After our picnic from the Mercado Central I decided to take a look at the Cathedral of Santa Maria, but as my family didn’t share my enthusiasm for old churches I left them relaxing in the Plaza de la Virgin while I took a look.
The entrance cost €4 including an audio-guide, although you can go in the left hand side of the door and have a brief look from the lobby without paying. The cathedral is richly decorated and there are many beautiful side chapels which the audio-guide will tell you about, including one containing the preserved arm of San Vincente the martyr.
On the far right is a statue of Our Lady of the Choir surrounded by fresh flowers. Mothers-to-be come here to pray in front of the statue for a safe delivery and then walk around the church nine times, in memory of the nine months that Our Lady was carrying Jesus.
The central choir is very richly decorated and if you look up at the cupola you can see the windows glazed in thin panes of translucent alabaster rather than glass.
To the right of the entrance is the more austere chapel of the Holy Grail, which houses the cup that by tradition was used by Our Lord at the last supper. The chalice is on view above the altar but I’m not sure how a carpenter from Nazareth and his fisherman friends might have afforded such a beautiful object made of agate and gold and decorated with pearls.
As you walk on through this chapel, you reach a small museum area where you can get a close-up view of some wonderful works of art and religious objects
After my tour of the chapel, I paid a further €2 to climb all 207 steps of the Miguelete bell tower to get a view of the city. I’d only recommend it if you’re feeling fit as my leg muscles were feeling the pain for a couple of days afterwards, but I did spot my family waiting patiently for me in the square below.
If you’re on a budget or don’t want to pay the €4 entrance, then you could attend one of the several daily masses – at the 9.30am mass in the Chapel of the Holy Grail you can hear the beautiful Gregorian chant as an added bonus.
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