Real Basilica de Nuestra Señora de los Desamparados!!

Ok so lets put the original name on the title, this is the Royal Basilica Our Lady of the Foresaken in Valencia! The Spanish name actually sound more prophetic Real Basilica de Nuestra Señora de los Desamparados! Let me update this post for all as it brings nice memories and an important monument in the city.

And I am in Valencia, a wonderful city by the Mediterranean often overlook for others but this one rank up high in my travel books! Trying not to repeat myself I did a post on the Cathedral where I mentioned my attachment to the city. And of course ,it has many wonderful things to see.

However, if monuments are measure , I would skip all others and head for the Royal Basilica of  Our Lady of the Foresaken or Real Basilica de Nuestra Señora de los Desamparados. This is a must in town.


The Royal Basilica of Our Lady of the Forsaken stands out for being the Sanctuary of the Virgin of the Forsaken, Patron Saint of Valencia and all the ancient kingdom of Valencia today. It boasts basilical rank thanks to the Pontifical brief signed by Pope Pius XII on April 21, 1948. Specifically, it is located in the Plaza de la Virgen, opposite the allegorical source of the Turia river,  and its arches (Rascanya, Tormos, Mestalla, Mislata, Rovella, Favaro, Benàger i Faitanar and Quart).  Two of its gates give to this square, and a third gives to the passage that separates the Basilica to the Cathedral, joined both by a superior arch. In this third door there is a latticed window through which you can contemplate the interior when the Basilica is closed and you can contemplate the illuminated Virgin. Excavations carried out in the Almoina indicate that the area where the Basilica is located corresponds to the Roman forum of the city of Valencia. In fact, several ashlars from the main façade of the basilica are tombstones and inscriptions from the Roman era.


A bit of history I like

The presence of the image of the Virgin, according to various historians, dates from 1414, being its findings wrapped in the legend of the angelic construction. Initially its recumbent configuration, arranged on the coffins of the executed, had a small pillow that made advancing the head. This fact, it made that when it was erected, it was seen with its characteristic head inclination; calling it Geperudeta ( little bended). King Fernando the Catholic in a Royal privilege, granted the title to this historic brotherhood with the name of ‘ Verge dels Innoscents e Desamparats  (Virgin of the innocent and forsaken) on June 3, 1493. The visit of King Felipe IV to Valencia in 1632 and the circumstance that through the intercession of the Virgin will justify his victories at Fuenterrabía and Tortosa, led to the promotion of a new and Royal Chapel dedicated to the Virgin of the Foresaken. The Royal Chapel of the Virgin of the Forsaken, was made between 1652 and 1666.


The wonderful architecture of the Royal Basilica of  Our Lady of the Foresaken

The composition of the first Church is framed in a Tardo-renaissance  designed, characterized by its classicist sobriety, constructive sincerity and economical, enhancing the values of proportion, symmetry and equilibrium. Inside, the discovery of the original ornamentation of 1666, composed of paddings, florets and enrolled children’s Angels intertwined with borders in the interspaces of the dome, leads us to a severe building in its conception, characterized by its whiteness, combining, to perfection, the idea of the Renaissance centrality, with the Baroque dynamism of the elliptical space, topped in a cupola. Between 1683 and 1694, and in a fully Baroque designed with Greek cross with flared arches and oblique architecture, the Chapel of the Virgin is built, as a shrine-sanctuary, linked directly to the central-elliptical space, through its total spatial interconnection, considering itself as a unique case in the history of architecture.

In 1701, in full Baroque effervescence, a new inner dome was executed, theoretically, from the outside, according to the discovery of this research, on which Antonio Palomino made the great pictorial composition.  During the 18C to 20C, the Royal Chapel experienced successive and important transformations such as neoclassical reform, romantic and historicist performances etc with substantial modification of the sober and austere initial renaissance approach, providing of great formal and material wealth. The internal approach of strict symmetry with respect to the two orthogonal axes of the elliptical plant, was moved to the external image, by means of the definition of three facades clearly symmetrical with respect to the vertical-central axis. The disposition of the accesses, double in the facades to the square and the Calle de la Leña (firewood)  and centered in the façade to the Cathedral, together with the vertical layout of the lantern, reinforced the centrality and symmetry of the composition.

The intervention in the cupola of the Basilica of  Our Lady of the Forsaken has served to recover all the color of frescoes painted by Antonio Palomino in 1701, but has also rehabilitated the name of this artist and Cordovan scholar, chamber painter of king Carlos II , whose pictorial work has taken centuries to recognize, although today it is considered fundamental in the mural production of Spanish Baroque. Palomino currently considered one of the most interesting figures of the transition period from the 17C to the 18C, left a notable footprint in Valencia , which could be greater if the 1,200 square meters of vault painted in the Church of the Saints Juanes (would be the greatest fresco in the world) would have survived the four fires that almost devastated the Church during the Spanish Civil War. He then went on to take care of the vault of the Basilica of Our Lady of the Forsaken, in which, following the fashion of the late 17C, it was intended to reform its interior appearance. Palomino was in charge of putting the sky to that cloister ,with its balconies and columns, which is seen today inside the Basilica. Their capitals still show the black effect provoked by the smoke of the candles and that made practically invisible the work of the Cordovan painter ,especially in the upper area of the altar.  Coinciding with the replacement of the main altar, it was decided to reform the Virgin’s dressing room, gaining in monumentality thanks to the treatment of the walls, the vaulted solution of the covered wrought , the change of pavement and the auction of the Estancia. The walls were surrounded by a dark marble plinth and at the angles columns with red marble stems with Corinthian capitals.



The stained glass set consists of seven stained glass windows with modernist nuances marked by the style of the time, are located in the seven spaces of illumination of the central nave of the Royal Basilica of Our Lady of the Forsaken. The stained glass windows symbolize the litany of the Holy Rosary and venerate the Virgin representing the patron saint of Valencia’s such as: Door of Heaven, Ivory Tower, Mystical rose, roots of Jesus, throne of Wisdom and Morning Star. Six of them are located in a symmetrical way illuminating the ovoid vault, while the seventh, at the apex of the oval, reaches its symmetry when juxtaposed with the image of  Our Lady of the Forsaken. This last window is of bigger dimensions than the rest and folding, it functions like a door of access to the narrow interior cornice that runs through the drum to allow access to the others. The main window is linked to the Royal Brotherhood of the Virgin of the Forsaken where two innocent infants are depicted praying at the foot of the cross, the stained glass reproduced the text “Pray for us. “ These seven symbols are framed inside a baroque Chapel whose representation comprises two columns of ionic capital bearing a half-point arch and a triangular pediment. This set is repeated in the seven stained glass windows being all the same size except in the central symbol of allusion to the Virgin.


Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

Official webpage of the Royal Basilica of Our Lady of the Forsaken

City of Valencia on the Basilica in Spanish:

The Valencia tourist office on the Basilica:

There you go another jewel by the Mediterranean and worth a detour in the city of Fallas. Hope you enjoy the Royal Basilica of Our Lady of the Forsaken in Valencia.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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