Santiponce Itálica

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Nuestra Señora de Belén Parish Church

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The Nuestra Señora de Belén Parish Church is located at Plaza de España, the main square in Gines. It was built in late Mudéjar style during the 16th century on the site of an earlier church. It was renovated in the 17th century in the Renaissance style.

The church consists of a nave and two aisles separated by rows of Doric columns supporting semi-circular arches, creating a Latin crossing. The nave was formerly covered by a flat panelled coffered ceiling, and the two aisles had wooden pitched ceilings. The roof was replaced in the mid-20th century with roof decking.

The church features a splendid, Rococo-style main altarpiece, presided over by the image of Our Lady of Bethlehem, to whom the church is dedicated. This anonymous work from the late 16th or early 17th centuries is inside the central niche. The wooden statue was restored by Francisco Berlanga de Ávila after the damage suffered when the altarpiece caught fire in 1990.

The main altarpiece also holds the images of Saint Joachim, Saint Joseph, Saint Anne and Saint Teresa of Avila, all in the baroque style. It is crowned by the figure of the Eternal Father.

Perhaps the most outstanding painting is The Ascension of Christ, from 1725, by the great artist Domingo Martínez, a native of Seville. The canvas is 1.75 metres high and 1.38 metres wide. The painting is characterised by vibrant colours used by the artist, and his refined, elegant, idealised and stylised tone, reminiscent of the Mannerist style.

A remarkable painting of Our Lady of Bethlehem (painted in 1702 by the workshop of Domingo Martínez) can be found in the baptismal chapel (1696). Special mention must also be made of a beautiful painting depicting the burial of Saint Catherine, attributed to the workshop of Zurbaran (17th century), and another of Our Lady of Guadalupe (1716) by the Mexican artist Antonio Torre, among others. The beautiful church tower from 1720, and last restored in 2006, dominates the Plaza de España.

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