Ronda - Church of Santa Maria la Mayor
According to the archaeological studies developed at the region, the church of the Virgin Mary of the Incarnation was located near the rests of a paleochristian basilica from the 5th century A.D. Some historians also date the church at the age of the Roman Empire, having at that time the function of temple. This late suposition has still not been proved by archeological rests.
At the same place was built later, at the Arab domination age, the main mosque of the Medina. From that age there is only left nowadays the arch of Mirhab and part of its wall, with vegetal arab plaster decoration, hidden just because it is located behind the retable of the tabernacle's altar.
The Catholic Monarchs, after the conquest of the city, ordered the building of a temple at the place of the mosque, whose works started at 1485 and, after several problems, ended at the end of the17th century.
The Gothic style is represented at three of its naves. Although the earthquake of 1580 destroyed part of the building, hidding the pure gothic style of the church, it can be still admired at the columns or at the oval arches over them. This arches start at chapitels with a vegetal and anthropomorphic decoration.
It is also remarkable the Rensaissance style area of the church, conserving one wonderful two stages Choir, made of walnut and cedarwood. The seats of the lower part of the choir consists of 12 seats with its wooden backs carved with the symbols of the Virgin's litany, while the high part of the choir consists of 24 seats, with wooden backs carved with sculptures of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the apostles and different saints.
The church ends with different baroque elements, made at the same time as the building was finished. The most important parts are the retable of the Virgin called of the Mayor Dolor (Highest Pain), organized at three different parts with lots of decoration at its sides. A great space covered with a semicircular arch leads to the chapel where the sculpture of the Virgin is located, being its author, according to some art historians Montañés and, according to others, “La Roldana”.
Without doubt, the church of Santa María La Mayor is one of the most important sacred monuments of Ronda.