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Church of San Bartolomé

  • san bartolome

The origins of the church of Saint Bartholomew, the oldest in the town, still raise many questions.  During the Middle Ages, the presence of artisan tanners in the nearby streets was most certainly the cause of its dedication in honour of St Bartholomew, the patron saint of the profession. Traditionally, the church is often considered to have played a defensive role, given the fact that it formed part of the town ramparts and stood close to the gateways of La Herventia and El Puente.
Set in a site of considerable interest: adjoining the Renaissance palace of the Marquis of Monesterio (sic), which is soon to be restored; behind it, originally outside the walls, lies the old Jewish quarter, and, alongside it, the Palace of the Chapiteles (spires), and that of the Marquises of Someruelos, which was the Town Hall right up to the fourth quarter of the last century.
This beautiful church, declared a national monument, is an extraordinary example of medieval art in La Rioja. The church interior features a basilica floor plan and comprises three apses, aligned crossing, three naves in two sections, choir screen and burial chapel. The three apses form the church chevet. The oldest part is the semi-circular central apse, a 12th century Romanesque half-dome chancel, with barrel vaulting (with the last arch, already slightly pointed, revealing the proto-Gothic and Gothic styles of the rest of the building). The square side apses are also Romanesque, whilst they are lower than the central apse, with pointed barrel vaulting. In the chancel, there is a beautiful Romanesque arrow slit window with a double archivolt. The elegant austerity of the interior décor gives the building an intimate ambience, intended to promote spiritual contemplation.
With regard to the church exterior, the doorway is simply spectacular, being the most important work of this type of  Gothic style in La Rioja. This exceptional, 13th century monumental complex, featuring a certain French influence due to the presence of the Way of St James, is one of the most outstanding monuments of the Gothic period. The richness of the portal iconography, principally dedicated to St Bartholomew and the history related to this saint,  in the "Golden Legend", is really stunning. The state of conservation has been affected by erosive agents and bad weather, particularly with regard to the more external images.
The tower, a unique watch tower standing above the church chancel, has a square base and comprises four bodies, built in two different styles. The dressed stone of the first and second correspond to the original Romanesque tower built in the 11th and 12th centuries, and match a stretch of the medieval ramparts of Logroño. Whilst, the Mudejar style, reflected in the bricks and tiles of the upper parts, came about as the result of an important event in the history of the town. in 1521 the "Siege of  Logroño" took place during the reign of emperor Charles I of Spain - V of Germany, by the French troops of Francisco I, this siege of the town lasted for weeks. The tower forming part of the ramparts was shelled by the French army, demolishing much of its elevation. It was reconstructed in the Mudejar style during this same 16th century.
Particular mention should be made of the fact that Orthodox mass is held every Sunday morning.