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Fernandine Churches of Córdoba

In order to carry out a thorough analysis of the Fernandine Churches of Córdoba, we think we need to go back a few years before their planning and building, even before the conquest of the city in 1236 by Fernando III the Saint.

Five kilometers away from Santa Elena, one of the towns located in the west of the province of Jaen, next to the path of Despeñaperros, there is a broad location with remains of old weapons which are so numerous that the peasants of the area have used them for centuries to extract iron for the making of their tools. This place is called field of the Battle of Navas de Tolosa.

The important victory the Christians obtained over the Almohad army of Mohamed al-Nasir in July 1212 was the beginning of the end of the Arab occupation in the peninsula. The Christian monarchs had fewer difficulties to overcome since then, and some cities were conquered like JaenCordoba or Seville in a relatively short period of time, during the mandate of Fernando III the Saint. The city which resisted the longest was Granada, which fell at the hands of the Catholic Monarchs, who, curiously, led the campaigns from an emblematic building in our city to which they give their name, the Alcázar of the Christian Monarchs.

After the conquest of Córdoba in 1236, and after signing its surrender, the popularity of its wealth and fertile agriculture spread throughout Spain, and its population increased with people from many places who massively arrived in the city, up to a point in which there were more inhabitants than houses.

The urban redistribution changed considerably the appearance of the old Caliphal city, where Alfonso XI erected the Alcázar as a palatial residence, while Enrique II of Trastámara reinforced the defenses with towers like Calahorra or Malmuerta, trying to prevent the danger that the attacks from the southern Muslims represented.

The Caliphal city was clearly demarcated by two big neighbourhoods, the Villa and the Axerquía, a layout which will remain until Modern Times. The first one occupied, approximately, the perimeter of the old Roman city, whereas the second one extended towards the east. Fernando III the Saint divided each neighbourhood in seven parishes, and in each of them, a church was built, which was a religious and administrative centre. On the other hand, these “Fernandine Churches” were erected in strategic places, in many cases where the density of population was scarce, in an attempt to distribute it as proportionately as possible. The churches gave their name to the neighbourhood, the parish and quite often the urban planning was focused on them.

Next, we have prepared a brief analysis of the so-called Fernandine Churches of which we have remains, twelve in total, and we have classified them in three different itineraries, without following a specific criteria, apart from the closeness among them, in order for the tourist to visit them, if it is possible, with the maximum guarantee and comfort.

There are two cases of Fernandine Churches to which we would like to refer. The first one is Church of Santa María Magdalena (Saint Mary Magdalene), belonging to the “Itinerary of Axerquía II”, a temple which has been closed for services since the beginning of the 20th century. It is managed by the bank Cajasur, and it is a venue where cultural events are often celebrated, such as classical music concerts or exhibitions. That is why it is closed for tourists. The second example is the Church of Santo Domingo de Silos, belonging to the “Itinerary of the Villa”, a church of which we barely have any remains of its structures and tower. Nowadays, the building is the headquarters of the Historical Archive of the Province of Córdoba, which is why, as in the previous case, it is closed for tourists.

If you wish to know the Fernandine Churches do not hesitate to hire one of our guided tours. We are experts in the interpretation of the historical heritage from Córdoba. If you have chosen to do sightseeing in Córdoba, choose a high quality option, choose ArtenCórdoba.

Text: J.A.S.C.

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