Santiponce Itálica

Heritage

An immense legacy waiting to be discovered

Shrine to San Juan Evangelista – Casa de las Artes

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This building has a single nave with transversal arches. Hernández Díaz has dated the structure to the first third of the 14th century based on the semi-circular shape of the apse, the moulding on the presbytery’s toral arch and the entranceways.

The plain west front is topped with a Mudejar-style bell gable with a circular opening. It may likely have had a porch in the past. The entrance on the Gospel side has moulding reminiscent of Cordovan corbels. Oral tradition holds that several families escaped poverty when they dreamt about a legendary treasure of jewels buried in the heart of the chapel, as well as about underground galleries that led from the hill to other places.

This very spacious building has mountain architecture style transversal arches distributed throughout a large nave. A study of the floor plan reveals the uniqueness of its apse with a twisted axis, similar to those found in several other Spanish medieval monuments. This has led to much debate among critics and historians.

Beyond the traditional orientation, the apse has a semi-circular layout, rarely seen here. The height reveals the building’s extraordinary robustness, which contrasts with religious architectural structures built in Andalusia at that time. The wooden roof was rebuilt in 1906. The Gothic inscription on the ante-chancel’s Epistle wall clearly conveys the essential information. When the building is objectively studied, the inescapable conclusion is that it likely dates back to the first third of the 14th century.

The very poorly preserved mural painting in the presbytery depicts the Baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan. Perhaps, it is not too far removed from the one revealed by the inscription.

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