Iglesia del Salvador

Iglesia del Salvador (15)

After the Cathedral, the Iglesia del Salvador [Church of the Savior] is the second largest church in the city. And even though you’ll find traces of both the Romans and Visigoths in the courtyard, it was actually built on the remains of Ibn Adabbas, the main mosque of Muslim Seville, erected in the ninth century. When the Christians reconquered the city, despite the fact that Muslim use was initially allowed, in 1340 the decision was taken to convert it into the Parroquia del Salvador.

After successive earthquakes, the old temple was damaged, so much so that in 1671 a major effort began to rebuild the church, lasting until 1712.

Its main façade has three entrances. In the centre, angels hold the shield of "Agnus Dei" and symbols of the kingdom of Christ. On the sides you’ll find busts of Saints Peter and Paul. The façades on either side contain the Cruz de las Culebras, a cross that dominates the parish cemetery, and a ceramic altarpiece entitled "Santo Cristo del Amor," created by Enrique Mármol Rodrigo in 1930.

This baroque-style church is rectangular in shape and is divided into three naves, laid out around four sections, where the supports are quadrangular pillars with semi-detached columns.

The church is famous for its valuable artwork. Inside are beautiful and highly valuable pieces, such as the main altarpiece, “la Transfiguración de Cristo,” located above the largest altar. It is one of the most monumental and emblematic of all Sevillian baroque art, the work of Cayetano de Acosta, as is the colossal altarpiece in the sacramental chapel, both started in 1770. In this very charming chapel, adorned with a beautiful silver altar, marvel at the famous carving “El Cristo de la Pasión” by Martínez Montañés, created in around 1619. It belongs to the Hermandad de la Pasión and makes the rounds in the procession on Holy Thursday.

In the right nave, on a modern altarpiece, are images of the Hermandad del Cristo del Amor. Of particular note is “El Cristo del amor” by Juan de Mesa, created between 1618 and 1620. This image is paraded on Palm Sunday. The same brotherhood also owns the popular “Borriquita” float, representing the entrance into Jerusalem. It is a beloved carving that begins Holy Week in Seville.

Be sure to look at the monumental “Virgen de las Aguas” altarpiece, created by José Maestre in 1724, with a Virgin Mary from the second half of the 13th century, although she was modified in the 17th century, when the Baby Jesus that she holds was added. The 14th century “Virgen Milagrosa” altarpiece is built in neoclassical style; the “Cristo de los Afligidos” altarpiece is a baroque work by Gaspar Gines created in 1635; and be sure to admire the impressive neoclassic organ. 

At the northeastern end of the church a door takes you to the Chapel of the Forsaken, which is grandly decorated in stucco and tiles, the work of Sebastián Ramos, as is the Arabian-style courtyard. 

The belfry is built upon the ruins of an ancient minaret, one of the few things that remains of the old mosque. Another curiosity is that El Salvador has the only bell ringer descendant from the long line of Mendozas, famous for their mesmerising bell-ringing competitions, which involved climbing up the bell and spinning 360 degrees with it as many times as they could.

The church opens onto the Plaza del Salvador, where you’ll find a statue created by sculptor Martínez Montañés. Additionally, this plaza is now a popular meeting place for the young Sevillians who frequent the many tapas bars. 

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