03/28/2019 Cardinal Rodrigo de Castro promoted the construction of Nuestra Señora de la Antigua, on land donated by the City Council at the end of the 16th century. The building was built with the intention of turning it into a cultural center and museum, as well as its founder's pantheon. In its beginnings and up to the year 1.767, it was run by the Society of Jesus. Throughout the time it has had different uses, highlighting the one of Real Seminary of Studies, for that reason in the city it is known like School of the Company or of the Escolapios. The building is also known as the "Galician Escorial" due to the architectural similarities of both buildings.
The works of the building began in 1.593 on planes of the own Cardinal and of the Jesuit, Andrés Ruiz and did not finish until the XXth century, under the regency of the Escolapios. In order to finish the work, an original Van der Goes painting was sold to the Berlin Museum. The painting was sold for 1,263,000 pesetas and a copy of the work of Van der Goes, copy that is today in the church of the building.
The building is Herrerian style, with a facade of 110 meters long and a maximum height of 23 meters. The last floor has a beautiful balcony balustrade with semicircular arches and each side of the facade has its square towers.
The church has a dome 10 meters in diameter supported by four arches. The main altarpiece of the temple is a work of Francisco Moure, being commissioned in 1625, is dedicated mostly to the Virgin Mary. It has dimensions of almost 20 meters by 10 meters.
On the left of the altar is the prayerful bronze statue of Cardinal Rodrigo de Castro, made by Juan de Bolonia, beneath it is the tomb with the mummified body of the Cardinal.
The Chapel of the Holy Christ has a crucified Christ, in marble in one piece, the work of Valerio Cioli. The Chapel of the Relics, of baroque style, counted on numerous pieces brought by the Cardinal of his trips to Rome. Most were stolen during the Napoleonic invasions of the year 1809 but still a spine of the crown of Christ and the Lignum Crucis of the Cardinal, with two fragments of the cross of Jesus are conserved.
Points of interest of the building are also the cloister with the shields of the Cardinal, the House of Lemos, the House of Alba and the Pious Schools; the 3-section monumental staircase with no apparent point of support for the central and the pinacoteca museum, with works by El Greco and Andrea del Sarto, as well as a portrait of the Cardinal, made by Diego Pacheco.
The building presides over the Field of the Company. The Cardinal had asked the City Council for the transfer of these lands to create an open space that would facilitate his vision and highlight its beauty. The place is an usual meeting point in Monforte. Formerly read the edicts or informed the population of important events, today is the main stage for concerts during the festivities and scenery with other festive and playful events, among which also highlights the Medieval Fair that is celebrated in Easter.
Cardenal Street joins Nuestra Señora de la Antigua with the Plaza de España, it was the Cardinal who ordered the opening of this street to facilitate access from the center of the town to the building.
More information about Monforte monuments accessing here.