|Santa María and the new bridge at Maderuelo, Segovia|
All photos in this post 2017 Jessica Knauss
The day I visited Maderuelo with our knowledgeable and entertaining guide, David, I was suffering with the first full day of a common cold, i.e., the day when you think it's not really common and you might just be dying, so I was unable to appreciate the fact that this is a site my characters could recognize! This is one of the things I love about Spain: you can't avoid stumbling onto some piece of interesting history, anywhere you go.
Maderuelo's city limits are defined by the rocky outcrop on which it sits, commanding views over the majestic plains of the province of Segovia.
|San Miguel's plain chapel has a delightful |
late Romanesque Virgin and Child.
|David points out the contrast between what most restorations |
look like and what they ought to look like.
|Baroque facade of Santa María|
|Mysterious archways in Santa María|
|David tries to illuminate the chaos into order with his green laser pointer.|
|Ermita de la Vera Cruz with San Miguel on the rocky outcrop behind|
(Is this story familiar?) Rather than move the entire building, however, the engineers removed the top layers of the paintings--because they're frescoes--and transferred them to the Prado in Madrid, where you can still visit them today.
|Illustrating the thickness of the fresco layer removed to Madrid|
|Loving the medieval paint traces|
|You can see how the reds and yellows made the deepest impressions in the fresco.|
|And here's what it used to look like.|
Creation of Adam and the fall from grace (replica)
|Lamb of God flanked by angels|
|Christ in Majesty on the ceiling overhead|
|Seraph, archangel, and St Peter|
|The dove represents the Holy Spirit, which|
the artist associated with the formless light
coming in through the window.
|Mary Magdalene washes Jesus' feet.|
|Mary, Jesus (his feet, anyway), and one Magi|
|We couldn't get enough of the replica!|
It's not only the vibrant colors and excellent state of preservation that make these paintings so special. They display a medieval brand of creativity. Although the decorators of a religious building had a limited repertoire of images they could work with, the artists of Vera Cruz made brilliant decisions in every part of the process that resulted in a place where we all wanted to linger. They made use of the architecture to increase their didactic intent, as seen in the original rendering of the Holy Spirit in the window and their placement of Christ in Majesty unusually on the ceiling. Their appreciation of form is especially evident in the creation of Adam and fall from grace scenes, where nude bodies are compartmentalized into their constituent limbs and muscles. The expressiveness of the faces and gestures comes through loud and clear in spite of the lack of depth and the overwhelming solemnity of the tiny space.
|Early nightfall on the Maderuelo wall echoed my virus-induced exhaustion.|
Thanks to Arteguías and our intrepid guide, David. I'll find a way to take many more of these tours that seem like they were made just for me. See a chronicle of the day on the Arteguías website.