This pompous edifice is commonly known as The Bella
Desconocida (The Beautiful Unknown One). The building combines
various styles - Renaissance, and Gothic, among others - and contains
numerous important paintings and sculptures. The underground crypt
houses the relics of San Antolín, which lie beneath two
previous structures, one Visigoth and the other Romanesque. Tradition
has it that it as the king of Wamba who brought the relics of
the French martyr Antolín to Palencia and, should this
be true, it would explain some of the peculiar characteristics
of the architecture, since the building must have formed part
of an old martyrium similar to the ones found in Asturias or in
old Christian art.
The building, with its pure lines, emulates the Gothic cathedral of Burgos. There is a nod to the visitors walking outside the building: one of the gargoyles represents a local photographer who was friends with José Sanabria, the architect who restores the church in the early 20th century. This man took a lot of photographs of the artistic manifestations spread throughout the province of Palencia.
Construction of this Gothic monument, declared of Cultural Interest in 1992, started in 1321 on the former site of the Basílica de San Antolín, in whose crypt lie the relics of San Antolín, brought from Narbone by the king of Wamba. The cathedral has three naves and a transept. It combines various styles and preserves Visigoth arches in the crypt and Renaissance elements in the doorway leading to the cloister. There are many Gothic elements, such as the flying buttresses, the groin vaults and the stained glass windows.
The interior imitates the Burgos cathedral. The last section to be built was the Chapter Room and the Cloister, by Gil de Ontañón, which today houses the Cathedral Museum. The choir contains 15th-century seats and a Baroque organ. It is protected by a gate by Gaspar Rodríguez (1571). The sides were built by Diego de Siloé and Vigarny and Juan de Ruesga were responsible for the decorated altars.
There are many chapels attached to the side naves. Particularly noteworthy are the chapel of Doña Inés de Osorio, the sepulchres of the deans Husillos and Enríquez and the sarcophagus of Queen Doña Urraca. There is a Romanesque Virgin of the 13th century in the Plateresque altarpiece of the Capilla del Sagrario, plus sculptures by Vigarny and Juan de Valmaseda, paintings by Juan de Flandes and a Gothic Christ of the 13th century known as the Cristo de las Batallas.
Alonso de Fonseca, the archbishop of Toledo was mostly responsible for the rich ornamentation of the church interior. As to paintings, there is a San Sebastian, by El Greco, the Desposarios de Santa Catalina by Mateo Cerezo and the Presentación de la Virgen by Juan de Villoldo.
Address: Plaza de la Inmaculada, S/N