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Church of Nuestra Señora de la Peña de Francia

The growth of the town’s population and economy over the XVIIth Century was to permit the building of the present Parish Church on the site previously occupied by a chapel. The works, finished in 1697, were carried out thanks to the donations of the parishioners, the middle-class trades people playing a significant role in the financing. The neo-Gothic tower was constructed in 1898 , the old façade being replaced by two small pitch-pine balconies. It has a simple rectangular layout, three naves separated by Tuscan columns and round arches. Later on various chapels without any one homogeneous style were built on. Its roof is very similar to another of the town’s churches, that of San Francisco, in Mudejar style and with a ridged, tiled roof. The main altar piece , recently restored, was finished in 1710 and improved upon on numerous occasions, but always in the same baroque style. The image of the Madonna, apparently carved in Genoese style, has been in the Parish since 1621. The image has among its accoutrements a cape given as a gift by the Cuban poetess Dulce María Loynaz, Cervantes Prizewinner in 1992. The Parish’s artistic heritage includes four canvases by the Puerto painter Luis de la Cruz y Ríos (1776-1853), in his day held to be one of Spain’s best miniaturists. His paintings give the finishing touch to the neoclassical altar piece in the Chapel del Gran Poder [to God’s Might]. Worth a look is the Cross, the town’s symbol, worked in wood and coated in silver. The baroque altar piece of the Sacred Heart was a gift in 1700 from the Irish merchant Bernardo Valois.

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