Chapel of La Soledad

The chapel of La Soledad, in the Parish church of Azpeitia was built thanks to the donation of Nicolás Sáez de Elola, one of the captains who accompanied Pizarro in the conquest of Peru. Thanks to his last will granted in 1553, a public auction took place for the award of the works of the chapel which was assigned to Domingo de Rezabal and painting of the altarpiece to Andrés de Olabarrieta.

In 2002 when the altarpiece was removed for restoration of the chapel, fragments of mural paintings were discovered on its walls. The restoration work completed in 2006 have uncovered a renaissance pictorial space of great importance.

The Chapel of La Soledad is of classical renaissance genre, both in terms of its architectural structure as well as its ornamental elements. The layout is almost central and is designed to be an almost single space supported by perimeter walls that are recessed to give rise to four specific spaces.

The first space has the mausoleum of Nicolás Sáez de Elola, the second one houses the altar. Here, the place of the original main altarpiece is occupied today by the images of Crucified Christ, Mary and St. John and the third by a wall painted in "grisaille", which reproduces 'Il Sogno' by Miguel Ángel, a drawing done in 1533. It represents the human soul (a naked youth) surrounded by the capital sins. Unfortunately during the works in 1898, a part of the wall was emptied with the aim of creating a niche for the altar, a hollow that coincides with the centre of this mural painting.

On the fourth side there is a huge choir over a segmental arch. In the low choir some fine figurative and vegetable carvings are represented. One of them is a woman with a star which could represent the goddess Venus or the Virgin and the other is Hercules or Christ.
A large coffered dome stands on the big central space in typical renaissance style, closing the chapel and leaving a central opening based on the model of the Pantheon of Rome. It is supported on four pendentives, where the figures in relief of the four Evangelists carved in sand stone stand out for their beauty. The same coffering is used in the arches of the side spaces.

As part of the restoration works which began in 2002, archaeological research discovered two different underground levels as well as the remains of a bell mould as you can see in the hollow made in the centre of the chapel.

Location: Azpeitia, Parish Church of San Sebastian de Soreasu.

 

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