Religious tourism l'Alt Urgell - Cathedral of La Seu d'Urgell

Cathedral of La Seu d'Urgell - La Seu d'Urgell

La Seu d'Urgell (L’Alt Urgell - Spain) is a town full of beauty, charm and mystery located on the interfluve between the rivers Segre and Valira. It sits on top of a small river terrace at an altitude of 691 m and at a point at which two major road systems also converge. It is said that, like young women, settlements can appear more or less attractive according to the side from which they are observed. La Seu d'Urgell proves an exception to this rule as its beauty remains apparent regardless of the position from which it is observed.

The whole historic nucleus of La Seu is an authentic monument, but above all it is necessary to highlight the outstanding beauty of the Cathedral of Santa Maria. The present day cathedral, which was built in the Romanesque-Lombard style, dates from the 12th century. At the beginning of the 12th century, the cathedral dedicated to Saint Ermengol was in a ruinous state. The local bishop, Saint Ot, played a leading role in promoting a new construction. However, the definitive impulse arrived in the year 1175, when the cathedral governor and bishop Arnau de Preixens decided to contract the services of a certain Ramon Lambard (who seems to have been Italian) to complete and add the finishing touches to the building in the Italianised Romanesque style that already characterised it. This cathedral was therefore built with forms that had a clearly Italian influence. This contrasted with the predominant tendency of that time which was completely influenced by the Romanesque schools of the south of France.

All of the researchers who have studied the Cathedral of La Seu d'Urgell coincide in affirming the close relationship between its architecture and that of the Italian models of the 12th century. The (13th century) cloister is located on the southern side of the temple; three of its sides are original and the east side was replaced in 1603. Inside the cathedral of La Seu d'Urgell, visitors will discover a polychrome engraving of the Virgin Mary with the Baby Jesus in her lap. The work, which originally dates from the 13th century, was notably restored in 1922 and is known as Santa Maria d'Urgell, the Magna Parens and Magna Domina Urgellitana. It has also been referred to as the Virgin Mary of Andorra.

The Diocesan Museum of La Seu d'Urgell is well worth a visit. It houses paintings, sculptures and examples of craftwork in gold and silver from parish churches throughout the diocese and the treasures of the cathedral. As such, it bears invaluable testimony to the history of L'Alt Urgell and the Pyrenees (Spain).
It is possible to visit the museum during the period in which the building is open to the public.

Source and photographic archive: Joan Bellmunt i Figueras

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