INTRODUCTION AND LOW CHOIR
The oldest documentation preserved from the Royal Convent of Santa Clara in Salamanca dates from 1238. A few years later, between 1245 and 1250, its church was consecrated. The rest of the dependencies would end up being configured in the following decades
Following an important intervention carried out by the Foundation Las Edades del Hombre, this convent has been transformed into a Museum of Medieval Painting. In addition to admiring the set of mural paintings and the polychrome ceiling that covered the church, both works of art from the late fourteenth century, you can tour its most prominent rooms and admire the works of art and devotional objects that belonged to the nuns.
In this low choir the nuns met daily to pray the Divine Office, to listen to the Holy Mass celebrated by the priest in the church and to deal with important matters of the community.
Its wall paintings, most of which date back to 1380, tell of a very extensive iconographic programme. One can see Saint Francis of Assisi, Saint Clare, Saint Anthony of Padua, founding saints and especially representatives of other orders, such as Saint Dominic and Saint Jerome, and martyrs, such as Saint Christopher and Saint Sebastian.
CHURCH AND CLOISTER
The temple consists of a single nave with large semi-circular arches open on its side walls and a flat-top main chapel. Its medieval construction is hidden by the great Baroque reform that was carried out inside the building during the 18th century and in which Joaquín de Churriguera took part. However, it should be noted that at least behind the San Buenaventura altarpiece there is an arcosolium that maintains a mural painting from the late fifteenth century with the stigma of San Francisco. The current half-barrel vaults with lunettes decorated with plasterwork, which considerably lowered the height of the temple by placing them under the medieval ceilings, are the work of the aforementioned Churriguera, who also designed the magnificent high altarpiece presided over by a large sculpture of Saint Clare and which consists of a single body divided into three parts using Solomonic columns with a large semicircular crowning.
The cloister is simple and dates back to the mid-seventeenth century, except for the northern area which was built earlier. Here we can highlight the 13th century capitals with figurative, vegetable and geometric decorations, as well as a magnificent 16th century flat roof made up of coffers with Moorish adornments and Gothic foliage on eight-pointed stars. Finally, the early 16th century wall painting with the representation of the Miracle of the Palm, recently discovered and restored by Las Edades del Hombre. It is also worth mentioning two covers located in an area that is not open to visits: The first, which dates back to the 13th century and originally opened in a pointed arch, is simply but beautifully decorated. The second is lintelled and is crowned by a shield containing a cross surrounded by the wounds of Christ.
HIGH CHOIR AND COFFERED CEILING
The high choir, used by the nuns for their nightly service, houses a large number of paintings and sculptures that bring us closer to the life of the community of Poor Clare nuns that lived in this building for eight centuries. In addition to the works that they have conserved over time, others have come from the related convent of Saint Clare in Ciudad Rodrigo.
From it you can access the wooden roof made in pair and knuckle structure (‘Par y Nudillo’ in Spanish, “pair and knuckle” because it has pairs of rafters (Par) connected with collar beams (Nudillo)) and endowed with a great beauty. It was installed to cover the temple at the end of the fourteenth century, although over the centuries refurbishments and additions were necessary.
Finally, we visit the top of the tower, which stands in the northwest corner of the complex and is the highest part of the building. It was built between 1727 and 1728 and is today a splendid viewpoint over the city of Salamanca. The panoramic view from left to right lets us contemplate the convent of San Esteban, the New Cathedral, the belfry of the University of Salamanca, the Anaya Palace, the San Sebastian Church , the Clergy and Pontifical University, Purisima Church and San Martin Church.