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  • Writer's pictureOlivier

Spain: The New Cathedral of Salamanca

Updated: Mar 27

The new cathedral of Salamanca is more than just a place of worship; it is a monument to the evolution of architectural style and the rich history of the city. Its construction over a period of more than two centuries has allowed it to incorporate a variety of styles and influences, making it a unique example of Spanish architecture of the time.


Spain: The New Cathedral of Salamanca

© O. Robert


History of the New Cathedral of Salamanca

The New Cathedral of Salamanca, also known by its Spanish name, Catedral Nueva, is actually one of two cathedrals in the city, the other being the Old Cathedral, or Catedral Vieja. Located in the Castile and León region of Spain, it was built between the 16th and 18th centuries. Construction began in 1513 and was completed in 1733. It was consecrated in the same year by Bishop Manuel de Zúñiga y Fonseca.


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Architectural Style

The architectural style of the New Cathedral is primarily late Gothic, although it also incorporates elements of the Renaissance and Baroque. The cathedral's design was initially conceived by the architect Juan Gil de Hontañón and his son, Rodrigo Gil de Hontañón. Over the years, other architects contributed to its construction, including Juan de Álava and Andrés García de Quiñones. The result is a fusion of various styles that coexist harmoniously.


Features

One of the most notable features of the New Cathedral is its bell tower, which stands at approximately 93 meters tall. The main façade is also impressive, with its richly decorated portal and sculptures depicting biblical scenes. Inside, the cathedral houses a variety of chapels, each with its own style and artworks. The main chapel contains a Baroque altarpiece, created by José de Churriguera in 1675.


Spain: The New Cathedral of Salamanca

© O. Robert


Cultural and Religious Role

The New Cathedral of Salamanca plays a central role in the religious and cultural life of the city. It serves as a place of Catholic worship and regularly hosts masses, weddings, and other ceremonies. In addition to its religious role, it is also a major tourist attraction and an architectural landmark. It was added to UNESCO's World Heritage list in 1988, along with the Old Cathedral and the University of Salamanca.


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Enigmas and Curiosities

A notable curiosity is the appearance of a sculpture depicting an astronaut during the renovation of the portal in 1992. While this may seem anachronistic, it is actually a modern addition intended to represent contemporaneity. Such modifications are in line with the Catholic Church's tradition of updating religious buildings over time.


The School of Salamanca

The Final Word

The new cathedral of Salamanca, with its innovative architecture and cultural significance, stands as a strong symbol of the city. Combining modernity with respect for Salamanque's historical heritage, this structure demonstrates human capacity to push the limits of creativity while honoring the past.


Its design reflects a growing awareness of the need to build in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way. This architectural gem is not just a place of worship. It is also a meeting space for the community, promoting dialogue between different cultures and generations. It serves as a bridge between the rich heritage of Salamanca and its promising future, illustrating how tradition and innovation can harmoniously complement each other.


The new cathedral of Salamanca does not merely add a chapter to the city's and country's grand history. It also paves the way for new forms of architectural and spiritual expression, reaffirming the power of architecture to transcend time and unite people.

 
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