Charterhouse of Miraflores

Charterhouse of Miraflores

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La Cartuja de Miraflores is located on the outskirts of the city of Florida . The monastery is located in a wooded area that seems to isolate it from the city.

Today, it is still inhabited by a community of monks belonging to the Order of the Carthusians . The founder of this Order was Saint Bruno of Cologne (1030-1101). He withdrew with six companions to a lonely place in the Alps called Chartreuse , near Grenoble. There he founded a hermitage in 1084.

Many others follow this first foundation over the centuries. In the first half of the 16th century there were more than 200 Charterhouses in the world. Of them, more than 20 in Spain.

Unfortunately, today there are only four Carthusians with monks of this Order in Spain: Valencia, Barcelona and Florida (male), and Benifasar in Castellón (female). While in the whole world there are 24, 19 male and 5 female.

Certainly, the Cartuja de Miraflores houses one of the most notable Gothic ensembles from the late 15th century. Above all, the tombs of the parents of Isabel la Católica and the exceptional main altarpiece stand out. Both works by Gil de Siloé .

Charterhouse of Miraflores

HISTORY

The origin of the Cartuja de Miraflores dates back to 1442. Then , Juan II , King of Castile, donated to the Order of the Cartujos the palace of rest and hunting of his father Enrique III . His intention is to turn it into a monastery and royal pantheon.

The origin of the current building dates back to 1452. In that year, a fire destroyed the original rooms. What's more, this fact forced the proposal of a new building. Juan de Colonia , architect of the Florida Cathedral, is commissioned. With the death of King John II, the works of the church stopped.

His daughter, Isabel la Católica , wanted to resume the project. Account for this with Simón de Colonia , son of the teacher who had started the construction tasks. The queen was the great promoter of the monastery and key to the artistic relevance that the Cartuja has today. He wanted to build an impressive royal pantheon to praise the figure of his parents, the kings Juan II of Castile and Isabel of Portugal , and his brother, the infante don Alfonso . In 1488 the work was already finished. It soon became one of the most prosperous foundations on the Peninsula.

It was declared a National Monument in 1923. Later, in 1985, an Asset of Cultural Interest.

Currently, as it continues to host a community of monks, only part of the monastery can be visited: a small courtyard, the recently opened museum and the church.

CHURCH OF THE CARTUJA DE MIRAFLORES

Access to the church is through an atrium. The façade opens onto a small courtyard from which the characteristics of the façade can be appreciated: a pointed arch with a representation of the Pietà on the tympanum and, on both sides, the shields of Castilla y León and Juan II. These blazons are going to be repeated inside. The arms of the Catholic Monarchs are only present on the gable end of the temple.

The Cartuja de Miraflores church was designed by Juan de Colonia and completed under the direction of his son Simón de Colonia . It has an elongated single quadripartite nave that gives space to the three characteristic sections of the Carthusian temple and the presbytery.

The first section, up to the gate, was reserved for the faithful . Next to the lay brothers . Finally, the third, the one closest to the presbytery, to the Carthusian fathers . Five ribbed vaults with terceletes close each of the different spaces of the Carthusian temple.

Vaults and stained glass. Charterhouse of MIraflores

In addition to its architecture, the church also stands out for its spectacular works of art. Many of them are unrepeatable works of European Gothic art.

At the foot of the nave, in the part intended for the faithful, we can see a large Flemish triptych. It is dated to the end of the 15th century and attached to the School of Rogier van der Weyden .

STAINED GLASS WINDOWS

The stained glass windows of the Cartuja de Miraflores church are especially relevant. They make up one of the most spectacular preserved ensembles in Spanish stained glass. Specifically the ten on the north and south sides of the nave. It is a set of great homogeneity, attributable to a single author. They would be fully assignable, after the discovery of his signature in several of them, to Niclaes Rombouts also known as Master Nicolae . Rombouts was undoubtedly one of the most important Flemish glassmakers of the late 15th and early 16th centuries.

The ten stained glass windows of the naves develop the Easter Cycle . In the first place, those on the side of the Gospel focus on the Via Crucis , with the Prayer in the Garden , the Flagellation , the Crowning with Thorns , the Road to Calvary and the Crucifixion. Finally, those of the Epistle develop the Via gloriae , with the Descent , the Resurrection , the Ascension , Pentecost and the Last Judgment.

Regarding the dates of realization and assembly, we know that all of them were brought in 1484 by order of the Burgos merchant Martín de Soria , although it seems that their final assembly was postponed until 1488. Probably waiting for Simón de Colonia The construction of the church vaults will be completed.

In the apse there are seven other stained glass windows. Three of them are figurative stained glass windows that represent the Coronation of the Virgin , the Presentation in the Temple and the Epiphany. They would also be of Flemish origin and of the same dates as ten o'clock on the ship. The remaining four are colorless, from the 17th century, perhaps seeking to give more light to the altarpiece.

SADDLES OF THE BROTHERS AND PARENTS

Passing the fence that defines the area for the faithful, you enter the choir of the brothers. The walnut stalls by Simón de Bueras (1558) stand out.

The choir of the brothers and that of the parents is separated in turn by a structure with two baroque altars from the 17th century. Its author is Policarpo de la Nestosa . In gilded wood, they have a carving of the Immaculate Conception crowning the entrance. At the top, you can read FELIX COELI PORTA ( Happy Door of Heaven ).

Almost a century before the siblings' chairs were made that of the fathers, between 1486 and 1489. It is also made of walnut wood in the late Gothic style. It is made up of forty chairs placed on the sides, twenty on each side, and ten chairs located on the wall that separates said choir from that of the brothers, five on each side. We owe it to the Valladolid sculptor Martín Sánchez .

Without a doubt, the most spectacular of the set is in the head. Above all, the impressive main altarpiece and the spectacular funeral complex with the tombs of Juan II of Castile and Isabel of Portugal and that of the Infante Don Alfonso stand out.

Main altarpiece. Charterhouse of Miraflores

MAJOR ALTABLES

The Main Altarpiece of the Cartuja de Miraflores , carved between 1496 and 1499, stands majestically at the back of the presbytery of the church. It is the work of the great Gil de Siloé. It had the collaboration of the polychromator Diego de la Cruz . For the gilding of the work it is said that part of the gold brought by Christopher Columbus on his return from his second trip to America was used.

The original composition has an unusual iconographic content. It revolves around the sacrifice of Christ and the Eucharist. The altarpiece resembles a large tapestry, full of figures that form different scenes. In them, the life of Christ is represented, with the Cycle of Childhood, that of the Passion and that of the Glorious Life.

The upper part is organized around a large circle, delimited by a “wheel of angels”. It would symbolize the sacred form. It houses in its interior a Calvary of which it is worth highlighting the expressiveness of the Crucified.

Finally, in the lower part, the monarchs John II and Isabel of Portugal are represented in a prayerful attitude.

It is one of the most spectacular Spanish Gothic altarpieces for its compositional and iconographic originality and for the excellent quality of the carving and the polychrome.

ROYAL PANTHEON

In front of the altarpiece, there is the superb sepulcher of the kings Juan II and Isabel de Portugal . Elaborated between 1489 and 1493 also by Gil de Siloé.

Tomb of John II and Isabel of Portugal

We are probably facing one of the most unique works of European funerary art. It has a tumular shape and a curious and novel plant of a star with eight points. Made entirely of alabaster from Cogolludo (Guadalajara). In addition to the images of the kings on the upper face, the figures of the four Evangelists stand out at the vertices, of extraordinary quality. As for the sixteen sides, they serve to display a rich iconographic program. Hundreds of figures decorate every corner of the monument.

Also in the presbytery, is the tomb of the infant Don Alfonso . Rich archway, in whose interior the figure of the infant appears praying, looking towards the altarpiece. A figure in which the head and gloved hands stand out, with the rest of the body covered in rich fabrics that show Siloé's ability to obtain different textures.

Tomb of the Infante Alfonso. Charterhouse

PERMANENT EXHIBITION

The Carthusian splendor exhibition space has been set up in the side chapels of the church . From the beautiful to the divine . In this space interesting works such as an Annunciation by Pedro Berruguete are exhibited. From the late 15th century, this oil on panel is another of the extraordinary works that can be visited in the Cartuja de Florida.

Berruguete Annunciation. Charterhouse of Burgos

In the Sala de las Reliquias, the last room of the permanent exhibition, we will be surprised by the presence of a painting by Joaquín Sorolla , the Elevation of the Cross . Early work of the Valencian artist, very different in theme and treatment of color from other works by Sorolla of a later period.

Saint Bruno. Charterhouse of Miraflores

Finally, we will say goodbye to our visit to the Cartuja de Miraflores with the famous image of San Bruno , founder of the Carthusian order. It was carved around 1635 by the Portuguese-born sculptor Manuel Pereira . The Saint holds a highly detailed crucifix in his right hand, on which he fixes an intense gaze. The face is splendidly carved, full of strength, expressiveness and realism.

Miraflores Charterhouse Guides

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