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martes 19 enero 2021





Bertan > Bertan 21 Las portadas de las iglesias guipuzcoanas > Versión en inglés: Location or site of the facades

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Location or site of the facades

The position of porches and doorways varied greatly, depending on the location of the church in its urban surroundings. They acted as a union with the other urban features: churches , held not only the spiritual power but also the political power assigned under the Counterreformation and often tended to occupy an important public site which would highlight their presence and singular position.

In other cases, they were built to match other surrounding public buildings particularly the municipal buildings, the doctor's house, the ball court and the wine market or neighbouring houses with arcades for shops and marketsóin a significant place in the most important public site: the town square. Examples can be seen in Elgoibar and Zestoa, to name but two. When the facades were being renovated or extended, adjoining sites were often bought and buildings demolished to create wider and more impressive spaces in front of the entrances. This had a significant effect on the physical appearance and dynamics of the urban street plan. One such project was carried out beside the church in Zegama by Manuel Martín de Carrera in 1777: the doorway was renovated; a porch or portico was built for the church and the surrounding area was remodelled and levelled.

29. Aerial view of the square in Elgoibar. The church was a point of integration for the other buildings in the public square;<br /> around it were erected the council house and ball court, the porticoed houses for the shops and market and the doctor's house.© Paisajes Españoles
29. Aerial view of the square in Elgoibar. The church was a point of integration for the other buildings in the public square;
around it were erected the council house and ball court, the porticoed houses for the shops and market and the doctor's house.© Paisajes Españoles
30. Plan of the square in Zegama by Manuel Martín de Carrera, showing the portico and facade of the church as the focal point, in front of which it was planned to level the ground and fit out the square with a school, skittle alley and council house.© Xabi Otero
30. Plan of the square in Zegama by Manuel Martín de Carrera, showing the portico and facade of the church as the focal point, in front of which it was planned to level the ground and fit out the square with a school, skittle alley and council house.© Xabi Otero

In the case of existing churches, the position of the main door was often changed so that it fronted out onto the new main square. Sometimes beautiful towers were built on the side walls, which protruded well above the other buildings. These towers (an example can be seen in the parish church of Usurbil) contained the doors to the church and acted as porches. In other casesósuch as in St. Peter's church in Eskoriatza, completed in 1768 the same arrangement was used at the foot of the church.

In other churches, the main doorsósome of which were sheltered beneath porches or porticosóled into the side aisles of the church. It was also common for the door to be sited in the second-last section before the choir stalls, as in Zerain and Orendain. The most common arrangement was for the door to be at the foot of the church, facing the high altar, although there were often other doors at the sides. Many churches had as many as three doors.

32. Doorway of the church of San Pedro in Eskoriatza. Manuel de Carrera 1768. Built at the foot of the church, in line with contemporary planning norms.© Jonathan Bernal
32. Doorway of the church of San Pedro in Eskoriatza. Manuel de Carrera 1768. Built at the foot of the church, in line with contemporary planning norms.© Jonathan Bernal
33. Other doorways were built in the second last section of the church. This is the case of the church in Zerain, which stands in front of the choir stalls. © Jonathan Bernal
33. Other doorways were built in the second last section of the church. This is the case of the church in Zerain, which stands in front of the choir stalls. © Jonathan Bernal

In many cases, only a narrow site was available for building the doorway, and the gradient of the area further limited the design. Architects were forced to adapt their plans accordingly and this limited the creative options that were open to them. In Errezil, in 1743, for example, architect Ignacio de Ibero had to integrate the arch and ribs of the vault of the tower into the doorway, with steps leading up the steep mountain slope from the town square and council house.

31. Porticoed entrance beneath the bell tower in the church of San Salvador in Usurbil, built to coincide with the square.© Jonathan Bernal
31. Porticoed entrance beneath the bell tower in the church of San Salvador in Usurbil, built to coincide with the square.© Jonathan Bernal
34. The doorway in the church at Errezil, built beneath the tower, has stairs running down to the square and the council house.© Jonathan Bernal
34. The doorway in the church at Errezil, built beneath the tower, has stairs running down to the square and the council house.© Jonathan Bernal
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