As we mentioned earlier, several bishops took part in the works of the transept. In fact, we can see their crests in some parts of it. The iconography of the ensemble is closely linked to the different stages of the project, and therefore, to each Bishop.
Brother Juan Álvarez de Toledo (1523-1537) added the exquisite decoration of the dome in the retrochoir, whose author is unknown and which presents an iconographic programme based on the Prophets and Virtues. It is also important to highlight the reliefs located in the tympanum of the horseshoe arches which are part of the retrochoir, also anonymous, which represent five scenes of the passion of Christ and they outstand because of the high quality of their design. The narrated episodes are: "The Arrest of Jesus in the Garden of Olives", "The Way to the Calvary", "The Crucifixion", "The Descent from the Cross" and "The Resurrection", where the artist paid special attention even to the background.
According to Manuel Nieto Cumplido, the iconographic programme by Álvarez de Toledo in the dome of the retrochoir would be finished by Leopoldo de Austria with the decoration of the ambulatory at the end of the choir, that is, at the other end of the Main Chapel. In this case, the Gothic ribbed vault was decorated with eight figures of beautiful and appropiately made virtues.
From Leopoldo de Austria (1541-1557), we could also highlight different aspects, but we will mention the decoration on the horseshoe arch in the axial nave at the end of the choir, which had a total of twenty two figures in alcoves, in the same place as the different voussoirs of the arch. Further up, and located inside a round arch, we can see several sculptures, of which we should highlight "The Mother of God", which at the time gave the temple its title, blessed by the "Eternal Father", located over her. On both sides, "David" and "Isaias" are in a kneeling position. It is thought that the ensemble, due to its style and the time it was made, could have belonged to Hernán Ruiz II the Young.
The Gothic ribbed vault covering the Main Chapel was also decorated in times of Brother Juan Álvarez de Toledo. In it, everything surrounds the central image of "The Assumption of Mary", while in the four bigger tondos Emperor Carlos I and three Saints are represented. Next, we can also find up to twelve smaller circles where the twelve Apostles are depicted, and in the corners of the vaults, between the ribs, several musical angels. It is the representation of the Glory of Mary, to which Emperor Carlos I of Spain was added, who died years earlier.
The decorative and iconographic programme of the choir vault was surely established in the time of Bishop Francisco Reinoso, and we can even notice his crests between the spandrels of the arch in the centre of the nave. In the spandrels we can find "Solomon", "Daniel", "Samuel" and "David". In the half spandrels on the corners, the virtues "Faith", "Hope", "Charity" and "Fortitude". In the centre of the band dividing the vault in two identical halves we can see "The Assumption of Mary", next to the saints "San Acisclo" and "Santa Victoria".
The vault over the transept has an even simpler iconographic plan. In the pendentives the four Evangelists are represented surrounded by angels and winged putti. In the lower part of the vault, and alternating with the lighted spaces, we can see the sculptures of the eight Church Fathers: "Saint Ambroise", "Saint Jerome", "Saint Augustine", "Saint Gregory", "Saint Basil the Great", "Saint Gregory of Nazianzus", "Saint John Chrysostom" and "Saint Athanasius", all of them sculpted by Francisco Gutiérrez Garrido. "The Holy Trinity" is at the top of the ensemble.
We finish this analysis with the closing of the choir on its western side, the so called end of the choir. The figures of the four Church Fathers are framed by baluster columns. At the top of the ensemble there are several paintings, of which we should mention "The Assumption of Mary", which was presumably made by the painter Juan de Alfaro.
If you wish to know the iconographic programme of the Main Chapel of the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba, do not hesitate to hire one of our guided tours. We are experts in the interpretation of the historic heritage from Córdoba. If you have chosen to do sightseeing in Córdoba, choose a high quality option, choose ArtenCórdoba.