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La Basi­lica and the Holy Chapel

The large dimensions of the current baroque temple resemble the great byzantine constructions. This gives the basilica a great majesty and monumentality, making this masterpiece a jewel of the Aragonese baroque.

The basilica is National Monument since 1904. It posses the title of Minor Basilica (there are only four major or papal basilicas and the four of them are in Rome) and the title of Cathedral. The exterior design was started by the master from Zaragoza Felipe Sanchez. The project was later taken by the architect of King Carlos II, Felipe Herrera el Mozo who designed the plan and built the main façade. At the end, it would be master Ventura Rodriguez who gave the basilica the look that it has today by reshaping the plan and adding towers and domes.

The interior, solemn and of great beauty, has very important pieces of art, such as the plateresque style altar piece of Damiant forment, the Main Choir (set composed by the organ, the ashlar and railing. It is one of the most beautiful ones in Spain), or the beautiful dome paintings of the genius painter Francisco de Goya.

The Goya paintings that can be seen in the domes are a very valuable representation dedicated to the religious devotion. “La adoración del nombre de Dios” (The worship of God´s name) is a fresco of Italian influence and soft modeling. “Regina Martyrum” is however a innovating and imaginative painting, very expressive and one of the most important pieces of Goya. This fresco confirmed him as a great painter. Oddly, he got hard reviews right after finishing it.

Another place worth mentioning inside the basilica is the “Humilladero” (Kneeling point). Located behind the Holy Chapel, it is a hole that leaves a piece of column uncovered. The faithful kneel there to kiss it. This very same gesture was made by Pope John Paul II on October 10th 1984.

The Holy Chapel represents the heart of the sanctuary. It is a small temple inside the big temple, a sacred area that houses inside the most valued treasure: the image of Virgin of the Pillar.

The design belongs to Ventura Rodriguez, who through a baroque with Italian influence conception created an area where the Virgin is the center of the chapel. Inside the Holy Chapel, you can find the “Camarin” of the Virgin. Inside this “camarin” is the image of the Virgin over the Holy Column. The set is finish with great pictures of the painter Antonio Gonzalez.

(Regina Martyrum)
HUMILLADERO (kneeling point)