Alpargate Square and Gardens
The popular Alpargate Square, or also, Square of the Cristo de Gracia (Christ of Grace), or Christ of the Asparagus, as the devoted call him, has been the bond between the Ajerquía and the extension of the city towards the east since the Middle Ages. Puerta de Plasencia (Plasencia Gate) was around here back then, not far from the place where the Inquisition located its horrible heretic fires. A few metres away, we can see two unique and valuable treasures decorating the gardens of our square, the fountain and the church of Padres de Gracia. The fountain was moved from Puerta Nueva (New Gate) to its current location in 1950, when local architect Víctor Escribano Ucelay led the remodeling works of the square.
Three bullfights celebrated in 1747 were enough to pay for the expenses of the fountain. Not far from where it is today, there was a trough where head shepherds took wild bulls to eat and drink on their way to bulls fairs. The thick vegetation surrounding Alpargate Square makes it difficult to see the monumental fountain from the distance, whose eroded limestone takes us to the Baroque from Córdoba, although we can see some features which were not very frequent in our city; some say that it was due to some influence from the Incas. The quite high basin has a base consisting of lines and curves, with three pillars finished with pinnacles from which water is pumped. Next to the fountain there is a small Triumph of San Rafael, taken from the old Local Stadium El Arcángel.
The history of the Church of Padres de Gracia started in 1607, when the City Council allowed the Trinitarian Brothers to occupy, thanks to San Juan Bautista de la Concepción’s effort, the old Chapel of Our Lady of Grace, while providing with a small house next to it. The chapel and the small house were the church and the Convent of the Trinitarian Brothers until the works in the new temple finished in 1680.
The façade was planned as an altarpiece by Sebastián Vidal, who could conceive an exceptional architectonic and sculptural ensemble of great size. The main entrance of the temple consists of three lintelled openings with friezes of triglyphs and metopes and crowned by parted circular pediments. Over these, we can see three sculptures in alcoves: San Juan de Mata and Félix de Valois, founder of the Trinitarian Order, who are kneeling in a praying attitude on the sides, whereas the sculptural group of the Angel presenting the captives to the Holy Trinity is in the centre. They are all inside alcoves topped by triangular pediments. Further up, over pedestals, we can see the personification of the three theological virtues: Faith, Hope, and Charity. The façade is finished by a great triangular pediment with two more sculptures: two holding angels who are flanking the central oculus through which light comes. Over the lower corners of the mentioned pediment, we can see archangels San Miguel and San Rafael, whereas over the higher corner, at the top of the ensemble, there is Virgen de Gracia (Virgin of Grace).
The church has a basilical floor covered by a barrel vault with lunettes, and an oval vault over pendentives. The vault is decorated with paintings dedicated to David, Isaac, Abraham, Jacob, Joachim, Hezekiahand Solomon. On the pendentives we can see the crests of Pablo de Acevedo and his wife Ana de Córdoba, sponsors of the convent. As it happened in other churches in Córdoba, on the side of the Gospel there are several altars, whereas on the side of the Epistle we can see the chapels. We would like to highlight two chapels, the one dedicated to Nuestro Padre Jesús Nazareno Rescatado (Our Father Jesus Nazarene Rescued), finished in a niche, and the Santísimo Cristo de Gracia, El Esparraguero (Holy Christ of Grace, the Christ of the Asparagus), where the remains of San Juan Bautista de la Concepción are.
The vault and walls of the church are decorated with canvases, some of them very deteriorated, which tell the life and works of Brother Juan de la Concepción. Among the best preserved ones, we can see the episode of his death, surrounded by brothers of the Order, or his vision of Christ and the Virgin.
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