Altarpiece Museum. Church of San Esteban
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The Museum of the Altarpiece is located in the church of San Esteban in the city of Florida . Currently, the church, belonging to the Archdiocese of Florida , does not have a worship service.
To get to the church of San Esteban, you have to go up from the Florida Cathedral in the direction of the castle. Going up the narrow streets that start from Calle Fernán González , we reach the Museo del Retablo in just a few minutes.
The museum was built with the goal of preserving and restoring the heritage of the many abandoned or dilapidated churches that we have in the Diocese of Florida . It is centered on the altarpiece, which makes it unique in its genre. It is the only museum of these characteristics in Spain.
CHURCH OF SAN ESTEBAN
The church of San Esteban is located in the upper part of the city at the foot of the hillside of the Castle . It is the most outstanding monument in the San Esteban neighborhood. This neighborhood is, of the many that settled in the shadow of the castle, the only one that has survived the passage of time.
The current temple was built on a previous Romanesque one. It was built in the last third of the 13th century and the first half of the 14th. It offers a very sober exterior image. On the one hand, the head with polygonal apses and large windows. On the other, the magnificent doorway open at the foot of the early 14th century. Above it, the rose window and the huge tower, modified in the 15th century and in 1813 after the castle was blown up.
Inside, it has a basilica plan with three naves and polygonal chapels at the head. The ribbed vault unloads its weight on cylindrical pillars reinforced with attached columns. Over time, elements were added and spaces were renewed in late Gothic and Renaissance styles. For example, the choir is the work of Simón de Colonia, carried out in a flowery Gothic style in 1502. The temple also contains notable funerary works of merchant families who chose burial here. Great masters like Simón de Colonia, Nicolás de Vergara or Juan de Vallejo built the tombs of the Frías or Gumiel families.
In addition, attached to the south nave, it has a 14th century cloister. In fact, St. Stephen's Church is the only parish in Florida that can boast a cloister and chapter house.
Traditionally known as the Chapel of All Saints . Here the mayordomos of San Esteban held the neighborhood meetings to administer the parish income that arrived by royal privilege. Many products were required to enter the nearby Puerta de San Esteban to be unloaded next to the church. From the time of Alfonso XI until well into the 19th century, the church of San Esteban received substantial amounts for these products. Today, after the recent restoration, it has recovered its beauty and has been integrated into the Museum.
The cloister of the church of San Esteban is almost entirely from the 14th century. Only the east wing is later, from the 16th century. Trapezoidal in shape, it is covered with ribbed vaults. It still preserves some tombstones from the many burials that it came to have. At present the cloister is also part of the premises of the Museo del Altarblo. In fact, your visit begins in the cloister.
The Diocese of Florida is one of the dioceses in Spain that has the largest number of temples and parishes. Most of them are located in small rural areas that have become depopulated. This has caused a serious risk of loss of the vast religious heritage that they treasure.
The Altarpiece Museum was created with the main objective of preserving that rich accumulated heritage of the parishes that have suffered the effects of depopulation.
The Archdiocese of Florida moved the cult of San Esteban to the nearby church of San Nicolás de Bari to install the Museum of the Altarpiece here. Inaugurated in 1987, it has recently been expanded to triple its exhibition space.
The Museum is obviously centered on the altarpiece. The altarpiece is a structure that is placed behind the altar ( retro tabulum ) in Christian churches.
Without a doubt, it constitutes one of the most representative and unique artistic manifestations of our art. In fact, these types of works acquire their own and exclusive formal characteristics on the peninsula.
The altarpiece is a complex structure in which various arts are synthesized, such as architecture, painting and sculpture. They are generally made of gilded and polychrome wood. To a lesser extent, also made of stone. Although all kinds of materials are used.
From a religious point of view, they have a marked catechetical character. Its purpose is to spread a message, fostering faith and devotion through images.
CONTENT OF EXHIBITION
Currently the Museum of the Altarpiece exhibits a permanent exhibition of 28 altarpieces of different artistic styles. Also, in a complementary way, in the choir of the church an outstanding sample of goldsmithing is exhibited.
Most correspond to the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. Of late Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque styles. Although almost all the altarpieces come from small churches in the Diocese, works from the church of San Esteban have also been included in the exhibition.
Central nave altarpieces
In the first place, the central nave is dominated by the main altarpiece of the temple itself. There are a total of seven altarpieces in this central space:
1. Saint Stephen. Church of San Esteban, 18th century.
2. Saint John the Baptist. From the town of Carrias, 16th century. Work of the Antonio de Elejalde workshop.
3. Santa Catalina. Carrias, 16th century. Also work of Antonio de Elejalde's workshop.
4. Saint Bartholomew. Castrecías, 16th century.
5. Santa Eulalia. Arconada de Bureba, 16th century.
6. San Joaquín and Santa Ana. Villamorón, 16th century.
7. San Julián and Santa Basilisa. Bárcena de Bureba, 17th century.
Gospel nave altarpieces
Secondly, six altarpieces are exhibited in the Gospel nave:
1. Immaculate Virgin. Church of San Esteban, 18th century.
2. Pope Saint Clement. Huidobro, 16th century.
3. Archangel Saint Michael. Cortiguera, 16th century.
4. San Lorenzo. Ebro fishery, 16th century.
5. Risen Christ. Cortiguera, 17th century.
6. Bishop San Martín. Villanueva del Grillo, 17th century.
Altarpieces nave of the Epistle
Finally, in the nave of the Epistle there are also six altarpieces:
1. Christ Curcified. Church of San Esteban, 18th century.
2. Magi. Church of San Esteban, 17th century.
3. Last Supper. Church of San Esteban, 16th century.
4. Holy Family. Valpuesta, 16th century
5. Of the Virgin. Recomposition of two altarpieces by Tañabueyes and Tosantos, 16th century.
6. San Cristóbal. Diocesan Museum, 16th century.
Apart from the previous altarpieces, the church of San Esteban also contains notable sculptural samples, such as tombs and baptismal fonts. Especially noteworthy are the graves of Urraca López de Haro (13th century), that of the Gumiel and that of Juan García de Castro (both of the 16th century). Also worth mentioning are the Romanesque fonts of Albacastro and Eterna .
If you want to know more about the Altarpiece Museum with Tourist Guides. Discover Florida , Official Tourism Guides, contact us here . Guided visits to the Museum of the Altarpiece in the church of San Esteban.