The former church of Santa Cruz

The church of Santa Cruz, declared Site of Cultural Interest in 2002, was one of the first parish churches in Cuenca. It was a modest masonry building of one nave, with a wooden roof. In the middle of the 16th century, Juanes de Mendizábal el Viejo begun the reform of the church and was in charge of the work for three years, but the great boost was given by bishop Fresneda, who en 1568 commissioned the remodelling of the old medieval building to Francisco de Goycoa, a very prestigious architect in the town and general supervisor of the work of the bishopric. As ir seems have been his norm, he did not oversee the works personally but put it in the hands of Juanes de Mendizábal el Mozo, Mendizábal el Viejo’s nephew. When Goycoa died, the architect Pedro dela Vaca introduced some modifications to the project, the most important of which was making the nave wider.
Mendizábal el Mozo raised the perimeter walls and added some arches between the buttresses, to which he attached some Doric columns, replaced by pilasters in the 18th century. The building was closed with a wooden coffered made by master carpenters Damián Saravia de Oropesa, Francisco Pinarejoand Jerónimo Vadello, and carvers Gaspar de Berriote and Villanueva. In the 18th century it was replaced bya barrel vault with tuff lunettes, a work commissioned to Manuel de Santa María, masonry and stonework master; it collapsed due to poor solidity of the walls raised in the 16th century.
The church has a single nave, divided into six sections by buttresses with attached pilasters, and has a polygonal apse. The lack of room -the church looks out the gorge of the Huécar river- compelled to locate the vestry under the main chapel. The front is from the 16th century and has a very simple appearance, with a semicircular arch between Ionic pilasters. The uppersection, which has a niche between two c’s, so typical of the architect Rodrigo Gil de Hontañón, must have been altered in its disposition and decoration. In the interior, remains of painting from the 18 th century have been preserved.