Highlights – El pilar Cathedral
Today the cathedral has a nave and two aisles and a rectangular ground plan. At the corners of the cathedral stand the four towers (98 meters high)
There are numerous side chapels between the buttresses. One of the most outstanding things about the cathedral of El Pilar is the immense value of its paintings. Saint Chapel are scenes of the apparition of the virgin and they were painted by Antonio Gonzalez Velazquez.
Francisco Bayeu was commissioned with the decoration of the four vaults in the chapel, while the decoration of the main dome was painted in the 19th century by Bernadino Montañes.
One of the most important parts of the Cathedral of El Pilar and which draws lots of attention is the choir. The decoration of the choir was entrusted to Goya in 1772. He designed superb allegorical frescos. The choir ends in a beautiful grille made by Juam Celma in 1574. The choir stalls consist of 150 seats arranged in 3 rows.
Chapel of La Virgen del Pilar
The entrance to the Cathedral is from the Plaza del Pilar. The first thing you will find is Saint Chapel. This chapel was redecorated in Baroque style by Ventura Rodriguez, one of Spain´s most famous artists of that time. As you may expect from Baroque decoration, the chapel is richly adorned with marble and silver. In the centre of the chapel, allegedly, on the spot where Saint James met the virgin Mary, stands the Gothic alabaster statue of the Virgen del Pilar. The statue dates from the 14th century and it seems the author was a French Master.
One interesting thing about the Virgin is that she is dressed with up to 450 different mantos or coats!. The manto of The Virgin of El Pilar is changed everyday.
The statue of La Virgen del Pilar
The statue of the Virgin (known by locals as “La Pilarica”) is a small 38-centimeter wood-carved statue. She holds Christ on her arms. Christ holds a bird. The statue stands on a silver-clad marble column and, as we said already, is dressed everyday with a different coat. The statue is framed by the right altar. The column, from what it has been described, is today 5 centimeters smaller than it used to be. Why you may ask? Due to the erosion caused by the kisses of the devotees.
Above the central altar is a relief from the 18th century by Carlos Salas which shows the assumption of the Virgin. The left altar by Ramirez depicts Saint James and his disciples.
Another of the cathedral´s highlights stands on the western part. It is the alabaster high altar (1509) in which both gothic and renaissance elements are combined. This is with no doubt one of the top things to enjoy at El Pilar.
Amongst the most interesting chapels worth paying attention to are: The chapel of san Lorenzo, the chapel of La Virgen del Rosario, and the chapel of San Juan Bautista.
The civil war bombs
A very important anecdote in El Pilar has to do with the bombs that fell on the Cathedral at the time of the Spanish civil war but which did not explode. They are shown next to the Chapel of the Virgin.