Old Cathedral of Salamanca

Old Cathedral of Salamanca
Old Cathedral of Salamanca

The Castilian-Leonese city of Salamanca has in its old town some of the most outstanding buildings of Spanish Renaissance and Baroque art, but in addition to the famous Facade of the University or the Casa de las Conchas, the charro city has in its h/two splendid cathedrals that are still in use today simultaneously. On this occasion we will focus on the one known as the Old Cathedral, whose real name is Santa María Cathedral. Often the cities that built a new cathedral when the old one had become stylistically outdated or was too small to accommodate the growing number of parishioners, the original building ended up being demolished, something that fortunately in Salamanca surely did not happen because the works construction took too long – the New Cathedral of Salamanca began in the 16th century but was not completed until the mid-18th century – and the town hall had to have a place to house its parishioners.


Work on the Old Cathedral of Santa María must have begun in the middle of the 12th century and it seems that in the first decades of the 13th century the construction was already officially consecrated. In reality, this is a relatively long period of time for a large-scale construction such as a cathedral, and yet, in the work, the stylistic confluences oftwo different architectural styles, Romanesque and Gothic.

Its original floor plan was a simple Latin cross plan with three naves divided into five modules, of which the largest is wider and higher than the lateral ones, transept marked in floor plan of which currently only the arm of the Epistle and tripartite head with semicircular chapels are preserved. While the planimetry approach is typically Romanesque, on the roofs we find ribbed vaults for the central nave and ribbed vaults typical of Gothic aesthetics on the lateral ones.

The transverse and former arches that divide each of the modules of the naves have been supported by thick cruciform columns whose capitals present one of the best iconographic records of peninsular Romanesque; in them it has been possible to identify the hand of at least six different workshops, all of them of great quality.

Special mention deserves the tower of the dome – better known as the Torre del Gallo- which is supported on the inside by large corbels supported by thick pillars and on the outside it manifests itself as a scaled dome, very much in keeping with other similar domes in the area such as the one in Zamora or the one in the Collegiate Church of Toro.

Of the two towers that the old cathedral had at its feet, only the Mocha Tower is presented today without baroque additions. Actually, the whole appearance of the cathedral is currently quite distorted due to later additions, originally the Old Cathedral had astrong aspect of strength with numerous battlements that today have disappeared.

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