San Juan de los Reyes Monastery, Toledo

San Juan de los Reyes Monastery, Toledo
San Juan de los Reyes Monastery, Toledo

The monastery of San Juan de los Reyes located in the province of Toledo is one of the most representative buildings of the Spanish Renaissance in general and of the Elizabethan aesthetic in particular; This was also the first building erected in the city of Toledo in which no Muslim aesthetic was distinguished. In this way the famous Monastery of San Juan de los Reyes will become one of the most distinguished constructions of the Catholic Monarchs.

Saint John 4

According to documentary sources, the construction must have been built at the express wish of Queen Isabella the Catholic in order to commemorate the victory in Toro over the troops of Juana la Beltraneja; However, this should not have been the only reason since the queen raised a kind of funerary monument in the monastery of San Juan de los Reyes that ultimately the kings would never use, since their mortal remains rest in the Royal Chapel of Grenade. The works began at the end of the 15th century around the year 1477 and Juan Guas (1433 -1496) was appointed as the main architect of the construction. Guas is undoubtedly one of the most outstanding figures of late Gothic; Of French origin, not much information is known about his life, but it seems that most of his production is in Spain, where he traveled in the mid-15th century.

The architect planned the construction of the monastery of San Juan de los Reyesas a building with a single nave with a Latin cross floor plan and a very marked transept on the ground floor. The main nave is divided into four modules, corresponding to the four panels of the ribbed vaults that serve as a covering for this space. Although it is true that if in the construction we find a single nave, the buttresses located on the sides of it have been used to open side chapels that not only have a funerary function but also allow the main cult of the temple not to be interrupted.

The transept space has been developed by the architect even more than the header. After this, the presbytery is elevated thanks to a large staircase, a typical concept of the Hieronymite order, although this monastery was governed by Franciscans. At the foot of the temple, a large choir stands on a basket-handle arch, a space that creates a choir loft that must have been destined for monarchs.

Regarding the decoration of the temple, heraldic symbols of the Catholic Monarchs and even outside we can find a commemorative text winking at the typical Arabic aesthetic of Toledo. It was the sculptor Egas Cueman who defined the decoration of the temple. The main altar is covered by a large altarpiece by Francisco Comontes whose origin was the Hospital de la Santa Cruz, which would explain the presence of the heraldry of Cardinal Mendoza, founder of the hospital, and not of the Catholic Monarchs.

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