Archbishop Palace

One of the sides of the Plaza del Ayuntamiento, where all of the buildings are headquarters of different authorities, is occupied by this imposing palace that covers the whole of one large block with facades facing three streets and with a narrow staircase.

Its origins go back to the donation by king Alfonso VIII of several houses to the archbishop Jiménez de Rada, the driving force behind the construction of the Cathedral. Around three hundred years later, the archbishop Pedro Tavera entrusted Alonso de Covarrubias with the construction of the new palace. Of its Mudejar past, there only remain some ornamental blind arches on the right end.

The severe main facade of masonry and bricks has simple regular openings for windows on its two floors. The entrance is made of stone, similar to the structure of the Alcázar, with its round dressed arch adorned with "mirrors", a personal characteristic of Covarrubias, this time framed by four paired columns on high pedestals, crowned by two femenine fugures that again show the coat of arms of the cardinal.

The symbolic imperial columns of Hercules bearing the motto "Plus ultra" has framed a balcony since the XVII Century, opened by order of the following archbishop, cardinal Martínez Silíceo. The original stone coat of arms was replaced by a smaller iron one, covered by the classic triangular fascia. The present union arch between the episcopal residence and the Cathedral replaced the original in the XVII Century, erected by the great cardinal Mendoza.

There were later extensions to the complex, especially that by the honourable cardinal Lorenzana who ordered the opening of the entrance for coaches on the hill of the Arco del Palacio, next to the "casa de los pobres" (poorhouse), where food was delivered to the most needy. He also ordered the the residence to be completely renovated and replaced the old gothic chapel with a baroque one, with the door opening onto the street of la Trinidad.

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