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El Salvador Cathedral (Santo Domingo de la Calzada, La Rioja)


El Salvador Cathedral stands on the ruins of a former church. It was built in 1105 and consecrated the following year. Later on it became a Collegiate Church , and a Cathedral in 1232 and the see of the Bishop of Calahorra-La Calzada. It is one of the best examples of Pro-Gothic architecture. The Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque styles are represented. 


Built in ashlaring, the church is structured as a pilgrimage church, with a cross-shaped ground plan. It includes three naves, chapels among the butresses, double transept, octaedral chancel with five piers and ambulatory with chapels.

The apse contains a Romanesque circular chapel, one of the few original features that remain from the former temple. It also has a low choir, a sacristy from 1602 and cloisters from the 14C. The main portal opens to the south and has three parts.

The saint´s tomb is located int the south transept, close to the epistle and opposite a cage (containing a live cock and hen, in memory of the miracle). Below the sepulchre is a crypt with reliefs of San Juan Evangelista and a collection of works of art from the 13-15 C. The Cathedral also has a tower 70 m high that stands separate from the main building.

In its interior is a retable of great interest, 9m wide and 13 m long, one of the Spanish major sculptures. This magnificent retable was removed from its original location, after the restoration of the 90´s. It was placed in the north transept, so that the Romanesque elements at the High Altar could be admired. The restoration of the retable made possible the discovery of the excellent reliefs and capitals from the 12 C that were hidden behind it for more than 4 centuries. Among them is a relief of David represented as a singing king.

The restoration also brought to light the decoration on the pilasters at the High Altar, where foliation motifs and historiated representations of the gospels can be noted. In one of these we can see a "Jese´s Tree" with the figure of the Virgin Mary, Crismon and a trinity. These symbols combine with the capitals of the Prudent Virgins (with lit oil lamps upside up) and the Silly Virgins (with unlit lamps upside down), and the 24 Old Men of the Apocalyse.