San Zoilo’s Monastery
This monastery, declared a National Monument of Historical and Artistic Interest, is the oldest in the city (1501 to 1515) and was built with funds provided by the Catholic Monarchs on the site of a former chapel dedicated to San Zoilo.
This Late Gothic-style church is a typical example of the Franciscan churches of the time. Of the original Gothic building, several side vaults and the main vault of the main chapel still remain, as does the church’s sandstone main exterior.
A small roof was later added to the whole exterior to avoid deterioration. Later additions include the 16th century battlements around the main volume of the church and an 18th century brick niche which houses a sculpture of San Francisco by Diego Márquez. Worthy of note inside are the Mudêjar ceiling structure of the central nave, a large main arch crowned with the enormous, strange-looking head of a moustachioed man and the crossing vault of the main chapel, adorned with fine Mannerist plasterwork.
The present-day main altarpiece, typical of the Rococo-Neoclassical transition, dates back to 1787 and is the work of the Antequera craftsman Antonio Palomo. The highlights of the sculptures that adorn it are the figures of San Domingo de Guzmán, the magnificent Inmaculada, San Zoilo Mártir and the Virgen de la Vera-Cruz, a Dolorosa de vestir of the Granada school dating back to 1677.
The building has now been adapted for use as a Library, Andalusia’s largest with over 65,000 documents, the result of an agreement between the Unicaja bank and the local council, who pooled the resources of the Biblioteca Antequerana (owned by the aforementioned company) and the municipal library at this new location. It was inaugurated in October 2004.
The highlights of the building are its cloister, named after the Catholic Monarchs, which dates back to the Gothic-Renaissance period and is considered an architectural treasure, and, at its centre, the 18th century Baroque fountain, restored by the workshops of the town’s Historical Heritage Centre.
The building work carried out during its adaptation for use as a library included the straightening of two of the cloister’s upper galleries whose structure had deteriorated and the restoration of the staircase leading up to these galleries in accordance with its original layout.
The building is entered via a door that is located at the side of the cloister rather than at its centre, a feature inherited from the Muslim architectural tradition and known as an "invariante castizo”. The original floor of the Refectory has been uncovered and its panelling restored. The roof has also been completely renovated and the bell gable restored.
The Library’s facilities include all the latest information and multimedia technology with network connection points, audiovisual rooms and a storeroom for optical and magnetic media. The Ground Floor houses the book deposit, children’s room and a room dedicated to local Antequera and Andalusian topics, while the periodical publication and consulting room are situated on the First Floor, along with Internet and meeting rooms and an office, which are located in a more secluded area of the building.
This is the first library to be integrated into the public reading network, which means that it provides access not only to this library’s documentary resources but to those of all of Andalusia’s public libraries as well.
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