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The Independent Guide to Wineries and Wine Tourism in the Rioja Wine Region

6 de agosto de 2020

Church of Santa María de la Asunción, Navarrete

Features

Churches and monasteries

Iglesia de Santa María de la Asunción (Navarrete)
  • Viticulture Sub-zones: Rioja Alta
  • Municipality: Navarrete
  • Province: La Rioja

Church of Santa María de la Asunción, Navarrete

Location: in the centre of Navarrete, 13 kilometers far from Logroño, 17 km from Najera and 5 km from Fuenmayor.

The parish church of Navarrete is a Renaissance building of considerable magnitude, whose construction lasted for nearly a century, between 1553 and 1645, because of budget problems and successive changes in the direction of the works. Among the various architects that were in charge of the project, it’s worth highlighting Juan Pérez de Solarte, master of Burgos Cathedral, whom is said to have introduced several important architectural solutions in La Rioja.

However, the main attraction of the temple is its altarpiece, made by Fernando de la Peña between 1694 and 1698 and renovated by José de San Juan y Martín in 1713. When the main author accepted the commission he said that it would be one of the greatest altarpieces in the whole country. Many years later, in the Age of Enlightenment, Jovellanos, an eminent Spanish intellectual, visited Navarrete and uttered a completely different verdict. He described it as “awful because of its height, width, poor sculpture and profusion of gold”. Today it is considered the most spectacular Baroque altarpiece in La Rioja, precisely because of the richness and decorative excesses that were so annoying to Jovellanos’ neoclassical taste.

Of overwhelming dimensions and a dazzling golden color after a recent restoration, it is full of reliefs and polychrome statues of different styles, which in some cases were reused. Other were sculptured by Andrés de Monasterio and Juan Francisco de Peralta. In the center there’s a niche with a carving of the Virgin.

While this work gets all the attention, the side chapels with Corinthian columns and barrel vaults should be noticed as well. The whole building is constructed in ashlar masonry, unlike the oldest houses in the town, which combine ashlar stones in the ground floor and brick masonry in the first floor.

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