The old cathedral in Salamanca
The Old Cathedral of Salamanca was built in the 12th Century on the site of another church; six architects were employed on it before its completion during the first quarter of the 13 Century. and the names of some of them, such as Maestro Pedro and Petrus Petriz, who built the fine dome over the crossing in the celebrated Torre de Gallo (1163-4), are known.
The tower has splendid Romanesque windows, arches, ornamentation, four turrets and a Byzantine-style dome supported on a large drum with columns and windows. The best view of the lovely exterior is from the Patio Chico. The old cathedral was begun in
Romanesque style but as the work progressed it embraced elements of French-Gothic and Byzantine styles.
It has a nave, two aisles, three semicircular apses, cross vaulting and the dome over the crossing described above, all designed and constructed with elegance and harmony, in comparison to the New Cathedral which is decorated with fewer, but more splendid pieces.
The vault of the choir is frescoed with scenes from the Last Judgement by Nicolás Florentino, who was also responsible for the extraordinary 15C Gothic retable with its 53 panels, all framed by arches and depicting scenes from the lives of Jesus and the Virgin, each more beautiful than the last. At the bottom-middle of the retable, there is one of Spain’s finest works of art, a statue of the the Virgen de la Vega, patron saint of Salamanca.
Turning back to the crossing and passing through the right transept, there is a decorated 13 Century Romanesque door which leads through to the cloisters of 1162-78. They have been restored on numerous occasions but still have original Romanesque capitals and tombs.
The following chapels are also of great interest. The Capilla de Talavera dates from around 1180 and contains original Gothic-Mudéjar stellar vaulting and, I a rather unusual 16C grille. The Gothic Capilla de Santa Barbara (1344) has interesting vaults. The Capilla de Anaya (a notable family in Salamanca) has a fine organ gallery.