C A N T A B R I A   U N I V E R S I T Y
  Churches, Hermitages and Sanctuaries   Religious Architecture
Hermitages and Sanctuaries
Sepulchral sculpture
Renaissance and Baroque painting
The Religious Architecture in the early Modern Age  
    Parish Church of San Vicente de la Maza
  As well as an important and varied medieval architecture, there is in Cantabria a great wealth of modern and contemporary religious buildings. During the early modern age, artistic activity spreads through the eastern, western and central valleys, while the coastal villages lost their superiority as art centres, with the exception of Santander. However, there were some remarkable western coastal districts in this period. Since the early 16th century and coinciding with the late Gothic period, the hall church started to be built with success mainly during the Renaissance and Baroque period in Cantabria. They were buildings in which the Renaissance features replaced the Gothic lines. They present a plan with three naves of the same height where the round arch replaces the ogee arch and the column substitutes for the Gothic pillar arch, thus obtaining a Renaissance space which still uses the groin vault, as in the case of the churches of Liendo, Ajo and Guriezo. This pattern was spread through Spain by architects from Cantabria such as Juan de Rasines and Rodrigo Gil de Hontañón, who inspired the master stonemasons from valleys of Rasines, Liendo and Bárcena.

Since the late 16th century, the religious orders were in the artistic vanguard with their constructions. First, they introduced classicism since the late 16th century; and finally a decorative Baroque. The Carmelite and Jesuit churches represent an early classicism with the use of patterns from Valladolid in which the longitudinal nave is contrasted by a crossing with a dome, as in the case of the church of the Anunciación, in Santander. The most clearly classicist Franciscan constructions were 17th century. On the whole, they are buildings with only one nave using ribbed vaults and are characterized by their simplicity and unity as seen in the church of the convent of San Francisco in Laredo, or the church of the Convent of the Soto, in Iruz. Come the 18th century, the Dominicans introduced a rich decorative Baroque in the church of Las Caldas de Besaya, although they kept the classicist structure. Their convent of Regina Coeli in Santillana is also a classicist construction.

Apart from this decorative Baroque, introduced by the Dominicans, on the whole. there are no monumental religious buildings in Cantabria with the complex space and rich décor corresponding to Baroque Art. The parish churches frequently had the pattern consisting of a Latin cross plan with transept intersection and groin vaults, as in the case of the churches of Cigüenza and Roiz. Besides, the elevations of some parish churches with late-Gothic or Renaissance lines were renovated, with the introduction of the Baroque aesthetics in their physiognomy, as in the case of the church of Santa María de Miera or the church of the Asunción in Hazas de Liendo.

There are also some buildings with a completely Baroque plan and elevation such as the church of Rucandio, which presents an octagonal plan and a rich stucco décor. However, the most typical Baroque monument in Cantabria may be the Chapel of the Lignum Crucis in the monastery of Santo Toribio, for its architectural and ornamental complexity.

Convent of Nuestra Señora del Soto (Iruz)
Church of Nuestra Señora de las Caldas de Besaya
Parish Church of San Martín
Church of Santa María de Miera
Parish Church of Santa María Magdalena
Chapel of Lignum Crucis
(Santo Toribio de Liébana)
A R T I S T I C   H E R I T A G E