Currently, this collegiate church is located next to the castle and another church erected by the Order of San Juan de Jesusalén or Hospital, which means that in a small space In this town in the Spanish province of Zaragoza there is a curious and attractive collection of architectural works from different periods.
Santa María la Mayor de Caspe Collegiate Church
In the case of the Collegiate Church, its construction was also due to the patronage of the Order of the Hospital, which had settled in the area of Caspeat the end of the 12th century, and there they established an important seat of their power in the Kingdom of Aragon.
The temple itself is a church with three naves, the central one being wider and also higher, and all of this with a simple ribbed roof, something typical of the early years ofgothic art when the church was built.
Today you can see that a later one was added to the original transept, specifically in the year 1515. And you cannot see the head that the temple would originally have either, since when the second transept was built it was destroyed, replacing it with a new headwall.
Some researchers even say that perhaps originally the church did not have a transept, and it would only be the three naves and the apse. But when intervening in the workJuan Fernández de Heredia a first transept would be added, followed by the one we have already named from the second decade of the 16th century.
Juan Fernández de Heredia (1310 – 1386) is a very prominent character in the history of the Crown of Aragon. Surely, after his arrival here fromAvignon, he promoted the remodeling of the building to give it the rank and importance of a collegiate church. And it is that Fernández de Heredia, was born in Caspe and although he achieved prestige as a member of the Order in Avignon, where he died, the truth is that he left written that his body was buried in this temple. In fact, there was a sarcophagus here with his remains, but over the centuries it was destroyed.
Due to the sobriety of this construction, some historians have related it to the Cistercian architecture, of which there are several examples in the province of Zaragoza itself, such as the monasteries of Wheel, Piedra or Veruela. For example, the Collegiate Church of Caspe has in common the use of cruciform pillars made with attached columns that serve as support for the elements of the naves and the transverse arches. And also the decorative elements are very scarce, because only some capitals decorated with plant motifs are visible.
Today you can see a flared portal with archivolts and sculptures, which would date from 1412, however, the Spanish Civil War damaged this temple a lot and what you see is the result of modern interventions.
The temple, in addition to its artistic value, has akey importance in history, since the Compromise of Caspe was celebrated here in that year 1412, when Fernando de Antequera became King of Aragon.