MOSQUE - CATHEDRAL

Door of Saint Catherine

Opened since the times of Almanzor, this elegant access to the Orange tree courtyard of the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba from its eastern side has been known as Door of Saint Catherine since Christian times, due to its proximity to the Convent of Saint Catherine, which was later called of Saint Clare.

This door, clearly from the Renaissance period, was classified by Miguel Salcedo Hierro as plateresque, mainly because of its decoration. Nowadays, it is considered a work made by the architect Hernán Ruiz II the Young (1508-1569), thanks to the crest of Bishop Cristóbal de Rojas y Sandoval (1562-1571) decorating the keystone of the arch at the entrance. This round arch is flanked by two plain-shafted columns on a pedestal, and they support the weight of the continuous frieze decorated with vegetable elements. The most interesting aspect of the Door of Saint Catherine can be found in the spandrels of the arch, as they are decorated with reliefs from the old Muslim minaret commanded by Abd al-Rahman III and the Door of Forgiveness. Thanks to these reliefs we know how it looked before its remodelling by Hernán Ruiz himself.

The same frieze we have mentioned was the base of the second section, which is structured in three parts, thanks to two grooved columns, located on both ends, with Corinthian capital, and the inner pilasters. The three remaining "useless" alcoves were occupied by paintings by Antonio del Castillo. In the centre, "Saint Catherine" was represented, and on both sides, "Saint Acisclus" and "Saint Victory", patron saints of the city. On the other hand, there are barely any remains of them. A curve pediment with the figure of the "Eternal Father" finishes this elegant ensemble; an elegance which is but a typical characteristic of Hernán Ruiz II’s work.

The doors are made in wood, but they have a cladding consisting of bronze plaques reinforced by plain nails. The door knockers, with zoomorphic figures, have an inscription on their handle refering to the year of construction: "Anno 1573". The last finishing touches were probably made after the master’s death in 1569.

For Nieto Cumplido, the Door of Saint Catherine is the second most important one of the Mosque-Cathedral, explaining that it has been object of religious manifestations since the Middle Ages, such as all kinds of processions, including the ones in Holy Week, a tradition that is still in use nowadays, since a great number of brotherhoods make their penance procession in the Cathedral, and the Door of Saint Catherine is the one through which these processions leave the highest temple in the city.

If you are not sure what to do in Córdoba, we recommend you visit the Mosque-Cathedral hiring one of our guided tours. We will explain there a special chapter dedicated to the Door of Saint Catherine. Choose to do high quality sightseeing with qualified staff. Do not hesitate, ArtenCórdoba is the best option.

Text: J.A.S.C.

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