The Church of Santa Maria la Mayor of Colmenar de Oreja !!

This time will take you a bit south in the Comunidad de Madrid . In this area or community you have several important towns of historical significanse as I have several posts in my blog. This time , I will keep apart an additional post on the wonderful Colmenar de Oreja, and its Church of Santa Maria la Mayor,  Hope you enjoy it as I.


Again, this is new text using older pictures and links as feel deserves a post of its own to expand more on Colmenar de Oreja ,and its best gem, the Church of Santa Maria la Mayor. The town of Colmenar de Oreja  is only about 57 km from Madrid and you can only come here by car ,no train station. You come by the expressway A3 Madrid-Valencia and take the entry into the road M-404 by km 50 at Villarejo de Salvanés (see  post) until Belmonte de Tajo and here take the M-303 to Colmenar de Oreja.  There is another way from the A3 take the M307 at Km 21 before reaching Arganda del Rey, and by it follow continuously the M311 and before reaching Morata de Tajuña take the M313 to Colmenar de Oreja (also take you to Chinchon, see post).

The Church of Santa Maria la Mayor, built by the order of St James (Santiago), It was founded in 1171 by Pedro Fernández de Fuentecala , first master of the Order of Santiago, it belonged to it until 1540. In 1885 it became part of the Madrid-Alcalá Archbishopric.  The Church of Santa Maria la Mayor is a typical church-fortress of the chivalric order, which was enlarged during the second half of the 16C, with a mix of Gothic and Renaissance style that recalls the El Escorial monastery. From the architect from Escurial, Juan de Herrera, called by King Felipe to draw up the extension of the church, is the tower of more than 60 meters, the doors and the sacristy.The Chapel of the Christ or Ermita del Santisimo Cristo del Humilladero, patron Saint of the town is nice but forgot the picture !!


It is made up of a long and wide central nave which is crossed by another shorter nave of similar width, accompanied by two other half-width side naves separated from them by slender free-standing cruciform columns, which together with those attached to the walls support a series of pointed arches that support the four cross vaults of the old church and nine spherical caps that cover the less ancient portion. In the 17C, the founding chapels were added to its sides. The church could be accessed through three open portals: the central or western façade in the Ionic style with pinnacles (1614); on the south side façade is the second doorway in Tuscan style (1615) in which we find a sculpture of San Bernardino de Siena; on the northern side façade opens the doorway in Roman Doric style topped with escurialense balls.


The main altar (1515-1529) is located at the head of the central nave with its altarpiece and presbytery which could be accessed by 11 steps, being below this, at the lower level of the floor, the sacristy (1597), one goes down to it by 8 boxed steps, offering the coverage of these paths with balconies on the sides that come to be like an extension of the presbytery on either side. The paintings that decorate the walls on the sides of the presbytery from the end of the 19C, the Annunciation and The Presentation, are by the painter Ulpiano Checa, a native of Colmenar de Oreja. The first altarpiece (1606-1619) was burned down in 1936, the work of Juan Manuel Theotocopuli (son of El Greco), Alonso Vallejo (sculptor), Martín Velasco (gilded, 1659) and Francisco López (local painter). The latter was later replaced by the sculptor Juan Muñoz., The new altarpiece dates from 1957 and is the work of Francisco Galvez. The main altar is made up of three bodies, supported by twenty carved and gilded wooden columns, in whose main niche is the perfectly carved wooden image of Santa María la Mayor, owner of this parish, with the child in arms. It contains another ten smaller niches, four in each of the first bodies and two in the third and last, among which an image of Jesus Crucified is displayed as a coronation of said altar.

In December 2007, the restoration works of the complex were completed, highlighting the cleaning of its facades and the replacement of the old tiled floor with limestone. In 2008 ,the paintings were restored and the floor changed. In addition, since  2009 it has a prestigious body worth admiring, donated in its entirety by the neighboring Maria Perez Garcia, who wanted to contribute in this way to the patrimony of Colmenar de Oreja. Thanks to her gesture you can enjoy beautiful concerts.


The town of Colmenar de Oreja on the church

The Comunidad de Madrid tourist office on the church:

The Madrid city tourist office on Colmenar de Oreja:

There you go folks, another gem in the off the beaten path roads of the Comunidad de Madrid, again just south of the capital , Colmenar de Oreja , an easy ride by car all worth it for a pleasant afternoon away from the city. Again, hope you enjoy this post on the Church Santa Maria la Mayor as I.

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

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