Mudejar Chapel of San Bartolomé
The Mudejar Chapel of San Bartolomé is the great unknown of all the monuments in Córdoba, but at the same time one of the most attractive and, very soon, visited in our city. It is part of the current Faculty of Philosophy and Arts, which was Hospital of Cardinal Salazar between the 18th to the 20th century. The chapel can be accessed from its outside courtyard, that is, Averroes Street, or from the inside of the faculty.
When they decided to repopulate the neighbourhood of Alcázar Viejo and the Jewish Quarter was abandoned in 1391, a new neighbourhood was needed, and it was created dedicated to San Bartolomé, a name which already appeared in 1410. Consequently, it was necessary to have a new sacred building, whose construction was carried out between 1399 and 1410.
This small space kept on working as a parish until the beginning of the 17th century. The complex, which has experienced several extensions along its long history, is an old example of the Gothic-Mudejar aesthetics. It occupies an almost square space, divided in three sectors, one belonging to the chapel itself, and the other one to the atrium. It is built with blocks of sandstone, arranged in headers and stretchers.
The Chapel of San Bartolomé has a rectangular floor, with a size of 9 x 5 metres side. It has a flat head and the presbytery stands out over the rest of the hall due to a small step. It has two entrances; the first one faces an outside portico in a courtyard, leading to Averroes Street. On the other hand, the second entrance leads to a side chapel, which curiously closes from the outside, which made experts think the chapel could be accessed from another building, probably a sacristy.
The entrance facing the courtyard has a restrained pointed arch where the only decoration consists of simple mouldings. We can see a similar scheme in the entrance leading to the chapel, also with a pointed arch, but in this case, decorated with zigzag or saw teeth. Over corbels based on rinceau and carved leaves, clearly Islamic, we can see two small columns that, together with a row of round modilions, support a restrained and elegant roof, of which we can highlight the central modilion, decorated with a tiny scallop shell. The entrance is protected by a portico consisting of three elevated pointed big arches, supported by reused columns.
When entering the Chapel of San Bartolomé we can see that the entrance has a very different scheme to the previous one, as it has a pointed engrailed arch framed by an alfiz and richly decorated with plasterwork. If we pay attention to the ceiling, we will see that the space is divided in two Gothic ribbed vaults, whose keystones are decorated with vegetable elements, and connected by a Gothic central rib decorated with saw teeth. The angles of the vaults have small ribbed vaults, which were very frequently used at the time, such as in the Tower of the Lions in the Christian Alcázar.
Next, we will try to describe in a simple and useful way the rich decorative programme, conceived from Mudejar schemes, of the inside of the chapel, where several techniques are joined, such as plasterwork and tiling.
As for the flooring, we could highlight the alternation of tiles, a special kind of tiles called olambrillas and bricks, which the experts date in the Early Medieval times, which are probably original in the building of the chapel. The skirting board is the most restored and restructured area, as it has suffered the most in previous rehabilitation processes.
The plasterwork covers almost all the walls in the room, with a decoration based on vegetable, geommetrical, heraldic and epigraphic elements. As for the geommetrical decoration, we can see interwoven shapes with Arabesques at the background, and crests in the stars forming the interwoven shapes themselves. The crests represented belong to the Order of the Banda, established by Monarch Alfonso IX. As for the epigraphy, we can see two types of characters in the chapel, Kufic and Naskhi. We reproduce here one of the decorative stripes: “The eternity for Allah, the glory for Allah”.