History of Architecture of Spain

Spain has the greatest variety of architecture in Europe because of its history. The Moors conquered Spain in 711 and exerted a very strong influence on Spanish architecture. Their influence was to make architecture more decorative. Gothic architecture in Spain was more decorative than Gothic architecture in other European countries because many Moorish features were added. This happened also with Renaissance architecture and Baroque architecture. Even today it is exerting its influence in many modern buildings.

A. Roman Architecture

In 218 B.C., Cneo Escipion landed in Ampurias in the Costa Brava during the Second Punic War to eliminate Spain as a base of operations of the Carthaginians against Rome. His brother Publio Cornelio Escipion arrived the next year with reinforcements. Rome also sent Publio Cornelio Escipion, the African, who was the son of the other Escipion with the same name. The son defeated the Carthaginians and put an end to the Second Punic War, winning all the territory of Spain for Rome. Rome stayed in Spain until the 5th century A.D., when the Visigoths took over. So Rome stayed in Spain for a period of about 7 centuries. The Romans were master builders and built bridges, aqueducts, theaters, amphitheaters, forums, and roads. Today's roads in Spain still follow the roads built by the Romans. There are many monuments they left that are still in very good condition in Spain.

1. The Segovia Aqueduct

This aqueduct is one of the Roman Empire's most astounding engineering feats and the best preserved in Spain. It is the most important Roman artifact in Spain and it is the symbol of the City of Segovia. It was built at the end of the 1st century, probably during the reign of Nerva, and has been used until the middle of the 19th century. There are 166 stone arches on granite ashlars and they have been set without cement or mortar. The blocks of ashlar were dressed so that they did not need mortar. The aqueduct is the highest and most imposing at the Azoguejo Square.

The aqueduct received water from the Fuenfria Spring that is located in the mountains that are 17 km away. At its tallest, the aqueduct is 28.9 m tall and 728 meters in length. The structure has both single and double arches that are supported by pillars. When the water reached the city, it first went to the Almenara Tower, which allowed only 20 liters of water to pass per second. The water then went to a second tower that contained a large cistern. The water was decanted here to remove suspended sand and floating matter.

In 1072 the Moorish king of Toledo (Al-Mamun) caused some damage to the aqueduct. During the reign of the Catholic Kings, the Hieronymite monk from El Parral, Juan de Escobedo, repaired this damage.

The aqueduct is also known as the “Puente de Diablo” or Devil’s Bridge. There is a legend that the devil built the bridge in one night to win a young woman's soul. However he failed because he did not have the final stone when dawn came. The legend also says that the holes on the stones are the marks of the devil's fingers.

2. Roman Bridge in Cordoba

The Romans built this bridge over the Guadalquivir River during the time of Augustus. It has a length of 225 m and has 16 arches. None of the arches are the original and the bridge has been renovated several times. It is thought that it was part of the Via Augusta that went from Rome to Cadiz. The first reconstruction was during Moorish times, followed by another reconstruction after the Reconquest. In the beginning of the 20th century there was still another reconstruction. The last took place in 2006 and today the bridge is only for pedestrians.

At one end of the bridge there is the Calahorra Tower, a defensive tower. At the other end is the Puerta del Puente (entranceway of the bridge). The entranceway was designed by the architect Hernan Ruiz in 1572. There is a small shrine and statue of St. Raphael in the middle of the bridge, done by the sculptor Bernabe Gomez del Rio in 1651, where the devout burn candles.

3. Trajan's Arch in Merida

The arch is 15 meters high and was one of the gates to the walled city, having the form of a Roman triumphal arch. The arch was built with granite ashlars and was the northern gate to the Roman city. Trajan was one of the Roman emperors who was born in the Roman province of Hispania. The arch marked the entrance to the provincial forum.

4. Roman Bridge in Merida

This structure is 783 meters long and has 70 arches, and is the longest Roman bridge in Europe. It was built at the end of the 1st century A.D. and it crosses the Guadiana River. The bridge was built to protect the city from possible attacks and was the link between Emerita Augusta and Tarragona. The water pillars are round and the bridge is made of granite ashlars. The Visigoths restored it in 686 and later Philip III restored it in 1610. The bridge was restored in 1993 and turned into a pedestrian walkway.

5. Roman Temple of Diana in Merida

This huge temple was one of the most impressive in Roman Merida. The temple has a rectangular base and is surrounded by Corinthian columns made of granite. The columns were painted with the color of red marble. The temple was 40 meters long. The facade was crowned with a tympanum with a semicircular inner section that was supported by the six columns of the portico. Unfortunately in the 16th century the Duke of Corbos built his palace and incorporated this temple in it, spoiling the beautiful monument.

6. Tower of Hercules in La Coruña

The Tower of Hercules is a Roman lighthouse built in the 2nd century and is still in use. It is a Unesco World Heritage Site. It is 55 meters tall and was rehabilitated in 1791. Its light can be seen as far as 32 miles away. It is the oldest Roman lighthouse still used as a lighthouse.

7. Roman Walls of Lugo

The Roman walls completely surround the city, has a length of more than 2 km and there are 71 towers that are still conserved, out of an original 90. In some sections the walls are 7 meters high. They were constructed in the 3rd century and are a Unesco World Heritage Site.

8. Palace of the Countess of Lebrija in Seville

The Palace of the Countess of Lebrija sits on a very narrow street in the historic center. It was built in the 15th century and rebuilt in the 16th century. The Countess of Lebrija was Doña Regla Manjon Mergelina, a very educated woman who had a great interest in archaeology. In 1900 the Countess decided to rebuild the palace. The city of Italica near Seville had just been discovered and the Countess bought many of the floor mosaics to preserve them and put them in her huge palace. These mosaics are some of the best to be seen in Spain. There are 580 square meters of Roman mosaics on the floor. One of the best mosaics is the mosaic of the god Pan, the best mosaic found in Italica. This is the biggest private collection of mosaics in the world. The first floor also has many Roman statues. The walls are covered with beautiful tiles that were saved from other palaces and convents.

9. Roman Theater in Cartagena

The biggest monument in Cartagena is the Roman Theater. The Roman Theater was built in the 1st century B.C. and could hold 6000 people. It has been very well restored. The entrance to the Roman Theater Museum of Cartagena is located in the Pascual de Riquelme Palace, which was a Baroque looking palace built by the architect Tomas Rico. The famous architect Rafael Moneo built a tunnel underground to connect the palace with the Roman theater, which is more than a block away. When one enters the Roman Theater from the top of the stands, one is highly impressed by the theater, one of the best preserved in Spain. Towering above it are the ruins of the walls of the Cathedral of Santa Maria la Vieja. One can enjoy seeing this theater and the atmosphere one finds there.

 

B. Moorish Architecture

The Moors started their conquest of Spain in 711 and completed it a few years later. They were people who lived first in tents but later they evolved and founded a very sophisticated culture and left architecture that has been the marvel of the world. Their architecture had several features. They had the horseshoe arch, which was a common feature in all construction of palaces and buildings. The patio was a common feature and also the minaret, which became the bell tower of the Giralda in Seville. Glazed ceramic tilework with very geometrical patterns was used widely and reached a zenith in Andalusia, with complicated arabesque designs. They were very good in carving precious stones and alabaster. Many times screens made of carved stone or marble were used for windows in palaces. Their ceilings of wood were impressive, with very elaborate carved wood and often inlaid with mother of pearl. Wrought iron decoration was also used. Their religion did not allow the representation of animal life, but they were able to use decoration that did not use this representation. Kufic script was used to decorate walls and ceilings. They learned to make very elaborate plaster molds in the forms of beehives and stalactites to decorate their buildings. Fountains and formal pools decorated houses and gardens.

The Moors designed white towns with narrow streets on top of hills for defensive purposes. The buildings were whitewashed to reflect the heat of the sun. The narrow streets created drafts of air during summer to cool the houses. The narrow streets always had some shade. During summer the white towns were cooler and during winter they were warmer because they conserved heat. The tops of the houses were flat to help collect water into cisterns and also to allow people to sleep on top during hot summer nights. Today the white towns of Andalusia still follow Moorish designs.

1. The Mezquita of Cordoba

The first great Moorish construction was made in Cordoba, which had become the capital of the Umayyad emir Abderrahman I. It was the Great Mosque, popularly called the Mezquita. He built the Mezquita in 785 and finished it a year later. The Mezquita used building materials from Roman and Visigothic remains that were nearby. The prayer hall consisted of eleven naves that were perpendicular to the qibla wall, the wall facing Mecca. To create a lofty interior space, two-tiered arcades were created. The arches of the arcades had stone in a light color that alternated with red brick, giving a rhythm to the structure. The double arches resemble the branches of palm trees.

In the 9th and 10th centuries the building was enlarged to its present size, which is 179m long and 129m wide. About one third of this area is taken by the courtyard. The perimeter of the mosque has an outer wall that is between 9m and 20m high, and with many buttresses.

When one enters the Mezquita, there is a hole in the floor in one part, and one can see the Visigothic remains. The Moors used the marble columns of the Visigothic church in their construction of the mosque. It took 2 centuries to finish the mosque, and at that time it was the second biggest mosque in the Muslim world. When the Spanish reconquered Cordoba in 1236, they built a Renaissance nave in the middle of the mosque and the mosque became the cathedral. The continued use of the church has saved the mosque from destruction, especially during the time of the inquisition. The Catholics dedicated the church to the Virgen de la Asuncion (the Virgin of the Assumption).

The most important architectural feature of the Mezquita are the double horseshoe arches, made of jasper, onyx, marble, and granite. There are more than a thousand columns in the church and they seem to be a sea of arches and columns to the visitor. The interior is only 11.5m high. All visitors are impressed.

The Mezquita has a huge patio and garden filled with short orange trees, called the Patio de los Naranjos (the patio of the oranges). The patio has a fountain and this was used for the ablutions required by the Muslim religion. Many times the Moors would pray in the patio, so most mosques have large patios. The Mezquita is one of Spain’s most impressive monuments, one of a kind. It is considered one of the highest achievement of Moorish art and architecture in Spain.

2. Medina Azahara

About 8 km outside the city of Cordoba lie the remains of the city of Medina Azahara, built between 936 and 940AD by the Caliph Abd ar-Rahman III. This king built this city as his new capital and wanted it to outshine all other Arab capitals as his political statement of his wealth and power. There is a sentimental story that the king built it and named it for his favorite wife Zahra, although this story may have been invented. When the city was finished, many authors commented in their documents how beautiful the city was, with a grandiose design. It was the biggest city in Western Europe built from scratch. There were ten thousand persons who worked on the city until it was finished. The best materials available were used to try to make it the most beautiful city. This included the best marbles, stones and gold.

Medina Azahara was to become the royal residence, the seat of government, and the dwelling place of the staff of 20,000. The construction costs took up to one third of the annual state revenue. There were 4324 marble columns imported from Tunisia, and a large number of marble basins from Byzantium and Syria. The chief architect of the project was named Maslama bin 'Abd Allah.

The water supply to the city came from the Sierra mountains to the north. A conduit that was mostly underground was used, but in several places it emerged as an aqueduct on horseshoe arches. The water entered the city and went to a water tower. Lead pipes distributed the water from this tower to the different parts of the city. The better houses had a good water supply and they had lavatories with running water.

Unfortunately in 1010 there was a civil war and the city was sacked by Berber troops. The city was completely forgotten until it was rediscovered in 1910. Before the discovery, people thought that the remains were Roman. The city was built on 112 hectares of land and only 10% has been excavated. Restoration has gone very slowly and only parts of the palace have been restored. However it remains the most important medieval archaeological site in the whole of Europe. Spain declared this site as a National Monument in 1923.

The city was built on the slope of a mountain of the Sierra Morena on stepped terraces. The design of the city was rectangular in shape, with measurements of 1500 meters by 750 meters.. There were walls separating each of the three parts of the city. The highest part contained the palaces, the middle had the vegetable and fruit orchards and gardens, and the lowest part had the mosque and the houses of the workers. Some of the rooms of the palace have been restored. Archaeologists in 2007 discovered the remains of a new mosque and this was quite exciting as a discovery.

One of the innovative features of the palace was the arranging of the suites of rooms around a central courtyard or garden. Other Arab cities later copied this feature. The reception halls had the form of basilicas and had many naves. The reception halls were richly ornamented and used much sandstone, marble, and glass mosaics. Today one can see parts of the palace that have been restored, and they are very beautiful. The Salon Rico is the best restored section of the palace.

A new archaeological museum has just been completed on the grounds and one can see many of the discoveries of the archaeologists in this museum.

3. The Giralda Tower in Seville

Beside the Cathedral of Seville is the Giralda, the bell tower that is the symbol of Seville. It used to be the minaret of the old mosque and was designed by Abou Yakoub and built in 1184. The Christians topped the minaret with a five-story bell tower in 1568. On top of the bell tower is a weathervane in the form of a statue of Faith, called the giraldillo (something that turns), since it turns with the wind. That is how the tower got the name of La Giralda. The platform is 70 meter high and is reached by a ramp that two horsemen could pass abreast. One can go up the tower and get a bird's eye view of the city. The total height of La Giralda is 93m and the tower has 24 bells.

4. The Alhambra Palace

The Alhambra is the finest, best-conserved medieval Arab palace in the world. Most of the buildings were built under the reigns of Yusuf I (1333-1353) and his son Muhammed V (1353-1391). The Alhambra is one of the most enchanting, fascinating and beautiful places to visit, the zenith of Moorish architecture. It entertains and enthralls visitors.

On the way to the Nasrid Palace, one has to pass under the very impressive wine gate, a very large structure with Moorish architecture. It has a double façade of horseshoe arches. Apparently this gate inspired Debussy to write the “La Porte du Vin” music, although Debussy never visited Spain.

 

The Nasrid Palace

There is a very large patio before one enters the Mexuar, which was used as the reception salon and for the administration of justice. Everywhere one can see the elaborate tile work at the bottom of the walls, followed by the elaborate stucco work on the walls and the beehive stucco ceilings. On the walls are ornamental pious prayers in Arabic script. The arches above columns have stalactites. There are windows where one can see the gardens below the palace or one can see the city of Granada. Everywhere there are beautiful vistas.

There is also the Court of the Myrtles with its huge courtyard and pool. The Tower of Comares is in the background and reflects in the pool. The Court of the Lions is huge and impressive. The original lion statues will be placed in the nearby Museo de Bellas Artes in the Carlos V Palace to preserve them, because they have suffered erosion through the years, being exposed to the rain in the open patio. Copies of the lion statues will be put in this court.

Another beautiful place are the Gardens of the Partal, adjacent to the Torre de las Damas. There is a large reflecting pool adjacent to this structure. This building has beautiful arches over columns and inside, one has beautiful views of the city below. It is interesting to note that in all these gardens adjacent to the palace, there are many beautiful cats that are not scared of the crowds of people.

The Generalife Gardens

The Generalife Gardens are huge and one can enjoy walking through them. At the entrance, there is a large open air patio that is sloping to a stage, where concerts and other public performances are held. Everywhere in the gardens there are little fountains that splash water. The sound of running water was very soothing to the Moors and they engineered a system to bring large amounts of water from the surrounding mountains to the Alhambra fortress, so that they could withstand sieges and also use the water in the palaces and gardens. The gardens are surrounded by a forest of trees, and one can see the channels where the water runs.

The gardens are very well tended by professional gardeners and one can see them at work while one wanders through the gardens. There are many rose plants and other aromatic plants and shrubs because the Moors liked to have perfumed gardens, which are a delight to the senses. Many of one's senses are engaged in these beautiful gardens, the sense of sight, smell, and hearing. What is interesting is that the gardens are divided into smaller gardens by huge green hedges, which have cutouts so that one can see adjacent gardens. One needs at least an hour to see all of these gardens in the Generalife. One can spend much more time here taking pictures of everything.

One can really appreciate what the Moors built here. The designs are all to human scale and there is pure genius in the designs. The human scale is probably what makes the palaces so beautiful and engaging. One can imagine how life would be if one lived in these palaces.

5. Malaga Alcazaba

The Alcazaba is the best preserved Moorish fortress in Spain. It sits on the hill that overlooks the city of Malaga. It consists of two concentric enclosures, with the outer enclosure being lower than the inner enclosure. The inner enclosure contains 3 palaces. The Moors built this fort over the remains of a Roman fort. There are more than 100 towers in the walls. The Alcazaba now contains the Archaeological Museum of the city. It has beautiful gardens and fountains also.

The first fortress was built in the 8th century but was completely rebuilt in the 11th century for King Badis of Granada. By the entrance to the Alcazaba is a 2nd century Roman theater that is undergoing restoration. The fortress is connected to the Gibralfaro Castle.

The Moorish governors were the ones who occupied the Nazari palace, constructed in the 11th, 13th, and 14th centuries. There are three consecutive patios in the palace. There is a tower called the Maldonado Tower, which has a lookout with a beautiful view of the city below.

There is a gate at the entrance which is called the Puerta de la Boveda (Vault Gate). Behind the City Hall there is an elevator that carries one to the fortress. The fortress was cleverly designed because at two gates the path doubles back to make it harder to attack the fortress. In 1487 the fortress was captured after a long siege by the Catholic Kings (Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand). In 1931 the Alcazaba was named a National Monument.

6. The Alcazaba of Almeria

Abd al-Rahman was the first caliph of the Kingdom of Al-Andalus. He ordered the fort to be built in 955 on top of the hill that overlooks Almeria. Almeria became the most important Moorish port and it became the headquarters of the Moorish fleet. There were shipyards where warships were built. The port attracted many merchants from all over the Mediterranean, including Christian merchants from Italy and France. The city was also a favorite of travelers. The city was taken by the Christians in 1489 and the Catholic Kings ordered more constructions in the fortress. The fort consisted of three sets of walls. There was a fortified connection over a deep ravine to the top of the next hill, which contained a castle. This was called the Hill of Saint Christopher. The fort has a space of 43,000 square meters. Unfortunately it was heavily damaged by the earthquake of 1522. Parts of it have been restored in the succeeding years.

The fort contained a good number of houses and baths, which are now gone. What is impressive are the gardens that now occupy the space where the houses were. The gardens run to the top of the hill and there is a small channel that has running water, similar to what the Moors had in their gardens. There are several reflecting pools in the gardens with fountains also. The gardens are beautifully designed and one can go up the hill using steps or a ramp.

The main gate of the fort is called the Gate of Justice. There are three sections of the fort. The first section is the lower one, after the Gate of Justice, which has the gardens. The second section is above the first section and contains several buildings and baths, including the Moorish house, Baths of the Troop, the Queen’s Baths, and the courtyard of the Palace of Al-Mutash. The highest section is the third section, which includes the parade ground, the Tower of Homage, the Tower of the Waterwheel, the Tower of Gunpowder, and a silo.

Everywhere in the fort, one has wonderful views of the city below and the harbor. This monument is a beautiful place to visit and one can never forget it.

7. The Aljaferia of Zaragoza

The Moors built one of the most beautiful palaces in Zaragoza, and it is called the Aljaferia. It is a huge palace surrounded by a large moat. There is a beautiful patio built by the Moorish kings. What is impressive of the patio are the many arches that surround the garden. The arches are scalloped and adorned with very impressive plaster work. There is a niche of the mihrab, the most important portion of the building where prayers were said. There is a very high Moorish ceiling, also beautiful. This palace predates the Alhambra palace in Granada and the Alcazar of Seville. Its originality probably influenced the building of those other palaces.

C. Mudejar Architecture


During the 12th century the Mudejar style of architecture emerged in Andalusia in southern Spain.

The style was unique to Andalusia and lasted into the 16th century. Mudejar refers to the art and architecture that was created by the Moors who stayed in the Christian areas after that area passed from the Moors to the Christians. It used the traditions and techniques that were used by the Almohads and Nasrids. The Christians called the Moors who remained in Spain but who were not converted to Christianity as Mudejars. So the word Mudejar may refer to these people or to the art or architecture that they used. Even after the 16th century, the style was used in Andalusia and other regions of Spain. In the 19th century, the Neo-Mudejar style was used by modern architects in Madrid and other cities. The style was always popular in Andalusia because it was in Andalusia where it all started, after the Alhambra was built.

The Mudejars worked in Spain as alarifes (master masons), carpenters, potters, and tile and glassmakers. They were master craftsmen. In the middle of the 16th century they were forced to convert to Christianity and were then called Moriscos. Those who refused to convert to Christianity had to leave Spain in 1610.

The Mudejar style developed from the Moorish, Christian, and Jewish cultures that were living side by side for centuries after the Moorish conquest of Spain in 711. It was an architectural style that came from the hybrid of these three cultures.

The Mudejar style had these elements:

1. Brick was used as the main building material, because it was the least expensive material.

2. Glazed ceramic tile had beautiful motifs that were very geometrical. The tiling patterns used were the height of sophistication. Modern analysis with computers has shown that many of the patterns followed complicated equations. Cobalt blue and white tiles were favorites. Square flowers and eight pointed stars were favorite motifs. Ceramic tile was also used on the sides of buildings.

3. Wood carving developed as an art form, and beautiful woods, metals and ivory were inlaid on wood surfaces for furniture and floors, what is now called marquetry.

4. Plasterwork reached a very sophisticated level and is seen in the beehive ceilings and stalactites of palaces like the Alhambra.

5. Patios were an integral part of Mudejar architecture. They were usually decorated with a fountain, because the Moors enjoyed the sound of running water, which is very soothing and relaxing. The lower part of the wall is called the zocalo, and the patios always had beautiful tilework for the zocalo. Sometimes a tiled reflecting pool was used instead of a fountain.

6. The balconies were used extensively in Mudejar architecture. Many had screens where one could see and not be seen.

7. Cupolas are another feature. Many had small star shaped windows that let in light.

8. Horseshoe arches immediately identify Mudejar buildings. The double horseshoe arches of the Mezquita in Cordoba are unique and beautiful.

9. Many times cobalt blue roof tiles have been used. This is a beautiful color that contrasts with the color of the building.

10. The alfarje was a wooden painted ceiling with elaborate decoration based on interlacing star-shaped polygons, yet interwoven with Christian iconography. This type of ceiling is also called the techo artesonado, or ornately decorated coffered wooden ceiling. The spaces within the beams are covered with wood carvings, using geometric designs and plant motifs, or calligraphy as first used by the Umayyads. The Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York has a gorgeous alfarje that came from a palace in Spain.

Some of the best examples of Mudejar architecture in Spain are:

1. The Alcazar in Seville. The King's personal apartments have beautiful rooms with beautiful ceilings. The Patio de las Doncellas is also spectacular.

2. Plaza de España in Seville. This was built for the Ibero-American Exhibition of 1929.

3. The Museum of Popular Arts Building in Seville. This was also built for the 1929 Exhibition.

4. Casa de Pilatos in Seville, built in the last quarter of the 15th century.

5. Arc de Triomf in Barcelona, built in 1888.

6. Palacio de Osma in Madrid, built in 1889.

 

D. Romanesque Architecture

The Spanish Romanesque architecture took place in Northern Spain between the 10th and 12th centuries. Northern Spain was the first part of Spain that stopped the Moors and then started the Reconquest going to the south. The southern part of Spain had Moorish rule until a much later time and Romanesque architecture is scant in this part of Spain. The Romanesque style was the style of the Reconquest. The Romanesque style started in northeast Spain and spread westward along the Way of St. James pilgrim route. Romanesque architecture was really Christian architecture and showed that this part of Spain was again Christian.

The Spanish Romanesque style was influenced by the Pre-Romanesque buildings in Oviedo in Asturias, mainly the palace of King Ramiro I (842-850) and the Church of San Miguel de Liño, both of which are on top of Monte Naranco.

The first Romanesque churches were influenced by Roman architecture and were simple in style. They followed the basilical form of church, with a three nave box and a semicircular apse at one end. Later architects started using the Latin cross ground plan. There were thick stone walls, semicircular arches, stone barrel vaults, carved portals, and little decoration. Doorways and windows were narrow, and interiors were dark because there was not enough natural light. Pillars were thick and heavy. Round arches would support the roof. There were also Moorish elements in these churches because many of the artisans who worked on the churches were Christians who had lived under Moorish rule and were familiar with Moorish buildings.

The biggest Romanesque church built in Spain is the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, and it is also one of the biggest Romanesque churches in Europe. The legend says that the bones of the Apostle St. James (Santiago in Spanish) were brought to Spain after he was martyred in 44 A.D. Then they were found where the Cathedral is in 813 A.D. Santiago became the patron saint of Spain at that time and many pilgrims from all over Europe went to see his shrine. The Cathedral was built in 1060 on the site of an earlier 9th century church. It was built in the Romanesque style. Later in the 16th and 17th centuries, the church was remodeled in the Baroque style. The interior is Romanesque and is 94 m long, with a nave 24 m high and a dome that is 33 m high. The Capilla Mayor (main chapel) was built over the tomb of the apostle. The high altar is very impressive, and is made of alabaster, jasper, and silver, with many figures. Under the high altar is the crypt that contains the remains of the saint.


Other notable Romanesque churches in Spain are the Cathedral of Jaca in Aragon, the Cathedral of Tarragona, the Cathedral of Zamora, the Church of San Martin in Fromista, Palencia, the San Isidoro Church in Leon, the San Lorenzo Church and San Tirso Church in Sahagun, Leon, the old Cathedral in Salamanca, the San Vicente Church in Avila, the Santo Domingo Church in Soria, the Vera Cruz Church in Segovia, and the old Cathedral of Lerida.

 

E. Gothic Architecture

 

Spanish Gothic architecture developed from French models and developed later than in France. Gothic architecture in general used new technologies such as the ogival or pointed arch, the ribbed vault, and the flying buttress. The ribbed vault channeled the weight to a supporting shaft with less outward thrust than the semicircular vault used in Romanesque churches. The flying buttress arched externally from the springing of the vault across the roof of the aisle to a large buttress pier projecting well beyond the line of the external wall. The piers were often topped by a pinnacle or statue to add to the downward weight and counteracted the outward thrust of the vault and buttress arch. This new building technology allowed church buildings to have much more height and walls did not have to be thick to support the roof. The structural parts of the building now were a stone skeleton that comprised of the tall and slender clustered columns, the pointed ribbed vaults and the flying buttresses. Openings such as doorways, windows, arcades and galleries have pointed arches. Gothic vaulting above spaces both large and small is usually supported by richly molded ribs. It also allowed large windows to be used, and allowed much more light to enter the building. The windows were filled with colored stained glass, which was very decorative and allowed narration of church history and doctrine.

An early Gothic church example is the Cathedral of Avila. High Gothic examples are the Cathedrals of Leon, Burgos, Toledo, Zaragoza, Palma de Mallorca, and the Church of Santa Maria del Mar in Barcelona.

Spanish Gothic architecture was different from Gothic architecture in other European countries because it was much more decorative and had more ornamental display, from the influence of the Moorish architecture. In the 15th century the flamboyant phase arrived and this was very popular in Spain. This included stone filigree in windows, elaborate carving in stone walls, and carved choir wooden stalls with ornate iron grills. The Spanish cathedral developed the choir in the middle of the building and broke the view down the nave.

In Barcelona and Cataluña the flying buttress was hidden in the outside walls of the church. This gave the church a more solid look. This can be seen in the Barcelona Cathedral. The Church of Santa Maria del Mar is one of the most beautiful Gothic churches there.

The biggest building project in the 15th century in Andalusia was the construction of the Cathedral in Seville. It was constructed over the old Moorish mosque and represented the triumph of Christianity. In 1401 it was decided to build the Seville Cathedral. It would be so large that when people saw it, they would think that the builders were madmen. The Church of Santa Maria de la Sede was inaugurated in 1507 and is the biggest Gothic church in Europe. It is also the third largest church, after Saint Peter’s in Rome and Saint Paul’s in London. Because the ceiling is so high, the cathedral is the largest volume church in the world. The church also has renaissance and mannerist designs. The interior is 117 m long, 76 m wide, and 40 m high. It is very impressive because of its proportions, the beauty of its lines, and because of its many art treasures. There are paintings by Murillo, Goya and Zurbaran.

Castile in the 15th century developed trade with Flanders and a style of architecture developed that was called Hispano-Flamenco. This included Moorish arches with Flamboyant motifs. Many artisans and craftsmen arrived from Flanders and Germany. The craft skills of the Mudejars combined with these artisans from northern Europe to create the Hispano-Flamenco style.

The other Gothic style that developed was called the Isabelline style, which was the architecture built during the reign of Queen Isabel, the Catholic. It became an official style, the style of the Catholic Kings. Good examples of this style are the Colegio of San Gregorio in Valladolid that now houses the National Museum of Sculpture, and also the Church of San Pablo, in the same city. They both have lush facade decoration, which are similar to monumental altar constructions that were peculiar to Spain.

In the 16th century Spain kept building late Gothic cathedrals, such as those in Salamanca, Segovia, Plasencia , and Astorga. They were the symbol of Christianity's victory over Islam.

 

F. Renaissance Architecture

Plateresque architecture was a style that developed in Spain during the Renaissance during the 15th and 16th centuries. The word Plateresque comes from the Spanish word platero, meaning silversmith. The style was very ornamental, similar to something a silversmith would create. It had Gothic influences, Italian influences and Moorish influences. It was characterized by an extreme opulence of decoration with facades that dazzled. While the Italian Renaissance style used basic forms that were sober, the Spanish did not pick this up because the Spanish always loved highly decorated buildings, perhaps from the influence of the Moors. The Plateresque style had facades that were full of sculpture, busts, and floral and organic motifs. Doorways were elaborately decorated and set up against bare walls, and this emphasized the decoration. Twisted columns and pilasters were topped with Corinthian capitals. There were fancy coat of arms and sinuous scrolls on the walls. Wrought iron was used extensively in churches for fancy grills and reached its zenith in style.

In Salamanca, the best example of Plateresque architecture is the University building that was constructed between 1519 and 1525. The facade looks like a rectangular tapestry with elaborate arabesques, which are a contrast to the bareness of adjacent walls. Some attribute this building to the architect Enrique de Egas. The Palace of Monterrey and the House of Shells are also wonderful examples.

The Monastery of San Marcos in Leon is another Plateresque masterpiece with its magnificent facade. It was constructed between 1533 and 1541 by Juan de Horozco, with plans by Pedro de Larrea. Juan Guas built the beautiful Palace of the Duque del Infantado in Guadalajara in 1480. Rodrigo Gil de Hontañon constructed the University of Alcala de Henares in 1537.

The Ayuntamiento of Seville was constructed by Diego de Riaño between 1527 and 1564. It is a Renaissance building and the eastern facade is Plateresque, and this can be viewed from the Plaza San Francisco. There is plenty of decoration, including medallions, historic figures, and floral ornaments. The figures are of Hercules and Caesar, the legendary founders of the city.

The Cathedral of Granada is another excellent example of the Plateresque style. It was constructed by Diego de Siloe between 1528 and 1563, with Plateresque facades. Behind the Cathedral is the Capilla Real (Royal Chapel) in the Plateresque style and where Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand are buried. The entrance to this building is separate from the entrance to the Cathedral. The building was started in 1504 and finished in 1521, designed by Enrique de Egas.

Diego de Siloe also designed the Cathedral at Malaga, one of the most beautiful Renaissance churches of Spain.

The Gothic influence waned with time and a more sober architecture arrived in Spain. The architecture became more Roman in nature. In Ubeda, there is the Vazquez de Molina Square with three beautiful buildings, namely the Dean Ortega Palace, the Vazquez de Molina Palace, and the Sacred Chapel of El Salvador, all the work of the great architect Andres de Vandelvira. He also built the Cathedral in Jaen.

Pedro Machuca built the Palace of Carlos V in Granada. Juan Bautista and Juan de Herrera built the massive Escorial and this extremely sober and naked style was later called the Herrerian style. It used granite ashlars and influenced Spanish architecture for over a century.

 

G. Baroque Architecture

Baroque architecture in Spain occurred between 1600 and about 1750. The word baroque may have come from the term for an irregular or imperfectly shaped pearl. Baroque art had a sense of movement and there were strong contrasts of light and shadow to enhance dramatic effects of paintings and sculptures. Baroque architecture was similar because baroque buildings had undulating walls and decorative surface elements that implied motion. Baroque buildings wanted to appeal to the emotions rather than to the intellect. The decorative elements of a facade had little to do with the function of the building, but appealed to the emotions. Baroque architecture was a reaction to the severity of some Renaissance buildings built by Juan de Herrera, such as the Palace of El Escorial, that became very popular in Spain.

During the Baroque period, painting and sculpture were integrated with architecture. The ceilings of Baroque churches included painted scenes and sculpture to direct the worshiper to think about heaven. Architecture was a means of propagating the Catholic faith. It was a tool of the Catholic Church for the Counter-Reformation and used emotional, realistic and dramatic art to propagate the faith. Churches showed ecstasies, miracles, and martyrdoms to appeal to the emotions. It could also be used by the state to display its power, to impress people. It was meant to be emotional and dramatic. Lighting was dramatic, coming from hidden light sources. Luxurious materials were used to impress the viewer. Vivid colors were used for their special effect. While Renaissance architecture was static, Baroque architecture was dynamic. The space around a Baroque building was well thought out and the square and street facing it and the landscape around the building were carefully planned to give the dramatic effect wanted. The Baroque building was supposed to dominate its environment. A Renaissance building was meant to be quiet, while a Baroque building wanted attention. Everything was theatrical and expressed the triumph of the Church and state.

The difference of the Baroque architecture in France and northern Europe with the Baroque architecture of Spain is that the first was more formal, more geometric, and more precise, to appeal to the intellect. The architecture in Spain had more complex buildings, more freedom and greater artistic license, to appeal to the senses.

The Royal Palace of Madrid is a good example of Spanish Baroque and this was designed by Filippo Juvarra and Giovanni Battista Saccheti. The Royal Palace of La Granja was designed by Andrea Procaccini and Sempronio Subisati. Its gardens were designed by Juvarra and Saccheti. The Royal Palace of Aranjuez integrated the design with the gardens and was designed by Santiago Bonavia and Francisco Sabatini. The University of Valladolid has a very energetic facade designed by Diego Tome. In Madrid Fray Alberto de la Madre de Dios designed the Church of La Encarnacion. The Plaza Mayor in Madrid was designed by Juan Gomez de Mora. In Santiago de Compostela, the architect Fernando de Casas y Novoa was the one who designed the Baroque facade of the Romanesque Cathedral.

It was in Andalusia that the Baroque had its full flower, because of the innate love for decoration of the Andalusians, probably as an inheritance of their Moorish past. Besides, Andalusia had many of the great Baroque painters, such as Velazquez, Alonso Cano, Zurbaran, Murillo, and Valdes Leal. A masterpiece of the Baroque in Jerez de la Frontera is the facade of the Carthusian Monastery of Santa Maria de la Defension. Alonso Cano made the facade of the Cathedral of Granada. Granada also has the Carthusian Monastery called La Cartuja. Its beautiful Sagrario was designed by Francisco de Hurtado Izquierdo. He and Jose de Bada designed its sanctuary. Eufrasio Lopez de Rojas made the facade for the Jaen Cathedral.

The Tabacalera building in Seville was designed by Sebastian van der Borcht. The Colegio de San Telmo in Seville was designed by Leonardo de Figueroa. The Hospital de los Venerables Sacerdotes was designed by Leonardo de Figueroa also. He also worked on the Churches of San Salvador and San Pablo, which had been started by other architects. The spectacular Church of San Luis was also designed by him.

In Barcelona there appeared a family of five brothers. They were Jose Benito, Manuel, Joaquin, Alberto, and Miguel Churriguera. They were all architects and builders of retables (altars). They started a variety of the Baroque called Churrigueresque architecture. This was marked by extravagance of design and capricious use of Renaissance motives. Facades had theatrical contrasts of line and surface, with extreme richness and exuberance. There were Solomonic columns and inverted cones and obelisks. Alberto de Churriguera and Andres Garcia de Quiñones designed the beautiful Plaza Mayor in Salamanca, as well as its Royal Pavilion. This plaza is considered one of the most beautiful in Spain. Jose Benito de Churriguera designed the retable in Sand Esteban Church in Salamanca. Joaquin de Churriguera designed the Hospederia del Colegio de Anaya and the Colegio de Calatrava in Salamanca. The city of Salamanca is full of Churrigueresque architecture.

Narciso Tome created the Transparente in the Cathedral of Toledo, and this integrated architecture, painting and sculpture to achieve dramatic effects in light. This is considered a total work of art and one of the most spectacular structures of the Baroque in Spain. It is a type of camarin, a separate and slightly raised but open structure behind the main altar. A two story retable holds a sculptural group of the Virgin and Child in the center of the lower section. Above it are scenes of the Last Supper and the Eucharist. An opening in the vault allows a ray of light in, suggesting a view into the open heavens, represented by as hosts of angels and saints flooded in heavenly light.

The late Baroque gave way to the Rococo. The vivid colors were replaced by pastel colors and cool diffuse light flooded the building. Churches and palaces still exhibited the integration of architecture, painting, and sculpture, but the building structure was lightened and interiors became graceful and ethereal and more subtle. The building had many windows to give dramatic effect and columns were made slender. There were elaborate curves and scrolls, ornaments shaped like shells and plants, intricate patterns, and delicate details. These changes were made to suit elegant 18th century tastes. A good example of the Rococo is the west facade of the Cathedral of Murcia that was designed by Jaime Bort. Ventura Rodriguez designed the dazzling interior of the Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar in Zaragoza in 1750.

 

H. Neoclassical Architecture

Neoclassical architecture was the architecture in Spain that occurred between 1750 and 1848. It was the recovery of the architecture of antiquity, that of classical Greece. It was started after the discovery of the Roman ruins in Pompey and Herculaneum. It was also a reaction against the Baroque and the Rococo. Neoclassical architecture wanted purer forms and more severe forms. It became popular after the works of the Italian Andrea Palladio (1508-1580) were made popular in Europe. The architecture reflected also the trend towards romanticism in Europe. It tried to recreate the lost world of classical Greece and Rome. Those places were supposed to have purer art forms. The architecture was characterized by the simplicity of geometric forms, the dramatic use of columns (especially the Doric) and blank walls. The scale was also grand. Simplicity, symmetry, clean basic line and functionality were important. Dramatic curves were considered unnecessary. The appearance was monumental. This was the preference of the enlightenment in Spain. Goodbye to the Baroque, which supposedly reflected the frivolous lifestyle of the Spanish aristocracy.

In 1752 Fernando VI founded the Real Academia de San Fernando in Madrid. The Bourbon court took complete control of architecture in the country and no public building could be constructed without the approval of the Real Academia. It also controlled the people who wanted to be called architects. There was a complete centralization of architecture. The Bourbons wanted to show Spain that they were now in control of the country and one way to show this was the new neoclassical architecture that they favored.

There were two architects who contributed decisively to the diffusion of neoclassical architecture. Ventura Rodriguez lived between 1717 and 1785, while Juan de Villanueva lived between 1739 and 1811. Rodriguez studied under the Italian architects Filippo Juvarra and Giovanni Battista Sacchetti, who had worked in Spain. He was the architect of the court and later became a professor at the Real Academia de San Fernando. He worked on about 50 buildings. Rodriguez worked on the remodeling of the sanctuary and Basilica of El Pilar in Zaragoza in 1753. In 1760 he constructed the church for the Convent of the Agustinos Filipinos of Valladolid. He worked on the facade of the Cathedral of Pamplona in 1783.

Juan de Villanueva was the court architect under Carlos III and Carlos IV and was responsible for the majority of neoclassical projects in Spain. He influenced the teaching of architecture in the Real Academia de San Fernando. In 1784 he constructed the Casita del Principe of El Pardo. In 1786 he was named the architect of Madrid, and he stayed in this position for 25 years. He reconstructed the Plaza Mayor, which had been destroyed in a fire. In 1785 he constructed the Academy of the Sciences, which later was converted to the Prado Museum. He finished the Madrid Astronomical Observatory in 1808. Villanueva enlarged the royal palaces of El Escorial, Aranjuez, El Pardo, Riofrio, and La Granja de San Ildefonso near Segovia. In Aranjuez he constructed the Church of San Antonio in 1768 and the circular temple in the garden of the palace in 1784. In 1803 he constructed the Casa del Labrador in Aranjuez, which is considered one of the most beautiful neoclassical buildings in Spain. It is adorned with the busts of the Roman emperors and has frescoes on the ceiling and is filled with the furniture and collections of the Bourbon kings.

Francesco Sabatini was another great architect and one of his projects was the remodeling of the Palace at El Pardo in 1772. He built the church of the palace of La Granja in 1762. The Puerta de Alcala was his construction and finished in 1768. In 1775 he constructed the Puerta de San Vicente near the Paseo de la Florida in 1775.

Antonio Lopez Aguado and Isidro Gonzalez Velazquez designed the Teatro Real in Madrid and this was finished in 1850. Antonio Lopez constructed the Puerta de Toledo in 1817. Another beautiful work was the Toledo University that was designed by Ignacio Haan in 1790.

 

I. Modernism in Barcelona

Modernism is the name of the architecture in Barcelona and the Catalan provinces that reflected their version of Art Nouveau. As with Art Nouveau, the architecture was characterized by the curve and not by the straight line. There was a frequent use of vegetal motives and asymmetry. Shapes were very fluid and surprising. Facades were highly decorated with flowers, images of women, plants, wrought iron doorways and balconies, glazed ceramic tile, and stained glass with non-traditional images. There was frequent use of Neo-Gothic, Neo-Mudejar, Neo-Romanesque, Neo-Arab, and Sgraffito themes. In 1878 Lluis Domenech i Montaner wrote an article titled "In Search of a National Architecture" that was published in the review "La Renaixenca". This was probably the year that modernism started, and it ended around the first world war in Barcelona. Surprisingly it ended around 1935 in Melilla.

There were two architects who were in the vanguard of modernism. They were Antoni Gaudi and Lluis Domenech i Montaner.

Antoni Gaudi

Antoni Gaudi was an unconventional genius. Antoni Gaudi was born in 1852 in Reus, a city in Tarragona. His father was a coppersmith. He studied at the Barcelona Province School of Architecture and received his diploma in 1878. He studied curves in nature and how to build structures using curves, studying the stresses. His first work was Casa Vicens in 1911. He is famous for the Sagrada Familia church, Park Guell, Casa Mila, and Casa Batllo in Barcelona.

1. Sagrada Famila Church

The real name of the church is the Expiatory Church of La Sagrada Familia. The first architect for the church was Francesc de Paula del Villar and he started the construction in 1882. Gaudi was given the job in 1883 and he continued to work on the project until his tragic death in 1926. Different architects have worked on it since then. There is a foundation that runs the project. The church is expiatory, meaning that it is being constructed to atone for wrongdoing or guilt, so the financing of the church is completely private. The admission charge paid by two and a half million visitors each year is what pays for the building construction. It is thought that it will be completed in the first third of this century.

Gaudi was given the job of continuing the project of the La Sagrada Familia, but at the same time he accepted work to design other houses and buildings, which later became famous. As an architect Gaudi became very successful. Tragically on June 7, 1926, he was injured by a tram on the Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes. He was taken to the Hospital de la Santa Creu, but died three days later. During his funeral, the city acknowledged that he was their most illustrious architect.

The church was designed to have a total length of 110 m, and a height of 45 m, with twelve towers between 100 and 115 m high. The ground plan is a Gothic basilical plan in the shape of a Latin cross, with five naves connecting with a transept that connects to three naves, apse, and ambulatory. Three facades which will represent the Nativity, the Passion and Death, and the Glory of Christ. The twelve towers will symbolize the twelve apostles. Four monumental bell towers will represent the four Evangelists. Two colossal domes will represent Christ and the Virgin Mary. The temple crypt began by Villar was finished by Gaudi in 1885.

The sculptor Josep Maria Subirachs has been working on the sculptures of the church in his own style for the last 20 years. The church building now represents Barcelona to the whole world and millions visit it to study its architecture.

 

2. Park Guell

Count Eusebi Guell was a prominent industrialist in Barcelona and he decided to build a garden city with 60 houses on a hill called Montaña Pelada (Bare Mountain). The venture was not successful and only two houses were built (not by Gaudi), and Guell convinced Gaudi to buy one of them (designed by Ramon Berenguer). This house is now the Casa-Museu Gaudi, which contains furniture designed by Gaudi and other personal effects of the architect. The park was designed by Gaudi and built between 1900 and 1914. The city has owned the park since 1923.

At the entrance to the park there is a main staircase that has a dragon fountain that is made of broken bits of glazed ceramic tile. This leads to the Salon of the Hundred Columns, which was supposed to be a market place. The columns really number only 84 and are Doric in form. The ceiling of the Salon has tiled mosaics with designs on the ceiling. On top of the salon is a public square with a very large undulating bench in the form of a sea serpent that has backrests adorned with the broken bits of glazed tile. The bench was made by the architect Josep Maria Jujol. At the top of the park is the Closed Chapel, which has a large cross on top of it. This place has very good views of the city. The park was declared a Patrimony of Mankind by the UNESCO in 1984.

3. La Pedrera (Casa Mila)

Gaudi built La Pedrera for the prominent Mila Family (Pere Mila was an industrialist and his wife was Roser Segimon) between 1906 and 1912. This caused a sensation at that time because everything in the building was curved and undulated. People made fun of it because they did not understand it or its abstract sculpture. The outside walls were made of stone and reminded people of a quarry, so it was called La Pedrera (meaning stone quarry). The facade is undulating and has large windows and balconies with elaborate wrought iron railings. There is an inner patio that acts like an air shaft for the building. The top floor has the Gaudi Space and has an explanation of Gaudi’s work and a very good scale model of the building. Gaudi apparently studied nature intensely and found that nature had no straight lines. Gaudi learned to build with curves that had strength. The roof terrace has chimney stacks that are called scare-witches, and these have very unusual shapes, and really are abstract sculptures. On the 4th floor is the Flat of La Pedrera, which is a replica of an apartment of Gaudi’s time, and this apartment occupies a space of 600 square meters and has household utensils, furniture, and decorative objects. This apartment shows how well-to-do people lived during that time and is very interesting. La Pedrera was declared a World Heritage Site in 1984. The building represents the zenith of Modernism.

4. Casa Batllo

Casa Batllo is another Gaudi masterpiece. The building was built in 1877 and Gaudi remodeled the facade between 1905 and 1907. Gaudi covered the surface of the interior courtyard with ceramic tile that goes from dark blue at the top to lighter blue and ends with white at the bottom. The facade has broken ceramic tile in a design that starts with orange and goes into greenish blue. The first floor apartment that is open to the public has large glass windows with stained glass windows on the upper part that has designs of circles in different colors, with the color blue predominating. There is sculpted stone work on the facade that is full of curves, with nary a straight line at all. One can go up a curved and narrow staircase to the roof, where one can see the chimneys with abstract shapes. The roof has an arch that is supposed to look like the back of a dragon.

Lluis Domenech i Montaner

Lluis Domenech i Montaner was born in Barcelona and became an architect in 1873. He later became a professor and director at the Escola d'Arquitectura, Barcelona's school of architecture, and wrote many essays about architecture, technical books and articles in newspapers and journals.

1. Casa Fuster

Casa Fuster is located on the Passeig de Gracia, near the intersection with the Diagonal. In 1908 Mariano Fuster i Fuster, a wealthy man from Mallorcan high society, hired Lluis Domenech i Montaner to build his house, in honor of his wife from Barcelona Consuelo Fabra i Puig. The house became the city's most expensive house because of the quality of the materials used.

In the 1940s and 1950s the house contained the Cafe Vienes and this became the favorite place of Catalan high society to meet each other. In 1962 the electric company bought the building and was going to demolish it to build a skyscraper, but all of the city rejected this and the electric company had to back down and restore the house.

In 1999 it sold the building to the Hoteles Center and the building became the five star Hotel Casa Fuster. The hotel's Cafe Vienes Jazz Club has music every Thursday night and Woody Allen has played there quite often.

2. Palau de la Musica Catalana

The Palau de la Musica (palau means palace) Catalana is definitely the most beautiful building in Barcelona and a Modernist masterpiece! The architect was Lluis Domenech i Montaner, who was the director of the School of Architecture of Barcelona. He was one of the best Modernist architects. The building was supposed to become the home of the Catalan Choral Society, which was founded by Lluis Millet and Amadeu Vives. The building was going to be the showplace of a Catalan renaissance and Domenech planned everything, choosing all the artists and craftsmen who would build the building. The palace was completed in 1908, only three years after it was started. The palace has plenty of light because the side walls have many stained glass windows and a wonderful stained glass skylight. The palace has been built using many different materials, such as exposed brick, glazed tiles, glass and iron. There is a sea of flowers in the stained glass and ceramic tiles used that is really amazing to see. On the facade of the palace is a beautiful sculptural group that was created by Miquel Blay, that depicts a warrior, a beautiful woman, children, and youths. There are busts of Palestrina, Bach, Beethhoven, and Wagner in the front of the building. The concert hall inside has seats arranged in three levels. The stained glass skylight is a masterpiece and is in the shape of an enormous drop of light. On the sides of the stage are huge sculptures of a winged horse, three muses called the Flowers of May, and the Valkyries. The back of the stage has 18 sculptures of women playing historical musical instruments. The figures were created by Eusebi Arnau and show half of the body of the women coming out of the wall. The lower part of the figures showing the dresses are done in glazed tile and are flat on the wall. There are about two thousand large ceramic roses in different colors that adorn the ceiling. The mosaic artists were Lluis Bru and Mario Maragliano. The stained glass was done by the firm of Rigalt Granell. When the group is seated in the concert hall, there is a demonstration of organ music of the large organ that sits behind the stage on the second floor. It shows how good the acoustics are in the concert hall. One is really overwhelmed by all of the decorative arts used in the palace, so very much beauty. No trip to Barcelona is complete without seeing this magnificent palace. The palace was named as a World Heritage Site in 1997. There is a very good museum store where one can buy a booklet about the palace.

3. Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau

This hospital (Hospital of the Holy Cross and St. Paul) is another Modernist masterpiece by Lluis Domenech i Montaner and was finished in 1902. The hospital has a large amount of land not too far from the Sagrada Familia Church, and there are 26 pavilions in a Neo-Mudejar style around the spacious grounds. The pavilions are linked by paths and are surrounded by gardens that give an atmosphere of peace and quiet. The entrance pavilion has a tower and a clock. Domenech built the entrance building and 12 of the pavilions. The rest of the pavilions and the Convalescence House were the work of his son, Pere Domenech i Roura.

The Hospital of the Santa Creu was founded in Ciutat Vella in 1401 and was the basis for the present hospital, which is Europe's second oldest and used continuously to the present day. In 1902 a Barcelona-born banker, Pau Gil, who was living in Paris, donated a large amount of money to the hospital to expand it to the present site. The new hospital decided to add the saint's name of its benefactor, Sant Pau, to the name of the hospital to honor him.

One can wander around the grounds and also see the chapel, which is of Neo-Gothic design and sparsely decorated. The large gardens with aromatic and medicinal vegetation were supposed to help patients recover from their illnesses. The pavilions are connected by a network of two km of underground passages. A new hospital is being built on the premises, so it is planned that the older buildings will be used for cultural purposes. The site was named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1997.

Modernism in Melilla

Melilla is the city that has the most Modernist buildings, after Barcelona. Most people do not know this. Enrique Nieto was a Catalan architect from Barcelona who worked with Gaudi on Casa Mila. He was the disciple of the other famous architect Josep Domenech i Montaner. Nieto arrived in Melilla in 1909. At that time the city was expanding and there was a new section which is downtown and called the Golden Triangle, because of the layout of the streets in the area. Nieto was very prolific and single handedly designed and constructed 457 buildings in the city! He became the city architect and worked until 1949. He died 5 years later in 1954 and today there is a bronze statue of him created by Mustafa Arruf on the Avenida Juan Carlos I, the main downtown street.

Modernism in Melilla is defined as the buildings constructed from the end of the 19th century to about 1935. They have several different styles, including classic architecture, Art Nouveau, Neo-Gothic, Neo-Romanesque, Neo-Arab, Art Deco, and Sgraffito. Nieto was a master of all of them. All of the buildings that he constructed are elegant. Many of his Art Nouveau buildings are characterized by flowers, garlands, and the faces of women. His buildings are easily recognized. Among his famous buildings are the Palacio Municipal (1948) in Art Deco style, the Jewish Synagogue (1924), the Mezquita (1945), the Antiguo Economato Militar (1914), Casa de la Reconquista (1915) and No. 1 of Avenida Juan Carlos I (1916), probably the most beautiful building in Melilla. Nieto really left his mark on the city.

 

J. The Belle Epoque in Madrid

The Belle Epoque architecture in Madrid occurred between 1900 and 1920. It was characterized by elegant facades, small cupolas on the roof, beautiful sculpture on the roof and facade, and elegant details. Many ceilings on top of patios or staircases were made of stained glass. Some of the best examples of this architecture are discussed here.

At the start of the 20th century, there were no luxury hotels in Madrid. King Alfonso XIII had traveled to other European capitals and was impressed by their luxury hotels, which were completely lacking in Madrid. The international hotel chains took note of this and decided to build hotels in the city. The Ritz chain built the Ritz Hotel near the Prado Museum in 1908, and the architect was the Frenchman Charles Mewes. Mewes decided to give the hotel a French look, but something discreet, something that would not clash with the nearby Prado Museum. There are no balconies but the facade has large windows in the vertical walls, adorned with wrought iron railings. The corners have cupolas that are tiled with slate, which copied French architecture at the start of the 20th century. At that time Madrid wanted to appear Parisian and the most prominent French architects were hired to build the new buildings of the city. The Hotel Ritz turned a provincial town into one of the very beautiful European cities and provided luxury for visiting aristocrats and important people. Today the hotel has very plush furnishings, a very beautiful lobby, and a terrace where meals are served.

The Hotel Palace was built by the Belgian architect Leon Monnoyer between 1910 and 1911. Its architecture is very French and looks like many Parisian buildings of that time. Its Spanish architects were Eduardo Ferres and Manuel Alvarez Naya. The Hotel Palace has an attractive mansard roof and the facade is decorated with garland designs made of stucco. Inside the building there is a very beautiful stained glass dome and the salons beneath it are the favorite meeting places of Spanish society.

The Casino of Madrid is found on Alcala, 15. The architects were Farge and Luis Esteve (father and son) and the building was constructed between 1903 and 1910. The social club was founded in 1836 by 56 men, who wanted privacy to have their discussions. The building became one of the most luxurious built in Madrid and a frequent visitor was King Alfonso XIII. There are paintings by Cecilio Pla, Romero de Torres, Alvarez de Sotomayor, and Manuel Benedito. The stained glass windows were done by Maumejan. There is a spectacular indoor patio with a stained glass roof that has a wonderful staircase going to the second floor. Today the building is still an exclusive club for its members.

The Longoria Palace is located at Fernando VI, 6. The architect was Jose Grases Riera and the building was finished in 1902 for Jorge Gonzalez Longoria. The building is pure Art Nouveau architecture, full of curves, and has beautiful sculpture on the facade. The facade has motifs of flowers, leaves, and sprouts. Inside the building there is a staircase with the most beautiful wrought iron railing and this is topped with a stained glass ceiling.

The Church of San Manuel and San Benito is located at Alcala, 83, beside the El Retiro Park, and in the Barrio Salamanca. The church is Neo-Byzantine and was designed in 1902 by the architect Fernando Arbos y Tremanti. The church was completed in 1910 and restored in 1975 by the architect Jose Antonio Arenillas. The church has the plan of the Greek cross. While the main impression is that the style is Byzantine, there are also Neo-Gothic influences. There is a large dome crowned by a pavilion and a tower with three sections. The Four Evangelists are shown on the dome. Behind the main altar, one finds the dome, which has nine Gothic stained glass windows with little design, and above this are the Byzantine mosaics showing the figure of Christ towering over twelve saints. From the outside, one can see little towers around the dome that look like small minarets. This church is one of the most unusual modern churches in Madrid and one of the most beautiful.

The Palacio de Comunicaciones is located at the Glorieta de Cibeles and the architect was Antonio Palacios Ramilo. The building was finished in 1904. This particular architect came out with his own style. The building is monumental and has touches of the Gothic and the Renaissance. There is a clock on a tower of the building. Palacios won the contest to construct this emblematic building of Madrid. Today it is the new quarters of the City Hall.

The Edificio Metropolis is located at Alcala, 49, and the architects were Jules and Raymond Fevrier. The building was finished in 1905 and is one of the most famous buildings in Madrid. There is a lead cupola on top of the roof with a sculpture of a Winged Victory done by Coullaut Valera. The facade of the building is full of sculptures and Corinthian columns.

The Palacio Bermejillo is located at Eduardo Cato, 31. The architect was Eladio Laredo and the building was finished in 1913. The style is Neo-Renaissance and there are two towers at the corners. The galleries on the upper floors and the windows with elaborate decoration on the facade make this one of Madrid's most beautiful buildings. Today it is occupied by the government office of the Defensor del Pueblo (Public Defender).

The Teatro Calderon is located at Atocha, 14. It is a work by Eduardo Sanchez Eznarriaga and finished in 1915. The facade has classic details and other influences of French architecture. It has a beautiful facade that calls attention. At the corner is a cupola. The theater was configured to have the maximum number of seats possible in the lot.

The Banco de Bilbao is located at Alacala, 16, It is the work of Ricardo Bastida and finished in 1919. It has a curved facade at the corner with huge Corinthian columns. On the roof is a huge sculpture of a warrior on a chariot pulled by four horses, the work of the sculptor Quintin de la Torre.

The Madrid-Paris Building is located at Gran Via, 32. Teodoro Anasagasti was the architect for this building, finished in 1920. This building has very large pilasters that accentuate the vertical. On top of the building is a cupola that is topped with a sculpture of the Ave Fenix.

There are many other buildings constructed in this period, which have made Madrid one of the most elegant capitals of Europe.

 

References:

1. Moorish Architecture in Andalusia - by Marianne Barrucand and Achim Bednorz, 1992 - Taschen.

2. Romanesque Architecture, Sculpture, Painting - Edited by Rolf Toman, published by Konemann in 1997.

3. Gothic Architecture, Sculpture, Painting - Edited by Rolf Toman, published by Konemann in 1998.

4. Baroque Architecture, Sculpture, Painting - Edited by Rolf Toman and published by Konemann in 1998.

5. Neoclasicismo y Romanticismo, edited by Rolf Toman and published by Konemann in 2000.

6. Art Nouveau by Gabriele Fahr-Becker, published by Konemann in 1997.

7. El Modernismo by Teresa Sala, published by CaixaManresa and Angle Editorial.

8. Historia del Arte de España by Xavier Barral i Altet, published by Lunwerg Editores in 1996.