No one could take a trip to Arta and fail to notice the Església de la Transfiguracio del Senyor, The Church of the Transfiguration of the Lord. It sits part way up the Sant Salvador hill with a view out over the whole town. Huge and impressive this church will be one of the first things you notice upon your approach to the town.
This large church was built to replace a 13th century church which stood on the same site but which was too small to house the parish congregation. Building began on the Transfiguracio in the 16th century but was not completed for many years, the twenty five foot tall bell tower attached to the church was constructed in the 17th century and the nave, vaults and main portal of the church were not finished until the 19th century.
A visit to this church is impressive regardless of your religious convictions, the exterior of the building is beautiful to look at, the architecture impressive and imposing and the view out over Arta from the front of the church is beautiful. Inside the church you’ll find yourself in a wonderfully maintained space with impossibly high arched ceilings and several beautifully coloured and decorated stain glass windows including the large circular rose window set high into the far wall. The 19th century organ as well as the 17th century baptismal font are also points of interest. Inside the church you will also find 14 small chapels arranged along the sides of the main rectangular space. These chapels are dedicated to various saints and if your religious knowledge isn’t up to scratch you will find information sheets before each one in various languages explaining to you what it is you are looking upon. The chapels are varied, most noted is the Chapel of the Rosary and the Chapel of the predecessor of Jesus which is displayed first after the altar because of the importance of John the Baptist, but you will also see ones more specific to the people of Arta such as the 17th century Chapel of the Leather Workers of Arta.
Upstairs you will find a small religious artefacts museum displaying various artworks and furniture from Arta’s religious history. An information card points you to the True Cross displayed in a glass case in middle of the room noteworthy due to the Arta coat of arms displayed on its handle, the oldest preserved coat of arms of Arta on record, dating from the 14th century. Also of note in the museum are the Baroque altarpieces dating from the 16th to the 20th century.
The Church of the Transfiguration is all to easy to find, located as it is with a view out of over the whole town, but if you find your self lost in the maze of Arta’s narrow streets then follow the blue tourist information signs which are frequently placed and accurately point the way. The church is open to visitors Monday - Saturday 10am until 5pm, the entrance fee is €2 and there is a small shop in the entrance where you can purchase books and guides to the church as well as souvenirs of your visit to Arta. Located just behind the church up the stairs is the Santuari de Sant Salvador another sight well worth seeing and should be the next stop next on your Arta Itinerary.
Getting to Arta is easy, If you’re driving you will find it well sign posted from all towns in the North and an easy drive along the MA15 from Palma, Parking is ample and well signposted in Arta and you can drive all the way to the church is necessary although parking is more limited near its grounds. Buses run from regularly from Palma and only slightly less regularly from Puerto Pollenca and Alcudia but do check return times as the service tends to stop in the early evening.
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