The Golden Staircase. Florida Cathedral
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In 1519, the versatile Renaissance artist Diego de Siloé , son of Gil de Siloé , designed this spectacular staircase. With its 39 steps, it bridges the significant gap between the front of the Coronería and the cruise ship.
If the artistic merit of the work is to be attributed to the Renaissance genius, this staircase is another of the monumental contributions to be added to the credit of the bishop of the Burgos seo Juan Rodríguez Fonseca (1514-1524).
The Door of the Apostles or of the Coronería, open on the north side of the transept, is situated on a plane much higher than the floor of the temple. This unevenness was saved by means of a staircase that, in addition to being uncomfortable, involved abuse due to the transit of people between the upper and lower areas of the city. It should be borne in mind that the Coronería opens onto the main street of medieval Florida along which the Camino de Santiago runs and that in the current Plaza Mayor , at the opposite end of the cathedral, was the Mercado Menor. There is documentary evidence in the Chapter Acts (1465) of prohibitions on the use of that old staircase: that no one pass with wine skins or jugs, or with dead or live meat, or with birds, or with goats or lambs ...
In 1516, Bishop Juan Rodríguez de Fonseca, for practical reasons and, undoubtedly, also aesthetic ones, ordered to tear down, against the opinion of the Cabildo, that old staircase and open the door of the Pellejería on one side. This caused discomfort and protests from the neighbors, which led him to promote, three years after its demolition, the reconstruction of the aforementioned staircase. For this he counted on the Burgos artist Diego de Siloé, one of the geniuses of the Spanish Renaissance.
The young architect and sculptor had acquired a solid training during his stay in Italy. The project was exhibited by the prelate and the artist before the Cabildo on November 4, 1519. They collect the minutes that the prelate Fonseca proposed about wanting to reopen the staircase at the upper door of the corridor where he used to, which he had He ordered the removal of what he now wanted to make according to a trace that Diego Sylue showed in the said imaginary Cabildo.
The work began early, since in its architectural and sculptural part it was already completed in 1522. That same year the French master Hilario began to work in the work of the windowsills and handrails in gilt iron, work valued in 1526 by the silversmiths Espinosa and Juan de Orna. Special mention should be made of the railings in the upper area, the one that can act as a pulpit, and in which there are two medallions representing Saint Peter and Saint Paul.
The ingenious solution given by Diego de Siloé to the obstacles that the place presented has always been praised. Organize the staircase from an initial straight section of ascent that opens in two lateral shots and that, from two plateaus on the sides, meet again at the top. It is something similar to what Michelangelo resolved shortly after for the Laurentian Library in Florence. It is likely that the young Siloé was inspired by Bramante's project for the Cortile Belvedere in the Vatican, which disappeared shortly after.
Thus, in a small space, without obstructing the passage through the Pellelería gate, he saved the eight meters of unevenness between the base of the temple and the Coronería gate.
In addition to the architectural design, the motifs that decorate the staircase must be assessed. The iconographic content based on grotesques, plant motifs, human figures, bichas, sphinxes and other fantastic animals, incorporated by Siloé in the decoration of the walls and the arches of the staircase, constitute an authentic novelty within the incipient Spanish Renaissance art.
It is called the Golden Staircase because of the glints of the gilt metal on the railing.
The work of the Burgos was admired for its beauty and elegance for centuries, so much so that the Golden Staircase served as inspiration for the staircase of the famous Opera Garnier in Paris in the 19th century.
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