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Fodor's Spain 2014
Convento de San Esteban (Convent of St. Stephen)
Convento de San Esteban (Convent of St. Stephen) Review
The convent's monks, among the most enlightened teachers at the university in medieval times, were the first to take Columbus's ideas seriously and helped him gain his introduction to Isabella (hence his statue in the nearby Plaza de Colón, back toward Calle de San Pablo). The complex was designed by one of San Esteban's monks, Juan de Alava. The massive west facade, a thrilling plateresque work in which sculpted figures and ornamentation are piled up to a height of more than 98 feet, is a gathering spot for tired tourists and picnicking locals. The door to the right of the west facade leads you into a golden sandstone cloister with Gothic arcading, interrupted by tall, spindly columns adorned with classical motifs. The church, unified and uncluttered but also dark and severe, allows the one note of color provided by the ornate and gilded high altar of 1692. An awe-inspiring baroque masterpiece by José Churriguera, it deserves five minutes from you to just sit and stare.
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