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Basilica of St. Mary´s

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Basilica of St. Mary´s


Basic Information

Location Castello, Spain
Country Spain
City Castello
Address Castello, Spain

General Information

Open to visitors no
Need appointment no
Handicap accessibility no
Geographical Coordinates 42.2595,3.07621


The pomp and cathedral-like appearance of the basilica of St. Mary´s originates from the wish of the counts of Empúries to restore the former ampuritanian episcopal seat in Castelló, at that time the capital of the county.

The temple was erected on the original Romanesque church consecrated in 1064 of which there remains little trace. The construction of the new temple, under the direction of Ramón de Chartres, started in the mid-13th century and was finished in the early 15th century with the implementation of the majestic entrance of the Apostles.

The basilica conserves a rich artistic heritage. Some of the works preserved are closely linked to the culture and history of the Jewish community of Castelló.

One of the most important sculptural works in the basilica is the alabaster retable of the Main Altar dedicated to the Virgin of the Candelera, the town's patron saint. The retable constitutes one of the best examples of Catalan Gothic sculpture in the second half of the 15th century. The work was designed as a stand-alone block with the same decoration on the front and side parts. The retable itself is made up of base and column, formed by numerous alabaster pieces from the Beuda quarry (Garrotxa, Girona) which serve as a monumental base in which a great vaulted niche is settled with the image of the Virgin of the Candelera. The scenes of the Passion and the Crucifixion portray the figures of two Jewish rabbis alongside other human and heavenly figures.

At one of the altars of the northern nave of the temple a reproduction can be seen of the Saint Michael retable. The original is conserved at the Art Museum of Girona. It is a work carried out in 1448 by Joan Antigó, Honorat Borrassà and Francesc Vergós, commissioned by the provosts of the San Miguel Brotherhood comprising the guild of traders and the guild of notaries and scribes of Castelló d´Empúries.

It is formed by four panels: in the upper left-hand scene the figure of the Archangel Michael is portrayed, preventing Satan from possessing the lifeless body of Moses before the concerned presence of a group of four worthy Jews. The expression and gaze of their faces provides a remarkable psychological penetration by the artists, who illustrate the concern of that time in majestic fashion. Of particular note is the richness and sumptuousness of the attire and the garments of the four Jews in the aforementioned scene.

The Saint Michael retable is a magnificent pictorial example of Flemish-like Gothic and it constitutes one of the best artistic expressions of the Jewish community in the Catalan Middle Ages.

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