Just as happened in our route along the Extremaduran Romanesque, the Gothic style in Extremadura was born late with regard to the north of the Peninsula. Because of that, its artistic influences prolonged through until the 16th century. The Gothic, at its beginning, was a continuity of the Romanesque and Proto-gothic styles. The 15th and 16th centuries were centuries of the greatest splendour. As regards the artistic production and stylistics in Extremadura, the Gothic style was equal to the one we find in the rest of the Christian peninsular kingdoms.
Extremadura, in the 15th and 16th centuries, is
a territory which belonged to the kingdoms of Castille and Leon,
and later to the monarchs of the House of Austria.
Just as happened with the Romanesque style, the Military Orders promoted the religious, civil and military buildings, outstanding among them the work made by the Orders of Santiago and Alcántara.
The buildings were made of stone and granite, being also the wood and the adobe among the most used materials. In the great buildings predominated the cross vault, being the authentic symbol of this style and these centuries.
At the turn of this historic-artistic period Extremadura, being a territory of Castille, was usually visited by the reining monarch, like the Catholic King and Queen, Isabel and Fernando. It is very significant the fact that Charles I of Spain, king of Castille and Emperor of Germany, came to the Monastery of Yuste to look for peace in the last years of his life.
In Extremadura there were many important personages related to the discoveries, such as Henán Cortés or Pizarro and many others, which became universal heroes from the Spanish 16th century, contributing to a great extent to become the so-called real “Encounter between two Worlds: Spain and America”.
We start our route along the Extremaduran Gothic in the south of the region, in Azuaga, in the heart of the “Campiña Sur” (Southern Countryside). There we can find one of the most beautiful examples of the Gothic style from the time of the Catholic King and Queen; we talk about the Parish Church of “Nuestra Señora de la Consolación", built in 1515.
In the main front of this church we can contemplate a tower with three bodies, where we can see the Plateresque influence of the Renaissance style.
In Llerena its beautiful Church of “Santa
María de la Granada”, a religious building from the
15th century, was ordered to be rebuilt by the Catholic Queen
and King, in the 16th century.
In ts interior the gothic image of the Virgin of “La Granada” stands out.
One of the best Gothic-mudejar altarpieces in Spain
is in the Parish Church in Calzadilla de los Barros .
In Zafra we can visit an interesting example of the lordly-military architecture in Extremadura, the “Alcazar” of the Duke and the Duchess of Feria , whose building dates back to mid 15th century. Although it has Gothic influences the final result is an interesting compilation of the Mudejar, Gothic and Renaissance styles. In the Convent of “Santa Clara”, founded in 1428 by Gómez Suárez de Figueroa, we can see an important Gothic image from the 13th century, “Nuestra Señora del Valle” .
Also in Zafra, the Hospital of “Santiago” , founded by Lorenzo Suárez mid 15th century, has an admirable façade with undoubtable gothic features.
Nowadays there are scarcely any vestiges of the
primitive cathedral in Badajoz, which owns some interesting Gothic-styled
examples in the Chapel of “Santa Barbara”, in “Las
Tribulaciones” (Tribulations) Altarpiece. Outside the cathedral
we can see the solid Tower, where balconies and windows were made
with the typical Gothic ornaments.
Mérida, declared Mankind Heritage because of its monuments, is the present capital city of the Autonomous Region. It still keeps two religious buildings with some remains of the Gothic architecture, the “Concatedral de Santa María” (Saint Mary’s Church) and the “Basílica de Santa Eulalia” (Saint Eulalia’s Church)
In the “Concatedral” stands out the sculpture of “la O” Christ in this style, from the 14th century and in the “Basílica de Santa Eulalia” we can still see pillars and vaults from that time.
In Guadalupe we will visit one of the most emblematic
places of the Extremaduran Gothic, the Royal Monastery of Guadalupe,
whose Church is the best Extremaduran representative building
of the ogival style. It has three naves and an octagonal dome,
in whose Boudoir (or Side Chapel) the Virgin of Guadalupe is worshipped.
The image is probably from the 13th century.
This monastery, declared Mankind Heritage, also has other beautiful and interesting examples of the Gothic style , like its Bronze Doors, a work of Paulus Colonia, and the impressive sepulchres of the Father Gonzalo de Illescas and Alonso de Velasco and his wife in a kneeling position.
On the vault of the cloister some beautiful paintings stand out from the turn of the 15th century and in the interior of the Museum of Paintings stand out the triptych called The Epiphany, by the master Adrián Isebrant .
From Guadalupe we will head for Trujillo, which is one of the most important places of this Route. In this town, cradle of discoverers, we find the best Gothic altarpiece in Extremadura in the Church of “Santa María”, made by Fernado Gallego in 1480 and which has 25 panels. This church was built on an ancient Moorish mosque.
A few metres from “Santa María” we find the Church of “Santiago”, which was built in the 13th century and lately transformed in the 15th and 17th centuries. In its interior we can see the sculpture of “las Aguas” Christ, from the 14th century and the Virgin of “la Coronada”, mid 13th century, both of them are Gothic in style.
Also in this Church of “Santiago” it
is worthy of mentioning an anonymous painting from the 16th century
in Flemish-German style. It is a triptych which represents Christ
dead. On Easter Monday Trujillo celebrates its traditional “Chíriviri”,
declared an Official Tourist Attraction.
The “Concatedral of Santa María” in Cáceres has Gothic-styled elements in its construction, mainly on the northern and western façades (P18), outstanding in its interior the sculpture of Black Christ . It is a fundamental image in Cáceres Holy Week, which is declared an Official Tourist Attraction.
On our way to Coria, in Garrovillas it is worthy of visiting the Gothic temple consecrated to Saint Peter , a magnificent building in granite ashlar. In its interior we can see Gothic works dating back to the 15th and 16th centuries. Coria, on the banks of the river Alagón, is famous by its “Fiestas de San Juan” declared an Official Tourist Attraction. It owns an interesting Cathedral consecrated to Virgin’s Assumption.
From a previous Gothic cathedral there is only its
cloister from the 14th and 15th centuries. The present one is
a work of Martín Solórzolano, from the turn of the
15th century, outstanding in its interior the Gothic-styled sepulchre
of the Bishop Ximénez de Préxamo , a masterful work
of Copin de Holanda, and the magnificent flamboyant traceries
of its cloister, dating back to 1489. Also in this town stands
out the Gothic sculpture of “Nuestra Señora de Argeme”,
in a hermitage a few kilometres from the town.
We can not forget that, bordering on Portugal, towards the south of Coria, in the western area of Extremadura, we can find other interesting examples of the ogival style, like the Gothic Quarter in Valencia de Alcántara. In the façades of its houses we see the lancet arch, either shouldered or convex in form. The attractive streets of this unique quarter are plentiful in this kind of construction.
Following the northern direction, from Coria we can go to Granadilla, located in the “Valle de Ambroz”, which was a Moslem foundation from the 9th century. At present it is surrounded by the waters from the Gabriel y Galán reservoir, outstanding its castle , built under the initiative of the Duke of Alba in the last quarter of the 15th century.
Also outstanding is its Parish Church of “La
Asunción de Nuestra Señora”, dating back to
the 16th century. It has a Gothic cross vault cover, also being
the northern façade in Gothic style.
In our route along the Extremaduran Gothic style Plasencia is, without doubt, the most important artistic centre to the north of the region. In its “Catedral Vieja” (Old Cathedral) we find some late-Romanesque examples combined with Gothic solutions, outstanding three beautiful sculptures with clear late-Romanesque influences, some of them from the 13th c., like the Virgin of “el Sagrario” and the images of “Santa María la Blanca” and “Santa María del Perdón”:
In its “Catedral Nueva” (New Cathedral),
where the Renaissance style stands out, it is worth mentioning
the majestic and unequalled cloister , a masterful work of Rodrigo
de Alemán, made between 1490 and 1497 with very beautiful
From the exhibition of its Cathedral Museum stands out an important Gothic pictorial work, we refer to “Las Bodas de Caná” from the 16th century, by Gerad Davis.
Not very far from Plasencia, in the area called “La Vera”, are located some villages with some examples of Gothic influences on their religious, civil or military buildings. The Monastery of Yuste was the last resting place of the Emperor of Germany and King of Castille, Carlos I, from the 1556 to 1558. It is located near Cuacos de Yuste, in its interior it harbours a beautiful Gothic cloister from the 15th century and some interesting choir stalls, in the same style with some Renaissance style, made of walnut wood at the turn of the 15th century.
Jarandilla de la Vera is also a nearby village, which has a castle of the Count and Countess of Oropesa. In its interior we find an arcaded gallery in Gothic style from the 15th century. In this castle Charles I was lodged waiting for going to Yuste lately.
In the centre of this village, famous by its “Fiesta
Los Escobazos” which is declared an Official Tourist Attraction,
we find the Parish Church of “Nuestra Señora de la
Torre” Gothic in style, where a large defensive fortified
tower fulfils the function of a belfry. From Jarandilla we can
see, in the heart of Campo Arañuelo, Belvis de Monroy,
with its beautiful castle started in the 13th c. and finished
between the 14th and 15th centuries.
Calzadilla de Los Barros
Valencia de Alcántara
Jarandilla de La Vera
Belvís de Monroy