The floor of the Church of San Francisco has only one nave and a big transept, with side chapels located on the side of the Epistle, between buttresses, and altars on the side of the Gospel. The apse consists of three polygonal apses with buttresses that can be seen from the outside. Nowadays, only the central apse and the one on the side of the Gospel maintain their original appearance. The cross-shaped pillar was use as support, holding the entrance arches of the apse chapels and the arches supporting the transept, as well as the columns in the angles of the polygon of the apses.
An interesting feature is the lack of uniformity between the supports and the different elements of the vaults, which means there were two constructive periods: the first one from the floor to the beginning of the vaults, and the second one, where the building was covered. The vaults were all ribbed ones, with four spaces, except for the apse, where there were six, and whose ribs consisted of a small column, which could be round, as in the chapels, or pointed, as in the transept.
The first transformations the medieval church experienced date back to the 17th century, with the reform of some chapels, such as the Our Father Jesus of the Prayer in the Garden. At the end of the century, the cloisters of the convent were erected, of which we have some remains, but part of it disappeared around the year 1836 after the expropriation.
It was in the 18th century when the Church of San Francisco experienced greater reforms, which consisted in the transformation of the medieval ensemble into a Baroque temple. A new façade was built. Inside, architect Francisco López changed the design of the apse and the central nave, as well as the Chapel of Our Lady of Pilar.
Nowadays, the Church of San Francisco has little to do with what it originally was. The central nave is now covered by a great barrel vault with lunettes, and the chapels can be accessed through round arches on big pillars. At the foot of the nave, the choir is erected, which extends along both sides like a gallery. The white walls of the church contrast with the greyish blue decoration and the golden colours around the temple.
The transept has an exceptional oval vault supported by pendentives decorated with images of famous characters from the Franciscan order. Everything is richly decorated following the taste of the time, where the plasterwork provides the ensemble with effect and movement. The arms of the transept extend along its sides, where the side apses start.
From the outside, we should highlight the two bays still preserved in the cloisters of the old convent. The cloister has two floors, which can be seen from the outside through round arches on narrow plain-shafted columns with Tuscan capital, supported by pedestals. The arrangement of the arches is two to one, that is, for each arch on the lower floor, there are two on the upper floor. The rest of the ensemble stands out due to its austerity, in contrast with the inside of the church.
We can see a reminder of the monastery in the street leading to the church, Compás de San Francisco Street. This space could be accessed through the Puerta del Compás, connecting it to la Feria Street. This entrance gate was made at the end of the 18th century, and it consists of a round arch flanked by two pairs of pilasters with Ionic capital over a pedestal. Over the opening we can see an alcove which, in the past, had an image of “San Francisco“, which is missing today. The sight of the Church of San Francisco from this gate is stunning.
The entrance is very simple, finished with a great triangular pediment crown by Herrera-style balls. The stone façade is divided in three vertical sections plus two more parts. The first one has a round opening in the centre, with pilasters on pedestals and geommetric decoration. The second part, over a continuous entablature, stands out as it has an alcove in the shape of a shell with a white marble image representing “San Fernando” with a crown and a sword. The façade is finished, in its third section, by a lintelled opening, flanked by small columns supporting a parted circular pediment. Finally, we should highlight the different levels of the different elements forming the façade, which give the ensemble a great dynamism and plasticity.
If you are wondering what to visit in Córdoba, a good option would be the Fernandine Churches, choosing one of our guided tours. This way you will learn everything about the Church of San Francisco. Choosing to do high quality sightseeing is choosing ArtenCórdoba.
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The regular guided tours are those that you can sign up for individually, are conducted regularly and in one language, Spanish or English
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