Catedral of Santa Maria de León 

Yet one more beautiful church to see in Spain.  León is the 4th larger city to visit along the Camino.

It’s Catedral is smaller than the one in Burgos.  It was built in 13th century during the Renaissance using the French model of thin walls, a lot of stain glass, and very high vaulted ceilings.  It took approximately 50 years to complete.

The Catedral replaced a gothic church using the same site.  

This church features stain glass rosettes;

Large flying buttresses support the walls. The glass is light meaning lesser stone and mortar are used with the construction–the windows are colorful and represent fruit, grain, saints, the apostles and the family tree of Jesse from whence Christ came to be according to biblical texts:

The colors are vivid and clean set in the most extraordinary designs of that period:

The Catedral also features an interestingly positioned choir section that seems to divide the church in two:

Here are two of the reliefs present on the wall both are made from alabaster. The first is the archangel Gabriel telling Mary that she will be with child–Jesus:

The second is the stable scene when Jesus is born:

The choir itself is handcarved reliefs of saints, prophets etc. with multiple pipes from the organ stationed above.  Roman and Greek gods and philosophers were also present.  It wasn’t until the Council of Trent in the mid-1500’s that the notion of including non-Catholics in church art was banned:

Some of the figures carved under the choir seats–not sure what they represent:

Examples of people carved in front of the choir seats — this is Israel’s King David:

These are the prophets Moses and Zachariah:

The main altar is backed by several paintings rather than statuary–atypical for the time:

A crèche standing approximately three feet high stood on an altar in its own chapel:

The ceilings of these churches are delicate and typically need repair or restoration–this Catedral is no different.  Parts of the ceiling collapsed in the 18th and 19th centuries requiring extensive repairs–can’t tell by eyeballing the ceiling:

Part of the cloister’s (typically a courtyard adjacent to a church, convent or monastery) ceiling was intriguing — love the skull motif:

This is the original statue that once greeted incoming church attendees–a copy is now installed in its place because time and climate have damaged the original:

An architectural drawing of the Catedral:

Last but certainly not least is this life size statue of a pregnant Mary rubbing her belly–a rare site to be sure and a favorite of mine:

When one ventures to Europe its the church architecture that draws crowds–like it or not!  

Surely when attendees entered these “temples” of worship hundreds of years ago they were both awed and frightened by the immense size, the dark shadows, coldness of the stone and the religiousity of the artwork.  

I wonder if it felt like standing on the cusp of damnation or salvation — perhaps both.

Buen Camino 

About tourdetom

I'm retired. Travel a lot.
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1 Response to Catedral of Santa Maria de León 

  1. DICK RINEHART says:

    thank u Tom Dick

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