BEAUTIFUL BAROQUE MASTERPIECE SHOWS OFF ITS ARTISTIC PECULIARITY IN PEDREGUER


In Pedreguer sits the Parish Church of the Holy Cross (Iglesia de la Santa Cruz). It has taken me several months to get inside this church, as I kept going at the wrong times. It is a popular church and not a tourist monument, so one must go when it is open for the congregation to enjoy their mid day mass. I have discovered that 11:30 is the best time to get inside these historical works of artistic architectural brillance.

When I arrived, a well dressed elderly lady took my hand and asked my interest in "her" church. I explained that I was a fine arts historian and teacher upon which she welcomed me and explained that "her" church was "very important".

I agreed and began my search to find out the artistic secret that makes this church so famous!


* Report by Arts Historian and Educator , Karla Darocas, Hons. B.A. (SpainLifestyle.com)
* Copyright Karla Darocas 2018* (no part of this text or photos may be replicated)

The parish of Pedreguer was erected in 1544, as provided in a papal bull of Paul III, but the current parish church was built in 1574 "at the initiative of San Juan de Ribera", archbishop of Valencia. It certainly has found its honour as the most important monument of Pedreguer.

The interior of the temple is very theatrical Baroque in design. The secret that makes this design even more sensational is what was rediscovered with the restorations of 1974. Left neglected for a very long time was a very special decorative surprise. The motif design that makes this church extra "important" is now clearly visable, refined and spectacular. It is called "sgraffito".

Sgraffito, scratch in Italian, is an Arab inspired technique of ornamentation in which a surface layer of painted plaster, drawn over with motifs and patterns, is scratched off to reveal a ground of contrasting color.



The floorplan of this interesting church of considerable dimensions responds to the Trentino Counter-Reformation model: a Latin cross plan with a single nave, side chapels between buttresses and a powerful vertical axis before the main altar, marked by a significant dome on pendentives.

The central nave is covered with a barrel vault and lunettes over façade arches, while the lateral chapels are made with sail domes (made from the intersection of a spherical cap or a semi-sphere with a right prism with a square base carved on its base, i.e. with four vertical planes.) Very Platonic!



It was shocking as to how dark the interior of this church was. It was so lacking in natural light, which normally comes through the dome. This dome was missing its oculus or lantern, which usually has eight windows. The side aisles have false windows? Decorative, but very hard to take a good photos without flash! 

Two types of pillar orders, Corinthian the greater and Tuscan the smaller, respectively mitigate the central aisle and the lateral aisle. 

The ornamental elements that cover the dome, pendentives, voussoirs and entablatures must be much later than the date of construction of the temple (1574).  Their decorative elements include floral motifs, garlands and angels with many of them coloured. 


Before the Civil War, there was a magnificent Baroque altarpiece by Valencian sculptor Tomás Vergara, but it was destroyed in 1936. After the Civil War in 1939 a beautiful neo-renaissance altarpiece was built by José Francés and decorated by Xavier Ferragut. 


The façade is plateresque (ornamental), appreciating the influence of austere and tall mannerism, built with ashlar masonry (raised brick) and executed like an altarpiece. 

In the first body the entrance is located under a semicircular Roman arch, flanked by two Doric pilasters (Greek and later Roman architecture * flat pillars) on a high base that, due to its ornamental dimensions, refers to Castilian examples.

The set is topped by a split pediment (the triangular upper part of the front of a classical building) on which, between grooved pilasters, is placed a niche with the image of San Buenaventura, who is the patron saint of Pedreguer.

The third body is formed by a hole framed by two Ionic (Greek) half-columns. The crown of the facade poses complex interpretations, since elements such as loopholes (slits in the crown originally for use by archers) appear so this church had some military utility.



***