Church of El Carmen
Almost hanging from a climb, as if overlooking the town’s river, there is the fine building of the former Convent of the Discalced Nuns, now housing the Parish Church of Santa María la Mayor. Work in the area seems to have begun in the late sixteenth century.
The exterior of the Church of El Carmen, in the left side and entry area, looks quite dilapidated. This is because the convent house was torn down in the nineteenth century. The façade is quite simple, the most remarkable feature being a Mannerist front with a round arch punctuated by two Tuscan half columns on plinths and crowned by a central curved and broken pediment bearing the coats of arms of El Carmelo. To the right there is a small belfry for a single bell – the only remnant of the belfry tower (the so-called ‘Torre del Gallo’) prior to the demolition.
The floor plan is basically that of Granada Morisco churches: a single nave, a main chapel and independent side chapels. In the eighteenth century, on the entry side, the nave of the Cofradía de la Soledad was added, designed as another chapel.
The remarkable Mudéjar coffered ceiling covers almost the entire nave. Finished in 1614, it is a rectangular ceiling without wooden struts, which enhances visibility It is decorated with laced motifs, only interrupted by three pine cones in the Mocárabe style.
The main chapel is a huge rectangular prism crowned by a hemisphere. Its grandeur is the result of three huge altarpieces, the largest of which (in central position) was built before 1747. Its beauty and significance make it one of the finest example of eighteenth-century Baroque altarpieces. Its intricate pattern of columns, cornices, niches and fake curtains (drawn in mixed broken lines that bend and intertwine in endless ways) leaves visitors overwhelmed.
This huge altarpiece was designed as a Carmelite hymn, where saints from the order are accompanied by little angels playing musical instruments or holding garlands in graceful positions, as if they were clapping their hands.
It is quite surprising that such a complex Baroque artefact is but the frame and entrance to the central chamber, where the image of Virgen del Carmen is kept. It is a well-structured place, whose Baroque layout with mixed lines stands in sharp contrast to the sober plasterwork décor. The two side altarpieces are considered to be more modern, even despite the gilt polychrome wood.
The altarpiece of San Elías, on the Gospel side, has a flamboyant attic. The altarpiece and chapel on the Epistle side are the most rococo, but also the most harmonious.
Under the main arch in the main chapel there is the pulpit by Miguel Márquez García in gilt polychrome wood. It was built in 1799 in the Baroque style, in line with the altarpieces.
The six independent side chapels contain valuable pieces. The Chapel of La Soledad, close to the entry, must have been built in the eighteenth century, judging by the curly plasterwork of the small dome.
This chapel has a rectangular floor plan. It is covered by lowered half-barrel vaults and divided into four sections by transverse arches. The main altarpiece has the image of Virgen de la Soledad placed in a central niche that makes a small chamber.
In a modern niche at the entrance, a primitive image of Virgen del Socorro from the fifteenth century is on display. It was a gift from the Catholic Monarchs to the Church and Mosque of San Salvador. It is an image in pulp cardboard on a wooden structure. It has partially retained the polychrome painting.
- Located in an urban area
- Inland area
Note: Prices are a guide only and may change on a daily basis.