Church of Santa María la Mayor in Alcalà de Henares!!!

And going back to my beloved Spain and a nice town we like with lots of memories of our passing by there until time to go back again. This is an update on the Church of Saint Mary the Major in  Alcalà de Henares; hope you enjoy as I ,and thanks for reading me over the years!

Let me tell you about a nice church with a nice anecdote for us while visiting Alcalà de Henares in the Comunidad de Madrid. I will be talking about the Church of Saint Mary or Saint Mary the Major.  This is a smallish city but it is pack with monuments of a rich history and great architecture compact in the city center. We have always arrived by car into an underground parking San Lucas (Plaza San Lucas)  outside the old town and just walk in very easily to see all on foot. The best combination possible anywhere.

 The Church of Saint Mary or Iglesia de Santa María or of Santa María la Mayor is the denomination that has had two buildings throughout history in the city of Alcalá de Henares. Of the old Church of Santa Maria, located south of the Plaza de Cervantes , in front of the city/town hall, there is only the design of its plant marked on the ground and two parts that have been restored: the tower and a chapel. This, called the Capilla del Oidor or Chapel of the Listener, of Mudejar decoration, contains a baptismal font specially celebrated for being in which Miguel de Cervantes (Don Quijote writer author) was baptized.

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It is currently destined for temporary exhibitions and the Universes of Cervantes Interpretation Center , sort of a museum to understand the work of Cervantes (see post) . This Chapel was built at the beginning of the 15C by King Juan II of Castilla, in what was then a hermitage under the patronage of San Juan de los Caballeros (Saint John of the Knights) or of Letran. And that in 1454 Bishop Carrillo made the Church under the patronage of St. Mary. For centuries, the towers of St. Mary and the Holy Children (Santos Niños) represented the duality institutional of City Hall and University. The first as a parish Church and the second as Magisterial. The Stork’s Nest of the tower is protected, which obliges to restrict the scaling visits in breeding season. This Church was destroyed at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War by 1936.

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After the war, the denomination of Church of Santa Maria La Mayor was applied to the Church of the former Jesuit college: the Colegio Maximo of the Company of Jesus, current Faculty of Law of the University of Alcalá, in the Calle Libreros (booksellers). This building, started in 1567, interrupted its construction until 1602-1620, when thanks to donations from the Mendoza family was terminated, in the absence of the façade. Its style is the conventional of the Jesuit churches of Italian influence. Four statues of Saint Peter, Saint Paul, Saint Ignatius and Saint Francis Xavier stand out on the façade. The connection to the Mendoza is attested by the presence of its heraldic shield. The main altarpiece, baroque, is the work of the Jesuit Francisco Bautista; His paintings were destroyed in the Spanish Civil War and were replaced by new ones, of the Parishioner Manuel Palero.

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First, it testifies to the early splendor of the company of Jesus founded by Ignatius of Loyola in the transit of the Renaissance to the Baroque, in that city that attracted the founder on his return from the Holy Land and, in whose Hospital of Antezana at Calle Mayor, still remains the Kitchen where he prepared his meals. As usual, the architectural model of the Gesu in Rome is omnipresent; a Latin cross plant with a large presbytery, a cupola on the transept and a side chapel connected to each other. For the façade, the Roman Church of San Giacomo deli Incurable   was taken as a reference. The temple is a symbol of the reformation and served as an example for successive  Jesuit Churches. Like other conventual spaces in Alcalá de Henares, the collegiate building became a cavalry barracks until the 80’s of the 20C when it was rehabilitated to host the Faculty of Law, inaugurated in 1991.

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Well , this is an unique Church of Santa Maria with a lot more history that is actually available online ,but I hope gave you enough to get a more complete picture of it, the Tower of St Mary ,remaining of old Church, and the Chapel as well as the Hospital Antezana (where Cervantes father was a surgeon doctor) and the Cervantes interpretation center.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here and its a must are:

The costasur webpage on Alcala de Henares and the church: https://alcala-de-henares.costasur.com/sites/parroquia-de-santa-maria-la-mayor/es/index.html

The Calle Mayor webpage as Alcalà de Henares leisure and cultural site on the church: https://www.lacallemayor.net/turismo/lugares-de-interes-alcala-de-henares/religiosos/parroquia-santa-maria-la-mayor/

The Alcalà de Henares tourist office on the main Chapel Santas Formas of the Church of Santa Mariahttps://www.turismoalcala.es/turismo/santa-maria-la-mayor-capilla-santas-formas/

The Alcalà de Henare tourist office on the tower of St Mary of the Church of Santa Mariahttps://www.turismoalcala.es/turismo/monumento-torre-de-santa-maria/

The Alcalà de Henares tourist office on the main Chapel de los Oidor of the Church of Santa Maria: https://www.turismoalcala.es/turismo/monumento-capilla-del-oidor/

The Center of Interpetration of Cervantes on the Church of Santa Maria: https://cvc.cervantes.es/artes/ciudades_patrimonio/alcala_henares/paseo/iglesia_compania.htm

Enjoy the visit to the wonderul Church of Santa Maria la Mayor in glorious Alcalà de Henares. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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