Cathedral of the Nativity of Our Lady
As told by Federico García Lorca in his book Impressions and Landscapes, the cathedral of The Nativity of Our Lady dominates the monumental landscape of Baeza. The watchtower is visible from afar and from its more than 50 meters high you can enjoy a magnificent view of the city and the Guadalquivir valley. Declared a National monument in 1931, the cathedral sits on an ancient Roman temple, later transformed into a Visigoth and later a mosque after the arrival of the Muslims. In 1227 it becomes under the Marian dedication of “the Nativity”, the Cathedral headquarters.
The Renaissance seal was acquired in the 16th century after more than half of the building collapsed in 1567. Andrés de Vandelvira and other prominent Andalusian architects imprint the cathedral with the prevailing classical style in religious art at the time. Until the end of the century, the temple kept transforming in parts.
The cover was traced in 1587 by Juan Bautista Villalpando, with the relief of the Nativity of the Virgin, whose author is the Baez Jesuit Jerónimo del Prado.
Various elements in the tower, some hidden, betray their Muslim origin. It is believed that the tower´s foundation was the minaret of the old mosque, built around the 11th century. After the reconquest of the city, at the hands of Fernando III, the cornice and two gargoyles were added, and by Vandelvira’s time, the bells and the roof were installed, which collapsed in 1862 and restored with an unattractive slate spire, which changed in the fifties under the direction of Prieto Moreno and Ambrosio del Valle. About the bells, note that the oldest of the four dates from 1772: known as El Porrón. The tower also has an attached heraldic altarpiece from 1395 that includes a text in Gothic characters that recalls the reconquest of Baeza in the 13th century.
Gate of the Moon and Gate of Forgiveness
At the end of the central nave is one of the oldest elements of the building: the Gate of the Moon. In the 13th century Mudejar Gothic style, its lobed horseshoe arch and the 14th century rose window above it stand out. And further up is the tombstone of Bishop San Pedro Pascual, who was martyred in 1300 after being beheaded by Muslims in Granada. His remains rest in an urn on the main altar. The well-known Gate of Forgiveness opens up on the south façade, in a Flamboyant Gothic style from the end of the 15th century. It is used to access the cloister from the street.
Interior of the Cathedral of Baeza
In addition, the interior houses interesting chapels and the magnificent baroque altarpiece of the main altar, numerous high-quality movables scattered throughout its naves and exhibited in the cathedral museum in the beautiful cloister. The building is made up of three naves, a dominant central one, and two lateral ones. Inside, its division between its Gothic and Renaissance parts stands out, the latter due to the reform of Andrés Vandelvira and his successors after the collapse of 1567. A striking, bronze, and crystal chandelier that hangs from the transept vault, a valuable and artistic piece from the 19th century that experts believe comes from the Jabalquinto Palace.
On the main altar, the Baroque altarpiece stands out, the work of the sculptor Manuel del Álamo in 1674. Magnificent is the Golden Chapel, from the end of the 16th century, with its semicircular arch at the entrance and its altars for worshiping the Magi or the Shepherds. Another element to highlight inside the Cathedral of Baeza is the Grille of the Old Choir, made by Master Bartolomé in the first third of the 16th century, almost eight meters long and full of precious ornamentation.
The temple is rich in chapels and all of them deserve to stop for a while. One of the Souls, the one of the Tabernacle, with its beautiful baroque altarpiece; that of San Miguel; the Golden Chapel, the brightest of all.
One of the most valuable pieces in the entire Cathedral is the Monstrance, which is kept in a security camera in the nave of the Gospel and which only comes out on Corpus Christi. It is a baroque jewel from the beginning of the 18th century and according to the documentation, it is made with 10,745 ounces and two sterling silver beads. It is one of the most outstanding goldsmith pieces in Andalusia.
As for the pictorial works, it is worth stopping in front of the painting of the Holy Family that adorns a wall on the way to the sacristy, the work of Valdés Leal; or contemplating Santa Úrsula and the eleven thousand virgins, attributed to Bocanegra.
Once outdoors, you should not miss the opportunity to stroll through the courtyard and the Gothic cloister and appreciate the chapels with their respective bars. And its Mudejar chapels, some date from the end of the 14th century.
To complete a perfect visit, you can access the Cathedral Museum, which houses valuable religious artifacts and pieces, and the library, with its rich documentary collection from the 16th and 17th centuries.