Facade of Santa María la Real de Olite

Facade of Santa María la Real de Olite
Facade of Santa María la Real de Olite

The facade of the church of Santa María la Real de Olite is one of the best examples of Gothic sculpture that can be seen see in Navarra, Spain.

Its category of Santa María la Real is due to the fact that in its origins, at the beginning of the 13th century, the construction was linked to the Navarrese monarchy, which had its own palace a few meters from the temple.


Cover of Santa María la Real de Olite

All researchers who have studied the facade of this church see clear influences from the one made for the Notre Dame de Paris cathedral.

And certainly the scheme is paradigmatic of gothic art. It is a cover with the shape of a pointed arch and flared with archivolts inside. While in the upper part there is a rose window, and on the sides two friezes each with six Apostles protected by typical Gothic elements such as gables.

What is curious is that in front of the portal a kind of atrium made up of a series of trefoil arches was built, already in the 15th century, more reminiscent of a small cloister than an atrium. The fact is that this atrium was a pawn of the Queen Blanca I of Navarra, and therefore the royal coat of arms can be seen in the arch that gives access to its interior.

But let's go back to the cover itself, which still has many surprises in store for us. It is a cover that has 8archivolts, the great majority of them decorated with a deep sculptural decoration of vegetal character. These plant forms are seen in a clear greenish tone, and one of the great merits of this cover is that they have preserved much of their polychromy. Because although today we are used to seeing medieval covers with the stark color of the stone, the truth is that as a general rule they were painted, and in bright colors as well. And here we can get an idea of ​​what that color was like.

That color was not only in the archivolts, it also appeared in the figures of the tympanum. There you can see the Virgin serving as a throne for her son. And next to it different scenes from the New Testament. From the Annunciation to the Baptism of Christ, passing through the Nativity, the massacre of the Innocents, the Flight into Egypt and the Baptism of Christ.

But there are also endless very interesting figures, from the effigies of the Navarrese kings, to fantastic beings that are difficult to interpret.


Protective covering of the facade of Santa María la Real

The fact is that the entire set of sculptures and reliefs has kept traces of its original polychrome painting. Something that has been the object of restoration and consolidation to make it more visible. However, to protect it from inclement weather, a modern roof has been created, which currently does not allow you to enjoy the entire façade, since it splits it in two, hiding the upper area and even the rose window.center of the facade.

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