The Palace of Santa Cruz del Viso del Marqués is a jewel of the Renaissance that we can find in the province of Ciudad Real. Its interior can be considered an example of what should have been the unfinished palace of Carlos V in Granada. Nowadays it is visited, because it houses the headquarters of the Don Álvaro de Bazán Naval Archive and Museum.
History of the Santa Cruz Palace
Its construction is due to Mr. Álvaro de Bazán, undefeated general of the Spanish Navy, closely linked to the monarchy. In 1569 Felipe II named him Marquis de Santa Cruz and granted him a series of lands in the current province of Ciudad Real. And, in what is now a town of less than 2400 inhabitants, the Marquis built his palace.
It is surprising that a sailor who spent almost his entire life sailing chose this place so far from the sea. But nevertheless, The Viso is halfway between the ports of Santa María in Cádiz and Cartagena in Murcia. That is, it was a strategic point.
«The Marquis of Santa Cruz, made a palace in the Viso because he could and because he wanted to».
Santa Cruz Palace ArchitecturePalace Courtyard
In 1562 work began on this spectacular Renaissance palace of Italian taste, typical of the Cinquecento The architect chosen for this was Giovanni Battista Castelló el Bergamasco, Michelangelo's disciple.
It is configured from a square central courtyard with double arcade gallery. Around it we find numerous rooms distributed in two main floors and with mezzanine each of them for the service.
Outside, its architecture is more sober and solid and use stone from the area. Missing the 4 towers that should have been in the corners, which disappeared after the Lisbon earthquake of 1755 and was felt throughout the peninsula.
As well twin windows on the facade are surprised, of which only one was opened for each pair. It was probably due to the cold in the area, which had nothing to do with the mild climate of Genoa.
The facade is austere, barely a central body framed with robust columns, among which a balcony opens on which is the shield of the Marquis.
The fresco paintings of the palaceFrescoes in the palace - santiago lopez-pastor / Flickr.com
The Santa Cruz Palace has 8,000 m² of fresco paintings by Spanish and Italian artists. These flood the view from the entrance, because as soon as you cross your main door you access an elegant hall with a profusely decorated vault whose main scene is dedicated to the god Neptune.
From the hall you can access the double gallery patio. In that courtyard you can enjoy country scenes, mythological and of the places where Don Álvaro spent his whole life: Spain, Italy, France and Turkey and some of the main ports and cities of the time.
The rooms of the palaceFrescoes in the palace
In the rooms on the ground floor highlights the great hall of the west zone in which the conquest of Portugal by sea is shown. And next to it, the Room of the Four Elements: water, earth, fire and air.
Likewise, in one of the corners we find a beautiful room, the Sala de Ulises, in which several passages of the Odyssey. On the stairs we can see scenes from the works of Hercules and the seven deadly sins.
Already in the gallery, you can see scenes that represent Flanders, Castilla, The Indies and Germany. On this floor we find the private rooms of Don Álvaro de Bazán and his descendants, all represented in frescoes.
Further, we must highlight Lineage Hall, in which appear the most illustrious ascendants of the marquis, the Hall of the Four Seasons and the Hall of Honor, among other rooms.
The visit to the Palace of Santa Cruz in the Viso del Marqués
Today the palace is almost entirely visited, because it still maintains private rooms of the current Marquises of Santa Cruz. The visit lasts approximately 45 minutes.
The tour is carried out accompanied by a specialized guide that receives visitors in the palace. The entrance fee is chosen by the visitor, as it is a donation.