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Church of The Holy Sepulchre
Torres del Rio




The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is nowadays considered a funeral church on the Road to Santiago. Several interpretations have been proposed with theories such as a pilgrim's beacon or dead man's lantern and so on. It belonged to the Holy Sepulchre Hierosolymitana of Jerusalem. It is a church with a single octagonal floor, and finished off with an eight-sided lantern.

The master builder who designed it and the sculptors who adorned it were Mudejar working in the service of Christian employers. Its design came from Cordoba and there is something of Cisterian art about it. Its construction and use are assumed to be Templar, but there is neither information nor indications to prove it or to surmise, since it does not have a typical floor.

It is known, on the other hand, that in 1100 there was an existing monastery, and together with the church, were yielded to the Benedictine order of the Irache Monastery. It is believed that it had nothing to do with the current church, but with the previous one; very close to one another in time. The review of the documentation demonstrates that the above mentioned church was a possession of the Sepulchre Canons, from at least the beginning of the 13th century.




The Exterior

The exterior elevation consists of an apse and an octagonal body culminating in an octagonal top part with a spiral staircase leading to the latter. The doorway is south facing and decorated simply with two semi-circle arches and one more in the middle with a protruding edge design supported by columns on either side with vegetation designed capitals. Smooth tympanum resting on square pilasters crowned with a Lorraine cross. The octagonal facings are very high facings subdivided into three sections and separated by mouldings and flanked by columns. The sections are separated from each other by a bevel in strong relief that surrounds the building. In the second section there are lancet arches supporting the tremendous weight of the walls. There are only two narrow round arch windows, yet they are heavily decorated, with simple bases and thin shafts and disproportionately large capitals decorated with vegetation and thick decorated arches. In the top section there are eight large open windows, which are rounded, with lateral columns, capitals and vegetation motifs and semi-circle arches. Inside every window there are pilasters with protruding edges that support another interior arch, and the resulting opening is an embrasure with the only light coming through in narrow loopholes.

The semicircular apse on a plinth makes up for the ground imbalance of the area with only a narrow loophole without decoration, and on the opposite side, a a steep spiral staircase that leads to the top lantern. A compact grouping of cornices support the eaves of an octo-pyramidal roof, like the one in Santa Maria of Eunate with big slabs of stone, on top of which is situated the lantern. The lantern is a scaled down version of the lower part of the building








The Interior

In the interior, large corner columns with vegetation-designed capitals, rise towards a continuous relief of Jaca checkerboard that marks the lower level of the windows. These are formed by arches with a protruding edge and rounded, decorated by a moulding of vegetation design, and supported on short capital columns also with vegetation motifs. The triumphal double arch is slightly lancet and surrounds a simple apse with an oven-vault and a window without decoration. In the outer triumphal arch, the corner columns are replaced by two shorter ones resting on corbels. It has 50 capitals (two of which depict stories) and two corbels (one with a head of a wild beast with an animal in its mouth and a large head of Silenus.

The dome of the central body is the most arresting part of the church. From corbels, eight arches rise that crisscross forming a star and displaying an octagon in the centre with a circle of checkerboard carved into it. Eight more arches join the capitals coming from the corners with the rising arcs. This design of clear Muslim lineage, probably came from the model of the vaults that existed in the Aljaferia in Zaragoza.






The crucifix dates back to the beginning of the 13th century


Corbel with the head of a wild beast with an animal in its mouth