un recorrido por el arte mudéjar aragonés
webmaster: José Antonio Tolosa (Zaragoza -España-)

Church of Santiago el Mayor (ZARAGOZA)

The church of Santiago el Mayor is the only part remaining of what was the Monastery of San Ildefonso of the Dominican order until the Secularization of Mendizábal. In 1902, it acquired its present avocation when the seat of the Parish of Santiago was transferred to it, which is found on the street of the same name next to the Plaza del Pilar.

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The convent of San Ildefonso was founded by don Alonso de Villalpando, from his will in 1603, over an old site of the Discalced Carmelites. The church was built in the middle of the 17th century and it is one of the most representative of Zaragozan baroque churches.

In 1651, construction was contracted with Master of Works Juan de Hiberte, but interrupted shortly afterwards due to faulty construction. Ten years later, in 1661, it was renewed under the direction of Felipe de Busiñac y Borbón, who practically had to demolish everything done by his predecessor. The work, except for the cupola at the crossing, was completed by 1665.

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Large in size, the plan of this church is a Latin cross, in the Counterreformation Vignola tradition, with a single nave of four bays, an aligned crossing, flat apse and side chapels between buttresses. The bays in the nave are barrel vaulted with lunettes, as are the arms of the crossing and the apse; the crossing contains a cupola with a lantern over pendentives. The lateral chapels open on to the nave via arches and each contains a cupola over pendentives.

Some open tribunes run above the chapels, with twin openings in each bay formed by arches separated by a column surrounded by a bigger longer one.

The original crossing cupola was destroyed by a lightning strike in 1860, remade later and restored in 1964-65 to its present shape.

The spaces between the chapels and the remaining interior walls are filled with elegant pilasters crowned by composite capitals and a somewhat projecting entablature decorated on its entire surface with Baroque vegetal motifs and plaster.

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The stucco decoration was done in two phases: the first in a Mudéjar tradition by Felipe de Busiñac around 1665, who decorated the nave and side chapel cupolas. The second phase, in a Baroque vocabulary, was executed by Jaime de Busiñac and José de Borgas between 1692 and 1695, centered on the crossing, and its cupola, and the apse.


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