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Iglesia Parroquial in Zufre

Iglesia Parroquial de la Purisima Concepcion

The original single-nave building dates back to the 14th century, constructed, as is common, on the site of a Moorish temple. Its style was slightly fortified and Gothic-Mudejar elements can be seen on the main façade. Here you can see Andalucian-style decoration, including rolls on the abutments. The door on this façade is called the sol (sun) door due to the depiction at its apex. Higher up, one can see the chambers where two bells once hung.  In the mid-16th century a square chapel was added on the left-hand side. 

Following this, enlargement works were started, first with the chancel (space around the altar) and then the presbytery (priest's private area) in late-Gothic style with a star-ribbed vaulted ceiling completed in 1563. 

Hernan Ruiz II continued the work, adding two large ceiling domes in the central part of the nave, decorated with arches and radial concentric ribs which were typical of his style. On top of the arches a lion's head decoration has the date 1568 engraved.   

The main facade is Gothic and at the opposite (altar) end of the church's exterior you can also see Gothic gargoyles, however the central section is Renaissance, suggesting that this was also completed by Hernan Ruiz II. 

The tower is more recent and, like many in the area, was rebuilt in 1758 by Pedro de Silva, Jose Tirado and Diego Zambrano after the terrible Lisbon earthquake. 

Inside the church
Just inside the church look for the Roman capitals, now used as blessing and penitence fonts. At the back in an alcove is the confessionary - unusually, this is mobile, and can be dismantled for use outside the church.

The tabernacle and the baptism chapels on the south side were built in the late 19th century. The large baptism font is beautifully sculpted in marble and was once fed by the Fuente del Consejo across the square.  In a cloakroom next door are kept celestial gowns belonging to a special collection; it is not known how they came to Zufre.

In an alcove on the north side is a virgin with a beautiful embroidered cloak. This is the patron saint of the village. Behind her in a case is an image of Jesus on the cross.  On the opposite side is an image of Virgin del Carmen.

Altar Piece - 12 apostles
The most noteworthy decoration in this church is the main altar piece paintings.  It is called the twelve apostles after the line of 12 paintings of across the foot of the altarpiece. It is thought that these date to the early 16th century and are certainly mentioned in a will dated 1572. The 12 apostles are flanked by two saints, Santa Lucia and Santa Barbara. Some historians believe these were added later.  Santa Lucia was martyred by having her eyes removed, hence in this image her eyes are shown on a plate. Santa Barbara is the patron saint of armourers (weapon makers) and is always represented with a tower in her hand.

The eight main painted images are by Juan de Zamora and dated 1546 according to astone inscription in Latin in the church wall.   They depict different scenes in the life of the Virgin Mary and Christ. Of note are the images of San Juan the Evangelist and San Pedro. The painting style is called flamenca and is incredibly detailed.

The main sculpture above the altar, 'La Presentacionen el Templo', and the lower relief of Nuestra Senora de la Asuncion, are both from the workshop of Ortega Bernardo in 1546.

There are some curious and unexplained points on the altarpiece which may be the result of a liberal restoration in 1912. The gold corner moulding above the apostles does not correspond to the paintings. In the upper part of the altarpiece there are four paintings missing (two on each side).   The bottom right image features in the background a battle scene that is 16th century, ie later than the creation of the altarpiece.  The altarpiece was also restored in 2003.  

On the left side wall is a painting of San Lorenzo, who was martyred on a grill which he is shown holding.  To the right of the altar is a 17th-century image of the Purisima Concepcion. 

Mass is celebrated on Saturday evening and Sunday morning - outside these times, ask about obtaining a key from the town hall reception. (Open 08.00 to 15.00 Monday to Friday Tel: 959 19 80 09.)

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