(active 1203-1278 in Catalonia)

Exterior view

Old cathedral, Lleida (Lérida)

The main examples of the late Romanesque style in Catalonia are the church of Santes Creus and the cathedrals of Lleida and Tarragona. The last churches show a remarkable degree of tradition in their style, considering that the period of their construction continued well into the thirteenth century - a time when France was already building cathedrals that were the very embodiment of the high Gothic style.

The old cathedral of Lleida is situated high above the town. The ceremonial laying of the cornerstone took place in 1203, and the building was completed in 1278. It was built on a site that had formerly been occupied by a mosque. This might explain some peculiarities with regard to its layout. The position of the cloister in the west, in front of the church, is reminiscent of the outer court traditionally found in mosques. The unusual overall width of the church and the relatively short nave (comprising only three bays) are due to the re-use of the foundation walls of a mosque with its traditional broad layout.

There used to be five apses all increasing in depth towards the central axis. Now only two of them survive in their original state, allowing us to appreciate just how thick the walls of the building are. The piers too are enormous and fitted with coupled columns on the front that support the mighty transverse and arcade arches.

The photo shows the exterior from the south-west.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.