of the chevet of Le
Mans; but here the buttresses and pinnacles seem to have been less
prominent, and therefore to have interfered less with the general
outline of the church which they support. The pinnacles to the
buttresses of the central apse are tolerably perfect, but they appear to
be not earlier than the fifteenth century. Those of the intermediate
aisle are all destroyed, but many of those in the outer aisle still
remain. The chapel of San Ildefonso, too, beyond the chevet, retains its
pinnacles and parapets; and behind these rises a flat-pitched tiled
roof, which, as everywhere else throughout the cathedral, has the air of
being a modern substitute for the old roof: undoubtedly the whole work
wants steep roofs to make it equal in effect to the French churches from
which it was derived, and in which this feature is usually so marked.

The external mouldings of the windows in this part of the church are
very good, and of the best early-pointed work; among others I saw that
the external label of the rose-window in the north transept is filled
with quaint crockets formed of dogs’ heads projecting from the hollow
member of the moulding.

All these remains of the original design of the early church can only be
seen by ascending to the roofs; and as they illustrate the most
interesting portion of the whole work, I have taken them first in order.

It is now time to take the rest of the fabric in hand; and for this
purpose it will be necessary to confine myself henceforth almost
entirely to the interior. The doorways will be mentioned further on,
because they are all additions to, and not coeval with, the original
fabric; and, similarly, the window-traceries--except in the case of one
or two of the apse windows, and the openings of the triforium and
clerestory of the choir--are none of them original.

[Illustration: No. 30.



The first view of the interior is very impressive. The entrance most
used is that to which the narrow, picturesque, and steep Calle de la
Chapineria leads--that of the north transept. The buildings on the east
side of the cloister rise on the right hand, and chief among them the
fine fifteenth-century chapel of San Pedro, which, in entire contempt of
all rules as to orientation, runs north and south, and opens into the
aisle of the church by a sumptuous archway. Near the end of this chapel
an old and very lofty iron _grille_ crosses the road; and passing
through this, and by the group of beggars ever clustered round it, the
fine fourteenth-century north doorway, rich in sculpture, is passed, and
the transept is reached. The view across this, as is usually the case in
Spain, is the great view of the church; for here only is there any
really grand expanse of unoccupied floor, and without such a space real
magnificence of effect can never be secured. The view hence into the
double aisles round the choir, across the gorgeously decorated Capilla
mayor, and down the side aisles of the nave, is truly noble, and open, I
think, to but one criticism, viz., that it is somewhat wanting in
height. Judged by English examples, its height is unusually great; but
all the other dimensions are so enormous that one requires more than
ordinary height, and the vast size of the columns throughout the church,
as well as the fact that most of the perspectives are those of the side
aisles, which are of necessity low, gives perhaps an impression of
lowness to the whole which is certainly not justified by the measurement
in feet and inches of the central vault.

If my readers will refer to the engraving of the ground-plan, they will
be struck by the extreme simplicity and uniformity of the original
outline of the cathedral, and the entire absence of all excrescences,
whether of transepts or chapels. In this respect it is not a little like
some of the finest French examples, such as Notre Dame, Paris, and
Bourges, and extremely unlike the ordinary early Spanish plan, in which
the transepts, the lantern, and the three eastern apses, are always
distinctly and emphatically marked. Here the excrescences are all later
additions. The chapels of the chevet were very small, and almost
contained within the semi-circle which forms its outline. There is no
lantern, and the transepts are hardly recognized on the ground-plan. The
aim of the great French architects of the period was to reduce their
work to an almost classic simplicity and uniformity; and their ambition
was evidently shared by the architect who presided over the erection of
this Cathedral at Toledo.

Let us now examine with some minuteness the arrangement of the plan of
the chevet. This is rightly the first point to be considered; for this
is always the keynote, so to speak, of the whole scheme of such a
church; and it is here that the surest evidence is afforded of what I
believe to be the foreign origin of the design; for not even in details
is there anything by which it is more easy in some cases to trace the
origin of an old church than in the general scheme of the ground-plan;
and in large churches the plan of the chevet is that which regulates
every other part. To this part therefore I must now address myself.

[Illustration: Diagrams of Vaulting.]

In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries the ingenuity of the greatest
French architects--the greatest school perhaps the world has ever
seen--was taxed to the utmost to devise means for obviating all the
difficulties attendant on the plan of an apse with an aisle or aisles
continued round it.[234] The arrangement of the central vault is easy
enough; but the great flying-buttresses which support this have to be
carried in part on the columns which form the divisions of the aisles
surrounding the apse. From the centre of the apse, therefore, a number
of lines drawn through its angles represent the lines of the
flying-buttresses, and mark the position for the outer orders of
columns. These lines diverge so rapidly from each other that the
compartments enclosed within them become extremely irregular in their
outline; and this renders it very difficult to cover them with vaults
which shall look thoroughly well, and in which the arched ribs shall not
be crippled or irregular in their lines. The French architects had from
the first realized the necessity for making the diagonal vaulting rib a
semi-circle. They saw that the line thus obtained was a continuous line
of the utmost value, leading the eye on in succession from one bay of
vaulting to another without any interruption--gradually from one end of
the vastest vault to the other. Whenever this form is given up the
effect of vaulting is half destroyed; and it matters not whether we turn
to the domical pointed vaults of the Angevine architects, or the vaults
of some of our own cathedrals, with their pointed diagonal ribs, we
shall at once see how inferior they are to the old French mode.[235] In
these unequal vaulting bays in the apse it was impossible to make a
straight diagonal rib a semi-circle, for then (I) the highest part of
the vault would be higher than the intersection of the ribs, and the
connexion of the intersection with the highest part of the transverse
arch would be extremely bad, and all but unmanageable. To get over this
difficulty, we find the architect of Bourges (A.D. 1230) planning his
diagonal ribs on a curve (II); whilst at Chartres (A.D. 1220) the
architect planned this rib on a broken line (III). The architect of the
choir of Le Mans (just later in date than Chartres--circa A.D. 1230)
improved enormously upon what his brethren had done by the introduction
of a triangular compartment in the outer aisle, which enabled him to
make the vaulting bays between them nearly square, and to obtain a light
between each of the chapels of the apse, which vastly increased its
beauty. The architect of Bourges had indeed introduced
triangular-vaulting compartments in his outer aisle, but so clumsily,
that he had increased rather than diminished the difficulty with which
he was dealing; and the earlier architect of Notre Dame, Paris (A.D.
1170), had ingeniously planned almost all the vaults of his apse in
triangular compartments, with great gain over the systems of those who
had preceded him; but his plan had the grave defect of placing a column
behind the eastern central arch of the apse, and so stopping all view
eastward from the choir. It remained for the architect of Toledo
Cathedral to resolve all these difficulties by a disposition of his
columns so ingenious and so admirable as to be certainly beyond all
praise. His plan looks indeed simple and very obvious; yet how many
attempts had been made in vain to accomplish what he did; and how
completely has he not overcome all his contemporaries! I hold it to be
in the highest degree improbable that anyone could have devised this
improvement who had not been actively engaged in the study of the French
Cathedrals.[236] No churches exist in Spain which in the least degree
lead up to the solution of the problems involved. And indeed almost at
the same time that this church was commenced, we have Spaniards at work
at other churches, as, _e.g._, at Lérida and Tarragona, in an entirely
different and in a much more primitive style. The architect
therefore--if he was a Spaniard--was one who had spent much time upon
French buildings; but was much more probably a Frenchman, who also,
unless I am mistaken, brought with him some of his countrymen to direct
the sculpture of the capitals, &c., which, as well as the mouldings, are
thoroughly good, pure examples of French Gothic of the date.

The engraving of the plan will best explain the beauty of the
arrangement of the chevet.[237] There are twice as many columns between
the aisles as there are round the central apse, and the points of
support in the outer wall are again double the number of the columns
between the aisles. The alternate bays throughout are thus roofed with
triangular compartments, and the remaining bays are, as nearly as
possible, perfectly rectangular, whilst the vista from west to east is
perfectly preserved, and the distance from centre to centre of the outer
row of columns is, as nearly as possible, the same as that of the inner
order. The outer wall of the aisle was occupied alternately by small
square chapels opposite the triangular vaulting compartments, and
circular chapels opposite the others. Very few of these remain
unaltered; but the sketch and plan which I give will show what their
character was. The analogy of the small chapels in the chevets of Paris,
Bourges, and Chartres, would seem to prove that originally there was no
larger chapel at the east end, and the similar arrangement of the
vaulting compartments throughout seems to confirm this view.

In the eastern portion of the church a good deal of dog-tooth enrichment
is introduced. I have noticed the same fact in the account of Burgos
Cathedral, and suggested that it was imported there from Anjou. Here,
however, the architect clearly knew not much, if anything, of Angevine
buildings, and probably borrowed the dog-tooth from Burgos, though of
the other peculiarities of detail in that church I see no trace.

[Illustration: Chapels of the Chevet. Toledo Cathedral.]

The planning of the whole church was uniform throughout. The columns are
all circular, surrounded by engaged shafts, which, in the great piers in
the transept, are trefoiled in section. There do not appear to have been
chapels anywhere in the side walls of the nave, save on the south side
of the south aisle, where the chapel of Sta. Lucia appears to be of the
same age as the church, and is recorded to have been founded by
Archbishop Rodrigo, with an endowment for two chaplains to say masses
for the soul of Alonso VI.[238] This chapel has triple groining-shafts
in the angles, a good triplet, with dog-tooth and engaged jamb-shafts,
in the south wall, and a window of two lancets, with a circle in the
head, in the east wall. On the west side of this chapel is an extremely
rich recessed arch in stucco, of late Moorish work--a curious contrast
to the fine pointed work of the chapel.

[Illustration: No. 31.



The original scheme of the church is only to be seen now in the choir
and its aisles. These are arranged in three gradations of height,--the
choir being upwards of a hundred feet, the aisle round it about sixty
feet, and the outer aisle about thirty-five feet[239] in height. The
outer wall of the aisle is pierced with arches for the small chapels
between the buttresses, the design and planning of which are shown
clearly in the illustration which I give. The intermediate aisle has in
its outer wall a triforium, formed by an arcade of cusped arches; and
above this, quite close to the point of the vault, a rose window in each
bay. It is in this triforium that the first evidence of any knowledge on
the part of the architect of Moorish architecture strikes the eye. The
cusping of the arcade is not enclosed within an arch, and takes a
distinctly horseshoe outline, the lowest cusp near to the cap spreading
inwards at the base. Now, it would be impossible to imagine any
circumstance which could afford better evidence of the foreign origin of
the first design than this slight concession to the customs of the place
in a slightly later portion of the works. An architect who came from
France, bent on designing nothing but a French church, would be very
likely, after a few years’ residence in Toledo, somewhat to change in
his views, and to attempt something in which the Moorish work, which he
was in the habit of seeing, would have its influence. The detail of this
triforium is notwithstanding all pure and good; the foliage of the
capitals is partly conventional, and, in part, a stiff imitation of
natural foliage, somewhat after the fashion of the work in the
Chapter-house at Southwell; the abaci are all square; there is a
profusion of nail-head used in the labels; and well-carved heads are
placed in each of the spandrels of the arcade. The circular windows
above the triforium are filled in with cusping of various patterns.
The main arches of the innermost arcade (between the choir and its
aisle) are, of course, much higher than the others. The space above them
is occupied by an arcaded triforium, reaching to the springing of the
main vault. This arcade consists of a series of trefoil-headed arches on
detached shafts, with sculptured figures, more than life-size, standing
in each division; in the spandrels above the arches are heads looking
out from moulded circular openings, and above these again, small pointed
arches are pierced, which have labels enriched with the nail-head
ornament. The effect of the whole of this upper part of the design is
unlike that of northern work, though the detail is all pure and good.
The clerestory occupies the height of the vault, and consists of a row
of lancets (there are five in the widest bay, and three in each of the
five bays of the apse) rising gradually to the centre, with a small
circular opening above them. The vaulting-ribs in the central division
of the apse are chevroned, and, as will be seen on the plan, increased
in number, this being the only portion of the early work in which any,
beyond transverse and diagonal ribs, are introduced. There is a weakness
and want of purpose about the treatment of this highest portion of the
wall that seems to make it probable that the work, when it reached this
height, had passed out of the hands of the original architect. It is
strange that, so far as I have been able to learn, no record exists of
the date of the consecration of the church; so that it is quite
impossible to give, with certainty, the date at which any part of it had
been finished and covered in. In the nave the original design (if it was
ever completed) has been altered. There is now no trace of the original
clerestory and triforium which are still seen in the choir; and in their
place the outer aisle has fourteenth-century windows of six lights, with
geometrical tracery, and the clerestory of the nave and transepts great
windows, also of six lights, with very elaborate traceries. They have
transomes (which in some degree preserve the recollection of the old
structural divisions) at the level of the springing of the groining. The
groining throughout the greater part of the church seems to be of the
original thirteenth-century work, with ribs finely moulded, and vaulting
cells slightly domical in section. The capitals of the columns are all
set in the direction of the arches and ribs they carry, and their abaci
and bases are all square in plan.

The great rose-window of the north transept, though later, is not much
more so than the work I have been describing. It has an outer ring of
twelve cusped circles, six within these, and one in the centre. The
whole is filled with old glass. The centre circle has the Crucifixion;
the six circles round it St. Mary, St. John, and four Angels; and the
outer circles figures of the twelve greater prophets, pointing towards
our Lord. The ground of the centre circles within the cusps is a light
pure blue, and the cusps are filled with conventional foliage. The whole
is fastened to rings of iron, in the usual way, and is the best example
of stained glass now remaining in the cathedral.

The works undertaken here in the fourteenth century were very
considerable. The north doorway, the doorway of St. Catherine, leading
from the cloisters; the clerestory in the nave and nave-aisles and
transepts, and probably the whole of the four western bays of the nave;
the screens round the Coro, the chapel of San Ildefonso, and some other
portions, were all of this period; and the dates of many of them being
certain, they give admirable opportunities for the study of the detail
of the Spanish middle-pointed style. The north door has three statues in
each jamb, and a central figure of the Blessed Virgin and our Lord. The
arch has in its three orders different orders of angels, and the
tympanum is divided into four spaces by horizontal divisions, containing
the following subjects: (1) The Annunciation, the Salutation, the
Nativity, the Adoration of the Magi, the Massacre of the Innocents; (2)
the Marriage at Cana, the Presentation, the Dispute with the Doctors,
the Flight into Egypt; (3) the Marriage at Cana continued all across;
and (4) the Death of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The whole is good work of
the end of the fourteenth century. The doorway of St. Catherine, which
opens into the cloister, is mainly remarkable for its elaborate
mouldings, but has a central figure of the saint and two others standing
on capitals, and under canopies, on either side of the doorway. The arch
is crocketed and covered with a profusion of small carving, and with
coats-of-arms of Castile and Leon. The label is crocketed, and between
the doorway and the vault of the cloister a rose window and two windows
of two lights each are picturesquely grouped. The other great doorways
are almost all modernized and uninteresting.

The screen round the Coro is a feature of as great interest as any in
the church. It encloses the whole of the two eastern bays of the nave;
and, as far as I could judge by the way in which it finishes against the
transept column, where the old work ends abruptly, and is completed
with a later carving of lions and castles, it seems possible that it
crossed the transepts and completely shut them out from the choir. There
is, however, no certain evidence of this; and the main fact proved, is
that from the very first the choir-stalls were locally in the nave. In a
plan such as this, with an extremely short choir, founded evidently,
like so many of the Spanish churches, on the plan of the great Abbey of
Citeaux, it must, from the first, have been intended that this should be
the arrangement; but, as I have observed before, the present use of the
choir and the old use are unlike in the only point in which the Spanish
plan is distinctly national. For, in the western face of this old
screen, the doorway into the choir remains; and this has since been
blocked up, in order to put the archbishop’s throne in the centre of the
west end of the Coro, the only access to which is now from the transept
crossing through the eastern Reja or screen. The screen-work is
continued on round the apse, but much mutilated by Berruguetesque and
other alterations, the work of which at the east, behind the altar, is
the worst in the world--_el trasparente_--where angels, clouds, and rays
of light, all painfully executed in marble, are lighted by a big hole,
wickedly pierced right through the old thirteenth-century vault!

The nave-screen consists of an arcade filled with rich tracery, and
carried upon marble and jasper shafts (said, but on what authority I
know not,[240] to have come from the seventh-century Basilica of Sta.
Leocadia). The wall above the capitals is divided by pinnacles; between
each of which is a niche containing a subject sculptured in high relief
under a canopy. The detail of the whole is of the richest kind of
middle-pointed, and altogether very similar in the amount of work and
delicacy of design to the arcades round some of the richest of our own
buildings, as, for instance, round the Chapter-house at Ely. The
sculptures are many of them admirable, full of the natural incidents so
loved by, and the _naïveté_ so characteristic of, the best mediæval
sculptors of their age. I give a complete list of these subjects in the
Appendix, and strongly recommend careful study of them to those who
visit Toledo. I feel the more bound to do this, because in all the
Spanish Guide-books they will find them spoken of with the utmost
contempt, whilst all the praise is reserved for a vile gilt creation by
Berruguete, which has taken the place of the three central western
subjects over the choir-door, and for two statues of Innocence and Sin,
which seem to me to be innocent of art, and to sin against nature!

In addition to the western doorway there were four others in these
screens, two on the north and two on the south; these opened into small
chapels contrived in the space left between the screen just described,
outside the columns, and the wooden screen inside the columns and behind
the choir-stalls.

The screen on the south side of the apse--the remains of what no doubt
once went all round it--is even more elaborate than that round the Coro:
it is pierced below, so that the altar may be seen, and has large
statues of saints above, and an open-gabled parapet, finished with
angels everywhere, and truly a most gorgeous work! This is in the
south-west arch of the choir only, a late flamboyant screen having been
added afterwards beyond it to the east, whilst on the north side a
Berruguetesque monument has taken the place of the old screen.

The last great middle-pointed feature is the chapel of San Ildefonso, at
the extreme east end of the church. It is a most elaborate work, groined
with an eight-sided vault; its windows and arches full of rich
mouldings, and enriched by ball flowers and some of the other devices
commonly seen in our own work of the same age. Each side of this chapel
had an elaborate tomb with an arched recess in the wall over it,
surmounted by a gabled canopy between pinnacles, and under which
sculptured subjects are introduced.[241] These tombs were evidently all
erected at the same time, and help to make the _tout ensemble_ of the
chapel very rich and striking. A string-course is carried round above
them; and above this there are large traceried windows, alternately of
three and four lights. The vaulting-ribs are treated in an unusual and
rather effective way, being fringed with a series of cusps on their
under side, which give great richness to the general effect. There are
small triangular vaulting compartments in the two western angles, which
are necessary in order to bring the main vault to a true octagon in

The works added in the fifteenth century were both numerous and
important. The cloister and chapel of San Blas, on its north side, are
the first in importance. They owe their origin, indeed, to the previous
century, the first stone having been laid on the 14th of August, A.D.
1389, by Archbishop Tenorio,[242] Rodrigo Alfonso being the master of
the works. In the chapel is a fine monument of the Archbishop; and in
the cloister walls a door which, in the capricious cusping and
crocketing of its traceried work, illustrates the extreme into which the
Spanish architects of this age ran in their elaboration of detail and
affectation of novelty. The traceries of the whole of the windows of the
cloister are destroyed, but the groining remains, and the proportions
and scale of the whole work are both very fine.

The west front was commenced in A.D. 1418, and the north-west tower in
A.D. 1425, one Alvar Gomez being the architect employed upon them; and
in A.D. 1479 the upper part of the west front was completed; but the
whole of this was again repaired and altered in A.D. 1777, so that now
it presents little if anything really worthy of notice. The circular
west window seems to be of the earlier half of the fourteenth century,
and the later works were carried out in front of it. Between this window
and the gable of the great doorway is an enormous sculpture of the Last
Supper: the table extends from buttress to buttress; and our Lord and
the Apostles sit each in a great niche. The steeple is certainly rather
imposing in outline: a simple square tower at the base, and for some 170
feet from the ground, it is then changed to an octagon with bold turrets
and pinnacles; and above this is a low spire, chiefly to be noticed for
the three rows of metal rays which project from its sides. The upper
part of the steeple was built when Alonso Covarrubias was the master of
the works, but rebuilt after a fire in A.D. 1660.[243]

The chapel of Santiago, to the north-east of the chevet, was another
great work of this period. It is similar in plan to that of San
Ildefonso, by the side of which it is built, and has in its centre a
grand high tomb, carrying recumbent effigies of the Constable D. Alvaro
de Luna and his wife Doña Juana.[244] Each of the tombs has life-size
kneeling figures, one at each angle, looking towards the tomb, and
angels holding coats of arms--that most unangelic of operations, as it
always seems to me--in panels on the sides. Here, as in the chapel of
San Ildefonso, the sides of the chapel were each provided with a great
canopied tomb, whilst on one side a mediæval carved and painted wooden
Retablo to an altar conceals the original altar arrangement. The
exterior of this chapel is finished with a battlement and circular
overhanging turrets at the angles; above which is a tiled roof of flat
pitch. Don Alvaro de Luna died in A.D. 1453, and his wife in A.D. 1448;
and the chapel bears evidence in the “perpendicular” character of its
panelling, arcading, and crocketing, of the poverty of the age in the
matter of design. At this period, indeed, the designers were sculptors
rather than architects, and thought of little but the display of their
own manual dexterity.

I have already described the external screens of the Coro. Its internal
fittings must not be forgotten, being very full of interest, and of much
magnificence. The lower range of stalls all round (fifty in number) are
the work of Maestro Rodrigo, circa A.D. 1495; and the upper range were
executed, half by Berruguete, and half by Felipe de Borgoña, in A.D.
1543.[245] The old stall ends are picturesque in outline, very large,
and covered with tracery, panels, and carvings, with monkeys and other
animals sitting on them. The upper range of stalls is raised by four
steps, so that between the elbows of the lower stalls and the desk above
them are spaces which are filled in with a magnificent series of
bas-reliefs illustrating the various incidents of the conquest of
Granada. They were executed whilst all the subjects depicted in them
must have been fresh in the minds of the people; and they are full of
picturesque vigour and character. The names of the fortresses are often
inscribed upon the walls: in some we have the siege, in others the
surrender of the keys, and in others the Catholic monarchs, accompanied
by Cardinal Ximenes, riding in, in triumph, through the gates. It may be
a fair complaint that the subjects are rather too much alike; but in
subjects all of which were so similar in their story, it was, of course,
difficult to avoid this. Their effect is in marked contrast to the heavy
dull Paganism of the sculptures by Berruguete, whose work took the
place, no doubt, of some more ancient stalls. The canopies in his work
rest on columns of jasper, a material which seems to be very abundant

In the centre of the Coro stands the great Eagle, a magnificent work in
brass. The enormous bird, with outstretched wings, is fighting a dragon
which struggles between its feet: its eyes are large red stones, and it
stands upon a canopied, buttressed, and pinnacled pedestal, crowded with
statues, among which are those of the twelve apostles. Six lions
couchant carry the whole on their backs, and serve to complete the
family likeness to other brass eagles, of which, however, this is, I
think, by far the most grandiose I have ever seen.

Here as elsewhere throughout Spain the iron and brass screens are very
numerous. The two Rejas, east of the Coro and west of the Capilla mayor,
were finished in A.D. 1548. There is little to admire in their detail;
but they are massive and bold pieces of metal-work, for the dignified
simplicity of which there is much, no doubt, to be said, when we think
of the terribly over-ornamented work--semi-renaissance in its
feeling--which is so unfortunately fashionable among some of our own
church restorers now-a-days.[246] The great iron screen outside the
north transept door is an earlier work, and fine in its way. The detail
of this is very much like the screens already described at Palencia.

There are also many Retablos, and some of them ancient. That behind the
high altar is a grand work, of so great height that it rises quite from
the floor to the roof, being filled with subjects from our Lord’s life,
arranged with the most complete disregard to their chronology, and, so
far as I could see, without any other better system of arrangement. The
whole, however, is most effective, the subjects being richly painted
and gilded, and the whole of the canopies and niches covered with gold,
so that the effect is one of extreme richness and perfect quietness
combined, the usual result of the ample use of gold. Many other small
Retablos exist elsewhere, and many have been destroyed.[247]

The difficulty in the way of seeing to sketch anything inside the
cathedral is as great as it usually is in Spain, but not at all in
consequence of the absence of windows; for, as will have been seen from
my description, the windows are both many and large: all of them,
however, are filled with stained glass, and hence, in addition to the
wonderful charm of contrasted lights and shades, which we have here in
marvellous perfection, we have also the charm of seeing none but
coloured rays of light where any fall through the windows on the floor
or walls.

Most of the glass appeared to me to be of the fifteenth century, and
later. The rose of the north transept, which is earlier, has already
been described; and the glass in the eastern windows of the transept
clerestory (single figures under canopies) looked as if it were of the
same date, or at any rate earlier than A.D. 1350. The rest of the church
is glazed rather uniformly with cinquecento glass of extreme brilliancy
and unusual depth of colour, the upper windows having generally single
figures, the others subjects in medallions. I had not time to make out
the scheme of their arrangement; but I observed that the medallions of
the clerestory of the intermediate aisle began at the west end, with the
Expulsion from Paradise, and went on with subjects from the Old

Of colour on the walls, little, alas! remains. They have been
whitewashed throughout, and in the choir coarsely diapered with broad
gilt masonry lines, edged with black. The internal tympanum of the south
transept door has a tree of Jesse, and close to it is an enormous
painting of S. Christopher; and the cloister walls had remains of
paintings which used to be attributed (but without the slightest
foundation, I believe) to Giotto, but these have now given way to new
wall-paintings of poor design and no value of any kind.

The stateliness of the services here answers in some degree to the
grandeur of the fabric in which they are celebrated. At eight o’clock
every morning there appears to be mass at the high altar, at which the
Epistle and Gospel are read from ambons in the screen in front of it,
the gospeller having two lighted candles; whilst the silvery-sounding
wheels of bells are rung with all their force at the elevation of the
Host, in place of the single tinkling bell to which our ears are so used
on the Continent.[248] The Revolution in Spain, among other odd things,
has enabled the clergy here to sing the Lauds at about four o’clock in
the afternoon instead of at the right time. The service at the Mozarabic
Chapel at the west end of the aisle goes on at the same time as that in
the Coro, and anything more puzzling than the two organs and two choirs
singing as it were against each other can scarcely be conceived. There
are neither seats nor chairs for the people; the worshippers, in so vast
a place, seem to be few, though no doubt we should count them as many in
one of our English cathedrals. I always wish, when I see a church so
used, that we could revive the same custom here, and let a fair
proportion, at any rate, of the people stand and kneel at large on the
floor. Our chairs, benches, and pews are at least as often a nuisance to
their occupiers as the contrary; and for all parts of our services, save
the sermon, all but superfluous. Some day, perhaps, when we have
discovered that it is not given to every one to be a good preacher, we
may separate our sermons from our other services, and may live in hopes
of then seeing the floors of our churches restored to the free and
common use of the people, whilst some chance will be given, at the same
time, to our architects of exhibiting their powers to the greatest

It would be easy to elaborate the account which I have given of this
cathedral, to very much greater length; for there are other erections
in connexion with it besides all those that I have noticed, of a grand
and costly kind, owing their foundation to the builders of the
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and everywhere affording the same
exhibition of magnificence and wealth; but these works are all worthless
from the point of view which I have taken for my notes of Spanish
architecture, and if I were to chronicle them I should be bound to
chronicle all the works of Berruguete, Herrera, and Churriguera
elsewhere, for which sad task I have neither space nor inclination. I
cannot, indeed, forgive these men, when I remember that to them it is
due that what remained before their time of the original design of the
exterior of this church was completely modernized or concealed
everywhere by their additions.

The only other great Gothic work in the city, after the cathedral, seems
to be the church of San Juan de los Reyes,[249] which was erected by
order of Ferdinand and Isabella, in A.D. 1476, to commemorate their
victory in the battle of Toro over the King of Portugal. Nothing can be
much more elaborate than much of the detail of this church, yet I have
seen few buildings less pleasing or harmonious. It was erected in the
age of heraldic achievements, and angels with coats of arms are crowded
over the walls. There is a nave of four bays, a Cimborio or raised
lantern at the Crossing, roofed with an octagonal vault with groined
pendentives, quasi-transepts (they are in fact mere shallow square
recesses), and a very short apsidal choir of five unequal sides. The
western bay of the nave has a deep groined gallery, of the same age as
the church, and in which are the stalls and organs, with two small
ambons in its western balustrade: chapels are formed between the nave
buttresses. Other ambons are placed at some height from the floor
against the north-west and south-west piers of the Cimborio. The lantern
on the outside is octagonal with pinnacles at the angles and a pierced

The bald panelling of the external wall of the south transept is
furnished with a ghastly kind of adornment in the chains with which
Christians are said to have been confined by the Moors in Granada.

The ruling idea of the interior of this church is evidently that which,
unfortunately I think, is somewhat fashionable at the present day--the
bringing of the altar forward among the people without reserve or
protection. The removal of the Coro to the western gallery, the shallow
recess in which the altar is placed, and the broad, unbroken area of the
nave, are all evidences of this, and could only have been adopted when
all desire to interest the people in any but the altar services had been
given up, and with it that wholesome reverence which, in earlier days,
had jealously guarded, fenced around, and screened these the holiest
parts of holy buildings.

A blue velvet canopy still hangs above the altar; it is a square tester,
with hangings at the back and on either side. The velvet is marked with
vertical lines of gold lace, and the eagle of St. John--the crest of
Ferdinand and Isabella--is introduced in the embroidery.

The pulpit was against one of the piers on the south side of the nave;
the door into it is now stopped up, and another pulpit has been erected
below the Gospel ambon. There is a gallery corbelled out from the
clerestory, in front of one of the south windows, the use of which did
not seem to be at all clear, unless, indeed, it was similar in object to
such an example as the minstrels’ gallery at Exeter Cathedral.

The old cloister, though falling down through neglect and bad usage, is,
on the whole, the finest portion of the whole work; it is groined
throughout, and covered with rich sculpture of foliage and animals, and
saints in niches. It has been much damaged, mainly, I believe, by French
soldiers during the war, and is now used in part as a picture gallery,
and in part as a museum of antiquities. The pictures, like those in most
of the inferior Spanish collections, are very sad, ghastly, and gloomy;
but among the antiquities are many of value, including a good deal of
Moorish work of various ages. The cloister is of two stages in height,
the lower having traceried openings, the upper large open arches in each

The refectory also remains, with ogee lierne ribs on its groining: over
the entrance to it is a great cross, recessed within an arch, with a
pelican at the top, and statues of St. Mary and St. John[250] on either
side, but without the figure of our Lord.

And now I bid farewell to Toledo. Few cities that I have ever seen can
compete in artistic interest with it; and none perhaps come up to it in
the singular magnificence of its situation, and the endless novelty and
picturesqueness of its every corner. It epitomizes the whole strange
history of Spain in a manner so vivid, that he who visits its old nooks
and corners carefully and thoughtfully, can work out, almost unassisted,
the strange variety which that history affords. For here, Romans,
Visigoths, Saracens, and again Christians, have in turn held sway, and
here all have left their mark; here, moreover, the Christians, since the
thirteenth century, have shown two opposite examples,--one of toleration
of Jews and Moors, which it would be hard to find a parallel for among
ourselves, and the other of intolerance, such as has no parallel out of
Spain elsewhere in Europe.

I need hardly say that in such a city the post-Gothic builders have also
left their mark. They have built many and imposing houses of various
kinds, chief among which are the altered Alcazar, now destroyed and
ruined, and the Convent of Sta. Cruz. But there was nothing in these
works specially appropriate to the locality, and nothing, therefore,
which takes them out of the position which their class holds elsewhere
in Spain.

I believe that Toledo, in addition to all its other charms, is a good
starting-point for visits to several of the best examples of mediæval
Castilian castles. I have not been able to afford the time necessary for
this work, and was unluckily obliged, therefore, to neglect it
altogether; but the Spanish castles are so important that they deserve a
volume to themselves; and it is to be hoped that ere long some one will
undertake the pleasant task of examining and illustrating them.

[Illustration: TOLEDO Ground Plan of Cathedral &c. Plate XIV.

W. West, Lithr.

Published by John Murray, Albemarle St. 1865.]



From Toledo I took the railway to Valencia. But as the junction of the
Toledo branch with the main line is a small station of the meanest
description, and as there were three or four hours to dispose of before
the mail-train passed, I went back as far as Aranjuez, intending to dine
there. The station is close to the palace, a large, bald, and
uninteresting pile. The principal inn is kept by an Englishman with a
French wife, and as it was not the right season for Aranjuez we had
great difficulty in getting anything. In truth the French wife was a
tartar, and advised us to go back again; but finally, the husband having
interceded, she relented so far as to produce some eggs and bacon.

Aranjuez seemed to consist mainly of the palace and its stables, and to
be afflicted with even more than the usual plague of dust: but in the
spring no doubt it is in a more pleasant state, and may, I hope, justify
the landlord’s assertion that there is nothing in the world to compare
with it!

Late in the evening we started for Valencia: it was a bright moonlight
night, so that I was able, when I woke and looked out, to see that the
country we traversed was an endless plain of extremely uninteresting
character, and that we lost little by not seeing it. I should have
preferred leaving the railway altogether, and going by Cuença on my way
to Valencia; but time was altogether wanting for this détour, though I
have no doubt that Cuença would well repay a visit.

At Almanza, where the lines for Alicante and Valencia separate, there is
a very picturesque castle perched upon a rock above the town, and here
the dreary, uninteresting country, which extends with but short
intervals all the way from Vitoria, is changed for the somewhat
mountainous Valencian district, which everywhere shows signs of the
highest luxuriance and cultivation, resulting almost entirely from the
extreme care and industry with which the artificial irrigation is
managed. The villages are numerous, and around them are beautiful
vineyards, groves of orange-trees, and rice-fields; whilst here and
there clumps of tall palm-trees give a very Eastern aspect to the
landscape. The churches seemed, as far as I could judge, to be all
modern and most uninteresting. After passing the hilly country, a broad
plain is crossed to Valencia. Here the system of irrigation, said to be
an inheritance from the Moors, is evidently most complete. Every field
has its stream of water running rapidly along, and the main drawback to
such a system, so completely carried out, is that the beds of the rivers
are generally all but dry, their water being all diverted into other and
more useful channels. The Valencian farm-labourers’ dress is quite worth
looking at. They wear short, loose, white linen trousers and jackets,
brilliantly coloured _mantas_--generally scarlet--thrown over their
shoulders, coloured handkerchiefs over their heads, and violet scarfs
round their waists. They have a quaint way of sitting at work in the
fields, with their knees up to their ears, like so many grasshoppers;
and their skin is so well bronzed that one can hardly believe them to be
of European blood. They are said to be vindictive and passionate, but
they are also, so far as I saw them, very lively, merry, and talkative.
The farms appear to be very large, and when I passed the farmers were
hard at work threshing their rice. This is all done by horses and mules
on circular threshing-floors. In many of the farms eight or ten pair of
horses may be seen at work at the same time on as many threshing-floors,
and the effect of such a scene is striking and novel.

As we went into Valencia we passed on the right the enormous new Plaza
de Toros, said to be the finest in Spain. Railroads will, I suppose,
rather tend to develop the national love for this institution, and this
theatre must have been built with some such impression, for otherwise it
is difficult to believe that a city of a hundred and twenty thousand
inhabitants could build a theatre capable of containing about a tenth of
the whole population!

The national vehicle of Valencia is the _tartana_, a covered cart on two
wheels, with a slight attempt only at springs, and rendered gay by the
crimson curtains which are hung across the front. Jumping into one of
these, we soon found ourselves at the excellent Fonda del Cid, whose
title reminds us that we are on classic ground in this city of Valencia
del Cid.

The Cid took the city from the Moors after a siege of twenty months, in
A.D. 1094, established himself here, and ruled till his death, in A.D.
1099. The Moors then regained possession for a short time, but in A.D.
1238 or 1239 it was finally re-taken from them by the Spaniards.

It is hardly to be expected that anything would remain of Christian work
earlier than A.D. 1095, or, more probably, than A.D. 1239, and this I
found to be the case. The cathedral, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, is
a church of only moderate interest, its interior having been overlaid
everywhere with columns, pilasters, and cornices of plaster, and the
greater part of the exterior being surrounded so completely with houses,
that no good view can be obtained of it.

The ground-plan is, however, still so far untouched as to be perfectly
intelligible. It has a nave and aisles of four bays, transepts
projecting one bay beyond the aisles, and a lofty lantern or Cimborio
over the Crossing. The choir is one bay only in length, and has a
three-sided apse. An aisle of the same width as that of the nave is
continued round the choir, and has the rare arrangement of two polygonal
chapels opening in each of its bays. The vaulting compartments in the
aisle are therefore cincopartite, those throughout the rest of the
church being quadripartite. A grand Chapter-house stands detached to the
south of the west bay of the nave, and an octagonal steeple, called “El
Micalete,” abuts against the north-west angle of the west front.

The ritual arrangements are all modern, and on the usual plan. The
western bay of the church is open; the stalls of the Coro occupy the
second and third bays; and metal rails across the fourth bay of the nave
and the Crossing connect the Coro with the Capilla mayor.

The evidence as to the age of the various portions of the building is
sufficient to enable us to date most of the work rather accurately. The
foundation of the church is recorded by an inscription over the
south-transept door to have been laid in 1262:[251] and some portion of
the exterior is, I have no doubt, of this date. The whole south-transept
front, a portion of the sacristy on the east side, and the exterior of
the apse, are all of fine early-pointed style, and, in the absence of
any specific statement of their date, might well have been thought to
belong to quite the commencement of the century. But I think a careful
examination of the detail will show that the work is possibly not so
early as it looks: and it has so much in common with Italian work of
the same age, that we need not be surprised to find in it features which
would nevertheless be inconsistent with its execution in the middle of
the thirteenth century in any work in the North of Europe. The south
transept façade consists of a round-arched doorway, with a horizontal
cornice over it, and a large and fine lancet-window above. The door and
window have respectively six and three jamb-shafts, and the abaci
throughout are square in plan. The archivolt of the doorway is very
rich: it includes five orders of enriched dog-tooth moulding, one order
of seraphs in niches, one of chevron, one of scalloping, and two of
foliage: good thirteenth century mouldings are also freely used. The
shafts are detached, and there is foliage on the jamb between them. The
abaci are very richly carved with animals and foliage, and the capitals
are all sculptured with subjects under canopies. The detail of the whole
of the work is certainly very exquisite. Undoubtedly in the north of
France such work would be assumed to have belonged to the twelfth rather
than the thirteenth century; but the quatrefoil diapering on the
capitals, the canopy work over the subjects in them, and the pronounced
character of the mouldings and dog-tooth enrichment, make it pretty
clear that the recorded date applies to this work. Indeed I do not know
how we can assume any other date for it without altogether throwing over
the extremely definite old inscription: for as it is evident that the
south transept and choir are of the same date, it is difficult to see
how it could have been possible to speak of the first stone, if all this
important part of the fabric were already in existence.[252] Close to
the transept on the east, in the wall of what is now a sacristy, is
another lancet window, of equally good, though simpler detail. Enough,
too, remains of the original work in the exterior of the apse to show
that it is of the same age as the south transept. The clerestory windows
seem to have been simple broad lancets; there are corbel-tables under
the eaves; and the buttresses are very solid and simple. On the interior
nothing but the groining has been left untouched by the pagan plasterers
of a later day.

[Illustration: No. 32.



I have found no evidence as to the date of the next portion of the
fabric, which is the more to be regretted as it is altogether very
important and interesting in its character. It includes the whole façade
of the north transept, a noble lantern at the Crossing, and a small
pulpit, and the whole of this is a good example of probably the latter
half of the fourteenth century. The north transept elevation is
extremely rich in detail. The great doorway in the centre of the lowest
stage--De los Aposteles--has figures under canopies in its jambs, and
corresponding figures on either side beyond the jambs. The arch is
moulded, and sculptured with four rows of figures and canopies, divided
by orders of mouldings. The tympanum of the door is adorned with
sculptures of the Blessed Virgin with our Lord and angels. Over the arch
is a gabled canopy, the spandrels of which are filled with tracery and
figures. Above, and set back rather from the face of the doorway, is a
rose window, the very rich traceries of which are arranged in
intersecting equilateral triangles; over it is a crocketed pediment,
with tracery in the spandrels and on either side, and flanked by
pinnacles. Every portion of the wall is panelled or carved. This front
affords an admirable example of that class of middle-pointed work which
was common in Germany and France at the end of the thirteenth and
beginning of the fourteenth centuries. The style prevailed for some
time, and it was probably about the middle of the fourteenth century
that this building was executed.

The pulpit is placed against the north-east pier of the Crossing; it has
evidently been taken to pieces and reconstructed, and it is not certain,
I think, that it was originally a pulpit. Many of the members of the
base and capital of its stem, and the angles of the octagonal upper
stage, are modern, and of bronze; the rest is mainly of marble. The stem
is slender, and the upper part is pierced with richly-moulded
geometrical traceries, behind which the panels are filled in with
boards, gilt and diapered with extremely good effect. A curious feature
in this pulpit is that there is now no entrance to it, and if it is ever
used for preaching, the preacher must get into it by climbing over the

The lantern or Cimborio, though in some respects similar to, is no doubt
later than the transept; it is one of the finest examples of its class
in Spain. Mr. Ford says that it was built in A.D. 1404, but I have been
unable to find his authority for the statement,[253] and though he may
be right, I should have been inclined to date it somewhat earlier. It is
an octagon of two rather similar stages in height above the roof.
Crocketed pinnacles are arranged at each angle, and large six-light
windows with very rich and varied geometrical tracery fill the whole of
each of the sides. The lower windows have crocketed labels, and the
upper crocketed canopies, and the string-courses are enriched with
foliage. From the very transparent character of this lantern, it is
clear that it was never intended to be carried higher. It is a lantern
and nothing more, and really very noble, in spite of its somewhat too
ornate and frittered character.[254]

[Illustration: The Micalete.]

The portion of the work next in date to this seems to have been the
tower. This, like the lantern, is octagonal in plan, and it is placed at
the north-west corner of the aisle, against which one of its angles is
set. A more Gothic contempt for regularity it would be impossible to
imagine, yet the effect is certainly good. The circumference of this
steeple is said to be equal to its height, but I had not an opportunity
of testing this. Each side is 20 ft. 8 in. from angle to angle of the
buttresses, so that the height, if the statement is true, would be about
165 feet. It is of four stages in height; the three lower stages quite
plain, and the belfry rather rich, with a window in each face, panelling
all over the wall above, and crocketed pediments over the windows. The
buttresses or pilasters--for they are of similar projection throughout
their height--are finished at the top with crocketed pinnacles. The
parapet has been destroyed, and there is a modern structure on the roof
at the top. The evidence as to the age of this work is ample. It is
called “El Micalete” or “Miguelete,” its bells having been first hung on
the feast of St. Michael.

Some documents referring to it are given by Cean Bermudez,[255] and are
as follows:--

I. A deed executed in Valencia before Jayme Rovira, notary, on the 20th
June, 1380, by which it appears that Michael Palomar, citizen, Bernardo
Boix and Bartolomé Valent, master masons, estimated what they considered
necessary for the fabric of the tower or campanile at 853 scudi.

II. From the MS. diary of the chaplain of King D. Alonso V. of Aragon,
it appears that on the 1st January, A.D. 1381, there was a solemn
procession of the bishop, clergy, and _regidors_ of the city to the
church, to lay the first stone of the Micalete.[256]

III. By a deed made in Valencia, May 18th, A.D. 1414, before Jayme
Pastor, notary or clerk of the chapter, it is settled that Pedro
Balaguer, an “able architect,” shall receive 50 florins from the fabric
fund of the new campanile or Micalete, “in payment of his expenses on
the journey which he made to Lérida, Narbonne, and other cities, in
order to see and examine their towers and campaniles, so as to imitate
from them the most elegant and fit form for the cathedral of Valencia.”

IV. By another deed, made before the same Jayme Pastor, September 18th,
A.D. 1424, it is agreed that Martin Llobet, stone-cutter, agrees to do
the work which is wanting and ought to be done in the Micalete, to wit,
to finish the last course with its gurgoyles, to make the “_barbacano_,”
and bench round about, for the sum of 2000 florins of common money of
Aragon,[257] the administration of the fabric finding the wheels, ropes,
baskets, &c.

An inscription on the tower itself, referred to by Mr. Ford (but which I
did not see), states that it was raised between A.D. 1381 and A.D. 1418,
by Juan Franck, and it is said to have been intended to be 350 feet

It is evident, therefore, that several architects were employed upon the
work, and I know few facts in the history of mediæval art more
interesting than the account we have here of the payment of an architect
whilst he travelled to find some good work to copy for the city of
Valencia. The steeple of Lérida cathedral will be mentioned in its
place, and it is sufficient now to say that it is also octagonal, of
great height, and dates from the commencement of the fourteenth century.
I know nothing at Narbonne which could have been suggestive to Pedro
Balaguer, but the city was Spanish in those days, and is probably only
mentioned as one of the most important places to which he went.

When the Micalete was built the nave of the church seems to have been
still unfinished, the choir and transepts and part of the nave only
having been built. In 1459, under the direction of an architect named
Valdomar, a native of Valencia, the work was continued, and the church
was joined to the tower. The authority for this statement is a MS. in
the library of the convent of San Domingo, Valencia, which says: “In the
year of our Lord 1459, on Monday, the 10th of September, they commenced
digging to make the doorway and arcade of the cathedral; Master Valdomar
was the master of the works, a native of the said city of
Valencia.”[259] Of Valdomar’s work in this part of the church nothing
remains, the whole has been altered in the most cruel way, and the most
contemptible work erected in its place. Valdomar appears to have died
whilst his work was in progress, and to have been succeeded by Pedro
Compte, who concluded the work in 1482. The manuscript already quoted
from the library of San Domingo is the authority for this statement, and
describes Pedro Compte as “Molt sabut en l’art de la pedra.”[260]

On the south side of the nave there is a Chapter-house, which is said by
Ponz[261] to be the work of Pedro Compte, and to have been built at the
cost of Bishop D. Vidal Blaues, in A.D. 1358. If this statement is
correct, it follows that there were two architects of this name, the
second having erected the Lonja de la Sedia, to which I shall have
presently to refer, in A.D. 1482. The tracery of the windows, and the
details generally of the Chapter-house, is so geometrical and good, that
it is probable that the date given by Ponz may be depended upon. It is a
square room nearly sixty feet in diameter, and groined in stone. The
vault is similar to those which I first saw at Burgos, having arches
thrown across the angles to bring it to an octagon, and the triangular
compartments in the angles having their vaults below the main vault. It
is lighted by small windows very high up in the walls on the cardinal
sides, and these are circular and spherical triangles in outline, filled
with geometrical tracery. On the south side is a very elaborate arcaded
reredos and altar, and on the west a pulpit corbelled out from the wall.
The design and detail of the whole are extremely fine, and I regret that
I was able to make but a very hurried examination of it, and no
sketches; meeting here, almost for the first time in Spain, with a
sacristan who refused to allow me to do more than look, the fact being
that it was his time for dinner and siesta!

In the old sacristy to the east of this room are still preserved two
embroidered altar frontals, said to have been brought from our own old
St. Paul’s by two merchants, Andres and Pedro de Medina, just about the
time of the Reformation.[262] They are therefore of especial interest to
an Englishman. They are very large works, strained on frames, and were,
I believe, hangings rather than altar frontals, as they are evidently
continuations one of the other. The field is of gold, diapered, and upon
this a succession of subjects is embroidered. On one cloth are
(beginning at the left) (1) our Lord bearing his Cross; (2) being nailed
to the Cross; (3) crucified, with the thieves on either side; (4)
descending from the Cross; (5) entombed. The next cloth has (1) the
descent into Hell; (2) the Maries going to the sepulchre; (3) the Maries
at the tomb, the angel, and (4) the Resurrection. The effect of the
whole work is like that of a brilliant German painting, and the figures
are full of action and spirit, and have a great deal of expression in
their faces. The diapered ground is made with gold thread, laid down in
vertical lines, and then diapered with diagonal lines of fine bullion
stitched down over it to form the diaper. The gold is generally
manufactured in a double twist, and borders and edgings are all done
with a very bold twisted gold cord. The faces are all wrought in silk,
and some of the dresses are of silk, lined all over with gold. The old
border at the edge exists on one only of the frontals. The size of each
is 3 ft. 1 in. by 10 ft. 2 in., and the date, as nearly as I can judge,
must be about A.D. 1450. There is also preserved here a missal which
once belonged to Westminster Abbey.

I could find no other church of any interest. There are several which
have some old remains, but they are generally so damaged and decayed,
that it is impossible to make anything of them. One I saw desecrated and
occupied by the military, and was unable to enter; and there is another
in a street leading out of the Calle de Caballeros, which has a very
fine round-arched doorway, with three shafts in the jambs, and good
thirteenth-century mouldings in the arch, and which is evidently of the
same age as the south door of the cathedral. The capitals have each two
wyverns fighting, and the abaci are well carved. The church, however,
was desecrated, and no one knew how I could gain admission to it.

[Illustration: Puerta de Serranos. Valencia.]

The walls and gates are of more interest. They are lofty, and generally
well preserved. The two finest gates are the Puerta de Serranos, and
that del Cuarte. The former, said by Ford[263] to have been built in
A.D. 1349, is a noble erection. Two grand polygonal towers flank the
entrance archway, which is recessed in the centre. Above this the wall
is covered with tracery panelling, and then a great projecting gallery
or platform, supported on enormous corbels, is carried all round the
three exposed sides of the gateway. The towers are carried up a
considerable height above this gallery, and it is probable that there
was originally a wooden construction over it, of the kind which M.
Viollet le Duc, in his treatise on military architecture, has shown to
have been commonly adopted in fortifications of this age. The Puerta del
Cuarte is of the same description, and has two circular flanking towers,
but is less imposing, and is said to have been built in A.D. 1444. Both
gateways are completely open at the back, enormous open arches, one
above the other, rendering them useless for attack against the city; and
the corbelled-out passages at the top are not continued across the back.

The domestic remains here are of some importance. One feature of rather
frequent occurrence is the window of two or three lights, divided by
detached shafts. The earlier examples have simple trefoil heads, and
sculptured capitals to the columns. In the later examples there are
mouldings round the cusped head, and the abaci and capitals are carved:
but it is a very curious fact, that wherever I saw any old towns on the
coast of the Mediterranean, there I always saw some specimens of this
later kind of window, with detail and carving so identical in character,
that I was almost driven to the conclusion that they were all executed
in the same place, and sent about the country to be fixed! Nevertheless,
they are always very pretty, so that one ought not to grumble if they do
occur a little too often. The shafts are generally of marble, and often
coupled one behind the other.

The Arabs had a name for this class of windows, and as we have not, and
want one, it may be as well to mention it. They are called _ajimez_,
literally windows by which the sun enters. The Arabs seem to have
supplied many of the architectural terms in use in Spain, and probably
we owe them in this case not only the name, but the design also. Among
other Arab words still in common use, I may mention Alcazar, Alcalá,
Tapia, and many more are given in vocabularies.

[Illustration: Ajimez Window. Valencia.]

[Illustration: No. 33

VALENCIA. p. 270.


One of the earliest of these _ajimez_ windows is in a house on the east
side of the cathedral; and a fine example of later date is in an old
house in the Calle de Caballeros, the internal court and staircase of
which are also picturesque, though hardly mediæval. All the houses here
seem to be built on the same plan, with the stables and offices on the
ground floor, arranged round an internal court, an open stone staircase
to the first floor, and the living-rooms above. The fronts towards the
streets are generally rather gloomy and forbidding-looking, but the
courts are always picturesque. The finest domestic building in the city
is the Casa Lonja, or Exchange, which was commenced on the 7th November,
1482, the year in which the works at the cathedral were completed by
Pedro Compte. There is no doubt, I believe, that he was the architect;
and on March 19, 1498, he was appointed perpetual Alcaide of the Lonja,
with a salary of thirty pounds (“libras”) a year. He was also “Maestro
Mayor” of the city, and was employed in several works of engineering on
the rivers and streams of the district.[264] The main front of the Lonja
is still very nearly as he left it, a fine specimen of late Spanish
pointed work. The detail is of the same kind as, but simpler than, the
contemporary works at Valladolid and Burgos, and there is a less
determined display of heraldic achievements; though the great doorway,
and the window on either side of it which open into the great hall, and
which are so curiously grouped together by means of labels and
string-courses, have some coats of arms and supporters rather
irregularly placed in their side panels. The great parapet of the end,
and the singular finish of the battlements, are very worthy of note,
and give great richness to the whole building. The principal doorway
leads into a fine groined hall, 130 feet long by 75 feet wide, divided
into a quasi nave and aisles of five bays by eight columns, sculptured
and spirally twisted. The portion of the building to the left of the
centre is divided into three chambers in height, the upper and lower
rooms being low, the central room lofty and well proportioned. The lower
rooms have plain square windows; the next stage, windows of much loftier
proportions, and with their square heads ornamented with a rich fringe
of cusping. There are pointed discharging arches over them. The upper
stage of this wing is extremely rich, the window-openings being pierced
in a sort of continuous arcading, the pinnacles of which run up to and
finish in the parapet. This parapet is enriched with circular medallions
enclosing heads, a common Italian device, betokening here the hand of a
man whose work was verging upon that of the Renaissance school. At the
back is a garden, the windows and archways opening on which are of the
same age as the front.

Valencia, though not containing any building of remarkable interest, is
nevertheless well worth a visit: it is a busy city, full of picturesque
colour and people. The _manta_ or rug worn by the peasants throughout
Spain is here seen in perfection: it is of rich and very oriental
colour, and charms the eye at every turn. I went into a shop and looked
at a number of them, and there were none which were not thoroughly good
in their colour; and, worn as they are by the sunburnt peasants, hanging
loosely on one shoulder, they contrast splendidly with their white linen
jackets and trousers, and swarthy skins. The river is, at any rate in
the autumn, the broad dry bed only of a river, with here and there a
puddle just deep enough for washerwomen. The water is all carried off to
irrigate the fertile country around, and troops of cavalry and
artillery, with their guns all drawn by fine mules, were hard at work
exercising where it ought to have been. On the side of the river
opposite to the city are some rather nice public gardens, with fine
walks and drives planted with noble trees. A drive which begins here
extends all the way to Grao, the port of Valencia, some two or three
miles off. In the afternoon it seems to be always thronged with
_tartanas_, carriages, and equestrians on their way to and from the sea:
and each _tartana_ is full generally of a lively cargo of priests and
peasants, men, women, and children, all laughing, cheerful, and
picturesque. I went to Grao to embark on the steamer for Barcelona.
There is nothing to see there save the usual accompaniments of a
sea-port, and the provision for a large and fashionable population of
bathers from Madrid during the summer months. For their convenience
small and very rude huts are put up on the beach, and left there to be
destroyed by the winter storms. Not much is sacrificed, as they are of
the very rudest description, and evidently devised for the use of people
who go to Grao to be amused and to bathe, and not merely to show
themselves off as fine ladies and gentlemen.

At Valencia the national love for the _mantilla_, which in courtly
Madrid seems to be now half out of fashion, finds vent in the positive
prohibition at one of the churches for any woman to enter who wears a
bonnet in place of it!



No one should go from Valencia to Barcelona without paying a visit to
Tarragona. It is even now easy of access, and before long will be still
more accessible by means of the railway which is being made between the
two towns. I travelled from Barcelona to Tarragona and back again by
diligence, and both journeys, unfortunately, were made for the most part
by night, so that I am unable to speak very positively about the scenery
upon the road. But both on leaving Barcelona and again before I reached
Tarragona the road was very beautiful, and I have no doubt it would
reward any one who could contrive to give up more time and daylight to
it than I could. There is but one town of any importance on the
road--Villafranca de Panades,--and here I caught a glimpse of an old
church, which seemed to be of the fourteenth-century Catalan type, and
fully to deserve examination.

The approach to Tarragona is very lovely. The old city stands on the
steep slope of a hill, crowned by the stately mediæval cathedral, and
surrounded on all sides by walls, which are still very perfect and in
some parts unusually lofty and imposing. Below and beyond the walls to
the left, as you approach, is the mean and modern town which covers a
low promontory, and is now the centre of all the trade and business of
the city. A broad street, in which are the principal inns, divides the
two halves of the city, on the upper side of which the whole
architectural interest is centred. The views on all sides are beautiful.
Looking back to the east one sees hill after hill, ending in point after
point, which jut out into the sea one beyond the other, and, combining
with the deep blue waters of the Mediterranean, produce the most
charming picture. To the south, looking over the modern town, mole, and
harbour, is the sea; whilst to the west the eye wanders, well content,
over a rich green expanse of level land, studded all along its breadth
with rich growth of trees, till the view is bounded by the hills which
rise beyond the old town of Reus, now an active and enterprising centre
of manufacturing industry.

I ought, no doubt, to fill many pages here with an account of the Roman
antiquities, which are numerous and important, Tarragona having been one
of the most important Roman stations in Spain. But they have been often
described, and the time at my disposal allowed only of a hurried glance
at them, unless I chose to neglect in their favour the--to me--much more
interesting Christian remains, which I need hardly say I was not
prepared to do. The city walls are, I believe, to a considerable extent
Roman. There are remains--though but slight--of an amphitheatre; the
magnificent aqueduct, some little distance from the city, is one of the
finest in Europe; and, finally, there is a museum full of Roman
antiquities, which seem well to deserve due examination. But I was
obliged to neglect all these, giving them the most cursory inspection,
as I found in the cathedral ample occupation for every minute of my

This is certainly one of the most noble and interesting churches I have
seen in Spain. It is one of a class of which I have seen others upon a
somewhat smaller scale (as _e.g._ the cathedrals at Lérida and Tudela),
and which appears to me, after much study of old buildings in most parts
of Europe, to afford one of the finest types, from every point of view,
that it is possible to find. It produces in a very marked degree an
extremely impressive internal effect, without being on an exaggerated
scale, and combines in the happiest fashion the greatest solidity of
construction with a lavish display of ornament in some parts, to which
it is hard to find a parallel. Unfortunately the documentary evidence
that I have been able to find as to the age of the various portions of
this church is not so complete as I could wish. A very elaborate and
painstaking history of the city is in course of publication; but when I
was there[265] the first volume only of this had been published, and
this was confined entirely to the Roman antiquities contained in the
Museum and other collections. The volume of España Sagrada, which
relates to Tarragona, contains but few documents of any value, and I
have been unable to put my hands upon any other which contains any at
all. Yet there cannot be much doubt that a see whose history is so
important, and whose rank is so high,[266] must have in its archives a
vast store of information, out of which might be gathered all the
material facts as to the foundation of, and additions to, the church.

A few notices of the building of the cathedral have, however, come under
my eye, and of these the most important are the following:--In A.D.
1089[267] Pope Urban II. addressed an epistle to the faithful,
recommending them to aid in every way in the restoration of the church,
which had then just been recovered from the hands of the Moors. Not long
after this, in A.D. 1131, Pope Innocent II. issued a Bull, wherein he
recommended the suffragan churches to contribute to the cost of
rebuilding the cathedral.[268] More than a century after this, works
were again in progress, for in the necrology of the cathedral, on 11th
March, 1256, mention is made of “Frater Bernardus, magister operis hujus
ecclesiæ;” whilst again, in 1298, Maestro Bartolomé is mentioned as the
sculptor who wrought nine statues of the apostles for the western
façade, the remainder having been executed by Maestro Jayme Castayls in

Comparing this cathedral with that of Lérida, of which the date is
tolerably well ascertained, it is difficult to pronounce decidedly which
is the oldest, except that the eastern apse here, which is very peculiar
in its character, has every appearance of being a work of the middle of
the twelfth century, at the latest, and earlier by far, therefore, than
the foundation of the church of Lérida, which was not commenced until
A.D. 1203, and which was finished and consecrated in A.D. 1278. I
believe, indeed, that the eastern part of this cathedral may most
probably have been commenced about A.D. 1131, in consequence of the Bull
of Innocent II., though the greater portion of the fabric (including the
nave and its aisles and the cloister) seems to me to have been executed
at the end of the twelfth and during the first half of the thirteenth
century; and it is very possible, therefore, that the Brother Bernardus,
who died in 1256, may have been the architect of the larger part of the
existing fabric, both of the church and its cloister.

The original plan of the cathedral was very simple. It had a nave and
aisles, transepts, with apsidal chapels to the east of them, a raised
lantern or Cimborio over the Crossing, and three parallel apses east of
it. On the north-east side of the church--an unusual position, selected
probably in obedience to some local necessity--is a large cloister of
the same age as the church, with a Chapter-house on its southern side.
The piers throughout are clustered in a very fine and massive style, and
of a section which is often repeated in early Spanish Gothic; each arch
being carried on two coupled half-columns, and the groining-shafts being
placed in a nook in the angle between each of these pairs of columns.
The nave piers are no less than 11 ft. 9 in. in diameter, the clear
width of the nave being about 40 ft. 8 in., and the span of the arches
east and west about 20 ft. The bases are finely moulded, and have
foliage carved on the angle between their circular and square members.
The capitals and abaci are carved generally with a most luxuriant
exuberance of conventional foliage, whilst the broad solid unmoulded and
unchamfered sections of the arches which rise above them seem to protest
gravely against any forgetfulness of solidity and massiveness as the
greatest elements at the disposal of the architect. The groining of the
nave and its aisles is all quadripartite, as also is that of the
transepts, save at the extreme end of the northern transept, which is
covered with a pointed waggon-roof. The choir has two bays of
cross-vaulting on its western portion and a semi-dome over the apse--a
form of roofing which is repeated over the other early apses; that of
the north transept having been rebuilt in the fourteenth century, and
vaulted in the usual manner. It is probable that the cross-vaults in the
choir were not originally contemplated, as they are carried on small
shafts raised on the capitals of the main groining-shafts, which may
perhaps have been intended to carry a waggon-vault. The roof of the apse
is considerably lower than that of the choir, and a small rose window is
pierced in the spandrel between the two. The arch in front of the
semi-dome of the apse is--like all the other main arches--pointed,
though those which open into the smaller apses are semi-circular. The
latter, being in the lower part of the wall, were, no doubt, completed
at an early date; whilst the former, being on the level of the groining,
would not be finished until much later. The apse is lighted with three
windows in the lower part of the wall, which are richly shafted inside,
and by seven small and perfectly plain round-arched windows, pierced in
the lower part of the semi-dome with very singular effect. On the
exterior all these windows are remarkable for a very wide splay from the
face of the wall to the glass--a feature of early work in England, and
usually preceding the common use of glass. The walls are carried up a
considerable height above the springing of the dome, in order to resist
its thrust, and are finished at the top with a rich projecting
corbel-table, from which, at regular intervals, five divisions are
brought still further forward, looking much like machicoulis, and yet
evidently introduced only for the sake of effect, as there is no access
to them. These projections are square in plan, carried on very large
corbels, and the cornice under the eaves has a course of square stones
set diagonally--a kind of enrichment very common in brickwork, and which
I saw in the early church of San Pedro at Gerona. The great depth of
this cornice is very imposing. The stone roof above it abuts against a
gable-wall, carried by the arch on its western side; but owing to the
destruction of the original finish of the staircase turrets, and the
erection of a steeple in the angle between the choir and the transept,
the general view has to some extent lost its original stern Romanesque

[Illustration: Apse of Choir.]

[Illustration: Newel Staircase.]

The exterior of the other apses on the south has the same appearance of
age. The wall of one of them has been raised several feet at a later
date, but the other is still altogether in its original state. Both are,
of course, very low and insignificant as compared with the choir. The
whole detail of the great eastern apse appeared to me to have much more
the air of having been the work of an Italian than of a French
architect. The masonry is in extremely large square blocks, many of the
window-heads being cut out of one block of stone, and in this part of
the church I found a large number of masons’ marks on the face of the
stones. These tally, like most of those I have seen in Spain, very
closely with those which are found in our own buildings, and indeed with
those which are used by our own masons at the present day: it is,
however, comparatively rare to find them on the outer face of the
stones.[269] The stones marked in this way are tooled on the face, and I
observed that stones worked by the same man were marked indifferently
with perpendicular and diagonal tooling lines. On the south side of the
choir, just at its junction with the principal apse, is a staircase
which leads to the roof: this is carried up in a large square turret,
and is of remarkable construction. The newel is 1 ft. 6 in. in diameter,
and worked in stones, each of about 2 ft. 3 in. in height. Each of these
has three corbels, with sockets for the steps, which are thus supported
by the newel and yet independent of it. The aisles on either side of the
choir seem to have been intended to form the lower stage of steeples. On
the south side the Romanesque tower seems to have been built no higher
than the height of the side walls of the church; but subsequently--circa
A.D. 1300-1350--it was carried up as an octagonal steeple, with
buttresses against the canted sides of the lower stage over the angles
of the square base, finished with crocketed pinnacles. This tower
occupies the angle between the choir and transept, and I suppose that
traces would be found of a corresponding tower on the opposite side,
somewhat in the way so commonly met with in all the German Romanesque
churches. Unfortunately the north choir aisle was altered if not rebuilt
in the fourteenth century, and I was unable to examine the walls above
it, where the evidence of the existence of a second tower would have to
be sought. The roof of the apse on the east side of the south transept
presents an admirable example of a semi-dome, with the masonry arranged
in the usual fashion in regular horizontal courses, and the moulding of
the abacus of the arch in front of it carried round it as a
string-course at its springing.

The rest of the church is of rather later date than the east end. It is
all just of that transitional period in which, whilst the pointed arch
was used where great strength was required, the round arch was
nevertheless retained for the smaller openings in the walls. But the
capitals throughout the church are sculptured so magnificently, and in
so well-developed a style, that it is impossible to regard the work
anywhere, except at the extreme eastern end, as one in which a
Romanesque influence was paramount. We have, indeed, here one of those
cases in which almost all the character of the work has been stamped on
it by the hands of the sculptor rather than of the architect; for I
believe that, had it presented us with a series of plain Romanesque
capitals, we should have felt no difficulty about classing the whole
work as essentially Romanesque in style, whereas now the effect is
rather that of a glorious Pointed church, the exuberance of whose
sculpture is kept in subordination by the stern simplicity of the bold
unmoulded arches, the massive section of the piers, and the regularity
of the outline and firmness of shadow which the deep square abacus
everywhere enforces. Here, then, I thought I saw one of those openings
which are now and then almost accidentally given us for the infusion of
new vigour and greater spirit into our own works. It is no copying of a
Spanish work that I should wish to see attempted, but only a deliberate
determination on the part of the builder of some one building in England
to emulate the grand solidity of this old Spanish church; and if he
feels that this is by itself too rude and unpolished for an
overcivilized age like ours, then let him take a lesson from the same
old Spanish work, and show the extent of his refinement in the subtle
delicacy of the sculpture with which he adorns it. We have few if any
such churches in England. Our transitional examples are neither very
numerous nor very fine; and it is in Germany and in Spain--so far as my
experience goes--that we find the finest examples of this noble period.
In neither of these countries was the progress of architectural
development so rapid as it was in England and in the north of France,
and consequently such churches as the cathedrals of Tarragona, Lérida,
and Tudela were rising in Spain at the same time as the more advanced
and scientific, but perhaps less forcible and solemnly grand cathedrals
of Salisbury, Lincoln, and Wells were being built in England.

I hardly know when I have been much more struck than I was with the view
of the interior of the transept, of which I give an engraving. For
though the picturesque furniture of later times, the screens and
pulpits, the organs and other furniture, are in great contrast with the
glorious solidity of the old work, the combination of this with them
makes a singularly beautiful picture.

The nave of the cathedral at Tarragona has been a good deal altered by
the introduction of large fourteenth-century clerestory windows of three
lights. There is not and there never was a triforium, and the clerestory
throughout was, I have no doubt, the same in design that it still is in
the transepts, lighted by a simple round-headed window in each bay. The
groining has transverse arches or ribs of very large size, diagonal ribs
formed with a bold roll moulding only, and no wall ribs.

[Illustration: No 34.



The lantern over the Crossing still remains to be described. It is
octagonal in plan, segmental arches being thrown across the angles of
the square base to support its diagonal sides. The groining springs from
immediately above the apex of the main arches, and the light is admitted
by windows alternately of three and four lights. Its interior is very
fine. The ribs of its eight-celled vault are very bold, and the
dog-tooth enrichment is freely used round all the arches and along the
string-courses. The diagonal or canted sides of the lantern are carried
on pointed arches, the space below which is filled in with pendentives,
with the stones arranged in courses radiating from the centre. Such a
form of pendentive is rarely seen in works of this age. The details of
this lantern are all rather rude, and its height is not great, as it
rises only some twenty-five feet above the roofs. The outside has at
each angle a buttress, with an engaged shaft in front of it, and the
windows are all set within simple enclosing arches. Their tracery is
that of ordinary first-pointed windows, the three-light windows having
lancet lights, with the centre light longer than the others, and the
four-light windows having the two centre lights longest. The old outside
roof is destroyed; but the finish of the lanterns of Lérida and of the
old cathedral of Salamanca seems to make it pretty certain that it was
intended to have a pyramidal or domical stone roof. Access is now gained
to the top of the lantern by means of a passage boldly carried on an
arch which is thrown from the belfry window of the south-east steeple to
the side of the lantern. I ought to have mentioned that the upper stage
of this steeple is groined, and that the bells are hung in the window
openings; but this is not their original place, the jambs having been
cut away to make room for them. Its upper stage seems to have been
finished with a pinnacle at each angle, and a gable over each window
rising through the parapet--a somewhat similar design to that of the
great tower at Lérida, and to that of the Micalete at Valencia, both of
which ought, therefore, to be compared with this, and with which it is
probably contemporary.

The roofs are covered throughout with pantiles; but these are evidently
not the old covering, being put on very carelessly and interfering with
the design of the stonework. The position of the windows in the central
lantern proves that in the beginning of the thirteenth century the roofs
must have been very flat, and the probability is, therefore, that they
were all covered with flat-pitched stone roofs, similar to those of
Toledo and Avila.

Few of the original windows remain save those already noticed in the
eastern apses. At the west end of the aisles there are circular windows,
without tracery and with very bold mouldings enriched with two or three
orders of dog-tooth ornament. The windows in the aisles of the nave have
all been destroyed by the addition of chapels against the side-walls,
whilst the clerestory has been filled for the most part with early
geometrical tracery windows in place of the lancets, with which it was,
no doubt, originally lighted.

The doorways are numerous and somewhat remarkable for their position.
There are three at the west end, whereof those to the aisles are of the
date of the earliest part of the fabric, whilst the great central
western doorway, being an addition of the fourteenth century, will be
described further on. The tympanum of the western door of the north
aisle is sculptured with the Adoration of the Magi, the figures all in
niches and carved in small and very delicate style. The door of the
south aisle is similar in style, but simpler and without sculpture. The
other doors are, as will be seen on reference to the plan, placed in a
most unusual position in the north and south choir aisles. It is rare in
churches of this plan to find any doorway east of the transept, and
where the aisles or chapels are so short this seems to be a very good
rule. Here the access to the church is so near the altars of these
aisles as to produce a bad effect. The north door was evidently so
placed because it was necessary to put the cloisters in a most unusual
position, to the north-east of the church, and I suppose we must assume
that the south door was put in a corresponding position for no better
reason than that it might match the other.

[Illustration: No. 35

TARRAGONA. p. 283.


The door from the cloister into the church is the finest in the church.
It is a round-arched doorway, with four engaged shafts in each jamb, and
a central shaft, which is remarkable for the grand depth and size of its
sculptured capital and base. All the capitals are very delicately
wrought, and with an evident knowledge of Byzantine art; and that of the
centre shaft has a subject sculptured on each face, of which the three
which are visible are: (1) The Procession of the Kings; (2) their
Worship of our Lord; and (3) the Nativity. The fourth side is concealed
by the modern door-frame, the doorway not having had a door at all
originally. A deep plain lintel forms the head of the door, and above
this the tympanum is filled with that often-repeated scheme, our Lord in
a vesica-shaped aureole, surrounded by the emblems of the Evangelists,
each of which has a book, as also has our Lord, who holds His in the
left hand, whilst He gives His blessing with the right hand. The small
spandrel between the round arch of this door and the pointed arch of the
vault above, is filled with a circle containing the monogram,
[Illustration: monogram] supported by two angels. On the same (south)
side of the cloister is the entrance to the Chapter-house, which follows
the invariable type of Chapter doorways, having a central doorway with a
window on either side of it. One of the groining-ribs is brought boldly
down between the doorway and one of the window openings, a peculiarity
which should be compared with the similar arrangement of the
Chapter-house at Vernela.[270] The detail is precisely the same as that
of the rest of the cloister, the arches all being semi-circular, and
the side openings being of two lights, with coupled shafts in place of
monials. In the east wall of the cloister, and close to the
Chapter-house, is another fine doorway of the same early style. Its door
was painted very richly with angels holding coats-of-arms; but this
delicate work is now almost all defaced. This spacious cloister is one
of the most conspicuous of the earlier portions of the cathedral. A
public thoroughfare does now, and probably did always, bound the
cathedral close to its southern wall, so that there was no room for the
cloister in the usual position to the south of the church. But it is
very rare, I think, to find the Chapter-house built as it is here,
opening out of the southern alley of the cloister, in place of the
eastern. Its character is unusually good, even in this country of fine
cloisters. Each bay has three round-arched openings divided by coupled
shafts, and above these two large circles pierced in the wall. The
arches and circular windows are richly moulded, and adorned largely with
delicate dog-tooth enrichments. Some of the circular windows above the
arcades still retain--what all, I suppose, once had--their filling in,
which was of very delicate interlacing work, pierced in a thin slab of
stone, and evidently Moorish in its origin, though, at the same time,
the work probably of Christian hands, as in some of them, the figure of
the Cross is very beautifully introduced.[271]

It is so rare to find any such influence as this exerted, that these
traceries have an artificial interest. Yet they are in themselves very
charmingly designed, and serve admirably to break the too-powerful rays
of the sun. Indeed, nothing in its way can be much prettier than the
effect of the shadows of these delicate piercings thrown sharply on the
pavement by the brilliant sunlight. The groining is carried by triple
engaged shafts, and its thrust resisted by buttresses, with an engaged
shaft on their outer face. The groining is simple quadripartite, and the
ribs are well moulded; many of the capitals are carved with great
vigour, and some of their abaci are covered also with stories admirably
rendered. Take, for instance, this story of the Cat and the Rats, which
I sketched on one of the abaci of the southern walk of the cloister. It
is full of a spirit and humour which are thoroughly foreign to the
conventional traditions of our present school of workmen. Give one,
now-a-days, such a story to illustrate, and the result would probably
be simply absurd, whilst in the hands of this natural Tarragonese artist
the whole thing is instinct with life and humour, to as great an extent
now as it was when his brother workmen first gathered round him and
laughed their approval of the speedy retribution which met the silly
rats when they forgot to tie the limbs of their enemy. I ought to have
sketched the capitals which were under this abacus, for they were
sculptured with cocks fighting, with their wings and heads so
ingeniously arranged as to conform to the ordinary outlines of the early
thirteenth-century foliage capital. It is rarely that so much fine and
original sculpture of various kinds is to be found in one such church as
this; and I recommend those who follow my footsteps here to go prepared
to devote some little time to the accurate delineation and careful study
of it.

[Illustration: Sculptured Abacus in Cloister.]

Much of the flooring of the cloister appears to be coeval with it;[272]
and though composed of the very simplest materials, it is most
effective. Most of the patterns are formed with red tiles of different
sizes, fitted together so as to make very simple diapers, and with the
addition here and there of small squares of white marble, which are used
with the tiles. Some of these have an incised pattern on their face,
sunk about a quarter of an inch; and in one case I found that this
pattern had been filled in with red marble. The pattern is arranged with
a broad stripe down the centre of the cloister, and on either side of
this a succession of varying arrangements of tiles is contrived, each
pattern being continued for but a short distance. Here, with the
simplest materials, very great variety of effect is obtained, whilst,
with the much smarter and very elaborate materials of the present day,
we seem to run every day more risk than before of sinking into the
tamest monotony.

In the west wall of this cloister there is a monumental recess of
completely Moorish character, very delicately adorned; and on one of the
doors I noticed that the wood had been covered with thin iron plates,
stamped with a pattern, gilded, and fastened down with copper nails. The
Chapter-house, of whose entrance archways I have spoken, is a square
room, roofed with a stone waggon-vault of pointed section; and at the
south end of this is a seven-sided apse, which seems to have been added
to the original fabric circa A.D. 1350. On the eastern side of it are
some large sacristies, but they did not appear to be old.

So far the work I have had to describe has been all, with the exception
of part of the steeple and Cimborio, not later than the end of the
thirteenth century. It is evident, however, that considerable works were
undertaken in various parts of the fabric at a later date. Most of the
nave windows were taken out, in order to insert others with very fair
geometrical traceries; the upper part of the steeple was, as we have
seen, erected; and finally the west front was, in great part,
reconstructed. The original west front of the aisles still remains, with
a simple doorway, and richly moulded and carved circular windows,
without tracery. Pilaster buttresses are placed at their north-west and
south-west angles, and these have shafts at their angles, but have lost
their old finish at the top. Probably another door and circular window
of large size occupied the end of the nave in the original design; but
these have been entirely removed, to make way for a work which, though
it seems to have been commenced in A.D. 1278,[273] has all the air of
complete middle-pointed work, and was evidently not completed until
late in the fourteenth century. The existing central doorway is of grand
dimensions, with figures under canopies on either side, and round the
buttresses which flank it. In the centre is a statue of the Blessed
Virgin with our Lord, and above, on the lintel, the Resurrection; and
the tympanum is pierced with rich geometrical tracery. The pedestal
under the statue of the Blessed Virgin has sculptured on its several
sides--(1) the Creation of Adam; (2) of Eve; (3) the Fall; (4) Adam and
Eve hiding themselves; and (5) the Expulsion from Paradise. These
subjects are very fitly placed here, the Fall in the centre coming just
under the feet of her who bears our Lord in her arms, and thus restores
the balance to the world. The arch is lofty, but only moulded; and above
it is a pediment of extremely flat pitch. Above this, again, is a large
and finely-traceried circular window. The lower part only of the gable
remains, and this is of very steep pitch, and must always have been
intended to be a mere sham. Whenever this sort of thing is done, there
is always some ground for suspicion that the architect may have been a
foreigner, unused to the requirements of a southern climate; and, at any
rate, most of the work in this façade might very well have been executed
by a German architect, for its character is all that of German, rather
than of Spanish art. It recalls, to some extent, the façade of the north
transept of Valencia Cathedral, though scarcely so much as to appear to
be the work of the same hands. It is to be regretted that the great
western gable is incomplete, for, unreal as it is, its outline must have
been fine; and even now, seen as it is in its small Plaza from the
steep, narrow, dark and shady street, surmounting the flights of steps
which lead up to it, the effect is very striking. The traceries, both of
the tympanum of the doorway, and of the circular window above, are sharp
geometrical works, very delicately executed. The upper part of the
western gable above the circular window seems to have had three windows,
but these are now partially destroyed. The hinges and knockers of the
western doorway are elaborately designed, covered with pierced
traceries, made with several thicknesses of metal. The doors are
diapered all over with iron plates, nailed on with copper nails, and
with copper ornaments in the centre of each plate. The buttresses are
bold, but rather clumsily designed. The statues of the door-jamb are
carried round their lower parts, and the stage above is occupied with
traceried panels. A great crocketed pinnacle conceals the set-off, and
forms, with the flat pediment of the doorway, a group in advance of the
real face of the western wall. Other crocketed pinnacles probably
finished the angle buttresses on each side of the main gable, but they
are now destroyed.

The north side of the nave is not easily seen, being enclosed within
walls and behind houses; but the south side is fairly open to view.
Here, however, much of the original design is now completely concealed
by modern additions. The two western bays have chapels, added in the
fifteenth century; the third bay a domed chapel of the seventeenth
century; and there are two other late Gothic chapels in the two bays
nearest the south transept. On the north, side chapels have been added
in the same fashion, those in the two western bays alone being mediæval.
From the west side of the south transept a fair view is obtained of the
best portion of the old exterior. The transept gable is extremely flat
in pitch; the buttresses are all carried up straight to the eaves, and
the trefoiled eaves-arcading, which recalls the favourite brick
eaves-cornices of the Italian churches, is returned round them at the
top, and a deep moulding, covered with billets, is carried along over
the eaves-arcading. The original semi-Romanesque window, with its very
broad external splay, still remains in the bay of the transept next to
the Crossing; but the other windows have been altered; and there is a
rich traceried rose window in the southern façade. The exterior of the
lantern is certainly not very attractive. The entire absence from view
of its roof is a fault of the most grievous kind; though, otherwise, its
windows, recalling as they do the traceries of our own first-pointed,
are not at all to be condemned. I doubt very much whether this lantern
was ever a fine work on the exterior; but we may well be content to have
anything so fine as the interior, and may fairly pardon its architect
for his failure to achieve a more complete success.

The internal arrangements here do not present much subject for notice.
The Coro is in the nave, and in the screen on its western side the
entrance-doorway still remains. It is of marble, of two well-moulded
orders, and the outer order of the arch has voussoirs of grey and white
marble counterchanged. The steps are of dark marble, with three shields
in low relief on the riser of each, and the bearings which occur here
are seen also in the keystone of the tower vaulting--both being works of
the fourteenth century. The choir stalls and the panelling behind them
are of the very richest and most delicate fifteenth-century work; and
the great desk for books, in the centre of the Coro, is of the same
age.[274] The stall-ends are covered with delicate tracery, put on in a
separate piece against the end, and not carved out of the solid. The
divisions between the panelling at the back of the stalls are wrought
with foliage and animals of really marvellous execution, and a band of
inlaid work with coats-of-arms goes all round just above the stalls.
There is a throne on the right hand of the entrance to the choir, and
another at the east end of the south side; but both of these are of
Renaissance character.

Many of the choir books are mediæval, with large knops at their angles,
and a piece of fringed leather under each knop. At the east end of the
Coro, and in a line with the west wall of the transepts, is the iron
Reja, and on each side of it a pulpit facing east. These have all the
appearance of having been rebuilt. They have the same armorial bearings
as the doorway to the Coro; and as the screen in which the latter is now
built is not old, it is probable that they all form part of the same old
choir screen, and that the two pulpits were the ambons. I saw nothing to
prove decidedly whether the Coro was in its original place, or whether
it has been moved down into the nave as at Burgos.

The great organ is on the north side of the Coro; it is not very old,
but its pipes are picturesquely arranged, and it has enormous painted
wings or shutters.

Much of the pavement is old; that in the choir proper--the Capilla
mayor--is of marble in various stripes of patterns extending across the
church.[275] The nave is also paved with marble, arranged in lines and
patterns divided to suit the position of the columns. The Coro alone is
paved with tiles, and this seems to some extent to prove that this part
of the floor has been altered, which would be the case if the stalls
were moved down from their original position. The high altar has a very
rich reredos executed for the most part in marble, and rich in
sculptured subjects. There is a doorway on each side of the altar,
opening into the part of the apse shut off by this Retablo. Here the
pavement has a large oblong compartment, which seemed to me to suggest
the original position of the altar to have been much nearer the east
wall than it now is. This space is indicated in my ground-plan, and
though it is more than usually set back towards the wall, it was no
doubt a more convenient position in so short a choir than that which the
present altar occupies.

There is a richly-sculptured monument of a bishop on the southern side
of the sacrarium.

It will be seen that here, as is the case with so many other Spanish
cathedrals, though the scale is not very great, the dignity and grandeur
of the whole conception is extreme. The cloister, indeed, yields the
palm to few that I have seen, and it is in scale only, and not in real
dignity and nobility, that the interior of the church does so.

I did not discover any other old church in Tarragona, yet I should
suppose there must be some in so large a city. There is a four-light
_ajimez_ window, of the type so common on this coast, in the Plaza in
front of the cathedral; and in the Plaza della Pallot is an early
round-arched gateway, with a coeval two-light opening above.

In the wall of a chapel to the east of the cathedral I found a fairly
good example of an early headstone, perfectly plain in outline, and
finished with a flat gable, in which is incised a cross under an arch,
the inscription being carried across the stone in the common mode, just
below the pediment.

I had not time to make excursions to any of the other churches in this
district, but there are some which appear, from what I have learnt, to
be so fine, that it is to be hoped others will contrive to inspect them.
The monasteries of Vallbona and Poblet, and the church of Sta.
Creus,[276] not far from Poblet, seem to be all of great interest.
Poblet and Sta. Creus seem both to have cloisters with projecting
chapels somewhat similar to that shown on my ground-plan of the
monastery at Veruela.

The church at Reus, too, is interesting, from the fact that the contract
for its erection is preserved, and has been published by Cean Bermudez.
It dates from A.D. 1510. This town is a few miles only from Tarragona,
and after seeing Poblet and Vallbona, the ecclesiologist would do well,
I think, to make his way across to Lérida, instead of returning to
Barcelona, as I did. But I wished much to examine the Collegiata at
Manresa on my way to Lérida, and for this purpose the line I took was
on the whole the best.

I bade farewell to Tarragona with a heavy heart, and with a
determination to avail myself of the first chance I may have of
returning to look once more at its noble and too little known

[Illustration: TARRAGONA:--Ground: Plan: of: Cathedral: Plate XV.

Published by John Murray, Albemarle St. 1865]



The architectural history of Barcelona is much more complete, whilst its
buildings are more numerous, than those of any of our own old cities, of
which it is in some sort the rival. The power which the Barcelonese
wielded in the middle ages was very great. They carried on the greater
part of the trade of Spain with Italy, France, and the East; they were
singularly free, powerful, and warlike; and, finally, they seem to have
devoted no small portion of the wealth they earned in trade to the
erection of buildings, which even now testify alike to the prosperity of
their city, and to the noble acknowledgment they made for it.

The architecture of Cataluña had many peculiarities, and in the
fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, when most of the great buildings of
Barcelona were being erected, they were so marked as to justify me, I
think, in calling the style as completely and exclusively national or
provincial, as, to take a contemporary English example, was our own
Norfolk middle-pointed. The examination of them will, therefore, have
much more value and interest than that of even grander buildings erected
in a style transplanted from another country, such as we see at Burgos
and Toledo; and beside this, there was one great problem which I may
venture to say that the Catalan architects satisfactorily solved--the
erection of churches of enormous and almost unequalled internal
width--which is just that which seems to be looming before us as the
work which we English architects must ere long grapple with, if we wish
to serve the cause of the Church thoroughly in our great towns.

For a manufacturing town, this, the Manchester of Spain, is singularly
agreeable and unlike its prototype. The mills are for the most part
scattered all over the surrounding country, which rises in pleasant
undulations to the foot of the hills some four or five miles inland from
the sea, and beyond which the country is always beautiful and wild, and
sometimes--as in the savage and world-renowned rocks of
Montserrat--quite sublime in its character. On my first journey I
arrived at Barcelona by a steamer from Valencia. The views of the coast
were generally extremely beautiful, until shortly before our arrival, as
we passed the low level land through which the Llobregat finds its way
to the sea; beyond this the great rock and fortress of Monjuic rise
boldly in front, and rounding its base into the harbour, the tall
octagonal towers and turrets of the cathedral and other churches came in
sight. Little, however, is seen of the sea from the city, the
fortifications of Monjuic on the one side, and the harbour and new
colony of Barcelonette which occupies a point jutting out beyond it
seaward on the other, completely shutting it out. One result of this is
that, whilst nothing is seen of the sea, so, too, the seafaring people
seem to confine themselves to Barcelonette, and not to show themselves
in the thronged streets of the city. Another fortress, a little inland
on the east, places Barcelona under a cross fire, and prevents its
growth in that direction; but wherever possible it seems to be spreading
rapidly, and every external sign of extreme prosperity is to be seen.
The streets are generally narrow, tortuous, and picturesque, with the
one noble exception of the Rambla, a very broad promenade running from
the sea quite across the city, which has a road on either side, and a
broad promenade planted with trees down the centre. Here in the early
morning one goes to buy smart nosegays of the Catalan flower-girls from
the country, and in the evening to stroll in a dense mob of loungers
enjoying the cold air which sweeps down from the hills, and atones for
all the sufferings inflicted by the torrid midday sun.

[Illustration: West front of San Pablo.]

It will be best, in describing the buildings here, to begin with those
of the earliest date, though they are of comparatively unimportant
character, and in part fragments only of old buildings preserved in the
midst of great works undertaken at a later date. The Benedictine convent
of San Pablo del Campo, said to have been founded in the tenth century
by Wilfred II., Count of Barcelona,[278] was restored by Guiberto
Guitardo and his wife about 1117, and in 1127 was incorporated with the
convent of San Cucufate del Vallés.[279] The church is very
interesting. It is small and cruciform, with three parallel apses, an
octagonal vault on pendentives over the Crossing, and a short nave,
which, as well as the transepts, is covered with a waggon-vault. The
apses are vaulted with semi-domes. The west end is the only perfect part
of the exterior, and deserves illustration. The work is all of a very
solid and rude description, though I am almost afraid to give it credit
for being so old as is said. The circular window is, however, an
interpolation; and if this were removed, and another small window like
the others inserted in its place, the whole design would no doubt have
an air of extreme antiquity. The ground-plan is a typal one here, and
prevails more or less in all the early churches from Cataluña to
Galicia. One or two others of the same description seem to have a fair
amount of evidence of the date of their consecration, and it is at any
rate unlikely that a church built in A.D. 914 would require rebuilding
in about a hundred years, which must have been the case here, if we
assume that we have not still before us the original church. On the
south side of the nave there was a cloister added, probably in the
course of the eleventh century, and there is some difference in the
character of its design and workmanship, and that of the church and its
west front. This cloister is very small, having on each side four
arches, divided by a buttress in the centre of each side. The openings
are cusped some with three and some with five heavy foliations, plain on
the outside, but both moulded and carved on the inside face. The cusping
is not at all Gothic in its character, being stilted in a very Eastern
fashion, nor is it constructed like Gothic work, the stones being laid
over each other, and cut out in the form of cusps, but not constructed
anywhere with stones radiating on the principle of an arch. The shafts
between the openings are coupled one behind the other, and have
well-carved capitals. A fourteenth-century doorway, with a cross for the
finial of its label, opens from the north wall of the cloister into the
nave; and in the east wall is an extremely good entrance to the
Chapter-house of the same date, and showing the usual arrangement of a
doorway with a two-light traceried opening on either side. There are
also some old monumental arches in the walls.

This church, which forms so important a feature in the early
architectural history of Cataluña, is near the western end of the city,
and its west front and cloister are enclosed within the walls of a small
barrack; but as Spanish officers and soldiers are always glad to lionize
a stranger, there is no difficulty in the way of seeing them. A simple
early-pointed doorway, under a very flat tympanum, has been added to the
north transept, and there is some evidence of the small apse near it
having been arcaded on the outside. The pendentive under the dome is
similar in its construction to those under the dome of the curious
church of Ainay, at Lyons. Above them there is a string-course, and then
the vault, which rises to a point in the centre, and is not a complete
octagon, the cardinal sides being much wider than the others. The west
doorway has in its tympanum our Lord, St. Peter, and St. Paul; over the
arch are the angel of St. Matthew and eagle of St. John, and above, a
hand with a cruciform nimbus, giving the benediction.

San Pedro de las Puellas, on the other side of the city, was rebuilt in
A.D. 980, by Suniario Count of Barcelona, and his wife Richeldi, and was
consecrated with great pomp in A.D. 983.[280] This church has been
wofully treated, but it is still possible to make out the original
scheme. It was a cruciform church of the same general plan as San Pablo,
with a circular dome at the Crossing, and a waggon-vault to the south
transept, the nave, and the western part of the chancel. The other
parts were altered at a later date. Very bold detached columns with rich
capitals carry the arches under the dome, and another remaining against
the south wall of the nave suggests that there were probably cross
arches or ribs below its waggon-vault. The sculpture of the capitals is
very peculiar; it is quite unlike the ordinary Romanesque or Byzantine
sculpture, and is very much more like the work sometimes seen in Eastern
buildings. It is a type of capital first seen here, but reproduced
constantly afterwards all along the southern coast, and not, so far as I
know, seen at all in the interior of Spain.

There is no mark of a chapel on the east side of the south transept,
and, as the apse has been rebuilt, it is impossible to say what the
original plan of the head of the church was.

In the Collegiata of Sta. Ana, we have the next stage in the development
of Catalan architecture. This is said to have been built in A.D.
1146,[281] and is also a cruciform church, with a central raised
lantern, barrel vaults in the transepts, and two bays of quadripartite
vaulting in the nave. The nave probably dates from about the end of the
twelfth or beginning of the thirteenth century, being lighted with
simple lancet-windows, and having bold buttresses. When I visited this
church the chancel was boarded up for repairs, and I am unable to say
certainly whether the east end is old, but it appeared to me to have
been modernized. The exterior of the lantern is very peculiar; above the
roof it is square in plan, but with eight buttresses around it,
radiating from the centre, and evidently intended to be carried up so as
to form the angles of an octagonal central lantern, of which, however,
only the lowest stage remains. The present finish of the lantern is a
steep tiled roof, which springs from just above the point at which the
angles of the square base are cut off; and on the western slope of this
roof a steep flight of stone steps leads to the very summit. The object
of this arrangement is quite unintelligible. At the west end of the
church, and set curiously askew to it, is a cloister of the fourteenth
century, with a Chapter-room on its east side, opening to the cloister
with a round-arched doorway, on either side of which is a good early
middle-pointed two-light window, making the group so invariably found in
old Chapter-house entrances. The west doorway of the church is severely
simple, with a square opening and plain tympanum, under a pointed arch.
Along the north side of the cloister is a fine ruin of a hall of the
thirteenth century, the construction of which is very characteristic and
peculiar. It is of two stages in height. Segmental arches across the
lower rooms carry the floor beams, which are placed longitudinally, and
over them in the upper room bold pointed arches are thrown to carry the
roof. The roof was of very flat pitch, and consisted of a series of
purlines resting on corbels built into the wall over the stone arches,
upon which were laid the common rafters. I shall have to illustrate a
similar roof which still remains in the church of Sta. Agata, so that I
need not say more on the subject now than that this type is an
exceedingly effective one, and occurs repeatedly in the Barcelonese
buildings. The cloister of Sta. Ana is of two stages in height, and very
light, graceful, and Spanish in its character. The columns are
quatrefoil in section, and the capitals are later works of the same
eastern character as those already described in San Pedro, and have
square abaci. There is, perhaps, scarcely sufficient appearance of
solidity and permanence in such extremely light shafts, seeing that they
have to support a double tier of arcades all round the cloister; but
nevertheless the whole effect of the work is very beautiful. The old
well with its stone lintel remains, and some fine orange-trees still
adorn the cloister court.

The other early works here are doorways and fragments now incorporated
in other and later works, so that we need no longer delay our inspection
of the cathedral, which is, as it ought to be, the pride of the city.
The ground-plan which I give[282] will best explain the general
arrangements of this remarkable church. Its scale is by no means great,
yet the arrangement of the various parts is so good, the skill in the
admission of light so subtle, and the height and width of the nave so
noble, that an impression is always conveyed to the mind that its size
is far greater than it really is. Of course such praise is not
intelligible to those who believe with some enthusiasts that the
greatest triumph of architectural skill is to make a building look
smaller than it really is--a triumph which the admirers of St. Peter’s,
at Rome, always claim loudly for it--but most unsophisticated men will
probably prefer with me the opposite achievement, often, indeed, met
with in Gothic buildings, but seldom more successfully than here.

The history of this church is in part given in two inscriptions on the
wall on either side of the north transept doorway,[283] from which it
appears that the cathedral was commenced in A.D. 1298, and was still in
progress in A.D. 1329. The latter date no doubt refers to the transept
façade. But this was not the first church, for one was consecrated here
in A.D. 1058, and the doorway from the cloister into the south transept,
and another into the chapel of Sta. Lucia, at the south-west angle of
the cloister, are probably not very much later than this date. But the
bulk of the work is evidently not earlier than the beginning of the
fourteenth century, and its design appears to be owing to one Jayme
Fabra or Fabre,[284] an architect of whom we first hear at Palma in
Mallorca. In the deed which I give in the Appendix, he describes himself
as “lapiscida,” citizen of Mallorca, and says that he is about to go to
Barcelona, to undertake a certain work there at the request of the King
of Aragon and the bishop. This was in A.D. 1318, and it is clear, I
think, from the terms of his contract,[285] that Fabre was something
more than architect, and really also the builder of this church in
Palma. The term used might indeed lead us to suppose that he was a mere
mason, but the request of the king and the bishop proves that he was
much more than this, and is useful as showing that these titles
literally translated are very apt to mislead.[286] The crypt of Sta.
Eulalia under the choir was completed in A.D. 1339. Jayme Fabre is said
to have been master of the works until A.D. 1388, in which year he was
succeeded by el Maestro Roque, who had an assistant, Pedro Viader. He
received three “sueldos” and four “dineros” a day, and a hundred sueldos
each year for clothing, and in course of time his salary was raised to
“two florins or twenty-two sueldos” a week. His assistant received fifty
sueldos a year for clothes and three sueldos and six dineros a day for
his double office of substitute for the principal architect and workman.
Roque no doubt was able to work elsewhere, whilst his assistant, or
clerk of the works, was confined to one work; in this way the apparent
strangeness of the similar pay to the two men is explained.[287] Roque,
who is said to have commenced the cloister, was succeeded by Bartolomé
Gual, who was one of the architects summoned to advise about the
cathedral of Gerona in 1416, and then described himself as master of the
works at Barcelona cathedral; and, finally, Andres Escuder placed the
last stone of the vault on September 26, A.D. 1448.

[Illustration: No. 36.



Having thus shortly stated the history of the building, let me now
attempt to describe its architecture and construction. It will be seen
that the plan is cruciform. The transepts do not, however, show much on
the exterior, as they form the base of the towers which are erected, as
at Exeter cathedral, above them. The plan of the chevet is very good; it
presents the French arrangement of an aisle and chapels round the apse
in place of the common Spanish triapsidal plan; but the detail is all
completely Catalan. The arches of the apse are very narrow and
stilted, and the columns throughout are composed of a rather confused
jumble of thin mouldings awkwardly arranged. Above the main arches is a
very small arcaded triforium, and above this a range of circular
windows, one in each bay. The groining springs from the capitals of the
main columns, so that the triforium and clerestory are both enclosed
within its arched wall-rib; they are consequently very disproportioned
in height as compared with those of northern churches. But here the
architect evidently intended to grapple with the difficulties of the
climate, and, designing his whole church with the one great object of
minimizing the light and heat, he was compelled to make his windows
small. The clerestory windows were traceried, and filled with rich
stained glass, which was well set back from the face of the wall. The
result is a perfect success as far as light and shade and the ordinary
purposes of a Spanish congregation are concerned, but the difficulty of
taking notes, sketches, or measurements, in most parts of the church,
even at mid-day, can hardly be imagined. The dark stone of which the
whole church is built increases not a little the sombre magnificence of
the effect. There is nothing peculiar about the chapels of the chevet;
but under the centre of the choir, and approached by a broad flight of
steps between two narrower flights which lead to the high altar, is the
small crypt or chapel already mentioned as that in which the remains of
Sta. Eulalia are enshrined. An inscription[288] records the date of the
translation of her remains to this spot in A.D. 1339, but the present
state of the chapel is not suggestive of the possession of any
architectural treasures, being remarkable only for the ugliness of its
altar, and the number of its candlesticks. Behind the altar, however,
there still remains the shrine of the saint. This is a steep-roofed ark
of alabaster carried upon eight detached columns. The ark is sculptured
at the sides and ends with subjects from the life of Sta. Eulalia,
whilst the roof has her soul borne aloft by angels. The columns are of
marble, spiral, fluted, and chevroned, with capitals of foliage, and one
or two of the bases are carved with figures in the mediæval Italian
fashion. A long inscription is carried round the base of the ark, which
again records the death of the saint, her burial in Sta. Maria del Mar,
and her translation to the cathedral in A.D. 878, and afterwards to the
spot where she now rests. The detail of this shrine looks very like
that of Italian Gothic of the same age; and as it is particularly
described in the contemporary memorial of the translation, it is no
doubt part of the work on which Jayme Fabre had been engaged.

[Illustration: No. 37



The transepts are groined at the level of the side chapels, and again
with an octagonal vault just above the aisle roof, and below where the
square base gives place to the octagon on which the upper part of the
steeples is planned. It is therefore only on the ground-plan that the
transepts show themselves, and here they form porches, that on the south
side opening into the cloister. The planning of the nave is very
peculiar. It seems as though the main requirement of the founders of
this church was a plentiful number of altars; for, as will be seen on
reference to the plan, there are no less than twenty-seven distinct
chapels inside the church, and twenty-two more round the cloister. The
chapels in the south aisle have a row of other chapels, which open into
the cloister, placed back to back with them, and the windows which light
the former open into the latter, showing when seen from the nave chapels
their glass, and when seen from the cloister chapels the dark piercings
of their openings. The arrangement is not only extremely picturesque,
but also another evidence of the care with which the sun was kept out of
the building. On the north side the chapels are uniform throughout, and
their windows are pierced in the long unbroken north wall. The Coro here
is in its old position in the two eastern bays of the nave, with the old
screens around it and all its old fittings. It is to be observed,
however, that here, where the late Spanish arrangement was from the
first adopted, the western entrance to the choir was preserved, and so
the awkward blank which the wall of the Coro generally presents on
entering is not felt. There are no signs of any parclose screens across
the transept, and the position of the chapel of Sta. Eulalia makes it
improbable that there ever were any. It seems, indeed, that such a
church as this must from the very first have been built for precisely
the kind of worship still used in it. There was never any proper
provision for a crowd of worshippers joining in any one common act of
prayer or worship. The capitular body filled the Coro and sang the
services of the day unnoticed by the people; whilst, as they separated
to the chapels to which each was attached, the people followed them by
twos and threes to the altar services in which only they wished to join.
At present not more than about half the altars are commonly used; yet
still each morning mass was generally being said at three, or four,
or five of them at the same time, and each altar every day seemed to
have a considerable group of worshippers, among whom I noticed a
considerable number of men of the upper class. The high altar seems
always to have had curtains on either side of it, their rods being
supported on columns of jasper in front. These curtains were drawn at
the _Sanctus_, and remained so until the consecration was completed. One
sung mass only is celebrated at this altar each day, and an old treatise
on the Customs of the Church cites in defence or explanation of this
rule the words of a very early council, _una missa et unum altare_.[289]
West of the Coro are two bays of nave, over the western of which rises
the lower part of a rich octangular lantern. This is carried on bold
piers of square outline, which, from the very simple arrangement of the
shafts of which they are composed, have the grandeur of effect so
characteristic of Romanesque work. The cross arches under the lantern
are lower than the groining, and on the east face the spandrel between
the two is filled in with rich tracery and arcading. Arches are thrown
across the angles to carry the octagonal lantern, of which the lowest
stage only--which is well arcaded--is built. The whole of this work is
so good of its kind that it is much to be lamented it was never
completed; the design of the octagonal lantern at the west, and the two
more slender octagonal steeples at the Crossing, would have been as
striking in its effect, doubtless, as it would have been novel in its
plan, though it may be doubted whether, in so short a church, it would
not have been overpowering. Above the side chapels, on each side of the
nave and at the west end, another floor is carried all round. The only
difference is that the rooms above the chapels are square-ended, not
apsidal, and there seems to be no evidence of their having been intended
for altars. I saw no piscinæ and no Retablos in them, and was tempted to
imagine that the present use may, perhaps, have been the old one--that
of a grand receptacle for all the machinery in fêtes, functions, and the
like, of which a Spanish church generally requires no small store.[290]
There are arches in the wall, affording means of communication all round
this upper floor, and the chambers all open to the church with arches,
and have traceried windows in their outer walls. The transverse section
of the nave is therefore novel, and unlike any other with which I am
acquainted, and interested me not a little.

The exterior is, perhaps, less interesting than the interior. The chevet
is fine, but with nothing in any way unusual in its design; the upper
part of the buttresses is destroyed, and the walls finish without
parapet or roof, so as to make the church look somewhat like a roofless
ruin. The steeples are quite plain below their belfry stage, under which
are arcaded string-courses; the belfry stages themselves are richly
panelled and pierced, and surmounted by pierced parapets. They are not
perfectly octagonal in plan, the cardinal sides being the widest, and
their height from the floor of the church is as nearly as I could
measure 179 ft. 6 in., whilst their external diameter is about 30 feet.
It is on ascending these towers that one of the greatest peculiarities
of the Barcelonese churches is seen; they are all roofless, and you look
down on to the top of their vaulting, which is all covered with tiles or
stone neatly and evenly laid on the vault, in such a way as effectually
to keep out the weather. The water all finds its way out by the pockets
of the vaults, and by pipes through the buttresses with gurgoyles in
front of them. Everything seemed to prove that this was _not_ the old
arrangement, for it is pretty clear that the walls had parapets
throughout, and that there were timber roofs, though I saw no evidence
as to what their pitch had been. The present scheme, ugly and ruinous as
it looks--giving the impression that all the church roofs have been
destroyed by the fire of the fortresses above and at the side of the
city--seems nevertheless to have solved one of those problems which so
often puzzle us--the erection of buildings which as far as possible
shall be indestructible. There is now absolutely no timber in any part
of the work; but it is of course questionable whether a roof which
endures the test of a Spanish climate, with its occasional deluge of
rain succeeded by a warm drying sun, would endure the constant damp of a
climate like ours. But at any rate the makeshift arrangement which is
universal here is very suggestive. The flying buttresses are
insignificant, owing to the small height of the clerestory.

Descending from the roof, the only other old portion of the church to be
mentioned is the north transept. It is here that the two inscriptions
given at p. 297 are built into the wall on either side of the lofty
doorway. The doorway is finely moulded, and has a single figure under a
canopy in its tympanum; above it the whole face of the wall is covered
with very rich arrangement of niches, making an arcade over its whole
surface, but there are no figures left in them. Over this again is a
rose window under an arch, and then the octagonal tower. To the east of
the transept are some round-headed windows, but my impression is that
they are not of earlier date than the rest of the work. The outer wall
of the north aisle of the nave has a row of very richly moulded windows
lighting the chapels, and other windows over them which light the
galleries over the aisle chapels. The eaves here have a simple
round-arched corbel-tabling.

The west front is all modern and squalid; the original design for its
completion is said to exist among the archives of the cathedral, and
ought to be examined; I was not aware of this until long after I had
been at Barcelona. Don F. J. Parcerisa[291] gives a view of this
proposed front--an extremely florid Gothic work--but the drawing is so
obviously not the least like an old one, that I hardly know how far to
trust the statements about it which he makes. He describes it as being
on parchment, sixteen palms long, and much defaced. The print is drawn
in perspective, and elaborately shaded. It is a double door, with a
steep gable above filled with extremely rich flamboyant tracery, and
there are large pinnacles on either side and a great number of statues.

The cloisters are not good in their detail, but yet are very pleasant;
they are full of orange-trees, flowers, and fountains. One of these is
in a projecting bay at the north-east internal angle, and is old;
another by its side has a little St. George and the Dragon, with the
horse’s tail formed by a jet of water; and a third, and more modern,
plays in the centre among the flowers. In addition, there are some geese
cooped up in one corner, who look as if their livers were being
sacrificed in order to provide _patés_ for the canons; and finally a
troop of hungry, melancholy cats, who are always howling and prowling
about the cloisters and church, and who often contrive to get into the
choir-stalls just before service, whence they are forthwith chased about
by the choristers and such of the clergy as are in their places in good
time! These cloisters are said to have been completed in A.D. 1448,[292]
and I have no doubt this date is correct. On the exterior they are
bounded on three sides by streets, and the apsidal ends of the chapels
do not show, the wall being straight and unbroken. The cloister is lofty
and has panelled buttresses between the windows, of which latter the
arches only remain, the traceries having been entirely destroyed. The
view from hence of the church is one of the best that can be obtained,
the octagonal transept towers being the most marked features. The floor
is full of gravestones, on which the calling of the person commemorated
is indicated by a slight carving in relief of the implements of his

The chapel of Sta. Lucia, at the south-west angle of the cloister, is
probably a relic of the first church; it has a very fine round-headed
doorway with its arch-mouldings covered with delicate architectural
carving, and a lancet window under its very flat-pitched gable. The roof
inside is a pointed waggon-vault. The door from the cloister into the
south transept is of about the same date; it has three shafts in the
jamb (one of them fluted), very deep capitals and abaci covered with
carving of foliage, and an archivolt covered with chevron patterns of a
flat and very unusual character. The label is large and carved with very
stiff foliage. The foliage here is to a slight extent copied from the
acanthus, but much of it is derived from some other leaf--I believe from
the prickly pear.

When the fabric has been passed in review much still remains to be seen
within its walls. A large number of the altars, particularly those of
the cloister chapels, were furnished in the fifteenth century with
Retablos of wood richly carved, and then painted with subjects: these
are always placed across the apse, leaving a space behind the altar, to
which access was obtained by doors on either side of it. Perhaps then as
now the priest attached to the altar kept his vestments in the chapel in
which he ministered, and these spaces may thus have been utilized.
Usually, now-a-days, in Spanish churches, for some ten or twenty minutes
before the offices are sung in the choir, priests may be seen unlocking
the gates of their chapels, vesting themselves, and then going one by
one to their stalls in the choir, and there waiting till, on the clock
striking the hour, the service commences. The paintings in the old
Retablos are sadly defaced and damaged; but many of them have evidently
had much value and interest. They are usually rather of Flemish than of
Italian character, generally well and quaintly drawn, and with those
striking contrasts of colour on gold grounds, of which this early school
was so fond. The doors on either side of the altar have generally a
whole-length figure of a saint painted on them.

[Illustration: No. 38.



Across the outer archway of all these chapels is an iron _grille_; very
many of these are mediæval; and in the cloister in particular there is a
very considerable variety in their treatment, and often great delicacy
of execution. I have before noticed the excellence of the smiths’
work in the Spanish churches. Yet though their work is of the latest age
of Gothic, it is never marked by that nauseous redundance of ornament in
which so many of the most active metal-workers of the present day seem
to revel. Hence it is always worthy of study. The doors in these screens
are generally double, and shut behind some sort of ogee-arched crocketed
head, and sometimes there are crocketed pinnacles and buttresses on
either side. The locks are often, of course, specially elaborate; and
the illustration which I give of one of them will serve to show their
general character. In all the screens here the lower part is very
simple, consisting generally of nothing but vertical bars, through which
one can see without difficulty to the altars which they guard. The
ornament is reserved for open traceried crestings, with bent and
sharply-cut crockets, for traceried rails, and for the locks and

[Illustration: Lock on Screen in Cloister.]

The woodwork of the choir-fittings is of very late date,[293] but good
of its kind. The stall-divisions are richly traceried under the elbow,
and the misereres carved with foliage. Behind the stalls, and under the
old canopies, is a series of Renaissance panels, covered with paintings
of the arms of the Knights of the Golden Fleece.[294] The canopies above
are very delicate, and of the same character as the stalls. The carved
oak pulpit is corbelled out at the east end of the north range of
stalls, and is approached by a staircase outside the arcaded stone
parclose, which still remains north and south of the choir. This
staircase, with its arched doorway between pinnacles at the bottom, its
traceried handrail fringed at the top with fantastic ironwork, and its
door cunningly and beautifully made of open ironwork, is quite worth

The Bishop’s throne, second only in height and elaboration to that of
Exeter, occupies its proper place at the east end of the southern side
of the choir, with one stall for a chaplain beyond it. It will be
remembered that in most Spanish cathedrals it is placed where the door
from the nave into the choir ought to be: here, however, the old
arrangement has never been altered.

The principal altar has a very Gothic Retablo, covered with gilding till
it looks like gingerbread. I imagine it to be modern. It has curtains on
either side, with angels standing on the columns which carry the rods.
The iron screen across, in front of the altar, and round the apse, is
none of it old.

Near the door to the sacristies a hexagonal box for the wheel of bells
is fixed against the wall; and just below it a fine large square box
arcaded at the sides, and painted, appears to contain a couple of larger

The sculpture here is not very remarkable. Over the east door of the
cloister is a Pietà in the tympanum, whilst the finial of the canopy is
a crucifix. The bosses at the intersection of the ribs in the nave are
of enormous size, and each has a figure or subject. The boss in the
chapel over the font in the north side of west door has the Baptism of
our Lord, and another in the large chapel in the north-west of the
cloister has the Descent of the Holy Ghost, and the eight bosses around
it the Evangelists and Doctors. Some of the monuments are peculiar. The
effigy is generally laid on a sloping stone, so as to suggest the
greatest possible insecurity. There are sculptures on the tombs and
inside the enclosing arch; a favourite and odious device in this last
feature is to make the radius of the label much longer than that of the
arch below it; and the space between the two is then filled with
tracery. The nave groining was once painted. There seems to have been
cinquecento foliage extending from the centre, about half-way across
each vaulting cell; and the ribs were painted to the same extent. In the
aisles there seems to have been no painting anywhere but on the ribs.

[Illustration: BARCELONA:--Ground Plan of Cathedral, Cloister. &c. Plate

Published by John Murray, Albemarle St. 1865]

The old organ occupies the north tower, and is corbelled out boldly
from the wall. Below it is a pendant, the finish of which is a Saracen’s
head, which, for some reason unknown to me, is held by Catalans to be
appropriate to the position. There are enormous painted shutters, and a
projecting row of trumpet-pipes. The organ was first of all built in the
fourteenth century; Martin Ferrandis, organ-builder of Toledo, having
bound himself, by a contract dated July 25, 1345, to construct it for 80
libras[295] (pounds).

The sacristies are old and vaulted. The sacristan knew of no old
vestments or vessels to be seen there; and as they were always occupied
by clergy I had to satisfy myself with his ignorance.

The bishop’s palace is on the south side of the cloister: its quadrangle
still retains some remains of good late Romanesque arcading, ornamented
with dog-tooth, nail-head, and billet mould; and probably there is more
to be seen if access were gained to the inside. On the opposite side of
the cathedral is a vast barrack, dating from the fifteenth century, and
which, first of all a palace, was given in A.D. 1487 by Ferdinand to the
Inquisition. It seems now to be a mixture of school, convent, and
prison, and is apparently without any architectural interest.

The grandest church, after the cathedral, is that of Sta. Maria del Mar,
a vast building, of very simple plan, and exceedingly characteristic of
the work of Catalan architects.[296] An inscription written in Limosin
(Catalan) on one side, and in Latin on the other,[297] gives the date of
the commencement of the work as A.D. 1328; and it is said by Cean
Bermudez not to have been finished until A.D. 1483;[298] but
Parcerisa[299] says that the last stone was placed on November 9th,
1383, and the first mass said on August 15th, 1384; and I am inclined to
think that the latter dates are the more likely to be correct. I have
found no evidence as to the architect of this church: he was one of a
school who built many and exceedingly similar churches throughout this
district. My impression is that he was most probably Jayme Fabre, the
first architect of the cathedral. Fabre had constructed a church for the
Dominicans at Palma, in Mallorca, between the years 1296 and 1339. Of
this church I can only learn the dimensions; but these point to a church
of the same class as those in Barcelona. It had no aisles, and was 280
palms long by 138 broad. The cathedral in the same city is figured in
Parcerisa, and is similar in plan to Sta. Maria del Mar, but of far
larger dimensions, the width from centre to centre of the nave columns
being 71 feet, and the whole church 140 feet wide in the clear, and with
the chapels 190 feet. There are north and south doors, and octagonal
pinnacles at the west end, and, as will be noticed, its dimensions are
proportioned just as at Sta. Maria del Mar. I do not think that Fabre’s
name occurs in connexion with the cathedral at Palma; but his fame must
have been great, as he was specially summoned to Barcelona by the king
and bishop; and nothing is more likely than that he would then have been
consulted about this other great work going on at the same time, and in
which, though the general design is different, there are so many points
of similarity. The church at Manresa is said to have been commenced in
the same year, 1328; and it is extremely similar in all respects to Sta.
Maria del Mar, as I shall have further on to show when I have to
describe it.

[Illustration: No. 39.



But whether these churches are to be attributed to the influence of one
man suddenly inventing an innovation, or of a school of architects
working on the same old traditions--and I have been unable to find any
kind of evidence of this--it is certain that they are very similar. They
are marked by extreme simplicity, great width, and great height. Usually
they have no arcades and consist of broad unbroken naves, always groined
in stone, and sparely lighted from small windows high up in the walls.
The two examples, so far as I know, which surpass all others, are the
single nave of Gerona, seventy-three feet wide in the clear, and the
nave and aisles of the Collegiata at Manresa, sixty feet wide from
centre to centre of the columns, and a hundred and ten between the walls
of the aisles. The Barcelonese examples do not equal the extraordinary
dimensions of these two churches, but they are still on a fine scale.
Sta. Maria del Mar is the only Barcelonese example with aisles. It
has--as will be seen by the plan[300]--an aisle round the apse, and
small chapels between the buttresses. These apses are all internal only,
so that the side elevation of the church shows a plain straight wall
pierced with windows. This is a very favourite device of this school,
and has been already noticed in the north wall of the cathedral, and in
the wall all round the cloisters. The interior of Sta. Maria del Mar is
very simple. Enormous octagonal columns carry the main arches and the
groining ribs, which all spring from their capitals. The wall rib
towards the nave is carried up higher than the main arches so as to
allow space between them for a small circular and traceried clerestory
window in each bay. The arches of the apse are very narrow, and
enormously stilted. There are small windows above them, but they are
modernized. The aisles are groined on the same level as the main arches,
a few feet, therefore, below the vault of the nave, and they are lighted
by a four-light traceried window in each bay, the sill of which is above
a string-course formed by continuing the abacus of the capitals of the
groining shafts. Below this there are three arches in each bay, opening
into side chapels between the main buttresses. Each of these chapels is
lighted by a traceried window of two lights; and the outer wall
presents, as will be seen, a long unbroken line, until above the
chapels, when the buttresses rise boldly up to support the great vaults
of the nave and aisles. The Barcelonese architects of this period were
extremely fond of these long unbroken lines of wall; and there is a
simplicity and dignity about their work which is especially commendable.
Long rows of little sheds for shops which have managed to gain a footing
all along the base of the walls rather disturb the effect, though they
and their occupants, and the busy dealers in fruit who ply their trade
all about Sta. Maria del Mar, make it a good spot for the study of the

The altar is a horrible erection of about A.D. 1730, and all the
internal fittings are modern and in the worst possible taste.

The view which I give of the west front will explain the whole design of
the exterior. Unquestionably it is a grand work of its kind, with good
detail throughout. The great octagonal pinnacles at the angles are,
however, awkwardly designed, and quite insufficient in scale for the
vast mass of building to which they are attached. They are reproduced in
all the churches of the same class in Barcelona; and indeed most of the
features of one of these churches are common to the others. The tracery
in the circular window at the west end certainly looks later in date
than that of the others in this church, and than that in the west front
of Sta. Maria del Pi, which was commenced in A.D. 1329, but not
completed until much later. It is worth mention that the western doors
of this church are covered with iron, cut out into the form of cusped
circles, with rather good effect.

The church of SS. Just y Pastor is of the same class as Sta. Maria del
Mar, but its foundation is slightly later, as it seems to have been
commenced circa A.D. 1345. It consists of a nave without aisles, but
with chapels between the buttresses--one chapel in each bay. There are
five bays, and an apse of five sides. The altar stands forward from the
wall, and stalls are ranged round the apse. The nave is 43 feet 6 inches
in width in the clear by about 130 feet in length. The vaulting is
quadripartite throughout, with large bosses at the intersection of the
ribs, on which are carved--1, the Annunciation; 2, the Nativity; 3, the
Presentation; 4, the Adoration of the Magi; 5, the Resurrection; 6, the
Coronation of the B.V.M. The whole church has lately been covered with
painting and gilding, in the most approved French style, and to the
destruction of all appearance of age. The light is admitted by
three-light windows with good geometrical traceries, very high up above
the arches, into the side chapels, and by two-light windows in the
chapels themselves. At the west end are remains of the usual octagonal
flanking turrets; but the whole front is modernized. The side elevation
is a repetition of those already described, presenting a long unbroken
wall below, out of which the buttresses for the clerestory rise.

Santa Maria del Pino is a still grander church, but on the same plan,
with the addition of a lofty octagonal tower detached at the north-east
of the church.[301] This is four stages in height, and the belfry-stage
has windows on each face. The traceried corbel-table under the parapet
remains, but the parapet and roof are destroyed. The nave here consists
of seven bays, is fifty-four feet wide in the clear, and has an eastern
apse of seven sides. The chapels between the buttresses are not carried
round the apse, but an overhanging passage-way is formed all round
outside, upon arches between, and corresponding openings through, the
buttresses just below the windows. The north door here is a very fine
early work of just the same character as those already described in the
earliest portions of the cathedral. It appears to be a work of the end
of the twelfth century, and much older than any other portion of the
church. The west front has a doorway with a figure in a niche in the
tympanum, and a system of niches round and above it, enclosing it within
a sort of square projecting from the face of the wall. The whole scheme
is so exceedingly similar both in design and detail to that of the north
transept door of the cathedral, that we may fairly conclude them to be
the works of the same man. Above the door is a large circular window
filled with good and very rich geometrical tracery. A church existed
here as early as 1070;[302] and Cean Bermudez says that the first stone
of the present church was laid in 1380, and that it was concluded in
1414.[303] Parcerisa,[304] on the other hand, says that materials were
granted for the work in 1329, that it was nearly finished in 1413, and
consecrated in 1453;[305] whilst in A.D. 1416 we have Guillermo Abiell
describing himself as master of the works of Sta. Maria del Pi, and of
St. Jayme, in Barcelona, when he was called as one of the Junta of
architects to advise about the building of the nave of Gerona

[Illustration: BARCELONA:--Ground Plans of Sta Maria del Mar:--Sta
Maria del Pi:--and the Collegista of Sta Ana: Plate XVII.

Published by John Murray, Albemarle St. 1865.]

St. Jayme, of which Abiell was the architect, is a small church in the
principal street of the city, with an ogee-headed door with a crocketed
label between two pinnacles. Above are some small windows; and the whole
detail is poor in character, and exactly consistent with what might be
expected from an architect at Abiell’s time. I believe, therefore, that
either Abiell was only the surveyor to an already existing fabric, who
wished to make the most of his official position among his brethren at
Gerona, or that if he really executed any works at Sta. Maria del Pi
they were confined to the steeple, which is of later character than the
church. I believe that the real meaning of the dates given by the
authorities just quoted is as follows:--In A.D. 1329 stone was granted
for the work which was then no doubt just commenced at the same time as
the similar work in the transept of the cathedral; and the consecration
probably took place in A.D. 1353, a date which occurs in an inscription
in the church, and has been, I suspect, read by Parcerisa by mistake,
1453; and the work commenced in A.D. 1380 was probably the steeple,
which was completed in A.D. 1414. To decide otherwise would be to ignore
altogether all the information to be derived from the character of the
architectural detail, which, after all, is to a practised eye a safer
guide than any documentary evidence. I should assume, too, from the
identity of the character of the two works, that Jayme Fabre was the
architect who designed the church, and that Guillermo Abiell probably
built the tower some time after his death.

[Illustration: Interior of Santa Agata.]

I must now take my readers back somewhat to an earlier church, which is
full of interest, but very different from those which I have been
describing, and of different style. This is the church of Sta. Agata,
situated just to the north of the cathedral. I have been unable to learn
anything as to its history. It has a nave of four bays, spanned by
pointed arches, which carry the wooden roof, and a groined apse of five
sides. East of the apse is a waggon-vaulted chamber, whose axis is at
right angles to that of the church, and out of it rises a delicate
octagonal steeple, the belfry-stage of which has two-light windows on
four sides, and gables on each face. These gables run back till they
intersect the base of a low stone spire, which is now nearly destroyed,
but the lower part of which can be clearly made out from the
neighbouring steeple of the cathedral. A staircase, ingeniously
constructed in the thickness of the south wall, leads up from the nave
to the pulpit (now destroyed), and thence on again to a western gallery.
Some of the windows are like domestic windows in design, having a
slender shaft-monial with the capital of foliage so often repeated in
all the towns from Perpiñan to Valencia. The great height of the windows
from the floor--about twenty-six feet--secures an admirable effect of
light, and their detail is thoroughly good early middle-pointed. The
southern façade has a great deal of that picturesque irregularity which
is always so charming when it is natural. The door is in the western
angle of the south front, partly built under a great overhanging arch,
which carries the wall of a building which abuts on the west end of Sta.
Agata. The lower half of the walls has small windows irregularly placed,
lighting the eastern chapel, the pulpit, and the passage to the gallery;
and then above them the wall is set back a couple of feet between
buttresses, and each bay has an extremely well designed and moulded
window of two lights, with geometrical tracery. The finish of the walls
at the top is modernized. The construction of the roof is very
effective, and at the same time of a most unusual character; it consists
of a series of purlines resting on corbels in the walls over the arches
across the nave; and though it is of flat pitch, this is but little
noticed, owing to the good proportions of these arches, which are so
marked a feature in the design.

The same kind of roof exists still in the great hall of the Casa
Consistorial, and evidently once existed also in the church which I
shall presently mention in the Calle del Carmen. In England we have
somewhat parallel examples at Mayfield and the Mote House, Ightham; but
these Barcelonese examples are useful, as showing how, when a
flat-pitched roof is of necessity adopted, a very good internal effect
may nevertheless be secured. This church is now desecrated, and used as
a sculptor’s workshop.

Another church, of which only the ruins now remain, in the Calle del
Carmen, must, I presume, be Nuestra Señora del Carmen, founded in
1287.[307] This building was evidently greatly altered in the fourteenth
century. It was first of all roofed with a flat roof, carried on arches
across the nave, as at Sta. Agata, and subsequently the walls were
raised and the church was groined. The groining is now destroyed, and
behind it are seen the corbels in the cross wall marking the rake of the
first roof. The aisles had roofs gabled north and south, and their
windows good fourteenth-century tracery. This church of seven bays in
length is 43 feet wide between the columns of the nave, and nearly 80
feet wide from north to south. Compared with Sta. Agata, it seems to
prove that this class of timber-roofed church was introduced here
between the early waggon-vaulting of the chapel of Sta. Lucia and of
Sta. Ana, and the great quadripartite vaults of the cathedral and the
other churches of its class.

The other churches here are not of much interest. The front of San Jayme
has already been incidentally mentioned: its interior is modernized. San
Miguel is probably a very early church, having a Roman mosaic pavement
preserved in the floor. It has a pointed waggon-vault, and a
sixteenth-century stone gallery at the west end. The western front has a
rich west door, half Gothic and half Renaissance, with St. Michael and
the dragon in the tympanum, and the Annunciation in the jambs. The flat
gable has its old crocketed coping and cross, and two very small
windows. The best feature is the tower, a simple structure, square in
plan, from within the parapet of which, over the centre, rises a small
square turret, open at the sides and roofed with four intersecting
gables. It is a pretty arrangement for carrying a fifth bell, the other
bells hanging in the belfry windows, in the Italian fashion. The church
of San Anton has a groined narthex or porch all across the west front,
with three open arches in front. The nave cannot be wide, and has
chapels between the buttresses, but I did not see the interior. Another
church, that of San Gerónimo, is on the same plan, but of later
date.[308] The churches of the Renaissance class are numerous and ugly;
but Berruguete and his followers hardly perpetrated so many freaks in
art here as they did in the centre of Spain; had they been more popular,
there had been much less for me to describe. But in truth, rich as this
old city still is, it was much richer, two or three noble churches
having disappeared at a comparatively late period, either during the war
or in subsequent popular disturbances.

[Illustration: No. 40.

BARCELONA. p. 314.


[Illustration: Ajimez Window.]

The civic buildings are quite worthy of the ancient dignity of the city.
The Casa Consistorial, and the Casa de la Disputacion, face each other
on opposite sides of the principal square, not far from the cathedral,
The former has a modern Pagan front, but on the north side the old
work remains. This building is said to have been commenced in A.D. 1369,
and finished in A.D. 1378;[309] and inside the great hall I noticed an
inscription (which unfortunately I neglected to copy) with the date of
1373. The old front to the north of this building seems worthy of
illustration. The enormous arch-stones of the principal doorway are very
common throughout Cataluña, and are seen indeed as far east even as
Perpiñan. The figure of St. Michael has metal wings; and as the little
church dedicated in honour of the same archangel is just on the other
side of the Casa, it seems as if there was some special connection
between the two buildings. The _patio_ or quadrangle is oblong in plan,
and on the first-floor the passage is open to the air, with delicate
arches all round. On the east side of this passage a door opens into a
noble hall, with a dais for the throne at the upper end, and doorways
on each side of the dais. This hall is spanned by four moulded
semicircular arches rising from corbels formed of a cluster of shafts.
These arches support a flat ceiling of rafters, with boarding between
them, resting on corbels in the cross walls. The light is admitted by
large cusped circles high up in the side walls, and by good _ajimez_
windows of three lights at the dais end. The rafters of the roof are all
painted with coats of arms enclosed within quatrefoils, with a very rich
effect. The dimensions of this room are about 40 feet wide by 90 feet
long, and 45 feet in height. In a passage near it is an admirable
_ajimez_ window, which, as it illustrates this common type very well, is
worth preserving a record of. The marble shafts here are only three
inches in diameter.[310]

The Casa de la Disputacion _was_ still more interesting; but on my last
visit the delicate arcades of its beautiful _patio_ were all being
walled up with common brick, leaving narrow slits of windows, which I
suppose are to be glazed, to save the degenerate lawyers for the future
from any of the chance squalls of wind or rain which their predecessors
have endured since the fifteenth century, when Master Pedro Blay, the
architect, superintended its erection. This _patio_ is of three stages
in height, with a picturesque external staircase to the first floor. The
lofty corridor round the first floor leads to the various courts and
offices, and in one angle of it is the entrance to the chapel,
consisting of three small arches, forming a door and two windows, with
the wall above them covered with an elaborate reticulation of tracery.
The arches have ogee crocketed canopies, and the side arches iron
_grilles_. This chapel is dedicated to St. George, the tutelar saint of
Cataluña, and a figure of the saint rivals that of St. Michael in the
Sala Consistorial. There are here some extremely well-managed
overhanging passage-ways corbelled out from the walls, and various
excellent features of detail. The parapets generally to the various
passages are of plain stone slabs, pierced here and there only with a
richly traceried circle.

Another old building--the Lonja or Exchange--was built near the sea in
A.D. 1383.[311] But everything old has been completely destroyed, with
the one exception of its grand hall, which still does service as of old.
This consists of three naves, divided by lofty and slender columns,
which carry stilted semi-circular arches. The ceiling is flat, of the
same description as that of the Sala Consistorial. The dimensions are
about 100 feet in length by 75 feet in width.

Another great building, founded soon after, circa 1444, was intended for
a cloth-hall:[312] in 1514 it was converted into an armoury, and
subsequently into a residence for the Captains-General of Cataluña; it
has been completely modernized throughout the exterior, and I did not
see the interior.

Cean Bermudez mentions an interesting fact about the construction of the
old Mole. It was built, he says, by Estacio, a famous hydraulic
architect of Alexandria, in A.D. 1477; and the city authorities took
counsel about it with the most learned professors of Syracuse, Rhodes,
and Candia.



There are few Spanish towns which are altogether more interesting than
the now insignificant and little-known city of Gerona. It not only
contains several buildings of rare architectural interest, but it has,
moreover, the advantage of being picturesquely placed on the banks of
the rapid river Oña, and on the steep slope of the hills which bound it.

The Cathedral is the first object of attraction, and its history is so
curious, that I need make no apology for proceeding without further
preface to say the substance of what I have been able to learn about it.

There was a cathedral here at a very early period; and when Gerona was
taken by the Moors, they converted it into a mosque, but, with their
usual liberality, allowed the services of the Church still to be carried
on in the neighbouring church of San Feliu, which for a time,
accordingly, was the cathedral church. In A.D. 1015 this state of
affairs had ceased, owing to the expulsion of the Moors, and the
cathedral was again recovered to the use of the Church. Considerable
works were at this time executed,[313] if, indeed, the cathedral was not
entirely rebuilt, as the old documents declare, and the altered church
was re-consecrated in A.D. 1038,[314] by the Archbishop of Narbonne,
assisted by the Bishops of Vique, Urgel, Elne, Barcelona, Carcassonne,
and others. In A.D. 1310 works seem to have been again in progress,[315]
and in A.D. 1312 a Chapter was held, at which it was resolved to rebuild
the head or chevet of the church with nine chapels,[316] for which, in
A.D. 1292, Guillermo Gaufredo, the treasurer, made a bequest in favour
of the work.[317] In A.D. 1325 I find that an indulgence was granted by
the Bishop Petrus de Urrea in favour of donors to the work of the
cathedral;[318] and the work, so far westward as the end of the choir,
was probably complete before A.D. 1346, inasmuch as in this year the
silver altar, with its Retablo and baldachin, were placed where they now
stand.[319] We know something of the architects employed during the
fourteenth century upon the works just mentioned. In 1312 the Chapter
appointed the Archdeacon Ramon de Vilarico and the Canon Arnaldo de
Montredon to be the _obreros_ or general clerical superintendents of the
progress of the works. In A.D. 1316, or, according to some authorities,
in February, 1320, an architect--Enrique of Narbonne--is first
mentioned; and soon after this, on his death, another architect of the
same city, Jacobo de Favariis by name, was appointed with a salary of
two hundred and fifty libras[320] a quarter, and upon the condition that
he should come from Narbonne six times a year[321] to examine the
progress of the works. In A.D. 1325 Bart. Argenta was the master of the
works, and he probably carried them on until the completion of the choir
in 1346.[322]

In A.D. 1395 it was proposed to erect a Chapter-house, and the canons in
charge of the fabric (“canonigos fabriqueros”) presented in writing
their reasons for not erecting it where proposed by the Chapter--at the
south end of the refectory. They said that the works of the church
itself ought first of all to be gone on with, and that the proposed work
would destroy a good and convenient refectory, and make it obscure and
ridiculous: and it seems that their report had the effect of staying the
work. In A.D. 1416 Guillermo Boffiy, master of the works of the
cathedral, proposed a plan for its completion by the erection of a nave;
and though the chevet had an aisle and chapels round it, he proposed to
build his nave of the same width as the choir and its aisles, but as a
single nave without aisles. This proposition was deemed so hazardous,
and created so great a discussion, that the Chapter, before deciding
what plan should be adopted, called together a Junta of architects, and
propounded to each of them separately certain questions, to each of
which they all returned their answers upon oath. In the September
following, these answers were read before the Chapter by a notary, and
it may be supposed carefully digested, for it was not until March 8th,
1417, that Guillermo Boffiy, the master of the works, was called in and
in his turn interrogated with the same questions. Immediately after
this, on the 15th of the same month, at a Chapter-meeting presided over
by the Bishop, it was decided to carry on the work as proposed, with a
single nave. The story is so well worth telling in full, that I have
given in the Appendix a translation of the entire document, which equals
in interest any with which I am acquainted, bearing on the profession of
architect in the middle ages.[323] It is valuable also, incidentally, as
giving us the names of the architects of several other buildings, most
of those who were examined having described themselves in a formal style
as masters of the works of some particular church or churches. It is
difficult to say exactly when the nave was completed, but the great
south door was not executed until A.D. 1458, and the key-stone of the
last division of the vault seems to have been placed in the time of
Bishop Benito, so late as circa 1579.[324] In A.D. 1581 the same bishop
laid the first stone of the bell-tower, and in 1607 the west front and
the great flight of steps leading up to it seem to have been commenced.

We have thus the story of the periods at which the church was founded,
altered, and enlarged very fully told, and it now only remains to apply
it to what is still to be seen in the existing building.

A reference to my ground-plan[325] will show that the church remains
very much in the state which the documentary evidence describes. The
choir has nine chapels round its chevet, as described, and has lofty
arches, a series of very small openings in lieu of triforium, and a
clerestory of two-light windows, of decidedly late but still good
Middle-pointed character. The columns, in the usual Catalan fashion of
this age, are clusters of rather reedy mouldings, with no proper
division or subordination of parts, and consequently of poor effect, and
there is no division by way of stringcourses above or below the
triforium. On the exterior the east end is not seen to much advantage,
as it is built into and against a steep hill, so that at a distance of a
few feet only the eye is on a level with the top of the walls of the
chapels round the apse. The roofs, too, have all been modernized and
lowered. The only peculiarities here are a series of trefoiled openings,
just under the eaves of the roof, into the space over the vaulting, and
perhaps devised for the purpose of ventilation: and the gurgoyles
projecting from the buttresses, which are carved and moulded stones
finished at the end with an octagonal capital, through the bottom of
which the water falls, and which almost looks as if it were meant for
the stone head of a metal down-pipe.

When the choir was built, some considerable portions of the church
consecrated in A.D. 1038 were left standing. The nave was probably
entirely of this age; and a portion of what was no doubt one of the
original towers still remains on the north side, between the cloister
and the nave. This tower has pilasters at the angles and in the centre,
and is divided into equal stages in height by horizontal corbel-tables.
An apse of the same age remains on the east side of what seems to have
been the south transept of the early church: and from its position we
may, I think, assume with safety that the church was then finished with
three or five apses at the east, very much as in the church of San
Pedro, close by, which I shall have presently to describe. In addition
to these early remains there is also a magnificent and all but
unaltered cloister. I cannot find any certain evidence of its exact
date, though it seems to have existed in A.D. 1117, when an act of the
Bishop Raymond Berenger was issued in the “cloister of the
cathedral.”[326] The character of the work confirms, I think, this date.
The plan is very peculiar, forming a very irregular trapezium, no two of
the sides being equal in length. It has on all four sides severely
simple round arches carried on coupled shafts: these are of marble, and
set as much as 20 inches apart, so as to enable them to carry a wall 3
feet 1½ inches thick. This thickness of wall was quite necessary, as the
cloister is all roofed with stone, the section of the vaults on the
east, west, and south sides being half of a barrel, and on the north a
complete barrel vault. The detail of the capitals is of the extremely
elaborate and delicate imitation of classical carving, so frequently
seen throughout the south of France. The abaci are in one stone, but the
bases of the shafts are separate and rest upon a low dwarf-wall, and
square piers are carried up at intervals to strengthen the arcade. The
columns have a very slight entasis.

This cloister deserves careful study, as it seems to show one of the
main branches of the stream by which Romanesque art was introduced into
Spain. It is impossible not to recognize the extreme similarity between
such work as we see here, and that which we see in the cloister at Elne,
near Perpiñan, and, to go still farther afield, at S. Trophime at Arles.
And if any Spanish readers of these pages object to my assumption that
the stream flowed from France westward, they must prove the exact
converse, and assume that this Romanesque work was developed from Roman
work in Spain, and thence spread to Elne and Arles, a position which
none, I suppose, will be bold enough to take.

The nave remains to be described; and to do this well and adequately, it
is necessary to use, not indeed many, but certainly strong, words.
Guillermo Boffiy, master of the works, might well cling fondly to his
grand scheme, for his proposal was not less, I believe, than the
erection of the widest pointed vault in Christendom. Such a scheme might
be expected to meet then in Spain, as it most certainly would now in
this country,[327] a good deal of criticism, and many objections, on the
score of its impracticability; and it is to the honour of the Chapter
that they had the good sense to consult experts and not amateurs as to
the steps to be taken, and then, having satisfied themselves that their
architect was competent to his work, that they left it entirely in his

[Illustration: No. 41



The clear width of this nave is 73 feet, and its height is admirably
proportioned to this vast dimension.[328] It is only four bays in
length; each bay has chapels opening into it on either side, and filling
up the space between the enormous buttresses, whose depth from the front
of the groining shaft to their face is no less than 20 feet. Above the
arches which open into the side chapels is a row of small cusped
openings, corresponding with those which form the triforium of the
choir; and above these are lofty traceried clerestory windows. The
groining-ribs are very large and well moulded. At the east end of the
nave three arches open into the choir and its aisles; and above these
are three circular windows, the largest of which has lost its tracery.
And here it is that the magnificence of the scheme is most fully
realized. A single nave and choir, all of the same enormous size, would
have been immeasurable by the eye, and would have been, to a great
extent, thrown away; here, however, the lofty choir and aisles, with
their many subdivisions, give an extraordinary impression of size to the
vast vault of the nave, and make it look even larger than it really is.
In short, had this nave been longer by one bay, I believe that scarcely
any interior in Europe could have surpassed it in effect. Unfortunately,
as is so often the case among those who possess the most precious works
of art, there is now but little feeling in Gerona for the treasure it
possesses in this wondrous nave, for the stalls and Coro have been moved
down from their proper place into the middle of its length, where they
are shut in and surrounded by a high blank screen, painted in the
vulgarest imitation of Gothic traceries, to the utter ruin, of course,
of the whole internal perspective. It would be a grand and simple work
of restoration to give up here, for once, the Spanish usage, and to
restore the stalls to the proper choir. I say “restore,” because it is
pretty clear that they could not have been in the nave when they were
first made, inasmuch as this was in A.D. 1351, sixty-six years before
its commencement. A deed still remains in the archives of the cathedral,
by which we ascertain this fact, for by it a sculptor from Barcelona
agreed, on June 7th, 1351, to make the stalls at the rate of 45 libras
of Barcelona for each.[329] The detail of some parts of the woodwork is
exceedingly good, and evidently of the middle of the fourteenth century,
so that it is clear they are the very stalls referred to in the
agreement. There is ample length in the proper choir for them, and they
must have been moved into the nave in unwise obedience to the common
modern Spanish arrangement, which was certainly never more entirely
unfortunate and destructive of effect than it is here.

It will be seen, by reference to the Appendix, that though the
architects consulted were fairly unanimous as to the possibility of
building the single nave, they were by no means so in their
recommendation of it as the best plan. The general feeling seems to have
been decidedly adverse to it; and we may assume that the Chapter decided
on it partly because it was already commenced, and partly because it
promised to be a cheaper plan than the other. There seems also to have
been great dread on the part of the Chapter of interfering in any way
with the wall which now forms the east end of the nave, for fear lest,
when it was cut into for the introduction of the respond of the nave
arcade, the whole should give way.

Paschasius de Xulbe, one of the architects questioned, gives the
valuable answer, that if the nave is of triple division in width, the
groining of the choir must be raised in order that it may correspond in
its measurements to its third; from which it is pretty clear that he
spoke of a then recognized system of proportioning the height to the
width of a building.

Guillermo Sagrera, master of the works at St. John Perpiñan, tells us,
in his answer, that the choir was originally built with the intention of
having a single nave; and this will account for the otherwise
unintelligible finish of its western wall, which it is clear, from the
tenour of all the answers, was not prepared for any arches in the nave.
I am not certain indeed whether we are not to assume, in reading the
questions asked by the Chapter, that the Romanesque nave was itself of
the same plan and dimensions; and the vast width of the old nave of
Toulouse Cathedral--sixty-three feet--affords an example, at no great
distance from Gerona, of the fact that architects, even so early as the
beginning of the thirteenth century, were not afraid to propose and
execute works on so unusual a scale.

I will not quote farther from the answers of the architects, because
they well deserve to be read in detail; but it is a satisfaction to be
able to say that their conviction of the practicability of the work has
been amply justified, inasmuch as, even to the present day, there is
scarcely a sign of a settlement or crack throughout the entire building.

It is difficult to express a positive opinion as to the original
intention of the architect in regard to the design and finish of the
exterior of this part of the church. The gable walls have been altered,
the roofs renewed, and the original termination of the buttresses
destroyed. At no time however, I think, can it have looked well. The
position is charming, on the edge of a steep, rocky hill falling down to
the river, and girt on its north side by the old many-towered city wall;
yet with all these advantages it is now a decidedly ugly work, and the
nave looks bald, and large out of all proportion to the subdivided,
lower, and over-delicately-treated choir. On the west side the whole
character of the church is Pagan;[330] and I well remember the
astonishment with which, when I had climbed the long flight of broad
steps which leads to the western door, I looked down the stupendous
interior, for which I had been so little prepared!

The effect is not a little enhanced by the dark colour of the stone,
which has never been polluted by whitewash; but there are some defects.
The want of length has already been noticed; the entire absence of
stringcourses inside is not pleasant; and the lowering of the arches
into the chapels in the second bay from the west wall, where there are
three in place of the two in each of the other bays, breaks the main
lines of the design very awkwardly. The mouldings too, as might be
expected in work of so late a date, are nowhere very first-rate, though
they certainly retain generally the character of late fourteenth-century

The doorway on the south side of the nave is remarkable in one respect.
It has in its jambs a series of statues of the Apostles, executed in
terra-cotta; and the agreement for their execution, made, in A.D. 1458,
with the artist Berenguer Cervia, binds him to execute them for six
hundred florins, and “of the same earth as the statue of Sta. Eulalia
and the cross of the new doorway at Barcelona.”[331] This doorway is
very large, but bald and poor in detail; the statues to which the
contract refers still remain, and are in good preservation.

There is nothing more specially worth noticing in the fabric; but
fortunately the choir still retains precious relics in the Retablo
behind, and the baldachin above, the high-altar. There are also said to
be some frontals of the altar still preserved, which are of silver, and
which were originally adorned with precious stones, and with an
inscription which proves them to have been made before the consecration
of the church, in A.D. 1038. Unfortunately they were not in their place
when I was at Gerona, and so I missed seeing them.[332] The Retablo is
of wood entirely covered with silver plates, and divided vertically into
three series of niches and canopies; each division has a subject, and a
good deal of enamelling is introduced in various parts of the canopies
and grounds of the panels. Each panel has a cinquefoiled arch with a
crocketed gablet and pinnacles on either side. The straight line of the
top is broken by three niches, which rise in the centre and at either
end. In the centre is the Blessed Virgin with our Lord; on the right,
San Narcisso; and on the left, San Feliu. The three tiers of subjects
contain (_a_) figures of saints, (_b_) subjects from the life of the
Blessed Virgin, and (_c_) subjects from the life of our Lord. A monument
in one of the chapels gives some account of this precious work; for
though it is called a ciborium, it is also spoken of as being of silver,
which, I believe, the actual ciborium is not.[333] The date of this
monument is 1362; but in the ‘Liber Notularum’ for A.D. 1320, 21, and
22, it seems that the Chapter devoted 3000 libras for the reparation of
the Retablo, though it was not till A.D. 1346 that the work was
finished, and the altar finally fixed in its present position.[334] The
whole of the work is therefore before this date; and probably the
Retablo and the baldachin date from the period between the two dates
last given, viz. A.D. 1320 and A.D. 1348.

[Illustration: Altar, Gerona.]

The baldachin is, like the Retablo, of wood covered with thin plates of
metal. It stands upon four shafts, the lower portions of which are of
dark marble resting on the moulded footpace round the altar. These four
shafts have capitals and bands, the latter being set round with
enamelled coats-of-arms. The canopy is a sort of very flat quadripartite
vault covered with small figures; but on both my visits to Gerona it has
been so dark in the choir as to render it impossible to make out the
subjects. The central subject seems to be the Coronation of the Blessed
Virgin, and in the eastern division is a sitting figure of our Lord
with saints on either side. In order to show the figures on the roof of
the baldachin as much as possible, the two eastern columns are much
lower than the western, the whole roof having thus a slope up towards
the west. A singular arrangement was contrived behind the altar--a white
marble seat for the bishop raised by several steps on either side to the
level of the altar, and placed under the central arch of the apse. Here,
when the bishop celebrated pontifically, he sat till the oblation, and
returned to it again to give the benediction to the people.[335]

[Illustration: Wheel of Bells, Gerona.]

The church is full of other objects of interest. Against the north wall
is a very pretty example of a wheel of bells: this is all of wood,
corbelled out from the wall, and is rung with a noisy jingle of silver
bells at the elevation of the Host. Near it is a doorway leading into
the sacristy, I think, which is very ingeniously converted into a
monument. It has a square lintel and a pointed arch above: bold corbels
on either side carry a high tomb, the base of which is just over the
lintel; this is arcaded at the side and ends, and on its sloping top is
a figure of a knight. The favourite type of monument in this part of
Spain is generally a coped tomb carried on corbels, which are usually
lions or other beasts: there are good examples of this kind both in the
church and cloister; and in the latter there is also preserved a great
wooden cross, which looks as though it had originally decorated a

The windows have a good deal of very late stained-glass, which consists
generally of single figures under canopies. I have already mentioned the
fine early wood-work in the Coro. In the fifteenth century this was
altered and added to: and a seat was then made for the bishop in the
centre of the western side of the Coro, which has enormous pieces of
carved open-work on either side executed with uncommon vigour and skill.
These, again, were added to afterwards by a Renaissance artist, so that
it is now necessary to discriminate carefully between the work of
various ages.

If, when the cathedral has been thoroughly studied, one goes out through
the cloister, an external door at its north-western angle leads out to
the top of a steep path from which an extremely picturesque view is
obtained. The old town walls girt the cathedral on the north side; but
in the eleventh century it was thought well to add to them, and a second
wall descends, crosses the valley below, and rises against the opposite
hill in a very picturesque fashion. This wall has the passage-way
perfect all round, and occasional circular towers project from it. The
eye is at once caught in looking at this view by a fine Romanesque
church with a half-ruined cloister and lofty octagonal steeple, which
seems to be absolutely built across and through the walls. This is the
Benedictine church of San Pedro de los Galligans;[336] and a closer
inspection shows that what at first looks like the round-tower of the
town walls, against which the church has been built, is really the very
apse of the church, which when the new walls were built was raised and
converted above into a purely military work. The earliest reference to
this church that I have found is a statement that it existed in the
tenth century, and that, in A.D. 1117, the Count Ramon of Barcelona gave
it to the Benedictine convent of Sta. Maria de la Crassa, in the
bishopric of Carcassonne, of which his brother was Abbat; and I think we
may safely assume that the whole of the existing church was built within
a short time of its transfer from the hands of the Secular to those of
the Regular Clergy.

The church[337] consists of a nave and aisles of four bays, the arches
being very rude, and the piers plain and square. There are north and
south transepts, the former having one, and the latter two eastern
apsidal chapels; and the choir is also finished with an apse. There is
another apse at the north end of the north transept. The nave is roofed
with a round waggon-vault with plain cross-ribs carried on engaged
shafts; and there is a clerestory of single-light windows which, on the
inside, break up partly into the vault of the roof. The aisles are
roofed with half-waggon or quadrant vaults, and the apses with
semi-domes. The octagonal steeple is built above the north transept, and
has in the eastern wall of its first stage two apsidal recesses, which
seem to have been intended for altars, and are roofed with semi-domes.
The detail of some of the work at the east end is of an unusual kind: it
is built in stone and black volcanic scoriæ, and its rude character is
evidence of its early date. Any one who is acquainted with the noble
church at Elne, near Perpiñan, will remember the similar use of volcanic
scoriæ there, and will be led to class the two monuments together as
works of the same hand and period. The view of the exterior of the
church from the north-west is very striking. There is a fine western
door with a good deal of carving very delicately and elaborately
wrought, one of the capitals having a very careful imitation of a
fern-leaf on it; above the doorway a horizontal cornice is carried all
across the front, and over this is a fine rose window. The side walls
are finished with dentil-courses; and the clerestory--which is carried
up very high above the springing of the vault inside--is finished with
an eaves-arcading also. There were no windows in the side walls of the
aisle; and the clerestory windows, and a window at the west end of the
north aisle, have bold splays on the outside as well as inside.

The steeple has been much altered; but the original design of the two
upper (and octagonal) stages seems to have had a two-light window with a
bold central shaft, angle-pilasters, and stringcourses, with shallow
arcading below them.

On the south side are the cloisters. They are locked up and in ruins;
and though I tried two or three times, I was never able to gain
admission to them; but I saw them from the hill above, and they looked
at this distance as if they were designed very much after the pattern of
those attached to the cathedral. The arches are round, and carried on
coupled detached shafts, with piers in the centre of each side of the
cloister. The roof seems to have been a barrel-vault, but great part of
it has now fallen in. All this havoc and ruin is owing, like so much
that one sees in Spain, to the action of the French troops during the
Peninsular war.[338]

The whole character of this church is very interesting. The west front
reminded me much of the best Italian Romanesque; and the rude simplicity
of the interior--so similar in its mode of construction to the great
church at Santiago in the opposite corner of the Peninsula--suggests the
probability of its being one of the earliest examples of which Spain can

[Illustration: No. 42.



Close to San Pedro, to the north-west, stands another church, which,
though it is very small, is fully as curious. This is now desecrated and
converted into workshops and dwelling-houses. It is transverse triapsal
in plan (_i.e._, the transepts and the chancel are all finished with
apses). The Crossing is surmounted by a low tower or lantern, square
below, but octagonal above, and with some remains of an apparently old
tiled roof. The transepts are ceiled with semi-domes, and the chancel
was similarly covered, but its vault has now been removed in order to
facilitate access to the steeple, in which a peasant and his family
live. The nave is roofed with a waggon-vault, at the springing of which
from the wall is a small moulding; and its walls are supported by
buttresses, which do not seem to be earlier than the thirteenth century,
though the rest of the church must date no doubt from the early part of
the twelfth. The exterior is very plain; but the chancel apse is divided
by pilasters which run up to and finish in a corbel-table at the eaves;
and the tower has also an eaves’ corbel-table. All the dimensions of
this church are very small, but it is interesting, as being almost the
only example I have seen in Spain of a transverse triapsal plan; and the
central lantern is one of the earliest examples of what became in later
days one of the most common features of Spanish buildings.[339]

We came down the hill north of the cathedral to see this church and San
Pedro; and if we retrace our steps, and go out by the western door on to
the platform at the top of the vast flight of steps which leads up to
the cathedral, we shall be at once struck by the beautiful, though
truncated, spire of San Feliu, which stands below, and to the west of
the cathedral. Indeed, in nearly all views of the old city, this steeple
claims the first place in our regard; and perhaps it is seen best of all
in crossing the river at the other end of the town, where it stands at
the end of the vista up the stream, which is edged on either side by the
backs of the tall, picturesque, and crowded houses.

San Feliu[340] is one of the oldest collegiate foundations in the
diocese of Gerona; and when, in the eighth century, the Moors converted
the cathedral into a mosque, here it was that the Christian rites were
celebrated. No doubt, therefore, a church stood here long before the
first recorded notices of the fabric, for these do not occur before the
early part of the fourteenth century, save such indications of work in
progress as the bequest of ten solidos to the work by Bishop William in
A.D. 1245, and such evidence of its damage or destruction as is the fact
that the French, attacking the city in A.D. 1285, obtained possession of
the church and did it much damage. In A.D. 1313, when the Chapter of the
cathedral were obtaining royal concessions towards the work of their own
church, they granted an exemption to San Feliu, giving to its clergy the
first-fruits of their benefices to spend on the work of their own
church.[341] In A.D. 1318 there is evidence that the choir was
completed, but other works were going on during the rest of the century.
In A.D. 1340 the Chapter determined to erect cloisters, under the
direction of an architect named Sancii, and bought a site for them to
the north of the church; and the _operarius_ or canon in charge of the
work seems to have raised alms for them even so far off as at Valencia
and in the Balearic Isles. The work was begun in A.D. 1357 and finished
in 1368, in which year the Chapter entered into a contract[342] with an
architect, one Pedro Zacoma, for the erection of the campanile. In A.D.
1363, however, it was deemed necessary, on account of the position of
the church just outside the old walls, and on the north of the town,
that it should be fortified; and to accomplish this work, and others of
the same kind ordered in A.D. 1374 and 1385, the cloisters so recently
built were destroyed. The steeple is said to have been finished in
1392,[343] Pedro Zacoma having acted as architect as late as A.D. 1376.

The church bears evident marks of many alterations and additions. It
consists of nave and aisles, transepts, central apse, and two apsidal
chapels on the east side of the south, and one on the east of the north
transept. The piers are plain square masses of masonry, and the main
arches are semi-circular, unmoulded, and springing from a very plain
abacus. There is a kind of triforium, an arcade of three divisions in
each bay, and a fair pointed vault of ten bays--two to each bay of the
nave arcade--carried on groining-shafts corbelled out from the wall. The
north transept retains a waggon-vault, the axis of which is north and
south, whilst the south transept has two bays of cross vaulting. The
eastern apse is circular in plan, but divided into seven groining bays,
and lighted by three windows of three lights. The apses of the south
transept are also circular, lighted by lancets, and groined with
semi-domes, though the arches into the transept are pointed. The general
character of the later part of this church is, I should say, that of
late first-pointed work; yet it is pretty clear that it is almost all a
work of the fourteenth century. There is a fine fourteenth-century south
porch, with some good arcading in its side walls, in which the tracery
is all executed with soffeit-cusping.

Of the western steeple I need not say very much, as my sketch shows the
nature of its design, and the evidence as to its date is evidently very
accurate. The character of the architectural detail is quite that of
flamboyant-work, and the outline is bold, original, and good. It is
seldom indeed that the junction of the tower and spire is more happily
managed than it is here; and before the destruction of the upper part of
the spire, the whole effect must have been singularly graceful. This is
the more remarkable in a country where a genuine spire is so rare a
feature; but the architect was fortunate in following the customs of the
country when he made his steeple octagonal in plan, for it is extremely
difficult--one may almost say impossible--to put a spire upon an
octagonal tower the outline of which shall not be graceful. In an arch
against the wall of this tower is a tomb resting on lions jutting out
from the wall, and with the date 1387 in the inscription. It is a good
example of the late date to which this early-looking type of monument
continued to be used in Spain.

[Illustration: Spire of San Feliu.]

This church has a rather elaborate wooden Retablo, carved and gilt with
subjects painted on its panels. The pulpit is also old, and has rich,
late flamboyant tracery panels: it is placed against a pier on the south
side of the nave, and a second modern pulpit faces it on the north. The
old metal screen also remains: it is rather rude, and has prickets for
candles along it, each of which has a sort of frame which looks as
though it were meant to hold a glass.

There are also a few remains of old domestic buildings. A house near the
cathedral has the usual Catalan features of trefoiled _ajimez_ windows,
and a doorway with a prodigiously deep archivolt. Another house near San
Feliu has a broad window with a square-headed opening; the head is an
ogee arch, with tracery in the tympanum, and over all is a square-headed
label-moulding. It is not an elegant window, yet it has some value as
an example of an opening as large as we usually adopt now-a-days, and
with a square head. The most interesting house, however, is the Fonda de
la Estrella, the principal inn in the town. The windows here are capital
examples of shafted windows of the end of the twelfth century. The
shafts are very delicate (4¼ inches by 6 ft. 1 inch); the capitals are
well carved with men and animals, and the carved abacus is carried from
window to window. The windows are of three lights, and with only a
narrow space of wall between them. The back of this house is less
altered than the front: on the ground it has an arcade of four round
arches, on the first floor five windows of the same sort as these just
described, but simpler, and above this a series of pilasters, which now
carry the roof. There must have been arches I think to this open upper

There is another house in the same street, and just opposite the inn, of
rather later date, but also with early _ajimez_ windows, and this had
also an open stage below the roof.

The whole city looks picturesque and old, and I daresay a more careful
search than I had time for would be rewarded with further discoveries of
old remains. Most of the houses are arcaded below, and their lower
stories are groined, the cells of the vaults being filled in with bricks
laid in herring-bone patterns.

From Gerona to Barcelona there are two railways branching from the
station at Empalme. That which follows the coast passes by several small
towns facing the sea, in which there are many remains of old walls and
castles, and not a few _ajimez_ windows. It is, in short, a charming
ride in every way. The other line going inland also passes a very
striking country, and some old towns. Hostalrich is a very picturesque
old walled town, with its walls and towers all fairly perfect. Fornelles
has a good church, with a low crocketed spire on an octagonal steeple,
brought to a square just below the belfry-stage. Granollers has a rather
good fourteenth-century church, of the same general character as the
Barcelona churches of the same date. It has a nave of five bays, and an
apse of seven sides, with a tower at the north-west angle. Some trace of
an earlier church remains in a round-arched western door. The western
bay is occupied by a late fifteenth-century groined gallery carried on
an elliptic arch, with a parapet pierced with richly-cusped circles. The
staircase to this gallery is in a sort of aisle or side chapel, and has
an extremely well managed iron hand-railing, supported by occasional
uprights, and quite worthy of imitation. The tower has a delicate newel
staircase in its angle: the newel has a spiral moulding, and the under
side of the steps is very carefully wrought. The upper part of the
steeple is like those of Barcelona cathedral--an irregular octagon, and
has a traceried parapet and low spire. There is a very rich late wooden
pulpit, corbelled out from the wall, through which a door is pierced,
and some rich woodwork is placed at the head of the steps leading to it.
The apse has two-light and single-light windows in the alternate sides,
and the nave the latter only. Small chapels are formed between the
buttresses, and these are also lighted with small windows. On the whole
this church has a good many features of interest, and its very
considerable height gives it greater dignity than our own churches of
the same class have.

On the road from Gerona into France I have seen only one or two
churches. At Figueras the cathedral has a steeple extremely similar to
that just described at Granollers, and evidently of the same date. The
sides of the octagon are not equal, and bells are hung in the windows,
and one in an arched frame at the top. This tower is on the north side
of the nave, which has four bays, transepts, and a Renaissance central
dome covered with glazed tiles. The fabric of the nave seems to be of
the thirteenth century, having lancet windows and buttresses of great
projection rather well designed, chapels occupying the space between
them. The west door label runs up to, and is terminated by, a long
cross. At la Junquera, between Figueras and the frontier, the little
Parroquia has the date of A.D. 1413 on the door. Its only feature of
interest is the tower, which has a staircase carried on arches thrown
from side to side of the tower, and having a square opening or well-hole
in the centre. The same kind of staircase has been described in the
church of San Roman at Toledo.

From hence a pleasant road among the mountains, beautifully clothed here
with cork-trees, and disclosing charming views at every turn, leads by
the frontier fortress of Bellegarde, over the Col de Pertús, and so on
down the eastern side of the Pyrenees to Perpiñan. Here, if we look only
at the map of modern France, my notes ought to stop. But Perpiñan was of
old a Spanish city, and its buildings are so thoroughly Spanish in their
character that I may venture to say a very few words about them.[344]

The church of San Juan is of very remarkable dimensions. The clear width
of the nave is sixty feet, but in the easternmost bay this is gathered
in to fifty-four feet, which is the diameter of the seven-sided apse.
Guillermo Sagrera, master of the works of this cathedral, was one of the
architects summoned to advise about the erection of the nave at Gerona,
and I think there can be but little doubt that the plan of this church
was his handiwork, and that it was erected, therefore, at the beginning
of the fifteenth century. It will be seen that he was one of the
architects who spoke most strongly in favour of the erection of a broad
unbroken nave. The vault he erected here is of brick with stone ribs,
and the brickwork is rather rough, with very wide mortar joints, and
looks as if from the first it were intended to plaster and paint it. The
roofs of the chapels which are built between the large buttresses have
flat gables north and south, and the same arrangement is carried round
the apse. The most striking feature in this cathedral is that very rare
thing--a very fine mediæval organ. It is corbelled out from the north
wall of the nave, and is of great size and height. The pipes are
arranged in traceried compartments at five different levels. This
complicates the machinery for the supply of wind, but adds greatly to
the picturesque character of the instrument. Originally this organ had
great painted shutters, which are now nailed up against the wall close
to the south porch. The width of its front is about twenty-five feet,
its projection from the wall three feet six inches, and the organist
sits in a gallery at its base.[345]

There are several good old houses here: but I must content myself with
the mention of one only in the Rue de la Barre. Here we have the
peculiarities of the Spanish houses, as they are seen along the coast
from Gerona to Valencia, very decidedly developed: the windows are all
_ajimez_, with the usual delicate trefoiled head to the lights, and
slender shafts between them, and the arch-stones of the doorway are more
than usually enormous, being little less than six feet in length.

A drive of a few miles from Perpiñan leads to the extremely interesting
church at Elne, consecrated in _A.D._ 1058.[346] Here, as in San Pedro,
Gerona, and to the east of it in the cathedral at Agde, there are
occasional lines of black volcanic scoriæ used in the Romanesque steeple
and west front, and with good effect. The nave of the church has a
pointed barrel vault, and the aisles half-barrel vaults, but all the
cross arches are semi-circular. At the west end is a sort of
thirteenth-century narthex, and the three apses at the east have
semi-domes. On the north side of the church is a noble cloister, planned
just like that in the cathedral at Gerona with the most complete
disregard to symmetry. It is extremely similar to it also in general
design: but it is very remarkable as having its east and north sides
erected about the end of the thirteenth century in evident and very
close imitation of the earlier work on the other two sides. The vaulting
throughout the cloister is of the later date, and raised considerably
above the level of the old vault. The whole of this cloister is wrought
in a veined white marble, and a door from it into the church is built in
alternated courses of red and white marble.

On the whole S. Elne well deserves a visit, not only on account of the
extreme interest of its church and cloister, but, to the student of
Spanish architecture, on account of the very important link which it
supplies in the chain which connects the early Spanish with the early
French buildings of the middle ages.

The history of Cataluña shows how intimate was the connection of the
people and towns on both sides of the mountains, and it is here and
elsewhere in the south of France that we see the germ of almost all the
mediæval Spanish art.

[Illustration: GERONA:--Ground Plan of Cathedral &c.

S. Daniel or(?) S. Nicholas.

S. Pedro De Los Galligans.


Published by John Murray. Albemarle Street 1865]



THE railway which connects Barcelona with Zaragoza enables the
ecclesiologist to see some of the best buildings in this part of Spain
with great ease. As far as Manresa its course is extremely picturesque,
as it winds about among the Catalan hills, in sight, for a considerable
part of the way, of that wonderful jagged mountain-range of Montserrat,
which, after much experience of mountains, strikes me more each time
that I see it as among the very noblest of rocks. I know not its height
above the sea, but its vast precipitous mass, rising suddenly from among
the ordinary features of a landscape, and entirely unconnected with any
other mountain range, produces an impression of size which may possibly
be vastly in excess of the reality. Its sky-line is everywhere formed by
grand pointed pinnacles, or aiguilles of rock, and the whole mass is of
a pale grey colour which adds very much to its effect. The convent is a
considerable distance below the summit; but as there appears, so far as
I can learn, to be nothing left of any of its mediæval buildings, I was
obliged to deny myself the pleasure of the climb to the summit of the
rock, which a visit to the monastery would have excused, and in part,
indeed, entailed. To the north of the line of the railway the hills rise
gradually almost to the dignity of mountains, and suggest a beautiful
situation for that old episcopal city--Vique--whose fine cathedral seems
to have been destroyed and rebuilt, but where there is still to be seen
a very rich late middle-pointed cloister. Everywhere the richly-coloured
soil teems with produce; here vineyards and there corn-fields, all of
them divided by long parallel lines of olives and standard peaches;
whilst the deep river dells, clothed with cork-trees, stone pines, or
underwood, add immensely to the interest of the road, which constantly
crosses them.

Beyond Manresa the character of the country changes completely; and when
he has once reached the frontier of Aragon, the traveller has his only
pleasure in the fine distant views of the Pyrenees; and if his journey
be made in the spring--in the sight of a vast extent of corn-fields,
stretching on all sides far as the eye can see. In the summer nothing
can be more saddening than the change which comes over this country; the
corn is all cut before the end of May, and then the universal
light-brown colour of the soil makes the landscape all but intolerably
tame and uninteresting.

[Illustration: MANRESA: COLLEGIATE: CHURCH:--Ground: Plan: Pl. XIX.

Published by John Murray Albemarle St. 1865]

Two or three old buildings are seen from the railway. Between Sardanola
and Sabadell is a house with a tower, in which is a very good
round-arched _ajimez_ window. At Tarrasa the churches evidently deserve
examination. There is one with a lofty central lantern, and of
transverse triapsal plan, which seems to be entirely Romanesque in
character; and there is another of the usual later Catalan type, seven
bays in length, with an apse of five sides, a tower on the south side of
the choir, and a large rose-window at the west end. Near the same town,
to the north, is a Romanesque village church with a lofty belfry, which,
like that of the early church in the town itself, has belfry-windows of
two lights, with a dividing shaft, and a low square spire-roof. A church
of the same type is seen near Monistrol--the station for
Montserrat,--and from this point there is nothing to be noticed until
Manresa is reached, picturesquely situated on the steep hill above the
river Cardener, with two or three churches and convents, and a great
Collegiata--or collegiate church--towering up imposingly above
everything else. But if the situation of this church is noble, the
building itself is even more so; and having passed it in my first
journey, I was so much struck by its size and character that I made a
point of going again to the same district, in order to examine it at my
leisure. The town is poor and decayed; but I was there on a _festa_, and
have seldom had a better opportunity of seeing the Catalan peasantry,
who thronged the streets, the Plazas, and the churches, and made them
lively with bright colours and noisy tongues. There was a church
consecrated on the same site in A.D. 1020, and it is of this probably
that a fragment still remains on the north side. The rest has been
destroyed, and Fr. J. Villanueva[347] says that the existing church was
commenced in A.D. 1328,--a date which accords very well with the detail
of the earlier portion of the work,--but he does not give his authority
for the statement. I have not been able to find any other evidence which
would fix the date of the dedication or completion of the building; but
as Arnaldo de Valleras, one of the architects consulted in 1416 as to
the design for Gerona cathedral, speaks of himself as then engaged on
the construction of the church of Manresa, there can be but little doubt
that at this time the Collegiata was still unfinished, having, as the
detail of the design suggests, been a long time in progress. It is of
the common Catalan type of the fourteenth century, and though it is one
of the most important examples of its class, it presents so few new or
unusual features that it hardly seems to require a very lengthy
description. Its design is in nearly all respects of the same kind as
those of the Barcelonese churches of the same age; but its plan[348] is
very remarkable, as giving, perhaps, the widest span of nave anywhere to
be seen in a church with aisles and a clerestory. Or perhaps I ought to
limit myself to examples on the mainland, for at Palma in Mallorca the
width of the nave of the cathedral seems to be even greater, and the
plan is almost exactly the same. The scheme is very similar to that of
Sta. Maria del Mar, Barcelona, but the width of the nave here is
considerably greater, and the general effect of the interior is even
finer. The buttresses are necessarily of vast size, and are formed
partly inside and partly outside the church. A lofty tower is erected
over one of the bays of the north aisle, and the two nave columns which
carry it are in consequence built of larger dimensions than any of the
others. A fine Romanesque doorway still remains in the wall, just
outside this tower, and leads now into the modern cloister court; but
the principal entrances to the church are by grand doorways of the same
age as the church, whose jambs and arches have rich continuous
mouldings. These doorways are opposite each other, and just to the west
of the apse, a position of much importance in regard to the ritual
arrangements of the church. There is also a western doorway, but this,
together with the rest of the west front, has all been modernized,
whilst the cloister and its chapels appear to be entirely modern.

The magnificent scale of the plan is perhaps hardly supported as it
should be by the beauty of the design in detail. In its present state it
is hardly fair to judge of the original effect of the exterior, but
inside one is struck by the enormous width and height, and not at all by
the beauty of the details. The columns are of vast height and size: but
plain piers, with poor bases and capitals, and poverty-stricken arches,
seem out of place in such a church, and, owing to the enormous size of
the vault, the clerestory windows are but little seen in the general
view of the interior.

The columns are simple octagons in plan, and of great size: they have
poor, shallow, carved capitals, which support the very thin-looking main
arches, and the large moulded piers which carry the groining. This is
quadripartite throughout, and has very bold ribs, with carved bosses at
the meeting of the diagonal ribs. The window traceries throughout are of
rich geometrical character, and savour rather of German influence than
of French. Those in the aisles are generally of two lights, and in the
clerestory of three and four lights--the window in the eastern bay of
the apse being of four lights, whilst those in the other bays are only
of three.

The whole roof of the aisles is paved with stone laid on the back of the
vault, as at Toledo cathedral, with gutters following the lines of the
vaulting ribs, and the water is carried down into the pockets of the
vaults, and thence through the buttresses into gurgoyles. Over this
roof--which seemed to me to be undoubtedly the old one--a modern wooden
roof covered with pantiles has been erected, which blocks up all the
lower part of the clerestory windows, and is carried in a very clumsy
fashion on arches thrown across between the flying buttresses. The nave
roof is now all covered with pantiles laid on the vault itself, so that
from below the church has the effect, already noticed at Barcelona, of
being roofless. This is certainly not the old arrangement, but whether
of old there was any visible roof to any of these late Catalan churches
I am wholly unable to say.

The flying buttresses are double in height, the lower arches abutting
against the wall a few feet above the sills of the clerestory windows,
and the upper somewhat above their springing. It is possible that this
upper flying buttress is an addition to the original design, provided to
meet some settlement in the fabric, for many of the buttresses have only
the lower arch, which would hardly be the case if they had all been
executed at the same time. The buttresses generally are finished with
crocketed pediments, but there are now no traces to be seen of their
pinnacles, or of the parapets between them. A lofty octagonal staircase
turret is carried up to the height of the clerestory against one of the
outer angles of the aisle wall, and a passageway from it to the
clerestory roof is boldly carried upon an arch, which takes the place of
a flying buttress.

[Illustration: No. 43.

MANRESA p. 342


The steeple is lofty: it is entered by old doorways opening on to the
paved roof of the aisles, and is groined both under and above the bells.
An old newel staircase in one angle has been destroyed, and steps
projecting from the side walls have been ingeniously introduced
instead. On the top of the tower a large bell is suspended from the
intersection of four arched stone ribs; these ribs rise about
twenty-five feet from the roof, are about one foot six inches thick, and
abut against piers or dwarf pinnacles at the base, about four feet deep
by one foot eleven inches thick. Two architects, said to be
French--though their names seem to me to be those of Catalans--Juan Font
and Giralt Cantarell, are said to have worked at this steeple from 1572
to 1590,[349] and no doubt it was this upper portion on which they

The sacristies on the south-east side of the apse are old, but not
interesting. The only antiquities I saw in them were four fine
processional staves, with tops of silver richly wrought with tracery in
the sides, and crocketed gables over the traceries. Behind the openings
of tracery the plate is gilt, the rest being all silver.

The arrangement of the interior of the church for service follows that
usually seen in these enormously wide buildings. Within the apse the
choir is formed by means of iron _grilles_, leaving a passage some ten
feet wide all round it, and under the choir is a crypt as at Barcelona
cathedral, approached in the same way, by a flight of steps from the
nave. The Coro is placed, according to the common fashion, in the nave,
occupying about two of its bays in length, and there is an equal space
to the west of it, between its eastern screen and the steps to the
Capilla mayor. The width of the Coro is much less than that of the nave,
and its enclosing walls are mainly old. At first sight, therefore, it
seems to be a good example of an early introduction of this common
Spanish arrangement: but on closer view it appears to have been taken
down and rebuilt, and may not, possibly, retain its old position. But,
on the other hand, the two great doors in the side walls would never
have been placed where they are if the Coro had occupied its usual
English position to the west of the altar enclosure. The plan of
Barcelona cathedral has just the same arrangement of great doorways
north and south between the Coro and the altar, and there, beyond any
doubt, the Coro is in its old place; and seeing how close the points of
similarity are in both churches, it must, I think, be assumed that even
if this screen at Manresa has been rebuilt it still occupies its old
place. It is a work of the fifteenth century, of stone, arcaded on
either side of a central western doorway. The divisions of the arcade
have figures painted within them of the apostles and other saints. The
stalls and fittings of the Coro are all of Renaissance character.

On either side of the altar there still remain three octagonal shafts
with carved capitals, to which, no doubt, were originally hung the
curtains or veils which protected the altar. They are of the same date
as the church, and about ten feet six inches in height. The footpace is
also old, and placed exactly in the centre of the apse. The richest
treasure here is, however, still to be described. Among a number of
altar-frontals, neither better nor worse than are usually seen, there is
still preserved one which, after much study of embroidery in all parts
of Europe, I may, I believe, safely pronounce to be the most beautiful
work of its age. It is 10 feet long, by 2 feet 10¾ inches in height,
divided into three compartments in width, the centre division having the
Crucifixion, and the sides being each subdivided into nine divisions,
each containing a subject from the life of our Lord.[350] An inscription
at the lower edge of the frontal preserves the name of the artist to
whom this great work is owing. It is in Lombardic capitals, and as


The work is all done on fine linen doubled. The faces, hands, and many
other parts--as, _e.g._, the masonry of a wall--are drawn with brown ink
on the linen, and very delicately shaded with a brush. The use of ink
for the faces is very common in early embroidery, but I have never
before seen work so elaborately finished with all the art of the
painter. The faces are full of beauty and expression, and have much of
the tender religious sentiment one sees in the work of Fra Angelico. The
drawing is extremely good, the horses like those Benozzo Gozzoli
painted, and the men dressed in Florentine dresses of the early part of
the fifteenth century. The subjects are full of intricacy, the
Crucifixion having the whole subject, with the crucifixion of the
thieves, and all the crowd of figures so often represented.

The work is marvellously delicate--so much so that, passing the hand
over it, it is difficult to tell exactly when it ends and the painting
begins. The colours are generally very fresh and beautiful; but the gold
backgrounds being very lightly stitched down are a good deal frayed.
There are borders between and around all the subjects. Such a piece of
embroidery makes one almost despair. English ladies who devotedly apply
themselves to this kind of work have as yet no conception of the
delicacy of the earlier works, and reproduce only too often the coarse
patterns of the latest English school.[351]

In the choir-aisle is a wheel of bells in its old case, and under the
organ is the favourite Catalan device of a Saracen’s head.

A picturesque effect was produced in the church here by the large white
flannel hoods which all the women wore at mass. The church was crowded
with people, and these white hoods contrasted well with the
many-coloured bags or sacks--red and violet predominating--which the men
always wear on their heads.

[Illustration: Wheel of Bells.]

I saw two other old churches here. That “del Carmen” is of the same age
as the Collegiata, with a nave of six bays and an apse of seven sides.
It is forty-seven feet wide in the clear, without aisles, has chapels
between the buttresses, and is lighted by large clerestory-windows.
Here, as at the cathedral, almost all the windows are blocked, and
sufficient light seems to be obtained for the whole church by some ten
or twelve holes about two feet square pierced here and there. The other
church is of the same description, but less important.

Between Manresa and Lérida, the only town of any importance is Cervera.
Here there is a vast and hideous university building going to ruin; and
two churches, one of which, with a square steeple, seems to be early in
date, and the other--that of Sta. Maria, I believe--of the usual Catalan
fourteenth-century type. This steeple was completed, in A.D. 1431, by an
architect of Cervera, Pedro de Vall-llebrera; but it must have been long
in progress, inasmuch as the principal bell--which was never to be
tolled save for the funeral of a peer, a royal officer, or a bishop--was
put in its place in A.D. 1377.[352] This bell has disappeared. On
another, however, is this inscription:--“I.H.S.. Mateus. de. Ulmo.
magister. cimbalorum. ville. Cervariæ. me. fecit. anno. a. nativitate.
Domini. millesimo. quadringentesimo. vigesimo. quarto. Si. ergo. me.
queritis. sinite. os. habire.” And on another--“+ Barbara. nos. serva.
Christi. sanctissima. serva.”

Between Cervera and Lérida the country is very uninteresting until near
the end of the journey, when a good view of Lérida, and the cliff above
the river, is obtained. I have twice visited this interesting old city.
In the autumn of 1861 I passed a day there, when the greater part of my
time was spent in endeavouring to get admission into the cathedral, so
that I only saw enough to make me wish to repeat my visit; and this I
was fortunately able to accomplish in the spring of 1862. My readers
will agree with me, when they have realized to themselves what is to be
seen, that such a cathedral as that of Lérida is in itself worth the
journey from England. Unfortunately its examination will always be beset
with difficulties--if indeed it is allowed at all when visitors become
more numerous than they have been hitherto.

The town consists mainly of one very long, tortuous street parallel with
the river Segre, a broad, rapid stream, carrying the waters of a large
part of the southern slopes of the Pyrenees into the Ebro at Mequinenza.
There is an Alameda all along the river-bank, and at about midway in its
length a large stone bridge across the river. Behind the town a hill
rises rapidly--in some parts abruptly--to an elevation of, I suppose,
about three hundred feet above the river; and on the summit of this
stand the old cathedral, and some remains of other coeval buildings, now
the centre of a formidable-looking, though really neglected, system of
fortifications. Two other old churches--San Lorenzo and San
Juan--remain, one in the upper part of the city, and the other on the
Plaza, near the bridge. A modern cathedral, of the baldest and coldest
Pagan type, but of great size, was built in the main street, near the
river, when the old cathedral was converted into a fortress; and I
cannot do better than quote Mr. Ford’s rather ironical statement of its
history:--“The ruin,” he says, “of the old cathedral dates from 1707,
when the French made it a fortress: nor has it ever been restored to
pious uses; for in the piping times of peace the steep walk proved too
much for the pursy canons, who, abandoning their lofty church, employed
General Sabatani! to build them a new cathedral below, in the convenient
and Corinthian style.” From the date of its desecration nothing whatever
has been cared for; and it goes to one’s heart to see so noble a work,
and one so sacred, put to such vile uses, and to so little purpose: for
even now when Spain bristles with soldiers, and the whole nation is
bitten with the love of military sights and sounds, the desecration of a
sacred building is all that has been accomplished; for I believe that
the Spaniards have seldom managed to hold possession of it against the
French, and in its present dilapidated state are less than ever likely
to do so.[353] The position is, however, a very strong one; and another
hill to the west of the city is crowned with a second fort connected
with it. Admission is only to be obtained by an order from the
commandant of the district, who resides in the city below; and he very
kindly sent a sub-officer to remain with me whilst I was in the fort,
and with true Spanish courtesy came up himself to see that I gained
admission to every part, and took great trouble to open doors some of
which seemed hardly to have been opened since the Peninsular war!

The buildings now remaining consist of a church with an enormous
cloister on its western side, and a lofty steeple at the south-west
angle of the cloister. On the north side of the cloister is a large
stone-roofed hall, and north of this again, and detached from the
cathedral, are considerable fragments of what is called a castle, and
these include another noble groined hall.

My ground-plan of the cathedral and its dependences will show at a
glance how unusual and remarkable the whole scheme is. The south side of
the church is built on the very edge of the precipitous cliff above the
town and river, and the lofty tower is daringly balanced as it were on
the most dangerous point of the whole ground. The mass of the whole
group seen from below, and the vast height of the tower, are therefore
singularly imposing, whilst the view obtained from the summit is one of
rare magnificence. It is true that here the immediate neighbourhood is
not lovely, but still the river does much towards converting to
fruitfulness the usually arid-looking Aragonese soil of the district by
clothing it with trees and verdure, and when last I saw it not only was
the Segre a torrent of rushing waters, but on all sides the hills were
covered with a wide expanse of vineyards and corn-fields; and beyond
these were to be seen towering up in the far distance the grand range of
the Pyrenees, touched here and there--on the Maladetta and some of the
other high peaks--with lines of snow; whilst on the other side the lower
mountain ranges of Aragon completed one of the most beautiful panoramas
I have ever seen from church tower.

The site of the cathedral has long been occupied. It was an important
stronghold in the time of the Romans, and the first cathedral was
erected as early as in the sixth century. The Moors in course of time
gained possession of the city, and it was not until A.D. 1149 that the
Christians, under Ramon Berenguer, finally drove them out and regained

The documentary evidence as to the age of the existing buildings is
fairly clear, and may as well be given at once. I derive all my facts
from the papers printed in ‘España Sagrada;’[354] and besides those
which more particularly interest me as an architect, there are in the
volume which relates to Lérida some most interesting extracts from the
proceedings of councils held there from A.D. 1175 to 1418, and of
diocesan synods from the year 1240. These are full of information as to
the customs of the church, and the rules affecting the clergy.[355]

The first stone of the new cathedral was laid in the time of the third
bishop after the restoration, and in the presence of the king Don Pedro
II. An inscription on a stone on the Gospel side of the choir, which I
did not see, gives the date[356] as the 22nd July, 1203; and in A.D.
1215 the cloister was, in part at any rate, built, one Raymundo de
Segarra having desired that he might be buried within its walls.[357]
From this time to the consecration we have no notice of the building, if
I except the following inscription still remaining on the eastern jamb
of the south transept doorway, which proves the existence of that part
of the church at the time mentioned:--“Anno Domini M: CCº: XV xi: Kal:
Madii: obiit Gulielmus de Rocas: cuj: aīe: sit:” and there is a
mention in ‘España Sagrada’ of the burial of Bishop Berenguer, in A.D.
1256, by one of the doors, called thenceforward after him. On the last
day of October, A.D. 1278, the church was consecrated by Bishop Guillen
de Moncada, and the record of this on the west wall is now concealed,
but I give a copy of it.[358]

In 1286 Pedro de Peñafreyta, who had been master of the works,
died;[359] he had probably been employed on the central lantern and the
cloister, for which latter work, on the 21st of August, 1310, the king
Don Jayme II. gave the stone;[360] circa A.D. 1320 Bishop Guillen
founded a chapel; in 1323 the work of the “cloister and tower” was still
going on;[361] and in 1327 alms were asked for the completion of the
same work;[362] and again in 1335 the vicar-general, in the absence of
the bishop, appealed for alms, “pro maximo et sumptuoso opere claustri
ecclesiæ catedralis.”

In A.D. 1391 Guillermo Çolivella contracted to execute the statues for
the doorway at the price of 240 sueldos each; and in A.D. 1490 Francisco
Gomar contracted for the erection of a grand porch for 1600 sueldos. The
steeple at the angle of the cloister seems to have been commenced about
the end of the fourteenth century. The fabric-rolls for 1397 contain an
item of 350 feet of stone from the river Daspe “for the work of the
tower.” Other similar notices occur, and among them the names of two
masters of the works, Guillelmo Çolivella and Cárlos Galtes de Ruan. It
was probably completed before 1416; for in this year Juan Adam, “de
burgo Sanctæ Mariæ, Turlensis diocesis, regni Franciæ,” contracted for
the making of the great bell, which was finished in 1418, and commended
by the chapter in these words--“Cujus sonitu et mentis vulnera sanari,
et divinitatis singularis gratia possit conquiri.”[363] There are no
other notices of the main portion of the fabric; but we know that, in
A.D. 1414, Pedro Balaguer was sent from Valencia to examine the tower at
Lérida before he built the tower called the Micalete in his own city;
and we may conclude therefore that before this date the work at Lérida
had been completely finished.

It is easy to distinguish the works referred to in these notices. The
church, of which the first stone was laid in A.D. 1203, and which was
consecrated in A.D. 1278, still remains almost as it was built; and
there can be but little doubt that the greater part of the cloister is
of the same date. The works for which stone was given, in A.D. 1310,
were probably those in its western half, and possibly the lower part of
the steeple; and the chapel, founded in A.D. 1320, must be one of those
added on either side of the great south door, or on the east side of the
south transept.

It is impossible not to feel greatly more interest in a church whose
scheme is unusual, than in one of a common type, even when its detail is
not of so high a value, or its scale less imposing. Here, however, we
have both extreme novelty in the general scheme,[364] and extreme merit
in all the detail. As one climbs the steep street which leads to the
cathedral, where the open space around the fortifications is reached,
the first general view of the buildings is most puzzling. The low outer
wall of the cloister, with an enormous western doorway, the point of
whose archway reaches to the top of the wall, the steeple on the extreme
right, and the central lantern appearing to rise only just above the
cloister wall, make a most unintelligible group. Making my way to the
great doorway, I was astonished to find it to be the entrance, not of
the church, as I at first assumed it to be, but only of the cloister;
and not less disgusted to find that three sides of this cloister had
been turned into barracks, a floor having been inserted all round at the
level of the springing of the vault, so as to afford ample accommodation
for some hundreds of soldiers, who sleep, cook, and live within its
walls; whilst the eastern side is now a storehouse for arms and
accoutrements, similarly divided by a floor, and without any visible
trace of the doors of communication between church and cloister, which
are said to be on this side. Yet this cloister is certainly, even in its
present desecrated state, the grandest I have ever seen. Its scale is
enormous, and much of its detail very fine. I have no doubt that it was
a long time in progress, and this would account to some extent for the
extreme irregularity of some of its parts. The bays, for instance, vary
in width: the buttresses are variously treated; and the sculpture, which
on the eastern side seems to be coeval with the earliest portion of the
church, is evidently on the other sides of much later date--probably not
earlier than A.D. 1300. The buttresses on the eastern side are carried
on bold engaged columns with sculptured capitals, whilst most of the
others are square in outline, with small engaged shafts in recesses at
their angles. The arches are now all built up and plastered; but in two
of those on the eastern side it is just possible to detect the
commencement of traceries, from which it would seem that each arch had
tracery above an arcade of three or four divisions. In its present state
it is impossible to say more than this, or whether these traceries were
original, though they seem to have been geometrical in style, and
therefore probably later in date than the enclosing arches. The eastern
half of the cloister has the outer arches richly adorned with
complicated chevron and cable ornament, and the remainder of the arches
are finely moulded. The interior is more uniform in character, the vault
being quadripartite throughout, with very boldly moulded ribs; and the
main piers, and the piers at the angles, being very exquisitely planned,
with a number of detached shafts with well moulded bases, bands, and
capitals, the latter carved with foliage and heads. The capitals and
bases are square throughout the cloister. On the south side this
cloister has openings in the outer wall corresponding with those opening
into the inner court; and these, I think, also had traceries. Owing to
the fall of the ground towards the edge of the cliff, these windows are
high above the terrace outside, and very bold buttresses are placed
between each of them. The effect of the cloister on the south side is
that of an enormous ball: and this, in truth, is what it is. Its clear
internal width varies from 26 ft. 6 in. to 27 ft. 6 in., and the height
is quite in proportion. Occupied as it now is by hundreds of soldiers,
one is tempted to ask, whether a building so far larger than could be
required for a mere cloister may not have been built in the first
instance to serve some double purpose; being, for instance, not only an
ambulatory, but a refectory, and dormitory also. The way in which some
of our own old buildings were fitted, with a chapel at the end of a
series of cubicles on either side under the open roof of a great hall
(as, _e.g._, St. Mary’s Hospital at Chichester, Chichele’s College
Higham Ferrers, and a hospital at Leicester), seems to point to the
possibility of some such utilizing of the vast space which these
cloisters afford; and the more as it seemed to me that there were not
the evidences that might have been expected of the existence at any time
of the other dependent buildings required by a cathedral body in all
cases, and more than usually here where the church was so far above and
away from the city. I mentioned the western entrance of the cloister as
being very large: it is a double doorway with niches for six statues in
either jamb, and the orders of the archivolt are alternately of
mouldings and niches for figures. The outer arch is crocketed between
two great pinnacles. The carving has mostly been destroyed; but there is
a poor sculpture of the Last Judgment in the tympanum. The doorway has
evidently been added between two of the earlier buttresses of the
cloister at about the end of the fourteenth century; its detail is
extremely delicate and rich, and somewhat similar to that of the west
doorway of Tarragona cathedral; and both are quite like very good French
fourteenth-century work.

Unfortunately the doorways from the cloister to the church are now quite
invisible, the wall being completely hidden by military packing-cases
and arms.[365] This is the more to be regretted as the grandeur of the
other doors leads me to suppose that the western doorway would be very

[Illustration: No. 44



It will be seen by reference to the plan that there is a steeple
abutting against the south-west angle of the cloister; it is set against
it in the most irregular fashion; and it is worth mention that the
architect of the Micalete, at Valencia, who was directed to study this
tower, imitated it even in this peculiarity. Here there seems, so far
as I can see, to be no reason for the irregularity; and I can only
conjecture that it may have been the consequence of some variation in
the rock on which it stands. The entrance is by a staircase through a
house, and thence by a newel staircase in the thickness of the wall. The
steeple is octagonal in plan, and of five stages in height; the two
lowest lighted by windows of one light; the third with windows of two;
and the fourth with others of three lights, one in each face of the
octagon. There is a rich parapet of open tracery, supported on corbels,
to this stage, and a great pinnacle at each angle. The pinnacles are
carried up from the ground, and are at present partly destroyed, and
made to carry iron beacons instead of their old finish. The fifth stage
stands entirely within the other; and its plan, as being the most
interesting, is shown on my ground-plan of the whole building. Here each
face of the octagon had a bold opening with a crocketed and traceried
gable over it, and pinnacles at the angles, and probably a traceried
parapet which no longer exists. The various stages are groined with
stone vaults, and the whole construction is of the most dignified and
solid description. The height from the terrace on the west side of the
cloister to the top of the parapet is about 170 feet. The steeple looks
much higher than this: but this is no doubt in great part owing to the
enormous height above the city of the cliff on the edge of which it
stands. The view of the church from the summit is so striking, and gives
so clear an idea of its whole scheme, that I have engraved it. My
drawing shows the cloister in the foreground, and the south-west view of
the church beyond it. Here almost every part that is seen is of the
earliest portion of the fabric, which seems to have been carried out on
a regular plan from first to last. The church is cruciform, with a nave
and aisles only three bays in length, and an octagonal lantern over the
crossing. The choir and its aisles had three parallel apses east of the
transept, and a fourth chapel was added in the fourteenth century, as
were also two chapels on the south side of the nave. Two
staircase-turrets on the west sides of the transepts (a favourite
position for them in early Spanish churches) added much to the
picturesqueness of the outline; but the upper part of one of these has
unfortunately been destroyed, and the other was either carried up or
altered at a later date--probably in the fourteenth century.

It will be seen that most of the windows are round-headed. Everywhere,
however, the main arches are pointed; and this is, as I need hardly
say, always characteristic of transitional buildings. The strange thing
is, that in a church which was in building between A.D. 1203 and 1278 we
should find such strong evidences of knowledge of nothing but
twelfth-century art; and assuming the dates to be correct--as I think we
must--it affords good evidence of the slow progress in this part of
Spain of the developments which had at this time produced so great a
change in the north of Europe. Either the whole building was built on
the plan at first laid down, or else, having been commenced vigorously,
and in great part finished, some delay must have been caused in its
completion for consecration. The latter is no doubt the more probable
supposition, because, whilst the whole of the walls up to the top of the
clerestory seem to be of perfectly uniform character inside and out, the
central lantern is evidently a work of circa A.D. 1260-1278, and one
which could not have been designed so early as 1203. The sculpture of
all the capitals throughout the interior, as well as that of the
doorways, must also be set down to the commencement of the century; and
the date of A.D. 1215, which occurs on the south transept front, seems
to make it probable that at that time the work in this part of the
church was well advanced.

Here I may notice one of the remarkable features of this building--that
the external roofs are all of stone. Most of them indeed are modern; but
those of the choir and lantern are undoubtedly original, and there can
be little doubt that the whole church was covered in the same way. They
are formed entirely of stones chamfered and weathered to a flat pitch,
and lapping slightly over each other. Their effect is good, and they
were evidently built by men who hoped their work would last for ever:
yet this has not quite been the result of what they did; for, as I have
said, most of the roofs have been relaid with slabs of stone carefully
fitted together like pavement, and less likely therefore to withstand
the weather than the old roofs were.

The entrances to the cathedral are at present three in number,--a door
in each transept and one in the south wall--in addition to the western
doorway, which, if it exists, is now blocked up. These doors are all
fine. That in the north transept is simple but effective: it has a
simply-moulded semicircular arch, above which is a pointed arch with a
stone in the enclosed space carved with A and [Omega]; and above it a
very finely-sculptured horizontal cornice. The doorway is set forward a
few inches from the wall, in the Lombard fashion. In the gable of the
transept over it is a large moulded but untraceried circular window,
and enough of an original stepped corbel-table under the eaves to show
that the old pitch of the roofs was very flat, though somewhat steeper
than at present. The south transept doorway is much finer: it has a
richly-sculptured round arch; and on each side of the arch are
niches--one containing a statue of St. Gabriel, and the other one of the
Blessed Virgin. Under the exquisitely sculptured cornice which surmounts
the door is inscribed, in large incised letters, the angelic salutation;
whilst on the right jamb of the door is the inscription of the year
1215, given at p. 349. Above the doorway is, as in the other gables, a
circular window; and here the fine early tracery with which it was
filled in still remains. The whole detail of this front is of the finest
kind, and must have been executed by men who knew something of the best
Italian Romanesque work. Nothing can exceed the delicacy and care with
which the whole was executed. The wheel is divided by eight octagonal
shafts radiating from the centre, and these carry an order of sixteen
semi-circular cusps, two to each division. These cusps are covered with
the billet ornament, and their spandrels have sunk carved circles. The
mouldings which enclose the window are rich and delicate in character;
and though it is unfortunately now walled up, it is well preserved, and
still extremely effective.

[Illustration: Cornice of South Transept Doorway.]

The last and grandest of the doors--the “Puerta dels Fillols” or of the
Infantes--is in the centre bay of the south aisle. This is an example of
singularly rich transitional work, with an archivolt enriched with
mouldings, chevrons, dog-tooth, intersecting arches, and elaborate
foliage. There is the usual horizontal cornice over the arch, and above
this a fourteenth-century statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary and our
Lord. The horizontal cornice is carried on moulded corbels, between
which and the wall are carvings of wyverns and other animals: whilst the
soffeit of the cornice in each compartment is carved with delicate
tracery panels, in some of which I thought I detected some trace of
Moorish influence. The cornice has a delicate, trailing branch of
foliage; and the label and two or three orders of the arch, in which
sculpture of foliage is introduced, are remarkable for the singular
delicacy and refinement of the lines of the foliage, and for the
exceeding skill with which they have been wrought. There is none of that
reckless dash which marks our carvers now-a-days, but in its place a
patient elaboration of lovely forms, which cannot too much be praised.
The mouldings here are all decidedly characteristic of the thirteenth
century. The whole is now protected by a later--probably fifteenth
century--vaulted porch, which occupies the space between two added
chapels.[366] The effect is very good and picturesque, as will be seen
by the illustration which I give; but as this porch is the storehouse
for rockets and shells, I fear its beauties are likely to be a sealed
book to most travellers, though, owing to the extreme courtesy of the
commandant, I was so fortunate as to be allowed to see and sketch it at
my leisure.

The original windows are all simple round-arched, with moulded arches,
and shafts, with caps and bases in the jambs; those in the lantern and
at the west ends of the aisles are of later date, and pointed. The west
window is circular and very large, but without tracery; and there is a
small lancet below it which is now blocked up by the roof of the
cloister. No doubt this roof was originally a gabled stone roof with a
gutter against the wall, so as to leave this window open.

The lantern is octagonal above the roof, with a window in each side,
pilasters at the angles, and an arcaded corbel-table at the eaves. The
staircase-turret on its north-west side is also octagonal, and rises
above the eaves. The roof is original, and of stone.

[Illustration: No. 45.



The chapels which have been added seem all to have been built in the
fourteenth century, and are much mutilated: they are good works of their
age, but rather mar the general effect of the church, and do not call
for much notice; two of them were closed, and I was unable to obtain
admission to them.

[Illustration: Pendentive, &c., under Lantern, Lérida Cathedral.]

The interior of the church has been as completely encumbered with
arrangements for soldiers’ convenience as has that of the cloister. A
floor has been erected all over the nave at mid-height of the columns,
and in the south transept at the level of their capitals. The choir is
boarded off, and not actively desecrated. The real floor of the church
is now an artillery storehouse; on the raised floor of the nave a
regiment of soldiers sleep and live; and in the south transept the
bandsmen spend all their time making the most hideous and deafening
discord. It is indeed a shameful use for a church, and there is only one
small crumb of consolation in the fact that, soldiers notwithstanding,
there has hitherto been no great amount of wilful damage done to any of
the old work. The capitals throughout are extremely rich in sculpture,
and are still perfect though obscured by whitewash, and the groining has
nowhere been damaged. I know no style more full of vigour and true
majesty than the earliest pointed, of which this interior is so fine an
example. The lavish enrichment of the capitals, the fine section of the
great clustered columns, the severe simplicity of the unmoulded arches,
and the extreme boldness of the groining-ribs, all combine to produce
this result. Almost all the principal shafts are coupled, and the
groining-bays are kept very distinct from one another by very bold
transverse arches; these, and indeed all the main arches, are pointed.
There is no triforium, and but a small space between the arches into the
aisles and the clerestory windows. The canted sides of the central
lantern are supported on pendentives similar to those which occur under
the angles of some of the early French domes.[367] Above these is an
arcaded string-course, and then the windows: these are all double, and
of varied tracery. There are monials and traceries nearly flush with
both the internal and external face of the wall: this was a necessary
arrangement for a work which was to be seen so entirely from below,
where the external traceries would all have been lost to the view. There
are groining-shafts in the angles of the octagon, and an octagonal dome
or vault, with ribs at the angles. The choir is not used at all: it has
a quadripartite vault over its western half, and a pointed arch in front
of the apse, which is covered with a semi-dome. The western bay is
lighted by clerestory windows like those in the nave, and the apse by
three windows, which on the outside have flat buttresses between them.

None of the old ritual arrangements remain; but there is nothing here to
suggest anything at all different from what might be met with in a
similar church elsewhere.[368] The lantern does not prove anything more
than our own lanterns do as to the arrangement of the choir for worship:
in short, here as elsewhere the central lantern was introduced partly
because it was a custom of the Lombard churches, from which this class
of Spanish church borrowed so much, and in the next place because it was
especially suitable for a climate like that of Spain, where it afforded
the chance not only of lighting the church in the most agreeable way,
but also of ventilating it most efficaciously.

[Illustration: LÉRIDA:--Ground Plan of Cathedral &c. Plate XX

Published by John Murray, Albemarle Street. 1865.]

No doubt the external effect of this church was improved much by the
addition of the great western steeple, though at the same time it is
plain that its somewhat eccentric position has removed it so far from
the main fabric of the church as to render the whole group of buildings
less compact in its outline than it would have been had it been
attached, like most of our own steeples, to the body of the church
itself. On the other hand, nothing is more difficult, usually, than to
build a steeple to a church which already has a central lantern, without
entirely destroying the importance of this, which ought always, where it
exists, to be a main feature; and here, as is generally the case in
examples derived in any way from Italian examples, the central lantern
is not very important in its dimensions, and required therefore more
than usual caution on the part of the artist who ventured to add to it.
Here, as happens often with detached campaniles, the grouping of the
steeple with the church from various points of view is very
diversified, and often very striking. From its great height above the
valley, it is seen on all sides, and generally at some distance. From
the south, the grand size of the cloister, which connects the steeple
with the church, gives it somewhat the effect of being in fact at the
west end of an enormous building, of which the cloister may be the nave;
whilst from the west, as the ground falls considerably, nothing of the
church is seen but the central lantern rising slightly over the
cloisters, whilst the steeple rears its whole height boldly to the
right, and makes the whole scheme of the work utterly unintelligible
until after a thorough investigation. Again, in the views of the
cathedral from the east side the steeple has the effect of being, like
that of Ely, at the west end of the nave, and here it groups finely with
the central lantern. The same results will be found in some of our
English examples, and the parish church of West Walton, near Wisbeach,
illustrates, as well as any that I know, the extraordinary variety of
effect which a detached tower, at some distance from the main building,

The only portion of the building not yet described is a long hall on the
north side of the cloister: this is vaulted with a pointed stone
barrel-vault, and is gloomy-looking in the extreme, being lighted
entirely from one end. A newel staircase has been taken away from the
other end.

Near the north side of the cathedral, on slightly higher ground, is
another fine fragment of a building of the same age, which looks as if
it had always been built as a defensive work. It contains a magnificent
hall, groined in four bays of quadripartite vaulting, and measuring
about 24 feet by 96 feet. A smaller room next to this has a
waggon-vault. The north and east walls of this hall, and of a building
at right angles to it, are very boldly arcaded on the outside, and have
a simple trefoiled corbel-table under the eaves: the hall windows are
set within the wall-arcade. The bosses at the intersection of the ribs
on the vault of the hall have interlacing patterns of Moorish character
carved upon them, and afford the only distinct evidence of anything like
Moorish influence that I noticed in any of the buildings here.

There are two other old churches in Lérida, San Lorenzo and San Juan.
San Lorenzo is on the hill, not very far from the cathedral. It is a
parallel triapsidal church, the nave vaulted with a pointed
waggon-vault, divided into three bays by arches springing from coupled
shafts in the side walls. The apse has a semi-dome, and is lighted by
three round-headed windows, five inches wide in the clear, and has a
corbel-table under the eaves outside. The side walls of the nave are
eight feet thick (the nave being thirty-three feet wide), and through
them very simple pointed arches are pierced, opening into the aisles. I
have no doubt that these were additions to the original fabric. They
have polygonal apses at their east end, with very good window-tracery of
circa A.D. 1270-1300. On the south side an octagonal steeple was added
in the fifteenth century, projecting from the aisle walls. This has a
two-light window on each side of the belfry, a pierced parapet, and a
simple octagonal spire. There is a fine fourteenth-century Retablo to
the high altar. It has a niche in the centre with a figure of St.
Laurence under a canopy, and a number of subjects and statues on either
side. There is also one of the usual fifteenth-century galleries at the
west end.

The interiors both of this church and of San Juan were so dark that I
found it almost impossible to make even the roughest notes of their
contents or dimensions.

San Juan is another fine early church, perhaps a little later than San
Lorenzo, and of about the same age as the cathedral; neither of them,
however, show any signs of having been, as is the tradition, built as
mosques, and converted into churches after the taking of Lérida from the
Moors in A.D. 1149. The plan here is but little altered, and exhibits
three bays of cross-vaulting, and an apse.[369] On the north side an
aisle has been added; but on the south the façade is nearly unaltered,
and the interior is similarly very perfect. The mode of lighting with
windows very high up is similar to that of the cathedral clerestory, and
is worth the attention of those who wish to adapt the Pointed style for
tropical climates. The rose window and great south door are both very
fine examples, and extremely peculiar in their arrangement. The door,
which is very large and imposing, occupies the whole of the central bay,
and there are fine windows in the bays on either side of it: the
impression produced at first sight is consequently that one is looking
at the west end of a large church, upon one side of which an apsidal
chancel has been added. The door is in fact out of all proportion to the
size of the church, though this very fact gives perhaps somewhat of that
monumental character to the whole work which is so rare in small
buildings. It is worthy of notice that the very same design is to be
seen in the church of la Magdalena at Zamora--already described; and
there is indeed so much identity of character between the two churches
as to make it more than probable that the same architect erected both.

In the street near San Juan is a very fine old Romanesque house of
unusually good style. It is of three stories in height, the lower story
much modernized. The intermediate stage has a very fine row of
three-light _ajimez_ windows with slender shafts and capitals very
delicately sculptured. The string under these windows is also
elaborately carved: above is an eaves-cornice, resting on corbels, and
above this a modern upper stage. A stone with a Renaissance border to
it, in the lower part of the wall, describes this building as the
Exchange of Lérida, “built in 1589.” A more impudent forgery I do not
know; but probably the architect of that day thought his ugly upper
stage the only part worthy of notice, and meant only to record its
erection. The _patio_ or court-yard behind is small, but has the same
kind of windows as the front--though without any carving--and some good
corbel-tables and archways.

I saw nothing else of architectural interest in Lérida; but I
confidently recommend other ecclesiologists to examine its buildings for
themselves. They form an important link between the noble cathedral at
Tarragona and the smaller but beautiful church of Tudela; and belonging
as they do to the most interesting period of our art, the end of the
twelfth and beginning of the thirteenth century, they afford examples
for our emulation and study of even more value than the later works at
Barcelona and Manresa, which I have before had to describe.[370]



TO the north of the railway between Lérida and Zaragoza, and within easy
distance of the stations of Monzon and Tardienta, are the two old
Aragonese cities of Barbastro and Huesca Monzon--a possession of the
Knights Templars since A.D. 1143--is still dignified by a castle on the
hill, which rises steeply above the town, and in which there are said to
be some remains of the residence of their superior in Aragon. The
accounts I obtained of Barbastro made me think it hardly worthy of a
visit. The cathedral was built between 1500 and 1533; and it is a small
church (about 140 feet in length), without either triforium or
clerestory, the groining springing from the capitals of the columns, and
being covered with ogee lierne ribs.[371] Huesca seemed to promise more,
so leaving the railway at Almudévar[372] I made an excursion thither. It
is a drive of three or four hours from the railway; and the distant
views of the old city are striking, backed as it is by a fine
mountain-range, on one of whose lower spurs it is built. The cathedral
stands on the highest ground in the city; and the rocky bluffs of the
mountain behind it look like enormous castles guarding its _enceinte_.
These picturesque views are the more refreshing by the contrast they
offer to the broad corn-covered plain at their feet. Two or three miles
from Huesca, on another hill, are the remains of the great monastery of
Monte Aragon, which was, however, rebuilt in 1777, and is not very
likely therefore now to reward examination.

The Plaza in front of the cathedral is surrounded by an important group
of buildings--the palace of the kings of Aragon, the college of
Santiago, and others belonging to the old university. They are mostly
Renaissance in their design; but in the old palace is a crypt called “la
Campana del Rey Monje,” which seems to date from the end of the twelfth
century. It has an apse covered with a semi-dome; and a quadripartite
vault of good character covers the buildings west of the apse. The
arches are all semi-circular.

The cathedral was almost entirely rebuilt in the fifteenth century, from
the designs of a Biscayan architect, Juan de Olotzaga.[373] The cloister
on the north side is the principal remaining portion of the older
church, and this is so damaged and decayed as to present hardly a single
feature of interest save two or three of the picturesque tombs corbelled
out from the walls, which are so frequently seen in the north of Spain.

The plan[374] of the cathedral consists of a nave and aisles of four
bays in length, with chapels between the buttresses. The Coro is formed
by screens which cut off the two eastern bays of the nave; it opens at
the east into the rather grand transept, which, as is so invariably the
case in the later Spanish churches, completely usurps the functions of
the nave as the place of gathering for worshippers. To the east of the
transept are five apsidal chapels opening out of it; that in the centre
larger than the others, and containing the High Altar. Three broad steps
are carried all across the church from north to south, in front of these
chapels. It struck me that the plan of this east end was so very similar
to that of some of the earlier Spanish churches[375] as to render it
probable at any rate that Olotzaga raised his church upon the
foundations of that which was removed to make way for his work. The
steeple which takes the place of the westernmost chapel on the north
side of the nave is octagonal in plan, but is much modernized, and
finished with a brick belfry-stage: it is evidently of older foundation
than the church. The columns between the nave and aisles are all
clustered, and the main arches are boldly moulded. There is no
triforium, the wall above the arcade being perfectly plain up to a
carved stringcourse which is carried round the church below the
clerestory; the windows in which are filled with flamboyant tracery. The
groining is generally rather intricate, and has bosses at all the
intersections of the ribs. There is no lantern at the intersection of
the nave and transepts. It has been already said that the Coro occupies
the usual place in the nave; and it is clear that it has never been
moved, as there are small groined chapels formed between the columns on
either side of it. The Reja at the west end of choir is not old; the
usual brass rails are placed to form a passage from the Coro to the
Capilla mayor, across the transept.

The reredos behind the high altar is carved in alabaster: it is of the
latest Gothic, but certainly very fine. Damian Forment, a Valencian
sculptor, executed it between A.D. 1520 and 1533.[376] It is divided
into three great compartments, the centre rising higher than the others.
Each compartment has a subject, crowded lavishly with figures in high
relief; whilst a broad band of carving is carried round the whole, and
many figures in niches are introduced. The subjects are: 1, The
Procession to Calvary; 2, the Crucifixion, with the First Person of the
Holy Trinity surrounded by angels in the sky; and, 3, the Descent from
the Cross. Between these subjects and the altar are statues of the
twelve Apostles and our Lord, and a door on either side of the altar
opens into the space behind the reredos.

The west doorway is said by Cean Bermudez to be the work of Olotzaga. My
own impression is that it is a work of circa A.D. 1350. It is a fine
middle-pointed doorway of rich character. The arch is of seven orders;
three enriched with foliage, and the remainder with figures under
canopies, of--1, figures with scrolls; 2, angels; 3, holy women; 4,
apostles and saints. The tympanum has the B. V. Mary and our Lord under
a canopy; she is standing on a corbel, on which is carved a woman with
asps at her bosom; on either side of the canopy is an angel censing;
below, on the left, are three kings, and on the right the Noli me
tangere. The lintel has some coats of arms; and there are seven statues
of saints in each jamb; and below them were subjects enclosed within
quatrefoils, all of which have been destroyed.[377] The gable over the
doorway arch is crocketed, and pierced with tracery, and has pinnacles
on either side. The horn-shaped leaf so often seen in English work is
profusely used here, and in the arches is generally arranged in the
French fashion, _à crochet_. The wooden doors are covered with iron
plates beaten up into a pattern, and nailed on with great brass nails.

The west end is finished at the top with a straight cornice, with
circular turrets at the angles, and pinnacles between, dividing it into
three compartments. The detail of all this upper part is very poor and
late in style, and altogether inferior to that of the west doorway. The
clerestory is supported by simple flying buttresses, finished with rich

There are two other old doorways. That from the cloister on the north
side is round-arched, with dog-tooth, chevron, and roses carved on it;
yet the detail seems to prove that it cannot be earlier than A.D. 1300,
whilst some of the carving looks as if it were even later than this. The
other door is in the south transept, and certainly deserves examination.
It has a small groined porch formed between two buttresses in front of
it; over the arch is the Crucifix, S. Mary, and S. John; whilst on the
west wall are the three Maries coming with spices, &c., to the grave of
our Lord, which is represented on the east wall of the porch, with the
angel seated on it.

The church of San Pedro el Viejo, which I now have to mention, is by far
the most interesting in the city, being of much earlier date than any
part of the cathedral.[378] It has a nave and aisles of four bays, a
transept with a raised lantern over the crossing, and three parallel
apses at the east end. A hexagonal tower is placed against the north
wall of the north transept, and a cloister occupies the whole south side
of the church; whilst on the east of the cloister is a series of chapels
or rooms of early date. There is, so far as I know, no evidence of the
date of this work; but judging by its style, it can hardly be later than
the middle of the twelfth century, with the exception of the raised
vault of the lantern, which was finished, however, before the
consecration of the church, which is said to have taken place in A.D.

The nave and aisles are vaulted with continuous waggon-vaults, the
chapels at the east end with semi-domes, and the lantern with a
quadripartite vault, the ribs of which are enriched with the dog-tooth
ornament. The waggon-vault of the nave is divided into bays by cross
arches corresponding with the piers of the arcades. The vaulting of the
lantern springs from a higher level than the other vaults, and has ridge
ribs as well as diagonal and wall ribs. The lantern is lighted by four
circular windows, which have rich early thirteenth-century mouldings,
and are filled in with tracery which is evidently of Moorish origin. A
fine round-arched doorway, with three engaged shafts in each jamb,
leads from the transepts into the tower, which has groining shafts in
each angle. The Coro here now occupies the western bay of the nave, and
is fitted up with fair fifteenth-century stalls, which, being carried
across the end, block up the old western doorway.

[Illustration: Interior of San Pedro, Huesca.]

The whole church is built of red sandstone, but is whitewashed
throughout, and the exterior is much modernized, though the old work is
still in part visible. The west front has a bold arch under the roof,
which corresponds with the waggon-vault inside. The abacus from which
this springs is carried across as a stringcourse, and in the space
enclosed between it and the arch is a round-headed window, with a broad
external splay and plain label moulding. A very plain western doorway is
now (as also is this window) blocked up. The aisles have also small
windows high up in the walls, and the whole church is covered with a
roof of very flat pitch laid immediately on the stone vaults. The
lowest stage of the tower had windows in each of its disengaged sides:
it rises in four stages of equal height, divided by stringcourses, but
is capped with a modern belfry stage. The lantern is carried up to the
level of the top of its vault, and then covered like the rest of the
church with a flat tiled roof. A stringcourse, richly worked with a
billet moulding, is carried round the outer walls of the aisles, and
round their pilaster buttresses.

[Illustration: HUESCA: Ground: Plans: of: Cathedral: and: of: San:

Plate XXI.

W. West, Lithr.

Published by John Murray, Albermarle St. 1865.]

The cloister, though in a very sad state of dilapidation, is still very
interesting. It is covered with a lean-to roof, and has round arches
throughout springing from capitals, some of which are carved with
figures, and some with foliage only, but all of rude character. Several
arched recesses for monuments are formed in the outer walls, but none of
the inscriptions that I observed were earlier than A.D. 1200. In the
south wall six of these arches have enormous stone coffins, each
supported on three corbels on the backs of three lions. These coffins
are about two feet deep, by seven feet in length, and covered with a
gabled stone cover. The columns in the arcades of this cloister are
curiously varied, some being coupled shafts, some quatrefoil in section,
some square, and some octagonal. Against the east wall are four chambers
opening into the cloister. That nearest the church is the Chapel of San
Bartolomé, and of the same style as the nave, covered with a low
waggon-vault, and with the original stone altar still remaining against
the square east end. The chapel next to this has a very late vault; the
next, a quadripartite vault; and the southernmost has a pointed
waggon-vault, with three plain, pointed-arched recesses in each of the
side walls.

Over the modern doorway from the cloister into the church is the
tympanum of the original doorway, rudely sculptured with the Adoration
of the Magi, above which two angels hold a circle, on which are
inscribed the monogram of our Lord, and the letters A and [Greek:

I could find nothing else of much architectural interest in Huesca. The
Church of San Martin has a plain thirteenth-century west doorway, and
that of San Juan--said to have been consecrated in A.D. 1204--seemed to
have an apse of about that date, with a central lantern-tower carried on
pointed arches. There are remains also of two of the town gateways, but
they are of no interest.

In the distance, as I approached Huesca, I had noticed what looked like
an old church at Salas, and, having time to spare, I walked there. The
way lay along fields and by the muddiest of roads, where ruts were being
levelled, and the whole made uniformly muddy, in order to accommodate
the Bishop of Huesca, who was coming out in procession to have a service
in the church there. I found the east and west ends of the church to be
old, but the rest, inside and out, had been hopelessly modernized. The
east end retains nothing beyond three very long slits for windows, about
six inches wide, and not intended for glazing. The west end is very
fine, and almost untouched. It has a noble doorway of six orders, very
richly sculptured with chevrons, dog-tooth, mouldings of first-pointed
character, and rich transitional foliage. The capitals have similar
foliage, but the shafts and their bases have been destroyed, and a
modern head to the door has been inserted within the arch. This door is
set forward from the face of the wall nearly four feet, and has engaged
shafts in the angles, and a richly-carved cornice. The gable (which is
of flat pitch) is filled with a large circular window, the tracery of
which has been destroyed. It has three orders of moulding round it, one
moulded only, the others carved with a very bold dog-tooth enrichment.
The label has rather ingeniously contrived crockets of very conventional
design. The whole of this front is of very much the same character as
the early work in the cathedral at Lérida. It is only about a mile and a
half out of Huesca, and ought to be visited, as, with the exception of
San Pedro el Viejo, it is certainly the most interesting work to be

Travellers will find accommodation which is just tolerable in the Posada
at Huesca. They should not return, as I was obliged to do, to Zaragoza,
but should extend the journey to Jaca, where there seems to be a fair
Romanesque cathedral. Near Jaca, too, Sta. Cruz de los Seros has a fine
Romanesque church, with an octagonal raised central lantern, and a
steeple of several stages in height on its north side. San Juan de la
Peña, a monastery in the same district, has a fine Romanesque cloister,
of the same character as that of San Pedro at Huesca: but the church is,
I think, modern.[380]

[Illustration: No. 46.



I returned from Huesca to the railway, and thence to Zaragoza, hoping
that, notwithstanding all it had suffered from wars and sieges,
something might still be found to reward examination. I have seen no
city in Spain which is more imposing in the distance, and yet less
interesting on near acquaintance. A great group of towers and steeples
stands up so grandly, that it is natural to suppose there will be much
to see. But whether the French in their sieges destroyed everything, or
whether it is that the city is too prosperous to allow old things to
stand in the way, it is certainly the fact that but few old buildings do
stand, and that none of them are of first-rate interest. The river here
is rapid and broad, and the view of the distant mountains fine, whilst,
partly owing to its being a centre for several railways, it is a fairly
gay and lively city, and is year by year in process of improvement, in
the modern sense of the word.

There are here two cathedrals, in which I believe the services are
celebrated alternately for six months at a time, the same staff serving
both churches. On the two occasions on which I have stopped in Zaragoza,
it has fortunately happened that the old cathedral was open, and the
exterior of the other promises so little gratification in the interior,
that I never even made the attempt to penetrate into it.

The old cathedral is called the “Seu,” par excellence, the other being
the Cathedral “del Pilar.” The Seu[381] is the usual term for the
principal church, and the name of the second is derived from a
miracle-working figure of the Blessed Virgin on a pillar, which it seems
that the people care only to worship half the year.

The Seu is in some respects a remarkable church, but it is so much
modernized outside as to be, with the exception of one portion, quite
uninteresting, and the interior, though it is gorgeous and grand in its
general effect, is of very late style and date, and does not bear very
much examination in detail. It is very broad in proportion to its
length, having two aisles on each side of the nave, and chapels beyond
them between the buttresses; and there are but five bays west of the
Crossing, and of these the Coro occupies two. There is a lantern at the
Crossing, and a very short apsidal choir. The nave and aisles are all
roofed at the same level, the vaulting springing from the capitals of
the main columns, and the whole of the light is admitted by windows in
the end walls, and high up in the outer walls of the aisles. In this
respect Spanish churches of late date almost always exhibit an attention
to the requirements of the climate, which is scarcely ever seen in the
thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, and this church owes almost all its
good effect to this circumstance, for it is in light and shade only, and
neither in general design nor in detail, that it is a success. The
detail, indeed, is almost as much Pagan as Gothic. The capitals of the
columns, for instance, have carvings of fat nude cherubs, supporting
coats of arms, and the groining, which is covered with ogee lierne ribs,
has enormous bosses and pendants cut out of wood and gaudily gilded.

There is some interesting matter in the history of the Cimborio over the
Crossing. It seems that in the year 1500 there was supposed to be some
danger of the old Cimborio falling, and the Archbishop, D. Alonso de
Aragon, and his Chapter, thereupon invited several artificers and
skilled engineers to examine the works, and advise as to its repair. At
this Junta there were present two _maestros_ from Toledo--one of them
Henrique de Egas; Maestro Font, from Barcelona; Carlos, from Montearagon
(Huesca); and Compte, from Valencia; and they, having deliberated with
the artificers attached to the cathedral, reported that it would be
necessary to take down the Cimborio and rebuild it, and do other repairs
to the rest of the church.

This report having been presented, the archbishop some time afterwards,
in January, 1505, makes an appeal to the King on the subject, in order
that he may obtain the services of Henrique de Egas as architect for the
work. He says that he has had the advice of the most experienced and
able architects of the day, and among them of Egas, and that they were
all agreed that the Cimborio must be taken down, which had been done.
And then he says that, inasmuch as the rest of the church seems to be
much in want of repair, and as Egas seemed to be a man of great ability
and experience, he was very anxious to procure his aid, but that Egas
had excused himself on the plea that he had a certain hospital to build
at Santiago in Galicia for the King, who required him to go there.
Whereupon the archbishop begs the King, for the love of God our Lord,
that he will have pity on him; and since there is no great necessity at
Santiago, and a very great one at Zaragoza, that he will command Egas to
undertake the work.

It is said that Egas did execute the work after all. But it is
impossible not to be amused at the enormous contrast between those times
and our own, if then it was necessary for an archbishop to appeal to the
King to make an architect undertake such a work![382]

The detail of the Cimborio is, as might be expected from its date, most
impure. It is octagonal in plan, the canted sides being carried on
semi-circular arches thrown across the angles. It is of two stages in
height, the lower having square recesses for statues, and the upper
traceried windows. The general scheme is Gothic, but the detail is all
very Renaissance in character.[383]

The choir is apsidal, but the apse is concealed by an enormous
sculptured Retablo, which, in spite of its very late date, is certainly
dignified in its effect.

Externally there are evidences of the existence of an earlier church,
the lower part of the apse being evidently Romanesque, a portion of the
buttresses and one of the windows retaining their old character. The new
work is of brick, the windows generally of four lights, with flamboyant
tracery, and the walls crowned with rich cornices. The exterior of the
Cimborio, as well as of the church, owes much of the picturesqueness
which marks it to the fact that the brickwork is everywhere very roughly
and irregularly executed.

One portion of the exterior of the church is, however, most interesting;
for on the face of the wall, at the north-east angle, is a very
remarkable example of brickwork, inlaid with coloured tiles, the
character of which proves that it is, no doubt, part of the cathedral
which was approaching completion in the middle of the fourteenth
century, and earlier in date therefore than the greater part of the
existing fabric. This wall is a lofty unbroken surface, about sixty-four
feet in length from north to south, and is erected in front of a
building of two stages in height, and pierced with pointed windows in
each stage. It is built with bricks of, I think, a reddish colour
(though I am a little uncertain, owing to their being now very dirty),
which are all arranged in patterns in the wall, by setting those which
are to form the outlines forward from one-and-a-half to two inches in
advance of the general face of the wall. The spaces so left are then
filled in with small tiles set in patterns or diapers, the faces of
which are generally about three quarters of an inch behind those of the
brick outlines. The tiles are of various shapes, sizes, and colours,
red, blue, green, white, and buff on white. The blue is very deep and
dark in tone, the green light and bright. The patterns are generally of
very Moorish character; and there can be no doubt, I think, that the
whole work was done by Moorish workmen. The general character of this
very remarkable work is certainly most effective; and though I should
not like to see the Moresque character of the design reproduced, it
undoubtedly affords some most valuable suggestions for those who at the
present day are attempting to develop a ceramic decoration for the
exteriors of buildings. Here I was certainly struck by the grave quiet
of the whole decoration, and was converted to some extent from a belief
which I had previously entertained rather too strongly, that the use of
tiles for inlaying would be likely to lead to a very gay and garish
style of decoration, foreign to all dignity and repose in its effect.
There is an intersecting arcade under the lowest windows, in which, as
also in some other parts, the ground of the panels is plastered; and in
this plaster panels of tiles and single sunk disks of tile are inserted
on the white ground. The windows are pointed, and all of them have rich
borders to their jambs, which are continued round the arches. Within
their borders there appears to have been an order of moulded brickwork,
and then the window opening, which is now blocked, but which may
possibly have had stone monials and tracery. The bricks used here are of
the usual old shape, about 1 ft. 1½ in. long by 6¾ in. wide. They are
generally built alternately long and short, but not by any means with
any great attempt to break the bond. The mortar-joints are also not less
than half an inch in thickness, and this, it must be remembered, in a
work the whole characteristic of which is the extreme delicacy and
refinement of the decoration. The tiles are five-eighths of an inch
thick; some of them are encaustic, of two colours; and all are, as is
usual with Moorish tiles, glazed all over. This tile and brick
decoration begins at a height of about eight feet from the ground, and
is carried up from that point to the top of the wall. Such work seems to
be obviously unfitted to be close to the ground; and the lower part of
the wall is therefore judiciously built with perfectly plain brickwork.

The most important church in Zaragoza after the cathedral is that of San
Pablo. This is an early thirteenth-century church, of the same class as
that of San Lorenzo at Lérida, having a nave of four bays, and an apse
of five sides with a groined aisle round it. The side walls of the nave,
which are of enormous thickness, are pierced with pointed arches opening
into the aisles, which seem to be of the same date, though from the
enormous size of the piers they are very much cut off from the nave. The
groining ribs are of great size, and moulded with a triple roll in both
nave and aisles. Some trace of the original lancet windows is still to
be seen in the apse; but most of them are blocked up or destroyed. The
aisle is returned across the west end of the nave; and there is a
western door and porch, with a descent of some eleven or twelve steps
into the church. The Coro is at the west end of the nave, and is fitted
with stalls executed circa A.D. 1500-1520, with a Renaissance Reja to
the east of them. There is a good reredos, rich in coloured and
sculptured subjects, which is said to be a work of the beginning of the
sixteenth century, by Damian Forment, of Valencia, who, as will be
recollected, carved the reredos in the cathedral at Huesca. The fine
octagonal brick steeple is evidently a later addition to the church, and
rises from the north-west angle of the nave. It is very much covered
with work of the same kind as the wall veil at the cathedral, which I
have just been describing, though on a bolder and coarser scale; and it
belongs, as far as I can judge by its style, to somewhere about the same
period.[384] The brick patterns here, as there, are in parts filled in
with glazed tiles; and the general effect of the steeple is very
graceful, rising as it does with richly ornamented upper stages, upon a
plain base, out of the low and strange jumble of irregular roofs with
which the church is now covered.

The great steeple, called the Torre Nueva, in the Plaza San Felipe, is
finer and loftier than that of San Pablo, and is, I suppose, on the
whole, the finest example of its kind anywhere to be seen. It is
octagonal, in plan, and the sections of the various stages differ
considerably in outline, owing to the ingenious manner in which the
face of the walls is set at various angles. The face of most of the work
is diapered with patterns in brickwork as in the other Zaragozan
examples; but the most remarkable feature is, perhaps, the extraordinary
extent to which the whole fabric falls out from the perpendicular. This,
which is so common a fault with the Italian campaniles, arises here
evidently from the same causes, the badness of the foundations, and the
absence of buttresses. A great mass of brickwork has been built up on
one side, in order to prevent the further settlement of this steeple;
and it is to be hoped that the remedy may be effectual; for Zaragoza can
ill afford to lose so remarkable a feature out of the scanty number
still left; and it is valuable also as one of the grandest examples of a
very remarkable class. It is said to have been built in A.D. 1504.

Another parish church in the principal street has a very small brick
steeple of the same class, but very simple, and with it I think I must
close my list of really Gothic erections here. The Renaissance buildings
have often a certain amount of Gothic detail, and some Gothic
arrangements of plan, but of so late and debased a kind as to make them
little worthy of much study. Their real merit is their great size, and
the rude grandeur of their treatment. They are usually built of rough
brickwork, boldly and massively treated. They have always an arcaded
stage, just below the eaves, which are very boldly corbelled out from
the walls, and generally supported on moulded wood corbels, carrying a
plate which projects some three or four feet from the face of the wall,
and throws, of course, a very fine shadow over it. The _patios_, or
court-yards, are lofty, and surrounded by columns which carry the open
stages of the first and second floors. There is here no attempt at
covering the brickwork with plaster or cement; and accordingly, though
the detail is poor and uninteresting, the general effect is infinitely
more noble than that of any of our compo-covered, smooth-faced modern
London houses. The picturesque roughness of the work which was always
indulged in by the mediæval architects was no sin, it seems, in the eyes
of the early Renaissance architects; and it is, indeed, reserved for our
own times to realize the full iniquity of any honest exhibition of facts
in our ordinary buildings!

Among the buildings here which illustrate the transition from Gothic to
Renaissance the cloister of the church of Sta. Engracia seems to be one
of the most remarkable. It is said to have been constructed in 1536 by
one Tudelilla of Tarazona, and an illustration is given of it in Villa
Amil.[385] The Gothic element seems here to have been as much Moresque
as Gothic, and hence the combination of these with Renaissance makes a
whole which is as strange and heterogeneous as anything ever erected.

It will be seen that Zaragoza has not very much to interest an architect
or ecclesiologist. Travellers in Spain who find it necessary to recruit
after roughing it in country towns may no doubt feel grateful for the
creature comforts they will be able to enjoy there, and it is now rather
a centre of railway communication, being on the line of railway which
runs from Bilbao to Barcelona, and at the point where the line from
Madrid joins it.



I FOUND a pleasant drive of two and a half hours, through vineyards and
olive-grounds, from Tudela to Tarazona. In front all the way was the
noble Sierra de Moncayo, which, according to one of my Spanish
fellow-travellers, is the highest mountain in Spain, from which view
however I humbly, and somewhat to his annoyance, dissented. But whether
he were right or not, it is still of very grand height, and the more
impressive in that it rises by itself in the midst of a comparatively
flat country. Behind us was an admirable view of Tudela, backed by the
brown and arid hills which skirt the Ebro; beyond them, in the far
distance, the Pyrenees; whilst in the immediate foreground we had a rich
green mass of olives and vines spread in a glorious expanse over the

The villages on the road have nothing to boast of if I except a
pilgrimage church at Cascante, approached by a long covered gallery from
below, and a brick tower at Monteacadeo, of the Zaragozan type. We
passed, too, a newly-established convent for monks, who are already
beginning to build, in spite of the ruin with which they have so lately
been visited. But long before the end of our journey was reached, the
towers and steeples of Tarazona rose attractively in front over the low
hill which conceals the complete view of the city until you are almost
close upon it.

Attractive as this general view undoubtedly is, this old city does not
lose when it is examined more closely and carefully. It is not only in
itself picturesque, but its situation on either side of the stream which
a few miles below falls into the Ebro is eminently fine, and has been
made the most of by the happy and probably unconscious skill of the men
who have reared on the cliff above the water a tall pile of buildings on
buildings, carried on grand arches, corbelled here and buttressed there,
and with a sky-line charming in itself, and rendered doubly beautiful by
the sudden break in its outline caused by the lofty brick steeple of la
Magdalena--one of the finest of its class--which rears itself, with
admirable hardihood, on the very edge of the cliff. The streets and
Plazas, too, of the old city are all picturesquely irregular, full of
colour and evidences of national peculiarities, and climb the steep
sides of the hills from the river-side to the high ground at the
northern end of the city, which is crowned by the church of San Miguel.
I call such skill as this “unconscious,” because it is so much a
characteristic of old works of this kind that their authors never
exhibit any of that pert conceit which so distinctly marks the efforts
of so many of us nowadays. Old architects fortunately lived in days when
society was moderate in its demands, and had not ceased to care for that
which is true and natural: sad for us that we live when every man wishes
only to excel his neighbour, and that without regard to what is true or
useful; so that, instead of obtaining those happy results which always
reward the artist who does exactly what is needed in the most natural
and unartificial manner, we, by our attempts to show our own cleverness,
constantly end in substituting a petty personal conceit, where otherwise
we might have had an enduring and artistic success.

The cathedral stands very much alone, and away from the busier part of
the city, at the upper end of a grass-grown and irregular Plaza, on the
opposite side of the river from the Alcazar, and indeed from the bulk of
the houses. This Plaza, when I first saw it, on a Sunday afternoon, was
thoroughly beautiful and characteristic as a picture of Spanish life.
There was a fountain in the centre, around which hundreds of peasants
were congregated in lively groups, talking at the top of their voices,
and all gay with whitest shirt-sleeves, bright-coloured sashes, and
velvet breeches, slashed daintily at the knees, to show the whiteness of
the linen drawers; and when I went on into the church, I found in the
Lady Chapel another group of them kneeling before the altar, and
following one of their own class in a litany to the Blessed Virgin, the
effect of which was striking even to one unable to join in the burthen
of the prayer.

The cathedral here is said to have been restored by Alonso the First of
Aragon, in the year 1110; but an old Breviary, cited by Argaïz, fixes
the foundation of the present cathedral in 1235,[386] and with this
date the earliest part of the existing church agrees very closely. The
plan[387] is very good, consisting of a nave of six bays, with aisles
and chapels between their buttresses, transepts, a lofty Cimborio over
the Crossing, and a choir of two bays, ended with a five-sided apse. The
chapels in the chevet have mostly been altered, though the first on the
north side appears to be original, and proves that the outline of the
plan of the chevet could never have been very good. This chapel is
four-sided in plan, but much wider at one end than the other, and we
must, I fear, give but scant credit to the architect who planned it. The
Lady Chapel is a late and poor addition of a very inferior kind, and
completely modernized--as indeed is the greater part of the church--on
the exterior. On the south side of the cathedral there are old
sacristies and a large cloister, of which more presently. The west end
seemed to me to have been intended for two steeples, but one only has
been completed, and this is on the north side of the north aisle.

The remaining portions of the thirteenth-century church have been so
much altered that the general effect of the early work is almost
entirely destroyed. The columns and arches generally are original; the
former have carved capitals; many of the latter are slightly horseshoe
in shape, and have labels enriched with the dog-tooth ornament. The
choir and transepts retain a good simple arcaded triforium, carried on
detached shafts, and this returns across the gable-walls of the latter;
it is of the simplest early pointed character; so too are the choir
windows, which before their alteration appear to have been lancets, with
engaged shafts in their jambs, whilst in the eastern wall of the
transepts are windows of two lancet lights, with a circle above within
an enclosing arch. Most of the arches of the nave are adorned with
carved flowers on the chamfers, the effect of which is not good; indeed
I half doubted whether they were not plaster additions, though they
seemed to be just too good for this. The choir has two (and only two)
flying buttresses; and as they are evidently of early date, with
pinnacles of the very simplest pyramidal outline, they were probably
erected to counteract a settlement which showed itself immediately after
the erection of the church, for there is no evidence of any others
having existed. The walls of the apse had originally a richly carved
cornice, filled with heads and foliage. The groining of the aisles is
generally simple and early in date, and quadripartite in plan: that of
the whole of the rest of the choir and nave is of the richest
description, and of the latest kind of Gothic.

[Illustration: TARAZONA Ground Plan of Cathedral Plate XXII.

W. West, Lithr.

Published by John Murray, Albemarle St. 1865.]

Here, as is so frequently the case all over the world, the builders of
one period used an entirely different material from that used by those
of earlier times;[388] so that you may tell with tolerable accuracy the
date of the work by the material of which it is built. Here the early
church was entirely built of stone, but in all the later additions brick
is the prevailing material; and at first sight it is in these later
additions that we seem to find almost all the most characteristic work
in the church. Many of these additions, as for instance the
Churrigueresque alterations of the clerestory, are thoroughly bad and
contemptible; but some of them, though they damage the unity of effect
of the building, and have taken the place of work which one would much
rather have seen still intact, are nevertheless striking in themselves.
Such is the singular and picturesque Cimborio erected by Canon Juan
Muñoz[389] in the sixteenth century; it is certainly most picturesque,
but such a curious and complex combination of pinnacles and turrets
built of brick, and largely inlaid with green, blue, and white tiles, is
perhaps nowhere else to be seen. It is octagonal in plan, and of three
stages in height, the angles of the octagons in the several stages being
all counterchanged. Enormous coats of arms decorate the fronts of the
buttresses. The whole work is of the very latest possible Gothic,
utterly against all rules both in design and decoration, and yet,
notwithstanding all this, it is unquestionably striking in its effect.
The mixture of glazed tiles with brickwork has here been carried to a
very great extent, and the result does not, I think, encourage any one
to hope for much from this kind of development. This work is not to be
compared to that at the east end of Zaragoza Cathedral, where a plain
piece of wall is carefully covered all over with a rich coloured diaper
of brickwork and tiles, which are all harmonious and uniform in
character, and--which is equally important--in texture, and it has, on
the contrary, great similarity to some attempts to combine bricks and
tiles which we see made in the present day, and seems to show that these
attempts are not to be carelessly encouraged. For even when such work is
first executed, and the brickwork is fresh and neat, I think we always
feel that the smooth hard surface of the tile offers rather too great a
contrast to the rougher texture of the bricks; and whilst the former is
likely to remain almost unchanged for ever, the latter is certain
gradually to grow rougher and ruder in its aspect, until, in the end, we
shall have walls showing everywhere picturesque marks of age, and yet
with their decorations as fresh as if they had but just been introduced.
Nothing can well be worse than this; for if the appearance of age is to
be venerated at all, it must be somewhat uniformly evident; and it no
more answers to permit the decorations on an old and rugged wall to be
always new and fresh-looking, than it does to allow a juvenile wig to be
put on the venerable head of an old man!

The brick steeple of the cathedral is an inferior example of the same
kind as that of la Magdalena, which I shall have presently to describe;
its upper half is modern, and the lowest stage of stone. The west front
is all modernized, and the north transept is conspicuous for a large
porch of base design, erected probably in the sixteenth century, and
exhibiting a curious though very unsuccessful attempt to copy--or
perhaps I ought to say caricature--early work.

The whole of the clerestory walls have been raised with a stage of
brickwork above the windows, which was added probably in the sixteenth
or seventeenth century.

The cloister, built in the beginning of the sixteenth century, by D.
Guillen Ramon de Moncada, is a remarkable example of very rich
brickwork. It deserves illustration as being of an extremely uncommon
style, and withal very effective. All the arches and jambs of the
openings are of moulded brick, and there are brick enclosing arches, and
a very simple brick cornice outside; but the delicate traceries which
give so much character to the work are all cut in thin slabs of stone
let into the brickwork. Of course such a work was not intended for
glazing, and was an ingenious arrangement for rendering the cloister
cool and unaffected by the sun, even when at its hottest. The forms of
the openings here are certainly not good, and look much more like
domestic than ecclesiastical work; but in spite of this one cannot but
be thankful for novelty, whenever it is, as here, legitimately
obtained. The bricks are of a very pale red tint, 12½ inches long, 6¼
inches wide, and from 1½ to 1¾ thick, and the mortar-joint, as usual, is
very thick--generally about ¾ of an inch. The cloister is groined, and
probably in brick, but is now plastered or whitewashed unsparingly, and
its effect is in great degree ruined.

[Illustration: Cloister, Tarazona.]

The sacristies are rather peculiar in their arrangement: they are all
groined, and one of them has a small recess in one angle with a chair in
it facing a crucifix, of which I could not learn the use. Another of
this group of buildings contains a fountain under a small dome, the
plashing of whose waters seemed to make it a very popular rendezvous of
the people, and made itself heard everywhere throughout the sacristies
and their passages.

The stalls in the Coro are of very late Gothic, the bishop’s stall, with
one on either side of it in the centre of the west end, having lofty
canopies. The Coro is more than usually separated from the Capilla
mayor, and there can be little doubt that it does not occupy its
original position. The men who built so long a nave would never have
done so simply to render its length useless by so perverse an
arrangement of the choir. Here, in fact, the Coro occupies the same kind
of position to which one so often sees it reduced in parish churches in
Spain, where it is usually either in a western gallery, or at any rate
at the extreme western end of the nave, behind everybody’s backs, and
apparently out of their minds!

A chapel on the north side of the nave, dedicated to Santiago, has a
richly cusped arch opening from it to the aisle, and its vault springs
from large corbels, carved with figures of the four evangelists, rudely
but richly sculptured. It is mainly worthy of notice now on account of
the beauty of a panel-painting still preserved over the altar: this is
painted on a gold background, richly diapered, and the nimbi and borders
to the vestments all elaborately raised in gold in high relief. The
frame is richly carved with figures of saints, and gilt. The predella
has on either side of the centre St. John and the Blessed Virgin, and
four other holy women; in the centre a sculpture of our Lord and four
saints which serves as a pedestal for a well-posed figure of Santiago;
and on either side of the saint are two pictures with subjects
illustrating his life. It is, on the whole, a very fine example of the
combination of painting and sculpture, of which the Spaniards in the
fifteenth and sixteenth centuries were so fond. The paintings are less
realistic than German work of the same age, and, if not so delicately
lovely as early Italian works, are yet of great interest and merit.

[Illustration: No 47.



Returning from the cathedral to the town, and before one crosses to the
opposite side of the river, a noble view of the buildings on the cliff
above it is obtained from the bridge. The grandest of these is an
enormous bishop’s palace, once I believe the Alcazar; and close to it is
the church of la Magdelena. The interior of this is entirely modernized,
but the east end outside is a valuable example of untouched Romanesque.
The eastern apse is divided into three by engaged shafts, stopping with
capitals at the eaves-cornice, which is carried on a very simple
corbel-table. To the west of this church is the steeple to which I have
already alluded as giving so much of its character to Tarazona. It is a
very lofty brick tower, without buttresses, with a solid simple base
battering out boldly and effectively, and diapered in its upper stages
with the patterns formed by projecting bricks, of which the builders
of the brick buildings throughout this district were so fond. At a very
slight expense a great effect of enrichment is obtained; the dark
shadows of the bricks under the bright Spanish sunlight define all the
lines clearly; and the uniformity of colour and the absence of
buttresses make the general effect simple and quiet, notwithstanding the
intricacy of the detail. The upper stage of this steeple is, as I need
hardly say, a comparatively modern addition, but it no doubt adds to its
effect by adding so much to the height, and in colour and design it
harmonizes fairly with the earlier work below.

The church of La Concepcion, not far from this, is a very late Gothic
building, with a western gallery whose occupants are quite concealed by
stone traceries of the same kind as those in the cloisters of the
cathedral. The sanctuary walls here are lined with glazed tiles, and the
floor is laid with blue, green, and white tiles, the colour of each of
which being half white and half blue or green allows of the whole floor
being covered with a diaper of chequer-work, which is very effective and
very easily arranged.

At the farther end of the city, and on the top of the long hill on which
it is built, is a church dedicated to San Miguel. This has a simple nave
with a seven-sided apse. The groining is all of very late date, the ribs
curling down at their intersection as pendants, the under sides of which
are cut off to receive bosses which were probably large and of wood.
This groining is probably not earlier than the end of the sixteenth
century, though the church itself is of the thirteenth or fourteenth
century, having two doors of one of these dates: that on the north side
has, in most respects, the air of being a work of the thirteenth, but
its sculpture seems to prove that it cannot be earlier than the
fourteenth century. It has the Judgment of Solomon carved on one of the
capitals, angels in the label, and a figure of St. Michael above. The
south doorway is executed in brick and stone, and is of the same date as
the other. A brick belfry on the north side is enriched in the same
fashion as that of la Magdalena, and, like it, batters out considerably
at the base, but it is altogether inferior both in size and design.

From Tarazona I made a delightful excursion to the Abbey of Veruela. It
is a two hours’ ride, and the path takes one over a hill which conceals
the Sierra de Moncayo from sight in most parts of Tarazona. The scenery
on the road was beautiful. The town itself is always very striking; and
as we ascended, the views of the distant hills and mountains beyond the
Ebro were finer and finer. After riding for an hour and a half, a grand
view of the whole height of Moncayo is obtained; below it to the right
is a little village guarded by a picturesque castle keep, and on beyond
and to the left a long line of roof, and towers, and walls girt around
with trees, which seems to promise much to reward examination: and this
is the old abbey of Veruela. At last the avenue is reached, which leads
to the abbey gateway, in front of which stands a tall but mutilated
cross, which forms the centre from which five paths--each planted with
an avenue of trees--diverge.

The history of this abbey is interesting. It was the first Cistercian
house in Spain, and was founded by a certain Don Pedro de Atares, and
his mother Teresa de Cajal, who commenced it in A.D. 1146, completed it
in 1151, and obtained its formal incorporation in the Cistercian order
on the 1st of September of the same year. There was a foundation for
twelve monks, who were the first of their order to cross the Pyrenees,
and who established themselves definitively here on the 10th August,
1171, under the direction of Bernard, Abbat of Scala Dei.[390]

I suppose the desolate situation of Veruela led to its being carefully
fortified, though, indeed, at the date of its foundation, most religious
houses were enclosed within fortified walls, and the severe rule of the
early Cistercians will account fully for the remote and solitary
situation chosen by the brethren who planted this house where we see it:
at any rate, whatever the cause, it is now completely surrounded by
walls, from which round towers project at intervals. The walls and
towers are all perfectly plain, and surmounted with the pointed
battlement so often seen in early Spanish buildings. A walled courtyard
protects the entrance to the main gateway, and it is in front of this
that the avenues mentioned just now all unite.

[Illustration: No. 48.



The view here is very peculiar. In front are the low walls of the outer
court, with a raised archway in the centre; behind these the higher
walls and towers, with a lofty and very plain central gateway, finished
with an octagonal stage and low crocketed spire of late date, but
pierced at the base with very simple thirteenth-century archways,
leading into the inner court. Beyond this, again, is seen the upper part
of the walls and the steeple of the Abbey Church, backed by a bold
line of hills. Passing through this gateway, a long narrow court leads
to the west front of the church; and to the right of this court is a
long range of buildings, all of which I think are of comparatively
modern erection, though the brickwork in a _patio_ entered by one of the
openings is picturesque and good.

The west front of the church has a very noble round-arched doorway,
boldly recessed, and with many shafts in the jambs. Above this is a
small stone inscribed with the monograms X. P. and A. Ω.;
and then, higher, a delicate line of arcading carried on slender shafts.
All this work is set forward in advance of the general face of the wall.
The nave and aisles were each lighted with a plain circular window, and
the arcading up the eaves of the western gable still remaining shows
that its pitch was always very flat. A steeple was built by an
Abbat--Lope Marco--in the sixteenth century, against the western bay of
the north aisle, and before its erection there was, I suppose, no tower
attached to the abbey.

In plan[391] the church consists of a nave and aisles six bays in
length, transepts with eastern apses, and a choir with an aisle round
it, and five small apsidal chapels. To the south of the nave is a large
cloister with a Chapter-house on its eastern side, and other ranges of
buildings on the west and south. To the east, too, are large erections
now occupied as a private residence, and of which consequently I saw
nothing properly, but without much regret, as they did not seem to show
any traces of antiquity, and had probably been all rebuilt in those
halcyon days in the seventeenth or eighteenth centuries, when Spaniards
had more money than they well knew how to spend.

If we compare this church with one of the earliest French convents of
the same order--as, for instance, Clairvaux--we shall find a very
remarkable similarity in most of the arrangements. In both, the church
is approached through a long narrow court, to which it is set in a
slightly oblique line. In both, the extreme simplicity, the absence of
sculptures, the absence of a steeple, are observed in compliance with
the fundamental rules of the Order. Both have their cloisters similarly
placed, with similar Chapter-houses, and lavatories projecting from
their southern alleys. The sacristies and the great libraries are in the
same position--though here the latter has been converted into an
enormous hall--and there are here groups of buildings all round the
cloister, which were probably appropriated much in the same way as were
those at Clairvaux. Both, too, were enclosed in a very similar way with
walls and towers, though at Clairvaux the enclosure was far larger than
at Veruela.

It is clear, therefore, that the French monks who were brought here to
found this first Spanish Cistercian house, came with the plan approved
by their Order, and it is probable with something more than the mere
ground-plan, for the whole of the work is such as might at the same date
have been erected in France.

The whole exterior of the church is very fine, though severely simple.
The west front has already been described. The exterior of the chevet is
more striking. The roofs of the chapels which surround it finish below
the corbel-table of the aisle, which has a steepish roof finishing below
the clerestory; and the latter is divided into five bays by plain
pilasters. All the eaves have corbel-tables, and the windows throughout
are round-headed. The chapels on the eastern side of the transepts are
of the same height as the aisle round the choir, and higher than the
chapels of the chevet. The design of the interior, though very simple,
is extremely massive and dignified. The main arches are all pointed, the
groining generally quadripartite (save in the small apses, which are
roofed with semi-domes), and the piers large and well planned. Many of
the old altars remain; and among them the high altar in the choir, and
those in the chapels of the chevet. The former is arcaded along its
whole front, but has been altered somewhat in length at no very distant
period. Near it is a double piscina, formed by a couple of shafts with
capitals hollowed out with multifoil cusping.

The chapel altars are all like each other, and unlike the high altar,
which is solid, whilst they are stone tables, each supported upon five
detached shafts. They stand forward from the walls in the centre of the
apses, and have rudely carved and planned piscinæ, and credence niches
on the right-hand side as you face them.

The stones are marked in all directions by the masons, some of them with
a mere line across from angle to angle, but mostly with marks of the
usual quaint description. A number of examples of them are given on the
engraving of the ground-plan.

[Illustration: No. 49.



Some part of the floor is laid with blue and white tiles, arranged in
chevrons with good effect, and other parts with tombstones of Abbats,
whose effigies are carved on them in low relief. They are flatter than
the somewhat similar stones in some of the German churches (as _e.g._ at
S. Elizabeth, Marburg) but are still a great deal too uneven on the
surface to be suitable for a pavement.

[Illustration: Chapel Altar, Veruela.]

The capitals are all very rudely sculptured, and the whole of the work
has the air of extreme severity, almost of rudeness, which might be
anticipated from the circumstances of its erection. A chapel was built
in the sixteenth century to the north of the north transept by Ferdinand
of Aragon, Bishop of Zaragoza, and nephew of Ferdinand the Catholic. It
has nothing remarkable in its design. Later than this a large chapel was
added to the east of the sacristy; and from what still remains of the
fittings of the Coro in the nave, they seem to have been still later in

A fine late Romanesque door leads from the south aisle into the
cloister, the whole of which is a good work of the early part of the
fourteenth century, with well-traceried windows of four lights. The
groining piers are clusters of shafts, and the buttresses on the outside
are finished with crocketed gables and a bold cornice carved with
foliage. The traceries are now all filled in with very thin panels of
alabaster, which do not obscure the light much, whilst they effectually
keep out the sun; but this precaution against sunshine does not seem to
have been much needed, if the men were right who raised a second stage
upon the old cloister, the Renaissance arcades of which are all left
perfectly open. On the southern alley of the cloister there is a very
pretty hexagonal projecting chamber, in which no doubt--if we may judge
by the analogy of Clairvaux--was once the lavatory. The cloister has
been built in front of, and without at all disturbing, the original
Chapter-house, on its east side. The new groining shafts stand detached
in front of the old arcade to the Chapter-house, and the combination of
the two is managed very cleverly and picturesquely. This old arcade
consists of the usual arrangement of a central doorway, with two
openings on either side, all carried on clusters of detached shafts with
capitals of foliage. The Chapter-house itself is divided into nine
groining bays by four detached shafts; it is very low and small, and its
three eastern windows are blocked up, but nevertheless its effect is
admirable. One of its columns has been spoilt by the elaborate cutting
in of the names of a party of Englishmen who ascended the Sierra de
Moncayo to see the eclipse of the sun in 1860, and who recorded their
not very hazardous or important achievement in this most barbarous

[Illustration: Entrance to Chapter-House, Veruela.]

It is a fact quite worth notice here, that none of the old windows are
blocked up: the truth is that the churches from which this was derived
were, in common with all Romanesque churches, taken straight from Italy,
where the requirements of the climate were very similar to those of
Spain. Yet it was only very gradually that the northern architects
discovered their unfitness for a northern climate, and increased their
dimensions. Here they give just enough and not too much light; but at a
later day, when the northern churches were all window from end to end,
the same fault was committed; and when their architects were employed to
build in other climates, they followed their own traditions without
reference to altered circumstances, as we see at Milan, at Leon, and
elsewhere frequently.

The church at Veruela seems now to be but little frequented, the high
altar alone being ever used. The stalls of the Coro are gone, and a
shattered fragment of the old organ-case standing out from the wall
serves only as a forlorn mark to show where it once stood. The buildings
generally are sadly decayed and ruinous, and I have seldom seen a noble
building less cared for or respected. It is sad to see this result of
the suppression of religious orders, and one may be permitted to doubt
whether it can be for the interest of religion that this noble
foundation should now be nothing more than the private residence of a
Spanish gentleman, instead of--as it was intended it should be by its
pious founder--a perpetual refuge from the cares of the world of those
in every age who aim to lead the holiest and most devoted lives.

I left Veruela with regret that I was unable to obtain more accurate
notes of such portions of the monastic buildings as probably still
remain overlaid with the poor additions of a too wealthy convent during
the last three centuries. It is, however, easily accessible, and the
plan which I give of the church will no doubt soon induce others to
complete my examination wherever it has been defective.

On the ride back to Tarazona, we made a short _détour_ to look at what
seemed to be an important church and village. Neither could well have
been less so! The church was without anything worth remark save a band
of tiles, set chevron fashion, in the cornice, and not harmonizing at
all well with the walls. The village was wretched in the extreme.

At Tarazona I was much struck by the extremely good character of the
common crockery in use in the inn and elsewhere. It is all painted by
hand, never printed; and the result is that, even when simple diapers
only are used, there is far greater life, variety, and vigour in the
drawing than there ever is in our machine-made work. The colour seems
generally to be used in such a way as that when burnt it varies
charmingly in tint and texture. Every plate is different in pattern; and
I fear that, uncivilized as we might think these good Spaniards in some
things, they would be justly shocked were they to see the wretchedly
inferior patterns with which, after many years of talking about art, we
are still satisfied to decorate our earthenware. These people excel,
too, just as much in form as in ornament. Their jugs are always quaint
and good in outline, and made with the simplest regard to what is

[Illustration: VERUELA ABBEY: Ground Plan of the Church &r: Plate XXIII.

W. West, Lithr.

Published by John Murray, Albemarle St. 1865.]



FROM Zaragoza the railway to Pamplona passes by Tudela. The line is
carried all the way along the valley of the Ebro, the southern side of
which is a fairly level open country, whilst on the north bold, barren
hills, stream-worn and furrowed in all directions, rise immediately
above the river. The broad valley through which the railway passes is
well covered with corn-land, which, when I first passed, was rich with
crops. To the south, as Tudela is approached, are seen the bold ranges
of the Sierra de Moncayo, whilst in the opposite direction, far off to
the north, soon after leaving Zaragoza the grand and snowy outlines of
the Pyrenees come in sight.

Alagon is the only considerable town passed on the road, and there seems
to be here an old brick belfry of the same character as the great
steeple of Zaragoza, and, like it also, very much out of the

The cathedral dedicated to Sta. Maria at Tudela is one of the same noble
class of church as those of Tarragona and Lérida, and quite worthy in
itself of a long pilgrimage. It is said by Madoz to have been commenced
in A.D. 1135, and consecrated in 1188, and was at first served by
Regular clergy, but Secularized in 1238. It is slightly earlier in date
than the churches just mentioned, yet some of its sculpture, as will be
seen, has, perhaps, more affinity to the best French work, and is indeed
more advanced in style, than that with which the other two churches are
decorated. This may be accounted for, most probably, by its more
immediate neighbourhood to France. Its scale is fairly good without
approaching to being grand, and thus it affords a good illustration of
the great power which the mediæval architects undoubtedly possessed, of
giving an impression of vastness even with very moderate dimensions, and
of securing a thoroughly cathedral-like effect in a building much
smaller in all its dimensions than the ordinary cathedral of the middle
ages. No power is more to be desired by an architect; none marks more
distinctly the abyss between the artist and the mere mechanical
builder; and none has been more lost sight of during the three centuries
which have elapsed since the eclipse of the Pointed style in the
sixteenth century. We see here the usual subdivisions of parts, all
well-proportioned and balanced. The nave[392] is of four bays only in
length, and this is now, and perhaps was always in great part, occupied
by the Coro: but, on the other hand, the proportions of the transept are
very fine, and its internal perspective compensates in great degree for
the loss of that of the nave. Out of this transept five arches in the
east wall open to the choir and to four chapels, two on either side: and
it is remarkable that two of these have square east ends, whilst all the
rest have circular apses.

The plan of the columns is almost identical with that seen at Tarragona
and Lérida: but it is one of which the eye is never satiated, inasmuch
as it is well defined in its outlines, strong and massive-looking, and
evidently equal to all that it has to perform. The vaulting is all
quadripartite, except in the two eastern chapels on each side of the
centre apse, or Capilla mayor, which are roofed with semi-domes, the
Capilla mayor having its apse groined in five bays, with very bold
groining ribs.

The arches are all pointed, very simply moulded with bold, broad, flat
soffeits, generally of only one order, and with labels adorned with
dog-tooth. The bases and abaci of the capitals are all square. The
former have the transition from the circular members to the square
managed with admirable skill, tufts of foliage occupying the angles. The
latter throughout the church are deep and boldly carved, as also are the
capitals themselves. These seem to be of different dates: all those on
the eastern side of the transept, and all the lower capitals of the
nave, save the west end and first column, being very classical in their
design, and probably dating from early in the thirteenth century, whilst
the remainder appear to be generally of the latter part of the same
century. In the earlier capitals the abaci are all set square with the
walls, whereas in the later work they are set at right angles to the
arch which they have to carry, and often, therefore, at an angle of 45°
to the walls.

[Illustration: No 50.



The groining ribs are very bold, and well moulded. There is no
triforium, and the clerestory windows come down to a string-course just
above the points of the main arches. They are of two lights, with a
circle in the arched head, and their rear arches are moulded and carried
on engaged jamb-shafts. The transepts have rose-windows in the bays
next the choir, and lancet-windows in the north and south bays, and the
carved abacus is carried over these as a label. There seem to have been
rose windows round the principal apse at a lower level than the other
clerestory windows; but only one of these is visible on either side,
owing to the reredos: and I found it impossible to get any near exterior
view of the east end, owing to the way in which it is built against by

The west front had a large rose-window, which has been blocked up, and
it still retains a noble doorway, of which I shall have to speak more in
detail presently.

The north transept is now the least altered part of the church, and in
the extreme simplicity of its bold buttresses, the refined beauty of its
sculptured doorway, and the well-proportioned triplet which fills the
upper part of the wall, it recalls to mind an English building of the
thirteenth century. Unfortunately the gable has been destroyed, and the
walls and buttresses are now finished with the straight line of the
eaves. Almost the only peculiarity in the detail here is the wide,
external splay of the windows between the glass and the jamb-shafts in
the centre of the monials. The south transept has a triplet similar to
that in the north transept, and has also lost its gable, and, being more
shut in than the other, is perhaps the most picturesque in effect. A
narrow lane leads up to it along the east wall of the cloister, and
this, turning abruptly when it reaches the church, passes under a broad
archway, which forms the south front of a porch, and then, out of an
eastern archway, the street goes on again, twisting and turning in a
fashion which is not a little eccentric. The exterior of the eastern
apse retains its buttresses of slight projection, which run up to, and
finish under, the eaves-cornice, which is carried, as all the cornices
throughout the church are, upon boldly-moulded corbels.

It is only at some distance from the cathedral that anything is well
seen of the turrets and tower, which give it most of the character it
possesses. The west end had, I think, two small square towers, finished
with octagonal turrets of smaller diameter than the towers. Of these the
south-western still remains, but on the north side a lofty brick steeple
was erected in the eighteenth century. Another turret is strangely
placed over the centre of the principal apse. This is octangular in
plan, with lancet-windows in the cardinal sides, and the sides of its
spire pierced with two rows of small lights. The tile-roof of the apse
slopes up on all sides from the eaves to the base of this turret; and,
novel as its position is, it seemed to me to be well chosen and
effective.[393] Other turrets rise out of the chapels which have sprung
up round the church, and these, with the altered form of almost all the
roofs, give a strange, informal, and disjointed look to the whole
cathedral, which is eminently the reverse of attractive. Nevertheless
the old work is there, and only requires a moderate amount of attention
in order to understand the whole general character of the original

There are three grand doorways, one to each transept, and one at the
west end. The former are not placed in the centre of the gable, but
close to the western side of the transept, either, as is most probable,
from a proper desire to leave space in front of the altars of the small
transept chapels, or because then, as now, the ground was covered with
houses, which made it impossible to place them centrally.

The finest of the three doorways is in the centre of the west front of
the church, and its opening is more than nine feet in the clear, each of
the jambs having eight shafts in square recesses. Two corbels support
the tympanum, which has now no sculpture, nor any signs of ever having
had any, and the arch has eight orders of sculptured moulding. The
capitals of the columns in the jambs are all sculptured with subjects in
a very exquisite fashion. There is here no grotesqueness or intentional
awkwardness, but extreme beauty of design, simplicity of story, and
fitness for the position chosen. The abaci are carved throughout with
conventional foliage, well arranged and delicately cut. I know little
even of French carving of the thirteenth century which surpasses this
beautiful work, and none anywhere which more entirely deserves our
admiration, or which may more worthily kindle our emulation. It is true,
indeed, that here as elsewhere the cold formal critic may come and prove
to his own satisfaction that some portions of the work are not
academically correct: on the other hand, it is equally true that it is
not academically cold and soulless, for the men who wrought here wrought
of their love and enthusiasm, and not merely because they were drilled
and paid, and they afford us, therefore, an example not to be despised
of the truths, that in art enthusiasm is worth more than skill, and
feeling more than knowledge; truths specially valuable in these days,
when men fancy they can convert all who call themselves architects into
artists, not by making them rejoice in their work, but simply by
teaching them how to draw.

The subjects in the capitals are arranged in the following order:--Nos.
1 to 8 are those in the left or northern jamb, and Nos. 9 to 16 those in
the right or southern jamb. Nos. 1 and 9 are next the opening, and Nos.
8 and 16 the extreme capitals right and left of the centre.

   1. The Creation of Angels.
   2. Do. of Earth, Stars, &c.
   3. Do. of Trees.
   4. Do. of Birds and Beasts.
   5. Do. of Adam.
   6. Do. of Eve.
   7. The Fall.
   8. Eve sleeping with a fig-leaf in her
      hand, and the Serpent mocking her.
   9. Expulsion from Paradise.
  10. Adam tilling, Eve spinning.
  11. Cain and Abel sacrificing.
  12. Cain killing Abel.
  13. God cursing Cain.
  14. Cain, a fugitive.
  15. Entry into the Ark.
  16. The Sacrifice of Abraham.

The two corbels which support the tympanum have on their face angels
blowing trumpets, and under them two lions, eating, one of them two
wyverns, the other a man. The archivolt has a series of eight figures
carved on key-stones at its intersection. These are--beginning with the
lowest--(1) the Agnus Dei, (2) the Blessed Virgin, (3) an angel, (4) a
martyr, (5) a king, (6) a bishop, and (7) another king. On the sides the
archivolt has on the left the Resurrection, and the happiness of the
blessed, who are all represented in pairs; and on the right, the
tortures of the damned, full of terror and horror of every kind. In the
first rank of these unhappy ones are two bishops and an abbat learning
the truth of our Lord’s aweful saying, “Where their worm dieth not, and
their fire is not quenched”--a saying practically ignored by our
sculptors and carvers at the present day, who seem to believe in no Last
Judgment, no masculine saints, and nothing but female angels; so far, at
least, as one can judge by the figures with which they cover so
profusely the walls of some of our new churches. The outer order of the
archivolt has angels all round it, with crowns and sceptres in their
hands. There can be little doubt, I suppose, that the tympanum was
intended to have a sculpture, or, perhaps, had a painting of a sitting
figure of our Lord in Judgment; without this figure the whole scheme
wants the key-note, to give tone and significance to all its varied
story. With it there would be few doorways which would be altogether
finer or more worshipful than this.

The transept-doors are rightly much more simple than the western door,
and the character of their sculpture has so much Byzantine feeling that
there can he no doubt they are of somewhat earlier date.

The north transept doorway has on its eastern capitals: 1, The Baptism
of our Lord by St. John; 2, Herod’s Feast; 3, The head of St. John
brought in a charger;--and on its western capitals: 4, St. Martin giving
his cloak to a beggar; 5, Our Lord holding a cloth (?). and two angels
worshipping; 6, St. Nicolas restoring the two children to life. The
door-arch is pointed, and all its orders and the label are very richly
carved, but with foliage only. The south transept door is round-arched,
and its tympanum is not filled in. On the capitals of the western jamb
are: 1, St. Peter walking on the Sea; 2, The Last Supper; 3, The Charge
to St. Peter;--and on the eastern jamb: 4, The Incredulity of St.
Thomas; 5, The Walk to Emmaus; 6, The Supper at Emmaus.

The west front has two large square turrets, one of which only is
carried up above the line of the roof. Its highest stage is octagonal,
with a lancet opening on each face, and is finished with a low spire. A
bold row of corbels is carried round the turret between the octagonal
and square stages, as if for the support of a projecting parapet which
no longer exists. The western rose-window was inserted under a
broadly-soffeited and bold pointed arch, which spans the whole space
between the turrets and rises nearly to the top of the walls.

The internal furniture of this church is not interesting. The metal
screens are of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The Coro
occupies the second and third bays of the nave, and iron rails are
placed from its eastern door to the doorway in the Reja or screen of the
Capilla mayor, so as to preserve a passage for the clergy. The reredos
of the high altar contains sixteen paintings, enclosed within a
complicated architectural framework of buttresses, pinnacles, and
canopies. In the centre is an enormous canopy and niche, in which is a
modern effigy of the Blessed Virgin. This combination of rich
architectural detail with paintings is not satisfactory to the eye; and
it is evident that sculptured subjects would have been much more in
harmony with the framework.

In the south-east chapel of the south transept there is a magnificent
monument to the “Muy Hoñorable Señor Môsen Francis de Villia Espepa,
Doctor, Cabalero, et Chanceller de Navarre,” and his “Muy Hoñorable
Duenya Doña Ysabel,” who died in 1423. The two effigies lie under a
deeply-recessed arch filled in with tracery, the recess being adorned
with sculptured subjects on its three sides. There are eight Weepers in
the arcade on the side of the tomb. It was too dark to see what all the
subjects were; but at the back our Lord is seated and censed by angels;
and below this He is represented in His tomb, with His arms bound, with
a weeping angel on either side.

I have left to the last all notice of the beautiful cloister on the
south side of the nave. The arcades, which open into the cloister-court,
are carried on columns, which are alternately coupled and tripled or
quadrupled; larger piers are introduced in the centre of each side, in
order to give additional strength. The arches are generally simple and
pointed, but on the north and south sides they are chevroned on the
inside. The engraving which I give of the south-east angle of this
cloister will show how elaborate the whole of the work is. The capitals
throughout are carved with subjects and foliage, and most of the latter
is of extremely delicate character. The acanthus-leaf is largely
introduced. I had not time to catalogue the subjects carved in the
capitals; but so many of them are concealed and so many damaged, that I
fear it would be almost impossible at present to do so at all

[Illustration: Angle of Cloister, Tudela.]

I may with safety class this small church at Tudela among the very best
it has been my good fortune to visit in any part of Europe; and there is
much in its Iconography and in its sculptured detail which would reward
a much more lengthened examination than I was able to afford.

I saw but one other old church here--that of la Magdalena, in the Calle
de Sta. Cruz. It consists of a nave and choir, vaulted with a pointed
waggon roof, with bold transverse ribs carried on carved capitals built
in the side-walls. The chancel makes a very decided bend to the north.
There is a simple tower on the north side, with a round-arched window of
two lights in the belfry stage, and a window of one light in the stage
below it. The west doorway is very fine: it is round-arched, and has in
the tympanum our Lord seated in a quatrefoil, surrounded by the emblems
of the four Evangelists. The label is carved, and the orders of the arch
are in part carved with acanthus, and in part with figures. Among the
latter are the twelve Apostles and (apparently) the Descent of the Holy
Ghost. The capitals are also storied.[394]

From Tudela I availed myself of a special train on the railway to
Pamplona, which ran solely for the purpose of carrying the passengers of
a diligence from Madrid, and in which the station-master obligingly gave
me a seat. On the road we passed the towns of Olite and Tafalla, the
view of the former of which gave so much promise that I returned there
in order to examine its remains properly.

Tafalla and Olite were of old called the Flowers of Navarre. Olite now
is dreary, desolate, and ruinous; and though Tafalla looks a little more
thriving, it too has lost all its former claim to the title of a flower!

In Olite there are the extensive remains of a very fine castle, which
was built as a palace by the kings of Navarre, and two interesting
parish churches, Sta. Maria and San Pedro. Sta. Maria consists of a wide
nave of four bays in length, and a small apse at the east end. On the
west side is a small cloister in front of the principal entrance, which
gives great picturesqueness to the whole work. The cloister is a work of
the fifteenth century, an irregular square in plan, and arcaded with a
good simple open arcade. The east side has been destroyed, in order to
allow of the grand western doorway of the church being seen. This is
protected by a penthouse roof, supported on two tall columns, which have
taken the place of the old arcade. The church was built within the walls
of the castle, but the cloister seems to have been thrown out beyond
their line on the town side. There is a tower on the south of the nave,
finished with a gabled roof, and pierced with some good early-pointed

[Illustration: TUDELA: Ground Plan of Cathedral: Plate XXIV.

W. West, Lithr.

Published by John Murray, Albemarle St. 1865.]

The west front is a very elaborate work of the fourteenth century. It
has a central doorway, and a row of niches with figures on each side of
it, above a stringcourse, which is on the same level as the springing of
the doorway. The tympanum of the door has sculptures of the Blessed
Virgin Mary and our Lord under a canopy in the centre; on the (proper)
right, the Baptism, the Flight into Egypt, and the Massacre of the
Innocents; and on the left, the Presentation, the Annunciation, and the
Nativity. The carving of the archivolt is rich, mainly of foliage, but
with two or three figures under niches introduced capriciously in its
midst. The jambs, too, are covered with carvings of subjects arranged in
the oddest way; _e.g._ there are in succession an Agnus Dei, an
Annunciation, the Creation of Eve, Adam tilling the ground, wyverns, an
elephant and castle, the Fall, a pelican vulming its breast with a goat
standing on its hind-legs and looking on; and so on with subjects which
seem to exhibit nothing but the odd conceits of the workman, and to be
arranged in no kind of order. The carving is all of that crisp, sharp,
clever kind, so seldom seen in England, but so common in the
fourteenth-century buildings of Germany, and in which some of the
Spanish sculptors were unsurpassed by all save perhaps their own
successors in the latest period of Gothic art, whose works I have
already described at Burgos, Miraflores, and Valladolid. There are
extensive traces of old painting on the stonework of this doorway; and I
noticed that the detached shafts (of which there are four in each jamb)
were covered with a trailing branch of ivy, with green leaves and red

The interior of Sta. Maria is not very interesting, though its scale is
good, the groined nave being 36 feet wide by 108 feet in length. The
groining-shafts are commendably bold and dignified. There is the usual
late western gallery, and a modern chapel and large irregular porch on
the south side.

Sta. Maria stands, as I have said, partly within the walls of the
ancient castle or palace. This was dismantled in the course of the
Peninsular war, but is still an imposing ruin, with a vast extent of
enclosing wall, out of which rise several fine towers. These are
generally very simple, but lofty, and capped with projecting
machicoulis. I give an illustration of one in which the finish is unlike
any that I remember to have seen.[395] The window here is a good example
of a traceried domestic window, a straight stone transome being carried
across under the tracery, so as to make the window-opening

Two grand towers on the eastern face of the castle are octangular in
plan, and one of them rises in three stages, each slightly within the
other, and each finished with fine corbelled machicoulis.

The gateways have extremely small and low pointed arches, looking like
little holes in the great walls. Some of the walls are finished with the
common Arab type of battlement, the coping of which is weathered to a
point. The keep is a large pile, with square towers at the angles; and
near it is a large hall with battlemented side-walls, which has the air
of being the earliest part of the castle, but into which I was unable to
gain admission.

[Illustration: Castle, and Church of San Pedro, Olite.]

At the other extremity of the town (or village as it ought rather to be
called) is the church of San Pedro. This forms an important feature in
the picturesque view of the place, owing to its fine and peculiar tower
and spire. This is built against the south side of the church, is quite
plain until it rises above the roof, and then has two stages each
pierced with windows; above this a pierced overhanging parapet, carried
upon very bold corbels, and then a low octagonal stage, each side
surmounted by a crocketed gable, and the whole finished with a spire,
the entasis of which is very distinctly marked. An original design, such
as this is, deserves illustration. The height of the spire bears, it
will be seen, but a small proportion to that of the tower, as is often
to be observed in the case of good steeples; but the most unusual
feature is the enormous parapet, and taking into account the position of
the church just at the extreme angle of the town, it may be supposed to
have been built with some view to military requirements. The greater
part of the steeple is a work I suppose of the fourteenth century--much
later than the church, which, saving modern additions, is a fine work of
quite the beginning of the thirteenth century, if not earlier. The west
doorway is round-arched, having three shafts in each jamb, with
sculptured capitals, and an arch of six orders alternately carved and
moulded. The tympanum is sculptured with our Lord and two censing
angels, and below are subjects from the life of St. Peter: (1) His
commission; (2) His walking on the sea; (3) His trial; and (4) His
crucifixion. Above the doorway is a stringcourse carved in the
fourteenth century, and in the gable a wheel window within a pointed
enclosing-arch. The plan of the nave and aisles is of the same kind as
that of the church at Tudela, though on a smaller scale. A curious
difference in the design is the carrying up of the aisle groining almost
to the same level as that of the nave, whilst the transverse arches
across the aisle are at a much lower level, and have fine pointed and
circular windows pierced in the walls between the arches and the
groining. The eastern part of the church is all modern and very bad.

Olite is a very squalid and miserable place; but a few hours may be well
spent here; and the castle in particular, which has been very badly
treated within a few years, ought to be carefully examined and drawn
before it is too late. I was there on a hot day in June,--so hot as to
make it difficult to work,--and yet on the summit of the hills, lying to
the south-south-west of the town, a good deal of snow was lying, and in
the evening, as the sun went down, the cautious Spaniards put on their
great cloth cloaks, and stole about muffled up to the eyes as though it
were mid-winter.

From Olite to Tafalla there was once, or was once intended to be, a
continuous subterraneous communication. The distance must be some three
or four miles, so that the story would appear to be rather improbable.
The intention of Charles III. of Navarre to make such a communication
between the great palace he was building at Tafalla and the already
existing castle of Olite, is mentioned by Cean Bermudez under the date
of 1419; but he gives no authority for his statement.

I was unable to stop at Tafalla: it is a more important place than
Olite, and has two churches, both apparently of the latest Gothic, with
square-ended transepts, and windowless apsidal choirs like those of the
late Burgalese churches.

After leaving Tafalla the country becomes at every step wilder and more
beautiful. The hills rise grandly on either side, and are bare and
rocky. The railway passes under an aqueduct, which in height, length,
and simple grandeur of design, is worthy to be ranked among the finest
European aqueducts. It was built at the end of the last century by D.
Ventura Rodriguez. The only old church I saw on this part of the road
was close to Las Campanas station. Its west front had a good doorway,
and above this a great arch rising almost to the point of the gable,
with a circular window pierced within it. The same design is repeated in
one of the churches of Pamplona.

The towers and walls of Pamplona are seen for some time before they are
reached. The railway follows the winding of a pretty stream, and the
city stands well elevated above it. The situation is indeed very
charming, the whole character of the country being thoroughly
mountainous, and the city standing on an elevated knoll rising out of an
ample and prosperous-looking valley surrounded by fine hills.

The views from the cathedral and walls are very beautiful, and as the
town is large and rather handsomely laid out with a grand arcaded Plaza
in the centre, it gives a very favourable impression of Spain to those
who make it their first resting-place on a Spanish tour.

[Illustration: No 51



The cathedral stands on the outside of the city and close to the walls.
It was commenced in A.D. 1397 by Charles III. of Navarre, who pulled
down almost[396] the whole of the old church (built circa A.D. 1100).
The planning of this church is both ingenious and novel. Its chevet is
entirely devised upon a system of equilateral triangles, and, as will be
seen by reference to my plan,[397] the apse has only two canted sides,
having a column in the centre behind the altar; and though it is
perfectly true that this two-sided apse is in itself not a very graceful
scheme, it is at the same time equally true that the combination of the
chapels with the central apse is very ingenious and clever. The
distortion of the chapel next to the transept is very objectionable,
and seems to be without reason or necessity. There are transepts and a
nave and aisles of six bays in length, with side chapels along the
greater part of the aisles. The extreme shortness of the constructional
choir makes it certain that the church was planned for the modern
Spanish arrangement of the Coro, which now occupies two bays of the
nave, leaving one bay between its eastern Reja and the Crossing. The
Reja of the Capilla mayor is under the eastern arch of the Crossing, so
that the low rails marking the passage from the Coro to the Capilla
mayor are very long. The detail of all the architecture is
characteristic of the late date at which the church was built. The
columns are large, but composed of a succession of insignificant
mouldings, so as to produce but little effect of bold light and shade:
those in the choir are cylindrical, with clusters of mouldings
supporting, and continued on as, the groining ribs, and they all lack
that definiteness of arrangement and plan which is one of the surest
tests of the difference between good and bad Gothic architecture
generally, as it is between the work of men of the thirteenth and
fifteenth centuries almost everywhere.

The internal effect of the cathedral is certainly very fine. The
peculiar scheme of the apse allows of the erection of a Retablo of
unusual height with less interference with the architectural features
than is common; and the whole design has the merit which I have so often
had to accord to the latest school of Gothic artists in Spain, of having
been schemed with an evident intention of meeting and providing for the
necessities of the climate; and one consequence of this is that almost
all the windows are left as they were originally designed, and have not
been blocked up in order to diminish the glare. The clerestory windows
throughout are small, those in the transepts are only small roses, and
owing to the steep slope of the aisle roofs there is a great space
between these openings and the main arcades. The three eastern bays of
the nave have geometrical traceries, whilst in the western bays and the
choir they are flamboyant in character; but I do not imagine that this
slight difference in character betokens any real difference in their
age. They all, in short, have somewhat of late middle-pointed character,
though their actual date and their detail would make us class them
rather with works of the third-pointed style.

The stalls in the Coro are of Renaissance character, but founded closely
on the older models; and the Reja, to the east of them, is of wrought
iron, old, but with a Renaissance cresting. The Reja in front of the
Capilla mayor is much finer; it is of wrought iron, and is made, as is
so usual, with vertical bars, set rather close together, and alternately
plain and twisted. What the lower part lacks in ornament the cresting
more than atones for; it is unusually ornate, consisting of interlacing
ogee arches with crocketed pinnacles between them, all very elaborately
hammered up. The horizontal bars and rails are also all covered with
traceries in relief, and at regular intervals on these there are small
figures under canopies. The whole stands upon a moulded and panelled
base of stone. The total height of this screen is not less than thirty
feet, of which the cresting is about a third.

Of the other furniture I may mention some of the glass in the
clerestory, which is fine; and the old Retablos. Two of these in the
south chapel of the chevet are especially worthy of notice. One of them
has a crucifix (with the figure draped in modern drapery) which has the
feet half plated with silver, and behind it are twelve prophets in rows
of four over each other, and all of them with inscriptions referring to
the Crucifixion--such as the texts beginning “Foderunt manus,” “Vere
languores nostros ipse tulit,” “Post ebdomadas sexaginta dies
occidetur,” “Quid sicut plage iste,” &c.

The western front is a poor Pagan work utterly out of keeping with the
remainder of the fabric, and erected in the last century from the
designs of D. Ventura Rodriguez. The rest of the exterior is Gothic, but
not at all striking. It was once well garnished with crocketed pinnacles
above its flying buttresses, but they have now for the most part
disappeared. The roofs are flat and tiled, and hipped back in an
ungainly fashion even at the transepts. The north transept door has an
unusually fine example of a latch-handle or closing ring: the handle has
writhing serpents round it, and the plate is perforated all over with
rich flamboyant traceries.

This cathedral is fortunate in retaining many of its old dependent
buildings in a very perfect state, but unfortunately I have spent only
one day in Pamplona, and I did not see by any means all that is to be
seen. For Cean Bermudez[398] says that some portions of the first
cathedral, founded in A.D. 1100, still remain; particularly the small
cloister and some of the buildings attached to it. This was the last
cathedral in Spain that observed the rule of St. Augustine, and the
canons always lived in common; the refectory, said to be of the
thirteenth century, the kitchen and offices, all still remain. Of about
the same age as the cathedral are the beautiful cloisters on its south
side, and the Chapter-house to the east of the cloister. It is said,
indeed, that a part of this cloister had been built some seventy years
before the fall of the old cathedral rendered it necessary to rebuild it
from the ground, and the style of much of the work encourages one to
believe the statement. It is certainly a very charming work in every
way: it is a square in plan, each side having six traceried windows
towards the centre court, and a small chapel breaks out into this at the
south-west angle. The windows are all of four lights, filled with
geometrical traceries, with crocketed labels to some and canopies to
others, and delicate buttresses and pinnacles dividing the bays. The low
wall below the open windows is covered with small figures in niches, and
the walls above the windows with panelling, as is also the parapet of
the modern upper cloister. The general conception is very ornate, and at
the same time very delicate and light in its proportions; and it is
rendered very interesting by the number of rich doorways, monuments, and
sculptures with which the walls are everywhere enriched. The door called
“Of our Lady of the Refuge” opens from the transept to the cloister; its
front is in the cloister, of which it occupies the north-western bay. In
its tympanum is a sculpture of the burial of the Blessed Virgin, whose
statue, with the figure of our Lord in her arms, occupies the post of
honour against the central pier. The reveals of the jambs are filled
with little niches and canopies in which are figures and subjects; and
below the bases, in a band of quatrefoils, are on the one side the Acts
of Mercy; on the other, figures playing on instruments. Angels in the
archivolt bear a scroll on which is inscribed--“Quæ est ista que
ascendit de deserto deliciis affluens, innixa super dilectum suum?
Assumpta est Maria in cœlum.” Against the east wall of the cloister
is a sculpture of the Adoration of the Magi, and next to this the grand
triple opening to the Chapter-house--a richly moulded door with a
two-light window on either side. In the southern alley are a fine tomb
of a bishop, the door of the Sala Preciosa adorned with a series of
bas-reliefs from the life of the Blessed Virgin, and another door with
the Last Supper and the Entry into Jerusalem; and close to the latter,
but in the western wall, is a doorway with the Crucifixion, and the
Maries going to the Sepulchre. Between these sculptured doorways the
walls are all arcaded with tracery panels corresponding to the windows;
and as all the mouldings are rich and delicate in their design, and the
proportions of the cloister very lofty, it will be seen that I cannot be
very far wrong in considering this to be, on the whole, one of the most
effective and striking cloisters of its age. The projecting chapel on
the south-west angle is exceedingly delicate in its construction, and is
screened from the cloister with iron _grilles_. A quaintly trimmed
box-garden occupies the cloister-court to the no small improvement of
its effect.

On the eastern side is the Chapter-house; a very remarkable work of
probably the same age as the cloister, though of a simpler, bolder, and
much more grand kind of design. It is square in plan, but the vault is
octagonal, the angles of the square being arched and covered with small
subordinate vaults below the springing of the main vault. Buttresses are
placed outside to resist the thrust of each of the eight principal ribs
of the octagonal vault; and these buttresses, being all placed in the
same direction as the ribs, abut against the square outline of the
building in the most singular and, at first sight, unintelligible
manner. They are carried up straight from the ground nearly to the
eaves, where they are weathered back and finished with square crocketed
pinnacles; whilst between them an open arcade is carried all round just
below the eaves. On the exterior this Chapter-house seems to be so far
removed from the east end of the church as to have hardly any connection
with it; they are separated by houses built up close to their walls, and
present consequently a not very imposing effect from the exterior; and
standing, as the Chapter-house does, just on the edge of the city walls,
it is strange that it has fared so well in the many attacks that have
been made on Pamplona. The interior is remarkable only for the grand
scale and proportions of the vault with which it is covered.

There are several other old churches here which deserve notice, though
none are on a very fine or grand scale. That of San Saturnino--the first
Bishop of Pamplona--is remarkable chiefly for the very unusual planning
of its eastern end, which has three unequal sides, out of which three
unequal polygonal chapels open.[399] My impression is that there was
never any altar under the great apse, but that the high altar stood in
the central chapel, at its east end. The Coro is, and probably was
always intended to be, in the western gallery, the under side of which
is groined, and any arrangement of stalls on the floor of such a church
would be obviously inconvenient and out of place. Two towers are built
against the eastern bay of the nave. The window tracery is of good
geometrical middle-pointed character, and the mouldings and other
details all seem to prove that the church was built about the middle of
the fourteenth century. The south doorway has the rare feature at this
period of capitals _historiés_; on the left hand are the Annunciation,
the Salutation, the Nativity, and the Flight into Egypt; and on the
right our Lord bearing His Cross, the Descent from the Cross, the
Resurrection, and the Descent into Hell. The Crucifixion forms the
finial of the canopy over the doorway, and three or four other subjects
are concealed by the modern framework round the door. There seems to be
no reason why the idea of such a plan as this should not be adopted
again: the termination of the nave by a kind of apsis, from one side of
which the chancel projects, is extremely good, and perhaps, on the
whole, the best way of effecting the change from the grand span of so
broad a nave to the moderate dimensions (just half those of the nave) of
the chancel. Such a church would probably hold about six hundred
worshippers, all in sight of the altar, and might, with advantage to its
proportions, be lengthened by the addition of another bay; and, simple
as all its parts would be, it would be a relief to eyes wearied by the
flimsy weakness of our modern Gothic work to look upon anything which
could not possibly be constructed without solid walls, massive
buttresses, and some degree of constructive skill.

The church of San Nicolas is of Romanesque date, but much altered and
added to at later periods. It consists of a nave and aisles of three
bays, a Crossing, and a short eastern polygonal apse. The nave aisles
retain their original waggon vaults, with transverse ribs at intervals;
but the other vaults are all quadripartite. The clerestory of the nave,
too, consists of broad unpierced lancets, which are probably coeval with
the arcades below them.

The exterior of this church is very much obscured by modern additions
and excrescences, but still retains some features of much interest.
There is a fine early western door, and above this a rose window filled
with rich geometrical tracery, over which is a very boldly projecting
pointed arch, which abuts against a tower on the north and against a
massive buttress on the south. The walls appear to have been finished at
the eaves with very bold machicoulis. At a much later date than that of
the church a lofty open cloister, with plain pointed arches, was added
on the western and northern sides.

On either side of the apse of this church, in front of the Retablo and
altar, are what look like two tabernacles for the reservation of the
Sacrament: but I had no opportunity of learning the object of this
double arrangement.

The views from the walls of Pamplona are eminently lovely; I remember
looking across to the east, over the flat which stretches away from them
to where the mountains begin to rise boldly beyond; and, as my eyes
wandered on, I began to turn my thoughts eagerly homewards, and much as
I had enjoyed the Spanish journey which ended at Pamplona, there was
perhaps no part of it which I enjoyed more than this, where I was
ungrateful enough to Spain to allow everything to be seasoned by the
near prospect of home.

[Illustration: PAMPLONA:--Ground Plans of the Cathedral:--and of San
Saturnino: Plate XXV.

Published by John Murray, Albemarle St. 1865.]



IT is time, now that I have described so many Spanish Gothic buildings
in detail, to undertake a somewhat more general classification of them,
both in regard to their history and their style. Hitherto I have spoken
of each building by itself, only endeavouring to give so clear and
concise an account of each as was necessary in order that their general
character might be understood. But this kind of account would be
incomplete and almost useless without a more generalizing and more
systematic summary of the whole. And to this I propose to devote this

There are, indeed, few parts of Europe in which it is more easy to
detect the influence of History upon Art than it is in Spain. I dismiss
from consideration the period of the Visigothic rule, which lasted from
A.D. 417 to 717; for though it is possible that some works of this age
still exist, as _e.g._ part of the walls of Toledo, and the metal votive
crowns of Guarrazar, they do not really come within the scope of my
subject, inasmuch as there is no kind of evidence that they exercised
any influence over the architecture of the Christian parts of the
country after the Moorish interregnum.

From the first invasion by the Moors in A.D. 711 down to their expulsion
from Granada in A.D. 1492, their whole history is mixed up with that of
the Christians; and, as might be expected, so great was the detestation
in which the two races held each other, that neither of them borrowed to
any great extent from the art of the other, and accordingly we see two
streams of art flowing as it were side by side at the same time, and
often in the same district,--a circumstance, as I need hardly say,
almost, if not quite, unknown at the same period in any other part of
Europe. The Mosque at Cordoba in the ninth century, the Alcazar and
Giralda at Seville in thirteenth, the Court of Lions in the Alhambra in
the fourteenth, some of the houses in Toledo in the fifteenth century,
are examples of what the Moors were building during the very period of
the Middle Ages in which all the buildings which I have described and
illustrated were being erected; the only exception to be made to this
general statement being, that when the Christians vanquished the Moors
they usually continued to allow them to build somewhat in their own
fashion,--as, for example, they did in Toledo,--whilst on the other
hand, the Moors seem never to have imitated this example, though they
were of course utterly unable to suppress all evidence in their work of
any knowledge of Gothic buildings.

The reason of this was, no doubt, that throughout this period any
contrast drawn between the Moors and Christians in regard to
civilization would generally, if not always, have been in favour of the
former. They were accomplished both in art and science: their
architectural works would have been impossible except to a very refined
people, and their scientific attainments are evidenced even to the
present day by the system of artificial irrigation which they everywhere
introduced, and which even now remains almost unaltered and unimproved.
The Christians, on the contrary, were warlike and hardy, and in the
midst of constant wars had but scant time for the pursuit of art; and
finally, when they had re-established their supremacy, they wisely
allowed the Moors to remain under their rule when they would, and
employed them to some extent on the works in which they could not fail
to see that they excelled.

Again, the subdivision of the country into several kingdoms,
administered under varying laws, owing no common allegiance to any
central authority, and inhabited by people of various origin, might well
be expected to leave considerable marks on the style of the buildings;
though, at the same time, the antipathy which the inhabitants of all of
them felt for the Moors rendered this cause less operative than it would
otherwise have been. Some portions of the country had never been
conquered by the Saracens: such were the regions of the Pyrenees lying
betwixt Aragon and Navarre, the Asturias, Biscay, and the northern
portion of Galicia.[400] And though it was by degrees that the other
states freed themselves from their conquerors, it happened fortunately
that the Christian successes generally synchronized as nearly as
possible with that great development of Christian art which at the time
covered all parts of Europe with the noblest examples of Pointed
Architecture. Toledo was recovered by the Christians in A.D. 1085,
Tarragona in 1089, Zaragoza in 1118, Lérida in 1149, Valencia in 1239,
Seville in 1248, whilst Segovia, Leon, Burgos, Zamora, and Santiago
suffered more or less from occasional irruptions of the Moors down to
the beginning of the eleventh century, but from that date were
practically free from molestation. By the middle of the fifteenth
century the number of states into which the country had been divided was
reduced to four, Castile, Aragon, Navarre, and the Moorish kingdom of
Granada. Of these Aragon and Castile are the two of which I have seen
the most, and, I may venture to add, those in which the History of
Gothic Architecture in Spain is properly to be studied. For though it is
true that Seville was recovered in the thirteenth century, and Cordoba
about the same time, it is equally so that most of their buildings are
Moorish or modern, the Gothic cathedral in the former not having been
commenced until A.D. 1401, and the Moorish mosque in the latter still
doing service as the Christian cathedral; and generally throughout the
South of Spain, so far as I can learn, there are but few early Gothic
buildings to be seen; whilst the late examples of the style were
designed by the same architects, and in precisely the same style, as
those which were erected in the parts of Spain which I have visited.

Of these two great divisions of the country, Aragon included the
province of that name, together with Cataluña and Valencia; and owing to
the great political freedom which the Catalans in particular enjoyed at
an early period, to the vast amount of trade with Italy, the
Mediterranean, and the East carried on along its extensive seaboard, and
to its large foreign possessions--which included the Balearic Isles,
Naples, Sicily, and Sardinia--the kingdom of Aragon possessed great
wealth and power, and has left magnificent architectural remains.

The kingdom of Castile in course of time came to include, in addition to
the two Castiles, Leon, Biscay, the Asturias, Galicia, Estremadura,
Murcia, and Andalusia: and here there was not only a larger Spanish
territory, but one peopled by a much more varied population than that of
Aragon, and which naturally, I think, left a less distinct architectural
impress than we see in the other.

Each of these kingdoms of course inherited a certain number of buildings
erected under the rulers who had formerly held the country. It is
possible that some portion of the walls of Toledo were built by the
Goths; and at any rate we know by the fortunate discovery of the crowns
at Guarrazar,[401] that, whatever may have been the state of the people
in respect of other arts, that of working in precious metals was in an
advanced state.

The Moors who succeeded them undertook undoubtedly large works in many
parts of the country. They first built the Bridge of Alcantara across
the Tagus at Toledo, and enclosed several towns with strong walls, among
others Valencia and Talavera. They erected mosques and other public
buildings, and before the Christian conquests of the eleventh century
had no doubt imported much of a very advanced civilization into the
country which they ruled. The mosque “Cristo de la Luz,” at Toledo, is a
remarkable example of delicate skill in design and construction, and
certainly in advance of the coeval Christian works. The ingenuity of the
planning of the vaults is extreme, and though, at the same time, there
is to our eyes an error in trying to do so much in so very small a
space--nine vaulting compartments covered with varied vaults being
contrived in a chamber only 21 feet square--it is to be observed that
this is just one of the mistakes which arises from over-great education
and skill, and is in marked contrast to the kind of design which we see
in the simple, grave, but rude buildings which the less cultivated
Christians were erecting at the same period.

Of the early Christian buildings I think there can be but little doubt
that some at least still exist. There is no one year in Spanish history
which can be used as that of the Norman Conquest is in England. Here
people are accustomed to argue as though before and after A.D. 1066 two
entirely different styles existed, with few, if any, marks of imitation
of one from the other, though of course both must have had the same
common Roman origin. This cannot be said in Spain; and where we find
distinct and good evidence of the erection of churches in the ninth and
tenth centuries, and the buildings still standing, with every
architectural evidence of not being more modern than the eleventh
century, I see not why we should doubt their greater antiquity. For
looking to the solid way in which all these early works were built, it
seems to be extremely unlikely that they should have required rebuilding
so soon, or that, if they were rebuilt, not only should older stones
with inscriptions recording the dates be inserted in the new walls, but
also that no kind of evidence--documentary or other--should be
forthcoming as to their reconstruction.

Several inscriptions on foundation-stones are given by Cean
Bermudez,[402] and I regret never having been able to examine the
buildings in which they occur. One of the earliest of these, Sta. Cruz
de Cangas, is described as having a crypt; and a long inscription, with
the date 739, on a stone in it is given by Florez.[403] But I gather
from Mr. Ford that the church has now been modernized. Cean Bermudez
describes it as “strong, arched, and without ornament.” Another church
at Santiañes de Pravia has a labyrinthine inscription of A.D. 776,
recording its erection by the King Silo. This church was very small, but
had a Capilla mayor, two side chapels, a Crossing, and three naves; in
fact, was in plan completely and exactly what the Spanish churches of
the twelfth century were; and in this case it may, perhaps, be doubted
whether the inscription referred to the church described, and was not
taken from some older building. But the most interesting probably of
these early churches is that of Sta. Maria de Naranco, near Oviedo. This
is described and illustrated by Parcerisa,[404] and is undoubtedly a
most remarkable example, though unfortunately I can find no reliable
evidence as to its probably very early date. It seems to be planned with
a view to a congregation outside the church joining in the worship
within, there being galleries and open arches at the ends through which
the altar might be seen. I confess that the details which I have seen,
as well as the plans and views of this church, and of some portions of
Oviedo Cathedral, to which a similarly early date is ascribed, do not
give me the impression of work which is sufficiently distinct in style
to be pronounced, as the Spanish writers have it, “obra de Godos,” or
work of the Goths. Yet it is undoubtedly of early date, and probably, at
any rate, not later than the tenth or eleventh century. The detail is
Romanesque, and the modification of plan in such a building seems to
point to some special use for it rather than to some special age for its
erection. On the other hand, there is some reason to suppose that the
church at Santiago, which existed before the erection of the present
cathedral, was very similar in its plan;[405] and if so, it would seem
to fortify the claim for a very early date for Sta. Maria de Naranco.

I have thought it right to refer to these buildings on account of the
great age ascribed to some of them; but I have done so with some
hesitation, because I have not seen them myself, and it is impossible to
form any good opinion upon such questions as arise in connexion with
them without careful personal examination.

It is a relief, therefore, to turn now to more certain ground, and to
speak of churches which I have myself seen. I think the earliest of
these are the two old churches of San Pablo and San Pera, at Barcelona,
said to have been built in A.D. 914 and 983. I see no reason whatever to
doubt these dates; at least it is improbable that if San Pablo was built
in 914 it should have required rebuilding before the end of the next
century; and no one I suppose would suggest a later date for it than
this. In any case it is a valuable example. The ground-plan is
cruciform, with a central lantern and three eastern apses; and the roofs
are all covered with waggon vaulting and semi-domes. The plan is quite
worthy of very attentive consideration, since with more or less
modification of details it is that which more than any other may be said
to have been popular in Spain in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.

The question as to the quarter from whence it was derived is one of the
greatest possible interest, and admits, I think, of but little doubt. It
must be remembered that in considering these questions there are no
Pyrenees. The towns on what is now the French side of the mountains were
not then French; and such places as S. Elne were not only really
Spanish, but so intimate was the connexion existing between them and
places at a greater distance (as _e.g._ Carcassonne), that for our
purpose they may fairly be considered as being in the same country. The
plan which we see in San Pablo del Campo is one which, having its origin
in the East, spread to the north of Italy, was adopted largely in
Provence, Auvergne, and Aquitaine, and was probably imported from thence
to Barcelona. The central lantern and the three eastern apses are rather
Byzantine than Romanesque in their origin; and though they are not
common in Italy, they are occasionally met with; whilst in the parts of
France just mentioned they are of frequent occurrence. The church which
I coupled with this--San Pedro de las Puellas, in the same city--was
consecrated in A.D. 983; it is also cruciform, but has no chapels east
of the transepts. Here, too, we have waggon-vaults, and a central dome.

The little church of San Daniel,[406] at Gerona, not much later probably
in date than those first mentioned, is mainly remarkable for the apsidal
north and south ends of its transepts. This common German arrangement is
most rarely seen in Spain, and deserves especial notice. Here it is
coupled with a central octagonal lantern, which has a very good effect.
It is repeated very nearly in the church at Tarrasa, and so far as the
apses at the end of the transept in the church of San Pedro, Gerona;
and there is considerable similarity between the latter and the
cathedral at Le Puy en Velay.

The succeeding century shows us the same type of plan becoming much more
popular, and developed again in such close imitation of some foreign
examples as to make it almost impossible to doubt its foreign origin. In
these buildings the nave has usually a waggon-vault, and this is
supported by half barrel-vaults in the aisles. There is no clerestory; a
central lantern rises to a moderate height; and three eastern apsidal
chapels open into the transepts, and are roofed with semi-domes. San
Pedro, Huesca--probably not later in date than A.D. 1096-1150--is a
remarkably good and early example of the class; and will be found to be
extremely similar to some of the churches built about the same time on
the other side of the Pyrenees. The plan of the steeple[407]--which is
hexagonal--deserves special record; and it may not be amiss to observe,
that at Tarbes, in the Pyrenees, the principal church not only has three
eastern apses, but also a central octagonal steeple; and the same type
is again repeated at San Pedro, Gerona--said to have been commenced in
A.D. 1117--though here there are two apses on each side of the principal
altar, and all the detail of the design is very Italian, or perhaps I
should rather say Provençal, in its character. If we compare some of
these churches with the earlier portions of the cathedral at
Carcassonne, we shall find them to be almost identical in character and
detail, and cannot avoid coming to the conclusion that they were all
designed by the same school of architects or masons. Carcassonne
Cathedral has a nave and aisles divided by columns formed of a square
block, with an engaged shaft on each face: the covering of the nave is a
waggon-vault with square ribs on its under side, and that of the aisles
is a quadrant. It is, in fact, almost identical with San Pedro at
Gerona. Go farther east, and in the church at Monistrol, between Le Puy
and S. Etienne, the same design precisely will be seen in a remote
French village far from Spain.

About this period a type of church varying but little from this became
extremely common in Aquitaine and Auvergne; and this again evidently
influenced at least one of the Spanish architects very much indeed: I
allude to such churches as those of Notre Dame du Port, Clermont
Ferrand, and S. Sernin at Toulouse--to name two only out of a large
number. In these the ground-plan has usually nave and aisles, transepts,
central lantern, and a chevet consisting of an apsidal choir with a
surrounding aisle, and chapels opening into it, with spaces between
each chapel. This plan, as I have already shown, is absolutely repeated
at Santiago with such close accuracy that one can hardly avoid calling
it merely a reproduction of S. Sernin at Toulouse.[408] It is the more
remarkable because for some reason the early Spanish architects almost
always avoided the erection of a regular chevet, and adhered strictly to
their first plan of separate apsidal chapels on the eastern side of the
transept. But whilst the early French chevet was only copied at
Santiago, the other features of the French churches to which it belonged
were copied not unfrequently--these are the waggon-vaulted nave,
supported by half waggon-vaults over the aisles, and the central
lantern. Gradually the design of these various parts was developed into
a sort of stereotyped regularity, the instances of which extend so far
across to the Peninsula as to be very surprising to those who have
noticed the remarkable way in which local peculiarities generally
confine themselves to the particular districts in which they originated.
In course of time the groining was varied, and in place of the round
barrel-vault, one of pointed section was adopted, and in place of it
again the usual quadripartite vault. The examples which I have
described, and which belong to this class, are--San Isidoro, Leon; San
Vicente and San Pedro, Avila; several churches in Segovia; the old
Cathedral at Salamanca; Lérida old Cathedral; Sta. Maria, Benevente; and
Santiago, la Coruña. Other churches of precisely similar character exist
at Valdedios, near Gijon; Villanueva and Villa Mayor, near Oña; San
Antolin de Bedon, between Ribadella and Llanes; Sandoval, on the river
Esla; San Juan de Amandi and Tarbes, on the French side of the Pyrenees.
Those in Segovia may be accepted as the best examples of their class,
and they are so closely alike in all their details as to lead naturally
to the belief that they were all executed at about the same period, and
by the same workmen. The sack of the city by the Moors in 1071, when it
is said that thirty churches were destroyed, seems to point to the
period at which most of these churches were probably erected to take the
place of those that had been destroyed; and it seems to be certain that
their leading features remained generally unaltered until about the end
of the twelfth, if not far into the succeeding century. Indeed it is
remarkable in Spain, just as it is in Germany, that the late Romanesque
style, having once been introduced, retained its position and _prestige_
longer than it did in France, and was only supplanted finally by designs
brought again from France in a later style, instead of developing into
it through the features of first-pointed, as was the case in England and

In this general similarity there are several subordinate variations to
be observed. At Santiago, for instance, we see an almost absolute copy
of the great church of S. Sernin, Toulouse, erected soon after its
original had been completed. At Lugo it is clear, I think, that the
architect of the cathedral copied, not from any foreign work, but from
that at Santiago: he was probably neither acquainted with the church at
Toulouse, nor any of its class. At San Vicente, Avila, again, though we
see the Segovian eastern apses repeated with absolute accuracy, the
design of the church is modified in a most important manner by the
introduction of quadripartite vaulting in place of the waggon-vault, and
the piercing the wall above the nave arcades with a regular triforium
and clerestory. The same design was repeated with little alteration at
San Pedro, in the same city; and in both it seems to me that we may
detect some foreign influence, so rare was the introduction of the
clerestory in Spanish buildings of the same age. Sta. Maria, la Coruña,
again, though it evidently belongs to the same class as the cathedral at
Santiago, has certain peculiarities which identify it absolutely with
that variation which we see at Carcassonne and Monistrol:[409] for here
there are narrow aisles; and the three divisions of the church are all
covered with waggon-vaults, those at the sides resisting the thrust from
the centre, and, owing to their slight width, exerting but slight
pressure on the outer walls. The distinction between this design and one
in which the aisles are covered with quadrant-vaults is very marked; and
the erection of the cathedral at Santiago would not have been very
likely to lead to the design of such a church as this.

In all these churches the proportion of the length of the choir to that
of the nave is very small. Usually the apses are either simply added
against the eastern wall of the transept, or else, whilst the side apses
are built on this plan, the central apse is lengthened by the addition
of one bay between the Crossing and the apse. It is very important to
mark this plan, because, however it was introduced--whether in such
churches as that of the abbey of Veruela, where the conventual
arrangement of Citeaux was imported, or in those earlier churches of
which San Pedro, Gerona, may be taken as an example, in which from the
first no doubt the choir was transferred to the nave, and the central
apse treated only as a sanctuary--the result was the same on Spanish
architecture and Spanish ritual. The Church found herself in possession
of churches with short eastern apses and no choirs; and instead of
retaining the old arrangement of the choir, close to and in face of the
altar, she admitted her laity to the transept, divorced the choir from
the altar, and invented those church arrangements which puzzle
ecclesiologists so much. In our own country the same system to some
extent at first prevailed; but our architects took a different course;
they retained their choirs, prolonged them into the nave, and so
contrived without suffering the separation of the clergy from the altar
they serve, which we see in Spain.[410] In one great English church only
has the Spanish system been adopted, and this, strangely enough, in the
most complete fashion. Westminster Abbey, in fact, will enable any one
to understand exactly what the arrangement of a Spanish church is. Its
short choir, just large enough for a sumptuous and glorious altar, its
Crossing exactly fitted for the stalls of the clergy and choir, its nave
and transepts large enough to hold a magnificent crowd of worshippers,
are all mis-used just as they would be in Spain; whilst the modern
arrangements for the people--much more mistaken than they are
there--involve the possession of the greater part of the choir by the
laity, and the entire cutting off by very solid metal fences of all the
worshippers in the transepts from the altar before which they are
supposed to kneel, and the placing of the entire congregation between
the priest and the altar.[411]

This digression will be excused when it is remembered how universally
this tradition settled itself upon Spain, and how completely the
perseverance in Romanesque traditions has affected her ritual
arrangements, and with them her church architecture from the twelfth
century until the present day. The long choirs which were naturally
developed in England and France were never thought of there; the choir
was merely the “Capilla mayor”--the chapel for the high altar; and the
use of the nave as the people’s church was ignored or forgotten as much
as it was--very rightly--in some of our own old conventual churches,
where the choir was prolonged far down into the nave, and the space for
the people reduced to a bay or two only at its western end.

I must now bring this discussion to a close, and proceed with my
chronological summary; and here the Abbey Church at Veruela ought to be
mentioned, if regard be had to the date of its erection--circa A.D.
1146-1171--though I must say that I have not been able to discover that
it exercised any distinct influence upon Spanish buildings. It is in
truth a very close copy of a Burgundian church of the period, built by
French monks for an order only just established in Spain, under the
direction probably of a French architect, and in close compliance with
the rather strict architectural rules and restrictions which the
Cistercians imposed on all their branches and members.[412] The
character of the interior of this church is grand and simple, but at the
same time rather rude and austere; but the detail of much of the
exterior is full of delicacy; and the design of the chevet, with its
central clerestory, and the surrounding aisle roofed with a separate
lean-to roof, and the chapels projecting from it so subordinated as to
finish below its eaves, recalls to memory some of the best examples of
French Romanesque work.[413] The beauty and refinement of the little
Chapter-house here lead me to suppose that it cannot be earlier than the
end of the century.

There are some of these churches which require more detailed notice as
being derived to some extent from the same models, but erected on a
grander scale, and if documentary evidence can be trusted, whose
erection was spread over so long a time as to illustrate very well
indeed the slow progress of the development in art which we so often see
in these Spanish buildings. The old cathedral at Salamanca was building
from A.D. 1120 to 1178; Tarragona Cathedral was begun in 1131; Tudela,
commenced at about the same time, was completed in 1188; Lérida, whose
style is so similar to that of the others as to make me class them all
together, was not commenced until 1203, nor consecrated until 1278; and
Valencia Cathedral, of which the south transept of the original
foundation still remains, was not commenced until A.D. 1262. Yet if I
except the early and Italian-looking eastern apse at Tarragona, most of
the features of these churches look as though they were the design of
the same man, and very nearly the same period; and it is altogether
unintelligible how such a work, for instance, as Lérida Cathedral could
be in progress at the same time as Toledo and Burgos, save upon the
assumption that the thirteenth century churches in an advanced Pointed
style, such as these last, were erected by French workmen and artists
imported for the occasion, and in a style far in advance of that at
which the native artists had arrived.

Yet I think few churches deserve more careful study than these. I know
none whose interiors are more solid, truly noble, or impressive; and
these qualities are all secured not by any vast scale of
dimensions--for, as will be seen by the plans, they are all churches of
very moderate size--but by the boldness of their design, the simplicity
of their sections, the extreme solidity of their construction, and the
remarkable contrast between these characteristics and the delicacy of
their sculptured decorations; they seem to me to be among the most
valuable examples for study on artistic grounds that I have ever seen
anywhere, and to teach us as much as to the power of Pointed art as do
any churches in Christendom.

In all there is a very remarkable likeness in the section of the main
clustered piers. They are composed usually of four pairs of clustered
columns, two of them carrying the main arches, and two others supporting
bold cross arches between the vaulting bays, whilst four shafts placed
in the re-entering angles carry the diagonal groining ribs both of the
nave and aisle. The arches are usually quite plain and square in
section, the groining ribs are very bold and simple, and the whole
decorative sculpture is reserved for the doorways and the capitals and
bases of the columns. The windows have usually jamb-shafts inside and
out; and the eastern apses are always covered with semi-dome vaults.
Permanence being the one great object their builders set before them,
they determined to dispense as far as possible with wood in their
construction, and they seem to have laid stone roofs of rather flat
pitch above the vaulting, and in some cases very ingeniously contrived
with a view to preventing any possible lodgment of wet, and so any
danger of decay. It may be said, perhaps, that fragments only of these
roofs remain, so that after all timber roofs covered with tiles would
have been equally good; but this is not so. The very attempt to build
for everlasting is in itself an indication of the highest virtue on the
part of the artist. The man who builds for to-day builds only to suit
the miserable caprice of his patron, whilst he who builds for all time
does so with a wholesome dread of exciting hostile criticism from those
grave unprejudiced men who will come after him, and who will judge, not
consciously perhaps, but infallibly, as to the honesty of his work. In
England we have hardly a single attempt at anything of the kind, though
in Ireland, in St. Cormack’s Chapel at Cashel, we not only have an
example, but one also that proves to us that we may build in this solid
fashion, so that our work may endure in extraordinary perfection come
what may--as it has there--of neglect, of desolation, and of
desecration! Yet of all the virtues of good architecture none are
greater than solidity and permanence, and we in England cannot therefore
afford to affect any of our Insular airs of superiority over these old
Spanish artists!

Look also at the thorough way in which their work was done. The
Chapter-houses, the cloisters, the subordinate erections of these old
buildings, are always equal in merit to the churches themselves, and I
really know not where--save in some of the English abbeys which we have
wickedly ruined and destroyed--we are to find their equals. Nothing can
be more lovely than such cloisters as those of Gerona or Tarragona, few
things grander than that desecrated one at Lérida, whilst the
Chapter-house at Veruela, and the doorways at Valencia, Lérida, and
Tudela, deserve to rank among the very best examples of mediæval art.

There are yet two other grand early churches to be mentioned which do
not seem to range themselves under either of the divisions already
noticed, and which yet do not at all belong to the list of churches of
French design with which my notice of thirteenth-century Spanish work
must of necessity conclude. These are the cathedrals of Sigüenza and
Avila.[414] Both of these are, so far as I can see, but to a slight
extent founded upon other examples. Sigüenza Cathedral seems to have had
originally three eastern apses: the plan is simple and grand, and its
scale, either really, or at any rate in effect, very magnificent. The
great size of the clustered columns, their well-devised sections, the
massive solidity of the arches, the buttresses, and all the details,
make this church rank, so far at least as the interior is concerned,
among the finest Spanish examples of its age. At Avila, on the other
hand, we see a remarkable attempt to introduce somewhat more of the
delicacy and refinement of the first-pointed style; and just as if the
architect had been exasperated by the obligation under which he lay to
end his chevet within the plain, bald, windowless circular wall
projecting from the city ramparts which was traced out for him, we find
him indulging in delicate detached shafts, a double aisle round the
chevet, and subsequently in such strange as well as daring expedients in
the way of the support of the groining and the flying buttresses, as
could hardly have been ventured on by any one really accustomed to deal
with the various problems which the constructors of groined roofs
ordinarily had before them. I venture therefore to place these two
churches at Sigüenza and Avila among the most decidedly Spanish works of
their day; I see no distinct evidence of foreign influence in any part
of their design, and they seem to me to be fairly independent on the one
hand of the early Spanish style of Tarragona, Lérida, Salamanca, and
Segovia, and on the other of the imported French style of Toledo,
Burgos, and Leon.

And now I must say a few words on the three last-named churches. I have
already expressed my opinion as to their origin, which seems to me to be
most distinctly and undoubtedly French. The history of the Spanish
Church at the end of the twelfth and beginning of the thirteenth
century, points with remarkable force to such a development as we see
here. What more natural than that the country which looked, on the
recovery from its troubles--on the expulsion of the Saracen--to its
neighbour the French Church to supply it with bishops for its
metropolitan and other sees--should look also to it for a supply of that
instruction in art which had grown and flourished there, whilst men were
fighting and striving with all their might and main here? And what is
there more natural than that French architects, sent over for such
works, should first of all plan their buildings on the most distinctly
French plan, with French mouldings and French sculpture; and then--as we
see both at Burgos and Toledo, in the singular treatment of the
triforia--should have gradually succumbed to the national and in part
Moresque influences by which they were surrounded? At Leon the evidences
of imitation of French work are so remarkable, that no one capable of
forming a judgment can doubt the fact; and if at Burgos and Toledo they
are not quite so strong, the difference is slight, and one only of
degree. I have already spoken upon these points in describing the
churches in question; and here I will only repeat that, as the features
of which I speak are exceptional and not gradually developed, it is as
certain as anything can be that their style was not invented at all in
Spain. We have only to remember the fact, that at the same time that
Lérida Cathedral was being built, those of Toledo and Burgos were also
in progress, whilst that of Valencia was not commenced until much later,
to realize how fitful and irregular was the progress of art in Spain. It
is, in fact, precisely what we see in the history of German art. There,
just as in Spain, the Romanesque and semi-Romanesque styles remained
long time in quiet possession of the field, and it was not until the
marvellous power and success of the architects of Amiens and Beauvais
excited the German architects to emulation in Cologne Cathedral, that
they moved from their Romanesque style into the most decided and
well-developed geometrical Gothic. And just as Cologne Cathedral is an
exotic in Germany, so are those of Burgos, Leon, and Toledo in Spain; so
that, whilst Spaniards may fairly be proud of the glory of possessing
such magnificent works of art, their pride ought to be confined to that
of ownership, and should not extend to any claim of authorship.

The demands of these three great churches upon our admiration are very
different. The palm must be awarded to Toledo, which, as I have shown,
equals, if it do not surpass, all other churches in Christendom in the
beauty and scale of its plan. Undoubtedly, however, it lacks something
of height, whilst later alterations have shorn it also of some of its
attractiveness in design, the original triforium and clerestory
remaining only in the choir. Nevertheless, as it stands, with all its
alterations for the worse, it is still one of the most impressive
churches I have ever seen, and one in which the heart must be cold
indeed that is not at once moved to worship by the awefulness of the

I have already, in my account of this great church, entered somewhat
fully into a description of the peculiarities of its plan, and the
evidence which they afford of its foreign origin. The unusual
arrangement of the chevet, in which the vaulting bays in both the
surrounding aisles of the presbytery are made of nearly the same
size,[415] by the introduction of triangular vaulting compartments, and
in which the chapels of the outer aisle are alternately square and
circular in plan, renders it, however, not merely an example of a French
school, but one of the very highest interest and peculiarity. There is
no church, so far as I know, similarly planned, though some are
extremely suggestive as to the school in which its architect had
studied. The cathedral at Le Mans has triangular vaulting compartments
in the outer of its two aisles, arranged somewhat as they are at Toledo,
but with inferior skill, the aisle next the central apse having the
unequal vaulting compartments, which have been avoided here; but the
surrounding chapels in these two examples are utterly unlike. Notre
Dame, Paris, also has triangular vaulting compartments, but they are
utterly different in their arrangement from those in Toledo
Cathedral.[416] Neither of these examples, in short, proves much as to
the authorship of the latter. A far more interesting comparison may,
however, be instituted between the plan of this chevet and that rare
example of a Mediæval architect’s own handiwork, which has been handed
down to us in the design for a church made by Wilars de Honecort, under
which he wrote the inscription, “Deseure est une glize a double charole.
K vilars de honecort trova & pieres de corbie.” In English: “Above is
(the presbytery of) a church with a double circumscribing aisle, which
Wilars de Honecort and Peter de Corbie contrived together.”[417] In this
plan we find these two old architects, not only introducing alternate
square and circular chapels round their apse, but also an arrangement of
the groining which looks almost as though they were acquainted with some
such arrangement as that of the triangular vaulting compartments of Le
Mans and Toledo. The diligent and able editors of Wilars de Honecort--M.
Lassus and Professor Willis--say that no such plan as this is anywhere
known to exist; and I believe they were nearly, though not, as I have
shown, absolutely correct in this assertion. At Toledo they still exist
in part, and once, no doubt, existed all round the chevet; and it may
well, I think, be a question whether Peter, the architect of Toledo,
had not studied in the French school, and with these very men--Wilars
de Honecort and Peter de Corbie--who, “inter se disputando,” as they
wrote on this plan, struck out this original scheme. At the same time it
will be seen, on comparison of the two plans, that if he derived his
idea from his brethren, he developed it into a much more scientific and
perfect form.

It will be recollected that though I claim a French origin for Toledo
Cathedral, I allow that it is not only possible, but probable, that, as
the work went on, either Spaniards only were employed on it, or (which
is more likely) that the French architect forgot somewhat of his own
early practice, and was affected by the work of other kind being done by
native artists around him. The evidence of this change is mainly to be
seen in the triforium and clerestory of the choir and transepts.

The religious gloom of the cathedral at Toledo is strangely different
from the religious brightness of that of Leon; for in the latter, where
the sole end of the architect seems to have been the multiplication of
openings and the diminution of solid points of support, the artist in
stained glass has fortunately come to the rescue, and filled the windows
with some of the most gorgeous colouring ever seen, so as to redeem it
from its otherwise utter unfitness for its work in such a climate as
that even of Northern Spain. I have already said that this church has
not stood well. It was, in truth, too daring, and has in consequence
failed to some extent. Yet, in spite of this, I cannot but admire
immensely the hardihood and the skill of the man who could
venture--knowing as much as he did--upon such a daring work as this; and
I know not to whom to liken him so well as to the first architect of
Beauvais Cathedral, though certainly the work at Leon has not failed so
conspicuously as it did there. In both these churches the arrangement of
the ground-plan of the chevet is so nearly similar as to allow of their
being classed together as at any rate works of the same style, if they
are not indeed both works of the same school. Both have pentagonal
chapels round the apse, and square chapels to the west of them, and they
were built within a few years of each other.[418] The detail at Leon is
almost all very French, and the windows of its clerestory are, in their
general design as well as in their detail, almost reproductions of those
at Saint Denis, in the peculiar mode adopted there of strengthening the
principal monials by doubling the smaller monials in width, without any
change in their thickness.

The cathedral at Burgos is certainly in most respects a somewhat
inferior work to that at Leon. It, too, is French; but its architect was
familiar not with the best examples of French art in the Ile de France
and Champagne, but only, I think, with those of the somewhat inferior
Angevine school. The plan of this chevet[419] was probably never so fine
as that of Leon, though it was very similar to it. Here, too, I think,
we see some local influence exerting itself in the design of the
triforia throughout the church, whereas at Leon the original scheme
seems from first to last to have been faithfully adhered to. But if
Burgos Cathedral is far inferior in scale to that of Toledo, and
somewhat so to that of Leon in skilfulness of design, it is in all other
respects equally deserving of study, and is in its general effect at
present far more Spanish than either of them. The many additions have to
a great extent, it is true, obscured the original design; but the result
is so picturesque, and so far more interesting than an unaltered church
usually is, that one cannot well find fault. The main failure of the
design is the smallness of the scale, and the loss of internal effect
owing to the alteration of the primitive arrangements by the placing of
the Coro in the nave, and the leaving of the ample choir unoccupied save
by the altar at its eastern end.

The succeeding great division of Gothic art is much more distinctly
marked and more uniform throughout Spain, whilst at the same time it is
even less national and peculiar. There are in truth very considerable
remains of fourteenth-century works, though, perhaps, no one grand and
entire example of a fourteenth-century building. All these examples are
extremely similar in style; and I think, on the whole, more akin in
feeling and detail to German middle-pointed than to French. The west
front of Tarragona Cathedral, the lantern and north transept of Valencia
Cathedral, the chapel of San Ildefonso, the Puerta of Sta. Catalina, and
the screen round the Coro at Toledo, Sta. Maria del Mar and the
cathedral at Barcelona, the chevet of Gerona Cathedral, the north
doorway and nave clerestory of Avila Cathedral, and the cloisters of
Burgos and Veruela, afford, with many others, fair examples of the
design and details of churches of this period. The traceries are
generally elaborately geometrical and rather rigid and ironlike in their
character, the carving fair but not especially interesting--dealing
_usque ad nauseam_ in diapers of lions and castles--and the whole system
of design one of line and rule rather than of heart and mind. Yet, in
this, Spain reflected much more truly than before what was passing
elsewhere in the fourteenth century; and exhibited, just as did Germany,
France, and England[420] at the same moment, the fatal results of the
descent from poetry and feeling in architecture to that skill and
dexterity which are still in the nineteenth century, as they were in the
fourteenth, regarded--and most wrongly regarded--as the elements of art
most to be striven after and most taught. Art, in truth, was ceasing to
be vigorous and natural, and becoming rapidly tame and academical!

Yet if these works are not very national, they are at any rate most
interesting and deserve most careful study. He was no mean artist who
made the first design for Barcelona Cathedral, who completed the chevet
of Gerona, or who designed the steeple at Lérida, or the cloisters of
Burgos, Leon, or Veruela. At this time indeed art was cosmopolitan, and
all Europe seems to have been possessed with the same love for
geometrical traceries, for crockets, for thin delicate mouldings, and
for sharp naturalesque foliage, so that no country presents anything
which is absolutely new, or unlike what may be seen to some extent
elsewhere. There are perhaps only two features of this period which I
need record here, and these are, first, the reproduction of the
octagonal steeple, which, as we have seen, was a most favourite type of
the Romanesque builders; and, secondly, the introduction of that grand
innovation upon old precedents, the great unbroken naves, groined in
stone, lighted from windows high up in the walls, and inviting each of
them its thousands to worship God or to hear His word in such fashion as
we, who are used to our little English town churches, can scarcely
realize to ourselves.[421] But on this point I will say no more because
its consideration more naturally arises in the succeeding period, in
which the problem was more distinctly met and more satisfactorily

The survey of Spanish art in the fifteenth century is, I think, on the
whole, more gratifying than it is in the fourteenth. In the earliest
churches, as the models from which they were derived were first of all
built in hot climates, the windows were small and few, the walls thick,
the roofs flat-pitched, and the whole construction eminently suited to
the physical circumstances of the country. But these models, having been
taken to the north of Europe, and there largely and perhaps
thoughtlessly copied, in spite of the vast difference of climate, were
soon found to be unfitted for their purpose, and were consequently, in
due course of time, developed into that advanced style of Gothic of
which the main characteristic is the size and beauty of its windows. Of
course this development was just that of all others which ought not to
have been tolerated at all under a southern sun; and we must allow the
fifteenth-century architects the credit of having discovered this, and
of having returned very much to the same kind of design as that in which
their thirteenth-century predecessors had indulged.

The examples of this age which I have described will have given a fair
idea of their main characteristics. The magnificent size, the solid
construction, and the solemn internal effect of such churches as those
of Segovia, Salamanca, Astorga, Huesca, Gerona, Pamplona, and Manresa,
would be sufficient to mark the period which produced them as one of the
most fertile and artistic the world has ever seen. We may approach such
buildings full of prejudice in favour of an earlier style of
architecture, of a purer form of art; but we cannot leave them without
acknowledging that at least they are admirable in their general effect,
and if not conceived in the very purest art, still conceived in what is
at any rate a true form of art. By the time in which they were erected,
Spain had become far more powerful than ever before; she was quite free
from all fear of the Moors, and was so rich as to be able to expend vast
sums of money in works of art and luxury. She had also more trade and
communication with her neighbours; and no doubt their customs and their
schools of art had become so familiar to Spanish architects as to lead
naturally to some imitation of them in their works. In their later works
we find, at any rate, a development beyond that point at which Spaniards
had before arrived, and noticeably an affection for the French chevet or
apsidal choir surrounded by a procession-path and group of chapels. This
arrangement, which, when it was adopted at Veruela, Santiago, Burgos,
Leon, and Toledo, was evidently only adopted because the architects of
these churches were French, was a favourite one of the artists of the
fifteenth century. Huesca and Astorga alone of the great churches
mentioned just now are founded upon the old Spanish type of parallel
apses at the east end: the others are all founded upon that of the
French chevet with some modifications in the details of their design. Of
these, few are more interesting than that which we see in the cathedral
at Pamplona, the chevet of which is, to the best of my belief, unique in
its curious use of the equilateral triangle in the plan. This is perhaps
the most novel modification of the French plan; but among all of them it
is impossible not to award the palm, most decidedly, to the really
magnificent works of the Catalan School. In other parts of Spain the
great churches of this period had no very special or marked character;
nothing which clearly showed them to be real developments in advance of
what had been done before or elsewhere. In Cataluña, on the other hand,
there was a most marked impulse given by a Mallorcan artist at the
latter part of the fourteenth century; and to the influence of his
school we owe some of, I suppose, the most important mediæval churches
to be seen in any part of Europe. Their value consists mainly in the
success with which they meet the problem of placing an enormous
congregation on the floor in front of one altar, and within sight and
hearing of the preacher. The vastest attempt which we have made in this
direction sinks into something quite below insignificance when compared
with such churches as Gerona Cathedral, Sta. Maria del Mar, Barcelona,
or the Collegiata at Manresa. The nave of the former would hold some two
thousand three hundred worshippers, that of the next hard upon three
thousand, and that of the third about two thousand. Their internal
effect is magnificent in the extreme; and if, in their present state,
their external effect is not so fine, it must be remembered, first of
all, that they have all been much mutilated, and, in the next place,
that their architects had evidently mastered the first great necessity
in church-building--the successful treatment of the interior. In these
days it is impossible to say this too strongly: men build churches
everywhere in England, as though they were only to be looked at, not
worshipped in; and forget, in fact, that the sole use of art in
connexion with religion is the exaltation of the solemnity of the
ritual, and the oblation of our best before the altar, and not the mere
pleasing of men’s eyes with the sweet sights of spires rising among
trees, or gables and traceried windows standing out amid the
uninteresting fabrics of nineteenth-century streets!

In our large towns in England there is nothing we now want more than
something which shall emulate the magnificent scale of these Catalan
churches. They were built in the middle ages for a large manufacturing
or seafaring population; and we have everywhere just such masses of
souls to be dealt with as they were provided for. But then, of course,
it is useless to recommend such models if they are only to be used as we
use our churches, for four or five hours on Sundays, instead of, as
these Spanish churches were and still are, for worship at all sorts of
hours, not only on Sundays, but on every day of the week also. When
English Churchmen are accustomed to see churches thoroughly well used;
when no church is without its weekly, no great church without its daily
Eucharist; and when they see none, great or small, without their doors
open daily both for public and private prayer,--then, and not till then,
can we expect that they will allow architects any chance of emulating
the glories achieved by these old men. Till then we shall hold fast to
our insular traditions of little town churches and subdivided parishes,
and shall doubt the advantages of enormous naves, of colleges of clergy
working together, and of those other old Catholic appliances, which must
be tried fully and fairly before we give up in despair the attempt to
Christianize the working population of our large cities.

The general idea of these great fifteenth-century churches has no doubt
already been grasped by my readers. Worship at the altar appears to me
to be the key to the design and arrangement of many of them, for nowhere
else in Europe, I suppose, can we find a church on so very moderate a
scale as the Cathedral at Barcelona crowded in the way it is with
altars, and so planned and fitted up as to make it absolutely useless as
a place of gathering for a large number of persons at one service. But
if this multiplication of side altars was here carried to excess, one of
the most remarkable examples of an attempt to glorify the high altar,
and at the same time to provide for one enormous and united
congregation, is unquestionably that which is presented by Sta. Maria
del Mar in the same city. This church has its prototype at Palma in
Mallorca, and I much regret that I have never yet been able to visit
that island, for, so far as I can learn, it seems that the mainland owed
much to it in the way of architectural development, and that some of the
finest examples of the Catalan style in this age are still to be seen

The special devotion to the altar service which is exemplified in
Barcelona Cathedral led naturally to other architectural developments.
Such are the remarkable church of San Tomás at Avila, with its western
choir and eastern altar both raised in galleries, and its arrangement
for the congregation of worshippers below. Such again is the church of
El Parral, Segovia, with its deep western gallery for the choir, its
dark, gloomy, and austere nave, and the concentration of light and
window round the altar. Indeed, the institution of the western gallery,
so common--I might almost say so universal--in small churches at this
period in Spain, arose from the same feeling as did the removal of the
choir into the nave in the larger churches. The object of all these
changes was to give the people access to the altar, and usually they
seem to have been made upon the assumption that no one would care to
assist at the services in the choir itself. I am very much inclined to
think that the rise of this feeling was to a great extent an accident,
and the result of the fact that almost all the early Spanish churches
were founded on models in which the eastern limb of the Cross was so
very short that the choir or Chorus Cantorum must almost always have
occupied the eastern part of the nave, or the Crossing under the central
lantern. This must have been almost a necessity in such cathedrals as
those of Lérida, Tudela, and Sigüenza: whilst in others, as those of
Tarragona, Tarazona, and Avila, the space must always have been cramped,
though a choir might have been accommodated. Of the larger churches
Burgos alone has a really large constructional choir. In Toledo it is
very short, and in Leon certainly below what we usually find in a French
church of the same age and pretensions.

The cathedrals of Segovia and Salamanca are the two latest great Gothic
churches in Spain, and in some respects among the grandest; and here, as
might be expected, the Spanish custom as to the position of the Coro had
become so thoroughly fixed and invariable, that the choir proper is very
short, and built only for the altar. The plan of Segovia Cathedral is
very fine and well proportioned; whilst that of Salamanca has been
unhappily ruined by the erection of a square east end, in place of the
apse which was first of all intended: and this, in place of emulating at
all the noble design of any of our English eastern ends, is contrived
with but little skill, the aisle returning across behind the altar,
whilst beyond it to the east there is a line of chapels similar to those
beyond the aisles.

Of the later styles I need say but little. They are not Gothic, and this
is a summary of Gothic architecture only; yet it is interesting to look
into their history if only to notice how curious the fact is that at the
same time that men like Berruguete were designing in the most
thoroughly Renaissance style, Juan Gil de Hontañon was still painfully
superintending the erection of a great Gothic cathedral. The remarkably
Gothic staircase to the Hall at Christ Church, Oxford (A.D. 1640); the
Gothic window traceries of Stone Church, Kent, of the same date; the
rebuilding of Higham Ferrers steeple by the great Archbishop Laud, and
of the spire of Lichfield Cathedral by good Bishop Hacket in 1669, are
well-known instances of the remarkable love for Christian art which
Englishmen retained long after the fashion for Pagan and Renaissance art
had set in. And it is not a little interesting to find the same contest
going on in Spain, and the same love for the old and hallowed form of
art exhibited.

I cannot see much--I might almost say I can see nothing--to admire in
the works of the Renaissance school in Spain. It was in their time that
the discovery of America raised the country to the very summit of her
prosperity, and right nobly did she acknowledge her duty by the
offerings she made of her wealth. Few Spanish churches are without some
token of the magnificent liberality of the people at this time, and one
is obliged to acknowledge it in spite of the horror with which one
regards the works they did, and the damage which their erection did to
the older buildings to which they were added.

It would be dreary work to follow the stream of Spanish art down by
Berruguete and Herrera to Churriguera and so on to our own time; and the
only fact of interest that I know is that the old scheme of cruciform
church with a central lantern is still the most popular, and that down
to the present time almost every modern church has been so planned, with
a lantern dome rising from above the intersection of the nave and

Fortunately, down to this time the tide of “Restoration” has hardly
reached Spain, and one is able therefore to study the genuine old
records in their old state. There are no Salisbury Chapter-houses or
Worcester Cathedrals to puzzle us as to whether anything about them is
old, or whether all may be dismissed or discussed as if it were
perfectly new; and so it affords a field for study the value of which
cannot be overrated, and which ought not to be neglected. It must not be
supposed that this field of study is limited to the general scheme of
the churches. On the contrary, their fittings and furniture, their
appendages and dependent buildings, are unsurpassed in interest by those
of any other land, and in addition to these there are several other
heads under which my subject naturally presents itself.

First among them is that of church furniture. No country is perhaps now
so rich in this respect as Spain. Few of course--if any--of her churches
retain their old furniture in its original place earlier in date than
the fifteenth century. It is true that the magnificent baldachin and
Retablo at Gerona, the screens round the Coro at Toledo, and the
beautiful painted Retablo in the old cathedral at Salamanca, are earlier
than this; but these are exceptions to the rule. The great glory of the
country in this respect are such Retablos--rich in sculpture, covered
with gold and colour, and in paintings of no mean merit, and lofty and
imposing beyond anything of the kind ever seen elsewhere--as those of
Toledo Cathedral or the Carthusian Church of Miraflores. In these one
hardly knows whether to admire most the noble munificence of the
founders, or the marvellous skill and dexterity of the men who executed
them. It is not only that they are rich and costly, but much more, that
all the work in them is usually good of its kind, and far finer than the
work of the same age and style which we see in the Netherlands and
Germany. The choir stalls, again, are often magnificent. Nothing can be
more interesting than the contemporary chronicle of the capture of
Granada which we see in the lower range of stalls at Toledo; they are
full of character and spirit, and represent what was no doubt felt to be
a truly religious enterprize, with at least as much fidelity as any view
of our own military operations at the present day ever attains to. Other
churches have choir fittings, like those of Zamora, full of curious
interest to the student of Christian iconography; like those at
Palencia, remarkable for the exceedingly elaborate character of their
traceries and panelling; and like those of Gerona, valuable for the fine
character of the rare fourteenth-century woodwork which has been
re-arranged in the modern Coro. Turn again from the choir stalls to the
other fittings of the choir. Seldom elsewhere shall we see the old
columns for the curtains at the side of the altar still standing as they
do at Manresa. Nowhere shall we see such magnificent choir lecterns, in
brass as that of Toledo, or in wood as that of Zamora; nowhere else such
pretty and sweet-sounding wheels of bells for use at the elevation of
the Host; nowhere, perhaps, so many old organs, many of which, if not
Mediæval, are at any rate not far from being so; nowhere else so many or
such magnificent Rejas or metal screens and parcloses, as in this
country. In every one of these works Spanish workmen excelled, because
they devoted themselves to them. We have lists of men who made screens,
of others who carved the choir stalls, of others who made Retablos, and
of others, again, who painted and gilded them. Each class of men is
named after the furniture to the execution of which they devoted
themselves, and occasionally individuals rose to rare eminence from this
kind of work. The time was late, indeed, when it happened, but see how
Borgoña and Berruguete strove for mastery over their work on the upper
stalls at Toledo, or how the poor Matias Bonifé, at Barcelona, was bound
to carve no beasts or subjects on his stalls, to which we may suppose he
was addicted; and how his successor died of distress because the Chapter
did not like the pinnacles he added to the canopies; and consider how
people interested themselves in the matter, how they were excited in the
contest between Borgoña and Berruguete, and no doubt in the others also,
and we see at once how different was the position which these men
occupied from that which, so far as we know, their contemporaries in
England held.

The monuments in the Spanish churches are not the least of their
glories. From one of the earliest and finest, that of Bishop Maurice at
Burgos, there is a sequence illustrating almost every variety of Gothic
down to that exquisite Renaissance monument of the son of Ferdinand and
Isabella at Avila, in which--in spite of the date and style--the old
spirit still breathes an air of grace, refinement, and purity over the
whole work. Such chapels as those which enshrine these monuments,--that
of the Constable at Burgos, of Santiago at Toledo, of Miraflores near
Burgos,--are well fitted to hold the most magnificent of memorials; for
were it not that such a work as the tomb of Juan II. and Elizabeth is
almost unmatched anywhere for the skill and delicacy of its workmanship,
and that some of the others are almost equally sumptuous, the chapels
within which they are erected would appear to be in themselves the
noblest remembrances of the dead.

Of the dependent buildings of these great churches I have had to speak
over and over again. The ground-plans which I have given will show how
complete they usually are. Their arrangement varies very much. The
cloister, for instance, is on the north-east at Tarragona; the north at
Sigüenza, Toledo, and Leon; the west at Lérida and Olite; the south at
Santiago, Palencia, Tudela, and Veruela; and the south-east at Burgos.
The Chapter-houses by no means always stand on the east of the cloister,
though they usually retain the old triple entrance, and the remaining
buildings seem to vary very much in the positions assigned to them.

The roofing of Spanish churches has been incidentally noticed in various
places throughout this volume. It was almost always of stone. So far as
the interior roofing is concerned, the changes that are seen are of
course very much the same as those which marked the vaults of most other
parts of Europe at the same period. At first the cylindrical Roman
vault, then the same vault supported by quadrant vaults over the aisles,
then simple quadripartite vaults, and finally vaults supported on very
elaborate systems of lierne ribs. But there are some minor peculiarities
in these vaults which deserve record. The waggon vaults generally have
transverse ribs on their under side, and occur usually in buildings in
which all the apsidal terminations are roofed with semi-domes--and they
are sometimes (as in Lugo Cathedral, and Sta. Maria, la Coruña) pointed.
The early quadripartite vaulting is generally remarkable for the large
size of the vaulting-ribs, and for the very bold transverse arches which
divide the bays. Ridge-ribs are hardly ever introduced, and the ridge is
generally very little out of the level. The vaults of Leon Cathedral are
filled in with tufa in order to diminish the weight, but I have not
noticed any similar contrivance elsewhere. Down to the end of the
fourteenth century the vaulting seldom if ever had any but diagonal,
transverse, and wall-ribs; and even in many of the works of the
succeeding century the same judicious simplicity is seen. But usually at
this time it became the fashion to introduce a most complicated system
of lierne ribs, covering the whole surface of the vault, dividing it up
into an endless number of small and irregularly shaped compartments, and
very much damaging its effect. My ground-plans of Segovia and (new)
Salamanca Cathedrals show how extremely elaborate these later vaults
very frequently were. There is another form of vault which is not
unfrequently met with: this occurs where a square vaulting bay is
groined with an octagonal vault. In these examples a pendentive is
formed at each angle of the square, and thus the octagonal base is
formed for the vault. Examples of this are to be seen in the Chapels of
San Ildefonso and Santiago at Toledo Cathedral, in three of the late
Chapels at Burgos Cathedral, and in the Chapter-house of Pamplona
Cathedral. The fashion for this vault arose probably from the custom
which had obtained of building central lanterns, which were frequently
finished with octagonal stages, and consequently vaulted with octagonal
vaults. So far as to the internal roofing. The evidence I have found of
the old external roofing in some cases is even more interesting. It is
clear that many of the early churches were intended from the first to
be built entirely of stone in the roof as well as in the walls. Avila,
Toledo, and Lérida Cathedrals, and the Collegiata at Manresa, still
retain some of their old stone covering; and though it is true that in
none of these cases has the attempt to construct an absolutely
imperishable building been perfectly successful, it appears to me that
the workmen and architects who attempted to carry such plans into
execution deserve all our admiration. I have described these roofs in
the course of my notes upon the churches in which they occur, and here I
need only refer to my descriptions and illustrations.

In sculpture Spain is not so rich as France, but on the whole probably
more so than England. The best complete Gothic work that I have seen is
at Leon; but it offers no variety whatever from the best of the same age
in France. I have given the various iconographical schemes, so far as I
could manage to do so, in describing the several works, and here I will
only repeat that, to my mind, the triple western doors at
Santiago[422]--completed in A.D. 1188--are among the finest works of
their age, and deserving of the greatest care and tenderness on the part
of their guardians. Most of us are conscious how much good sculpture
adds to the interest of good architecture. Usually, however, we spread
our modern sculpture too lavishly in all directions if we have the money
to spend. But even in this there may be too much of a good thing; the
mind and eye become satiated, and sicken; and not half the real pleasure
is felt in seeing some modern works that would be if the work had been
somewhat less lavishly applied, somewhat more thoughtfully, or as at
Santiago, in one spot, leaving the whole of the rest of the church in
its stern, rude simplicity.

The domestic architecture of Spain in the middle ages is, as might be
expected, very much less important than the religious architecture.
Probably the wealth of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries was even
more damaging to the former than it was to the latter. At any rate, no
country--Italy excepted--contains a greater number of showy Renaissance
palaces in all its principal towns than Spain does; and there can be
little doubt that they took the place of Gothic houses to a very
considerable extent. Either I was very unlucky, or, if I saw what is to
be seen, I must pronounce Spain to be unusually barren of old examples
of domestic buildings. Of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries I have
hardly seen a single example, save the house which I have described at
Lérida; whilst of the two following centuries, the best examples seem to
be confined very much to the Mediterranean sea-board. In this part of
Spain are the simple houses lighted by _ajimez_ windows, which I have
described and illustrated; they extend all along the coast from Perpiñan
to Valencia, and are usually so much alike as to produce the impression
that they are all made from the same design. Later than this, the public
buildings at Barcelona and Valencia, the palace of the Dukes del
Infantado at Guadalajara, the museum and other convents at Valladolid,
the house of the Constable Velasco at Burgos, and the great hospital at
Santiago, are no doubt magnificent examples of their class. In these the
buildings are generally arranged round courtyards, which are surrounded
by passages opening to the court, and lighted either with open arches or
with traceried windows. Rich and noble as some of these buildings are,
there is little that is interesting or picturesque in them, and they
seldom attain the degree of importance of which one would suppose such
an architectural scheme skilfully treated would admit. Their date is
rarely earlier than circa A.D. 1450, and the detail of their mouldings
and sculpture is consequently of the latest kind of Gothic. There is,
however, a rude barbaric splendour in some of the courts or patios at
Valladolid, where this kind of building is seen to perhaps greater
advantage than anywhere else.

The castles of Spain deserve, apparently, much more attention, and are
in every way more important, than the other domestic buildings. Those at
Olite, Segovia, and Medina del Campo have been already described; and
there is, no doubt, a vast number of buildings of somewhat similar
character to be seen, especially in those parts of the country which
formed for a time the frontier land between the Moorish and Christian
kingdoms. Generally, they are remarkable for the unbroken surface of
their lofty walls, crowned with picturesque and complicated projecting
turrets at the angles. The scale on which they are built is magnificent,
and their walls still stand almost untouched by the ages of neglect from
which they have suffered. In the same way the walls which encircle the
Spanish cities are often still so perfect throughout their circuit that
it is almost possible to persuade oneself that they have been untouched
for three hundred years. Avila, Lugo, Segovia, Toledo, Pamplona,
Astorga, Gerona, Tarragona, and many other towns are girt round with so
close an array of tower and wall as to make them still look fit for
defence. The age of these walls varies much; but most are probably of
early foundation, owing their first erection to the days when the Moors
still from time to time rode raiding across the land. They are always of
extraordinary solidity, and consist usually of plain walls with circular
projecting towers at short intervals.

The materials used by Spanish architects and builders seem to have been
granite, stone, and brick. Granite was used in some of the very earliest
constructions; but after the introduction of Christian art into the
country, nothing but stone was used for two or three centuries, when
granite was again made use of. We see the same thing in England; and no
doubt the admirable masons who played so important a part in the
development of Christian architecture must have detested the hard,
coarse, and unyielding material, when they compared it with the more
easily-wrought free-stones which lent themselves so kindly to their
work. The Spanish masons were always, I think, skilful; and in the
fifteenth century, when Gothic art was glowing forth in all the glory of
decay, pre-eminently so. I know no mere execution of details more
admirable in every way than that which we see, for instance, in the work
of Diego de Siloe. It reaches the very utmost limit of skilful
handiwork. It is not very artistic, but it is so clever that we cannot
but admire it; and I doubt much whether the best of our own works of the
same age can at all be put in comparison with it. It is generally marked
by the extraordinary love of heraldic achievements which is so
characteristic of the Spaniards. There are some of the façades of the
later churches which are adorned with absolutely nothing but coats of
arms and their supporters; and I know no work which is less interesting
in spite of its extraordinary elaborateness. The decorations of parts of
our Houses of Parliament give some idea of this sort of work, though
they are by no means so painfully elaborate.

The masons seem to have worked together in large bodies, and the walls
are marked in all directions with the signs which, then as now,
distinguished the work of each mason from that of his neighbour, but I
have been unable (save in one or two cases) to detect the mark of the
same mason in more than one work; and from this it would seem to be
probable that the masons were stationary rather than nomadic in their
habits, a deduction which is fortified by the difference of general
character which may, I think, be detected between the groups of marks in
different buildings. Occasionally the number of men employed on one
building seems to have been unusually large, and it is clear therefore
that there were great numbers of masons in the country. In the small
church of Sta. Maria, Benavente, there are the marks of at least
thirty-one masons on the eastern wall; as many as thirty-five were at
work on the lower part of the steeple at Lérida; whilst in one portion
of Santiago Cathedral there appears to have been as many as sixty. These
numbers would be large at the present day; and are very considerable
even if compared with such a building as Westminster Abbey, where, in
A.D. 1253, when the works were in full progress, the number of
stone-cutters varied from thirty-five to seventy-eight.

The use of bricks was not, so far as I have seen, very great. They were
used either in combination with stone, plaster, or tiles, or by
themselves. Examples of their use in combination with stone may be seen
at Toledo. Here, in all the Moorish or Moresque examples, the walls are
built of rubble stone, with occasional bonding-courses of brick, and
brick quoins. This kind of construction, which has been sometimes
adopted of late years in England, is obviously good and convenient, but
wanted, to some minds, the authority of ancient precedent; and here at
Toledo we are able to show it from a very early period. In the very
early Puerta de Visagra (circa A.D. 1108-1136) single bonding-courses of
brick are used at a very short distance apart, whilst in the later
works, such as the steeples of San Roman and La Magdalena, the bands are
farther apart, and consist frequently of two or three courses of brick,
whilst the stringcourses and corbel-tables are formed of projecting
bricks, which are seldom, if ever, moulded. This, indeed, may almost be
said to be the special peculiarity of Spanish brickwork; for in every
other part of Europe, so far as I have seen, where bricks are much used,
they were always more or less moulded. These examples are useful,
however, as showing how very much richness of effect can be obtained by
the use of the simple rough material in the simplest way. At Zaragoza,
at Tarazona, at Calatayud, and elsewhere, the buildings and their
steeples are covered with panels and arcades, formed by setting forward
some of the bricks a few inches in advance of the face of the wall. In
some cases, as in the Cimborio of Tarazona Cathedral, and the east wall
of Zaragoza, the spaces so left are filled in with extremely rich work
in coloured tiles, the effect of which is far less garish and strange
than might have been expected.

The most curious feature that I have noticed about Spanish brickwork is,
that it always, or almost always, appears to have been the work of
Moorish workmen, and not of the Christian workmen by whom the great
churches throughout the country were erected. The Moors continued to
live and work in many towns long after the Christians had recovered
them; and wherever they did so, they seem to have retained, to a great
extent, all their old architectural and constructive traditions. We see
this most distinctly in the markedly different character of the old
Spanish brickwork both from the other Spanish architectural developments
of the day, and also from any brickwork of the same period that is seen
in other parts of Europe. If after leaving Zaragoza the traveller were
to cross the Pyrenees, and then make his way to Toulouse, he would find
himself again in the midst of brick buildings, erected at various times
from the twelfth to the sixteenth century; but he would find them
utterly different in style from the brick buildings of the Zaragozan
district, and thoroughly in harmony with the stone buildings which were
being erected at the same time in the same neighbourhood. And this
brings us in face of one of the most curious evidences of the extremely
exotic character of most Spanish art. Spain was the only country in
Europe, probably, in which at the same time, during the whole period
from A.D. 1200 to A.D. 1500, various schools of architecture existed
much as they do in England at the present day. There were the genuine
Spanish Gothic churches (derived, of course, from Roman and Romanesque),
the northern Gothic buildings executed by architects imported from
France, and in later days from Germany, and the Moresque buildings
executed by Moorish architects for their Christian masters. Of these
schools I have already discussed two in this chapter, and I must now say
a few words about the third.

I do not propose to speak here of Moorish art, properly and strictly so
called, but only of that variety of it which we see made use of by the
Christians, and which throughout this volume I have called “Moresque.”
Of these, the most remarkable that I have seen are in that most
interesting city of Toledo, which, so far as I can learn, seems to
surpass Seville in work of this kind, almost as much as it does in its
treasures of Christian art. Here it is plain that, though Christians
ruled the city, Moors inhabited it. The very planning of the town, with
its long, narrow, winding lanes; the arrangement of the houses, with
their closed outer walls, their _patios_ or courts, and their large and
magnificent halls, speak strongly and decidedly in favour of the Moorish
origin of the whole. And when we come to look into the matter in detail,
this presumption is most fully supported; for everywhere the design of
the internal finishing and decorations of the houses and rooms is
thoroughly Moorish, executed with the remarkable skill in plaster for
which the Moors were noted, and with curious exhibitions here and there
of a knowledge, on the part of the men who did them, of the Gothic
details which were most in vogue at the time.

It may well be supposed that if the Moors were thus influenced by the
sight of Christian art, the Christians would be not less so by the sight
of theirs. I fully expected when I went first to Spain that I should
find evidences of this more or less everywhere; I soon found that I was
entirely mistaken, and that, though they do exist, they are
comparatively rare and very unimportant. This will be seen if I notice
some of the most remarkable of the examples.

(1.) In Toledo Cathedral the triforium of the choir is decidedly
Moresque in its design, though it is Gothic in all its details, and has
carvings of heads, and of the ordinary dog-tooth enrichment. It consists
of a trefoiled arcade; in the spandrels between the arches of this there
are circles with heads in them; and above these, triangular openings
pierced through the wall; the mouldings of all these openings
interpenetrate, and the whole arcade has the air of intricate ingenuity
so usual in Moorish work. It might not be called Moresque in England,
but in Toledo there can, I think, be no question that it is the result
of Moorish influence on the Christian artist. So also in the triforium
of the inner aisle of the same Cathedral the cusping of the arcades
begins with the point of the cusp on the capital, so as to produce the
effect of a horseshoe arch: and though it is true that this form of
cusping is found extensively in French buildings in the country between
Le Puy and Bourges, here, in the neighbourhood of the universal
horseshoe cusping of the Moorish arches, it is difficult to suppose that
the origin of this work is not Moorish also. The same may be said with
equal truth of the triforium at the east end of Avila Cathedral.

(2.) The towers of the Christian churches in Toledo, at Illescas, at
Calatayud, at Zaragoza, and at Tarazona, all appear to me to be
completely Moresque. Those in Toledo make no disguise about it, the
pointed arches of their window openings not even affecting to be Gothic
in their mode of construction. So also in some of the churches of Toledo
much of the work is completely Moresque. The church of Sta. Leocadia is
a remarkable example of the mixture of Romanesque and Moresque ideas in
the same building.

(3.) In many buildings some small portion of Moorish ornament is
introduced by the Christian workman evidently as a curiosity, and as it
were to show that he knew how to do it, but did not choose to do much of
it. Among these are, (_a_) the traceries in the thirteenth-century
cloister at Tarragona,[423] where the Moresque character is combined
with the Christian symbol; (_b_) the interlacing traceries of the
circular windows in the lantern of San Pedro, Huesca;[424] (_c_) the
carving of a Moorish interlacing pattern on the keystone of a vault at
Lérida; (_d_) the filling in of the windows of the Cloister at Tarazona
with the most elaborate pierced traceries;[425] (_e_) the traceries of
the clerestory of the aisle of the chevet of Toledo Cathedral; (_f_) and
similar semi-Moresque traceries inserted in Gothic windows at Lugo, and
many other places, where everything else is purely Gothic.

(4.) The introduction of coupled groining ribs, as in the vault of the
Templars’ Church at Segovia, and in that of the Chapter-house at
Salamanca. The Moorish architects seem always to have been extremely
fond of coupled ribs. We see them in several of the vaults in the church
or mosque called Cristo de la Luz;[426] and the principal timbers of the
wooden roofs of the synagogue “del Transito” are similarly coupled. It
is an arrangement utterly unknown, so far as I remember, in Gothic work,
and there can be no doubt that in these examples it is Moresque. The
vault of the Chapter-house at Salamanca, which also has parallel
vaulting ribs, produces, as will be seen[427] in the centre, the sort of
star-shaped compartment of which the Moorish architects were always so

(5.) The Moorish battlement is used extensively on walls throughout
Spain. It is weathered on all sides to a point, and covers only the
battlements, and not the spaces between them.[428]

(6.) The Moorish system of plastering was considerably used, not only
at Toledo, but also to a late period on the Alcazar and on houses and
towers at Segovia. Here, however, though the system of design and the
mode of execution are altogether Moorish, the details of the patterns
cut in the plaster are generally Christian.

(7.) The Moorish carpentry is very peculiar, and is constantly
introduced in late Gothic work. Most of my readers have probably seen
the ingenious puzzles which the Moors contrived with interlacing ribs in
their ceilings at the Alhambra, illustrated with so much completeness by
Mr. Owen Jones; these patterns are constantly used in Gothic buildings
for door-framing; and examples of this kind of work may be seen
frequently, and especially in towns--like Valencia and Barcelona--on the
eastern coast.

These evidences of Moorish influence upon Christian art in Spain are, it
will at once be seen, rather insignificant, and serve on the whole to
prove the fact, that Christian art was nearly as pure here as it was
anywhere. This is precisely, I think, what might have been expected. For
where a semi-religious war was for ages going on between two nations,
and where art was, as it almost always is--God be praised--more or less
religious in its origin and object, nothing can be imagined less
probable than that their national styles of art should be much mixed one
with the other. It is probable, on the contrary, that each would have a
certain amount of pride in this practical way of protesting against his
enemy’s heresies, so that art was likely to assume a religious air even
greater and deeper than it did elsewhere.

The mention of the religious element in art leads naturally to the
consideration of that art which most objectively ministered to the
teaching of religious truths and history--the art of Painting. The
admirable and interesting work of Mr. Stirling[429] begins just where I
leave off, and almost treats the painters before Velasquez, Murillo, and
Joánes as though they had never existed. But in truth I suppose it is
necessary that the whole subject should be studied from the beginning;
and though we can never hope for such a mine of information about
mediæval Spanish painters as Messrs. Crowe and Cavalcaselle have given
us about their Italian contemporaries, it is not, I think, unreasonable
to suppose that a good deal of information might still be obtained. I
regret very much that in all my Spanish journeys my time has been so
fully occupied with purely architectural work that I have never been
able to pay so much attention as they seemed to deserve to the early
paintings that I saw. Yet the works of Borgoña at Avila, the paintings
round the cloister and choir-screen at Leon, the painted Retablos at
Barcelona, Toledo, and elsewhere, seemed to me to be often very full of
beauty both of drawing and colour. Their number is very great, and most
of them are still in the very places for which they were originally
painted. Their character appears to me to be utterly different from that
to which we are accustomed as marking Spanish painting. Almost all our
ideas are formed, as it seems to me, on the work of a school of painters
who, adopting religious art as their special vocation, and shutting
themselves out almost entirely from any representation of any other kind
of subject, contrived unfortunately to take the gloomy side of religion,
and to paint as though an officer of the Holy Office was ever at their
elbow. How contrary this spirit to that of the earlier men, who, so far
as I have seen, painted just as naturally religious men, cheerful,
hearty, and unaffected by the souring influence of the Inquisition,
might be expected to paint! Their work appears to me to give them an
intermediate place between the tenderly delicate treatment of the early
Italian masters, and the intensely realistic and consequently very
mundane style of the early German painters; but it is always bright,
cheerful, and agreeable both in manner and choice of subject. The names
of but a few of these early men are preserved, and unfortunately next to
nothing beyond their names. Among them are Ramon Torrente of Zaragoza,
who died in 1323; Guillem Fort, his pupil; Juan Cesilles of Barcelona,
who at the end of the fourteenth century contracted for the painting of
the Reredos at Reus, and some of whose handiwork may not impossibly
remain among the Retablos still preserved in the cloister chapels of
Barcelona Cathedral; Gherardo d’Jacobo Starna (or Starnina), born at
Florence in 1354, who before the end of the fourteenth century spent
several years painting in Spain; Dello, also of Florence, and a friend
of Paolo Uccello, who died somewhere about 1466-70;[430] Rogel, a
Fleming, who painted a chapel at Miraflores in A.D. 1445; Jorge Ingles
(probably an Englishman), who was painting in Spain circa A.D. 1450;
Antonio Rincon,[431] who was born at Guadalajara in 1446, studied under
Ghirlandaio for a time, and, subsequently residing at Toledo, painted in
A.D. 1483 the walls of the old sacristy, and died circa 1500, with the
reputation of being the painter who had most contributed to the
overthrow of the mediæval style; finally, Juan de Borgoña, who may be
mentioned as one of the latest and greatest of the earlier school, and
almost the only one of them whose known works are still to be seen. His
great work appears to have been a series of paintings round the cloister
of Toledo Cathedral, which have all been destroyed; besides which he
executed other works in the sacristy, chapter-house, and Mozarabic
chapel there, and in the Cathedral at Avila. The feature which strikes
one the most in these early works is the strange way in which sculpture
and painting are combined in the same work. The great Retablos which
give so grand an effect to Spanish altars are frequently adorned with
paintings in some parts and sculptured subjects in others. The frames to
the pictures are generally elaborate architectural compositions of
pinnacles and canopies, and consequently the art is altogether rather
decorative than pictorial in its effect. Sometimes, when the altar is
small, and the Retablo close to the eye, this is not so much the case,
and I have seen many of the pictures in these positions look so
thoroughly well as to give a very high impression of the men who
produced them. They are almost all painted on panel, and, as might be
expected, on gold grounds. Old wall-paintings are comparatively rare: I
have seen no important series save that which I have described at Leon,
and of the later of these some at least appeared to me to be extremely
Florentine in their character.

This general review of the whole course and history of Spanish art
seemed to be necessary in order to give point and intelligible order to
the various descriptive notices which have been given in the previous
chapters of this book. It is probable that some of my readers may after
all think that I have had but little that was new to tell them. Possibly
this may be so. The history of art repeats itself everywhere in
obedience to some general law of progress; and it might have been
assumed beforehand that we should find the same story in Spain as in
France, Germany, or England. But the real novelty of my account is, I
take it, this,--that whereas generally men credited Spain with forming
an exception to a general rule, my business has been to show that, on
the whole, she did nothing of the sort. Just as we obtained a French
architect for our Canterbury, as the people of Milan obtained one from
Germany for their cathedral, as the architect of St. Mark at Venice
borrowed from the East, as he of Périgueux from St. Mark, as he of
Cologne from Amiens or Beauvais, so Spain profited, no doubt, from time
to time, by the example of her French neighbours. But at the same time
she formed a true branch of art for herself, and one so vigorous, so
noble, and so worthy of study, that I shall be disappointed indeed if
her buildings are not ere long far more familiar than they now are to
English Ecclesiologists.

I think, too, that the occasional study of any ancient school of
architecture is always attended with the best possible results to those
who are themselves attempting to practise the same art. It recalls us,
when necessary, to the consideration of the points of difference between
their work and ours; and thus, by obliging us to reconsider our
position, may enable us to see where it is defective, and where the
course we are pursuing is evidently erroneous. I have already noticed
incidentally, in more than one place in this work, the noble air of
solidity which so often marks the early Spanish buildings; I need hardly
say that in these days none of us err on this side, and that in truth
our buildings only too often lack even that amount of solidity which is
necessary to their stability. And this leads me naturally to another
questionable feature in modern work, which is to a great extent the
cause of our failing in the matter of solidity. These noble Spanish
buildings were usually solid and simple; their mouldings were not very
many, and their sculptures were few, precious, and delicate. There was
little in them of mere ornament, and never any lavish display of it.
Sculpture of the human figure was but rarely introduced, and whatever
sculpture there was, was thoroughly architectural in its character. How
different is the case now! Hardly a church or public building of any
kind is built, which--whatever its poverty elsewhere--has not sculpture
of foliage and flowers, birds and beasts, scattered broadcast and with
profusion all over it. However bad the work, it is sure to be admired,
and as it is evidently almost always done without any, or with but
little interference of the architect, he is often tempted to secure
popularity for his work in this easiest of ways. I know buildings of
great cost which have been absolutely ruined in effect by this miserable
practice; and I know none in the middle ages in which so much carved
work has been introduced, as has been in some of those which have
recently been erected. I believe it to be a fact that more carving--if
the vulgar hacking and hewing of stone we see is to be called
carving--has been done in England within the last twenty years than our
forefathers accomplished in any fifty years between A.D. 1100 and 1500!
And I believe equally that, if we limited ourselves to one-tenth of the
amount, there would be more chance of our having time to think about it
and to design it ourselves.

The same misfortune that has befallen us with foliage will soon befal us
with figures. It has suddenly been discovered that every architect ought
to be able to draw the human figure, and soon, I fear, we shall see it
become the fashion to introduce figures without thought or value
everywhere. If men would but look at some of our own old buildings, they
would see how great is still the work which has to be done before we
understand how to emulate the merits of those even among them which have
no sculpture of any kind in their composition, and how great the
architect may be who despises and rejects this cheap kind of
popularity.[432] And they ought to take warning, by the comparison of
old work and old ways of working with new, of those too attractive but
most dangerous schemes for seducing them from the real study of their
art into other paths, certain, it is true, of popularity, but full of
snares and pitfalls, which, as we see on all sides, entrap some of those
even who ought to have been aware of their danger.

Sculpture in moderation is above everything beautiful. Sculpture in
excess is very offensive. These Spanish churches teach us this most
unmistakably if they teach us anything at all; and as the main object of
the study of ancient art--the main object of those who wish to “stand in
the old ways where is the truth”--is to derive lessons for the present
and future from the practice of the past, I am sure that, in applying
the results of my study of Spanish art in the warning which I here very
gravely give, I am only doing that which as an artist I am bound to do,
if I care at all for my art.



The history of the architects of the middle ages has never been written,
and so few are the facts which we really know about them, that it may
well be doubted whether it ever can be. Yet were it possible to do so,
few subjects would be more interesting. To me it always seems that the
most precious property of all good art is its human and personal
character. I have always had an especial pleasure in tracing out what
appear to be such similarities between different buildings as seem to
prove, or at least to suggest, that they were designed by the same
artist; for, just as in painting, a work becomes far more precious if we
know it to be really the handiwork of a Giotto or a Simone Memmi, so in
the sister art a building is far more precious when we know it to be the
work of an Elias of Dereham, an Alan of Walsingham, or an Eudes de
Montreuil; and if we are able, as in their case to start with the
knowledge that certain men did certain works, the interest of such
investigations is at once manyfold enhanced.

This is precisely the point at which we have now arrived in regard to
Spanish buildings; for the notices of their architects which I have
given in various parts of this book are so numerous that I think I shall
do well to collect them together in their order; and to sum up, as much
as one can learn from the documents relating to them, as to the terms on
which they carried on their work, and generally, indeed, as to the
position which they held.

In the earliest period, and just when any information would have been
more than usually interesting to us, I have been able to learn next to
nothing of any real value as to the superintendents of Spanish

One of the first notices of an architect is that contained in an
inscription in San Isidoro, Leon, to the memory of Petrus de Deo, of
whom it was said, “Erat vir miræ abstinentiæ, et multis florebat
miraculis;” and, what is even more to our purpose, he is said to have
built a bridge. He “superædificavit” the church of San Isidoro, and,
from the reference to his saintly life, one is inclined to suspect that
he must have been a priest and probably a monk; if so, it is important
to note the fact, inasmuch as almost all the other architects or masters
of the works referred to in all books I have examined, seem to have been
laymen, and just as much a distinct class as architects at the present
day are. The expression “superædificavit” does not tell us much as to
the exact office of Petrus de Deo; but the next notice of an architect
is not only one of the earliest, but also one of the most curious; this
is in the contract entered into by the Chapter of Lugo with their
architect Raymundo of Monforte de Lemos, in A.D. 1129; and from the
terms of his payment, which was to be either in money or in kind, it is
clear that, whatever his position was, he could not leave Lugo, but was
retained solely for the work there. The terms of the contract are very
worthy of notice, and may be compared with some of the similar
agreements with, the superintendents of English works, who frequently
stipulated for a cloak of office and other payments in kind, though I
doubt whether we know of any English contract of so early a date. It is
clear from the payment of an annual salary, and an engagement for the
term of his life, that Maestro Raymundo was distinctly an architect, not
a mere builder or contractor; it seems that he was a layman, and that
his son followed the same profession. The title given him in the
contract, “Master of the works,” is, as we shall find, that which in
course of time was usually given to the architect; though I am not
inclined to think that it makes it impossible that he should also have
wrought with his own hands. Indeed, the very next notice of an architect
is of one who certainly did act as sculptor on his own works. This was
Mattheus, master of the works at Santiago Cathedral. The warrant issued
by the king Ferdinand II., in A.D. 1168, granted him a pension of a
hundred maravedis annually for the rest of his life,[433] and, though
the amount seems to be insignificant, the fact of any royal grant being
made proves, I think, not only the king’s sense of the value of a fine
church, but also somewhat as to the degree of importance which its
designer may have attained to, when he was recognized at all by the
king. On the other hand, when twenty years later the same man (no doubt)
wrote his name exultingly on the lintels of the church doorway, which
was only then at last finished,[434] there can be no doubt that he had
been acting there both as sculptor and architect: and if, from a modern
point of view, he lost caste as an architect, he no doubt gained it as
an artist; and even now, if one had to make the choice, one would far
rather have been able honestly to put up one’s name as the author of
those doorways, than as the builder of the church to which they are
attached. It will be noticed that here, just as at Lugo, the master of
the works was appointed at a salary for his lifetime, and held his
office precisely in the same way as do the surveyors of our own
cathedrals at the present day.

Much about the same time, in A.D. 1175, a most interesting document was
drawn out, binding one Raymundo, a “Lambardo,”[435] to execute certain
works in the cathedral at Urgel, in Cataluña. It is very difficult to
say whether this Raymundo was the architect and builder, or only the
builder, of the church, though I incline to believe he was both. He was
to complete his work in seven years, employing four “Lambardos,” and, if
necessary, “Cementarios,” or wallers, in addition; and in return he was
to be paid with a Canon’s portion for the rest of his life. The mode of
payment, the engagement for life, and the fact that there is no mention
whatever of any materials to be provided by Raymundo, as well as the
absence from the contract of any reference to a master of the works,
lead, I think, to the conclusion that he was in truth the architect, but
that he also superintended the execution of the works, and contracted
for the labour.[436]

The next notice I find of an architect is in A.D. 1203, when the
architect of Lérida Cathedral, one Pedro de Cumba, is described as
“Magister et fabricator,” and there can be no doubt, therefore, t