San Cayetano Slope
The popular Cuesta de San Cayetano (San Cayetano Slope) was in the middle of the last century a non-paved and deserted slope that Mayor Alfonso Cruz Conde decided to transform into what it is today. The works were led by local architect Víctor Escribano Ucelay, who planned a great hall for the Carmelite convent, consisting of two circular flower beds, around which the different slopes were arranged. Scholars say that Víctor Escribano wanted to give the complex a “Baroque perspective” to impress the visitor.
The area would be even nicer without the dozens of cars which are currently parked there every day, but it is a gradual process. It is true that the last section, belonging to the facilities of the convent, can be accessed through a small stairway, which is enough to avoid cars.
Miguel Ángel Ortí Belmonte tells that in 1638 the stonemason Andrés Gutiérrez signed a contract through which he committed to make the façade of the Carmelite convent. It is currently a façade painted in a bright ochre, clearly contrasting with the stone at the beautiful entrance, which is based on a serliana, that is, a central round opening flanked by two lintelled ones. Over it there is a shell-shaped alcove with a sculptural ensemple representing “San José con el niño Jesús de la mano” (Saint Joseph holding Jesus’s hand), where we can see traces of Bernabé del Río, and which certifies the real name of the temple. At the top of the entrance there is a circular parted pediment, supported by thin pilasters, with the crest of the Carmelite Order inside. Two more crests decorate the façade, belonging to Doña Beatriz de Haro Portocarrero, “…founder and first sponsor of this convent…“, as we can read on her tombstone located at the foot of the Main Altar. At the top of the façade there is a large triangular pediment, with an oculus which lights the central nave. The bell gable has two parts; the first one with two round arches for the bells, whereas the second one has only one. At its top we can see a curve pediment, with a finishing consisting of balls and a cross in the centre.
The church has a Latin cross shape, with only one nave covered by a barrel vault with lunettes, vault over pendentives in the transept and very short arms. The right arm leads to the sacristy and the rest of the rooms in the convent, whereas the left one leads to the Chapel of the Tabernacle, where Nuestro Padre Jesús Caído (Our Father Fallen Jesus) is, main image of the popular Brotherhood of the Bullfighters.
The original paintings decorating the walls of the church are not preserved, maybe some paintings on the skirting boards, forming circles, are from the middle of the 17th century. Between 1721 and 1724 the vault covering the transept was decorated, where they represented scenes from the life of Saint John of the Cross; the rest of the church was painted between 1724 and 1727. On the walls we can see a clear horror vaqui (fear of emptiness), where everything is decorated with vegetable elements – corollas, rolled leaves, twisted stems… – and human figures; naked angels are very frequent (there are more than 200), and they are depicted in different poses.
On large cartouches there are paintings referring to the founders of different orders, whereas we can read their names on smaller ones: Santo Domingo (Saint Domingue), San Francisco de Asís (Saint Francis of Assisi), San Pedro Nolasco (Saint Peter Nolascus)… On the lunettes located in the high choir the “Vida de Jesús” (Life of Jesus) is represented, starting with “Los desposorios de la Virgen María” (Virgin Mary’s Marriage), and over it there are several plaques with verses from the Bible in Latin.
From our point of view, the most interesting paintings were made by the painter known as Brother Juan Bautista of the Holy Sacrament around 1667. In the presbytery, on the side of the Epistle, we can see “Elías con el carro de fuego lanzando su manto a Eliseo” (Elijah with the fire chariot throwing his mantle to Eliseum), “Santa Teresa” and “San Juan de la Cruz“; on the side of the Gostel, we can see the “Virgen del Carmen dando el escapulario a San Simón Stock” (Virgin of Carmen giving the scapular to Saint Simon Stock).
On the wall entering the Chapel of the Tabernacle there are two more canvases. One represents a tree, as a symbol of the order, whose trunk is the Virgin of Carmen. The other one is “La fuente de Elías en el Paraíso” (Elijah’s fountain in Paradise). It seems to be –although we still have not been in–, that the best paintings by this author are located in the cloister, where they have “La Anunciación de María” (The Annunciation of Mary), “La Presentación en el Templo” (The Presentation in the Temple)…
If you wish to know Cuesta de San Cayetano (San Cayetano Slope) 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.
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