The Cathedral of Zamora

posted in: Home, Spain | 6

The Cathedral of Zamora1 dominates the western end of the original town, alongside the castle. It was declared a National Monument in 1889.

A brief history

The Cathedral of Zamora dates from 1151-74 and it is one of the most important examples of Romanesque architecture in Spain. Like all these buildings there were additions over the years, including the square tower of the 13th century and the cloisters at the turn of the 17th century.

Exterior of the Cathedral of Zamora

The Cathedral site is vast and during our visit tents and people crowded round the building for the Cheese Festival. Other buildings and trees crowd the site too and it was difficult to photograph – but I tried my best.

Cathedral of Zamora
The cathedral with tents for the Cheese Festival in place; the atrium and the north facade
Cathedral of Zamora
The dome of the cathedral from just inside the walls
Bishop’s door of the cathedral  of Zamora
The Bishop’s door opposite the Bishop’s Palace
Bishop’s palace in Zamora
Bishop’s Palace opposite the cathedral, and just inside the walls
The Bishop’s Gate in Zamora
The Bishop’s Gate through the walls of Zamora, and alongside the Palace

Inside the cathedral

There are three naves in the Cathedral of Zamora and the choir is in the middle naves, similar to Astorga and Burgos. It is a building which really needs to be revisited many times.2

The choir is built of walnut wood and looks fascinating. But it was closed off – a pity. It dates from 1505.

Cathedral of Zamora
Choir of the cathedral
Inside the choir of the cathedral of Zamora
Inside the choir of the cathedral
Detail of the misericords in the Cathedral of Zamora
Detail of the misericords

Tombs in the Cathedral of Zamora

Burial in the cathedral was a honour and privilege which was only given to people of a certain status and class. If you could afford it you built a chapel in your name. If this was unaffordable you could excavate a hollow in the walls of the cathedral and be buried there.

Abott and Canon Alfonso Garcia died in 1409 and his tomb was covered up until c.2012. Bernard of Perigord was the first Bishop of Zamora from 1121-1149. He went to Spain as a young man and joined the church in Toledo. He oversaw and organised the construction of the new cathedral. Lope Rodriguez de Olivares died in 1402. He was a knight and the tomb was only fully uncovered in 2010. The carving in the niche is from the early 13th century so it was probably the tomb of someone else which was re-used.

The Cloister

The cloister was added at the turn of the 17th century because the original Romanesque cloister was destroyed by fire. Juan de Ribera Rada of Valladolid designed the new, classical cloisters.

Cloisters in the Cathedral of Zamora

Cathedral Museum

The museum dates from 1926. There are the most sumptuous tapestries in the cathedral museum, made in Belgium in the 15th-17th centuries. They describe the Trojan War, the history of Hannibal, and the story of Tarquinius Priscus, a King of Rome.

The figure of St Mark was beautiful and the processional monstrance of 1515 by Pedro of Avila is startling…

The Cathedral of Zamora is indeed a remarkable building but strangely it seemed to lack a spiritual atmosphere and it didn’t feel like a religious place. Odd.



6 Responses

  1. Toro on the Duero - London Traveller

    […] and stands on the edge of the town, overlooking the River Duero. The site is similar to the Cathedral in Zamora and the dome is one of the most notable in the Romanesque style together with Zamora, Plasencia and […]

  2. wetanddustyroads

    Spain and their beautiful cathedrals! I have to admit, the gold and extravagance got a little too much while we were on the Camino (I was sometimes looking for a simpler place to be quiet). But still, you have great photos here!

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