The Palace of la Merced is a building declared an Asset of Cultural Interest, of Baroque style that owes its name to the old Convent of the Mercedes Calzadas that occupied the same place. Today it houses the headquarters of the Provincial Council of Cordoba. It is a very interesting palace from a historical and artistic point of view, and we will tell you all the details about it.
History of the Palacio de la Merced
The history of the Palace begins when the Convent of Santa María de la Merced was founded in the middle of the 13th century, of which only a few remains have survived. What remains of the old convent is the carving of the Christ of La Merced. Over the years, the old convent was abandoned.
It was not until the 18th century that its restoration began, concluding in the palace we know today. For more than 100 years and after the Spanish Disentailment, it was used as a hospice. In 1960, with Antonio Cruz-Conde as president of the Provincial Council, it was decided to move the hospice in order to adapt the Palacio of la Merced as the headquarters of the Provincial Council of Cordoba.
Different areas of the palace
The complex is made up of the central church with a Latin cross floor plan and the side cloisters that leave three courtyards, each with its own particular image. Below you will discover the different areas of the palace.
Façade of the Palace
One of its most iconic images, the façade and main entrance to the church has a large white stone façade, Solomonic columns and a niche with the image of Our Lady of Merced, also carved in the same white stone.
The image of San Rafael appears in the highest part, as it does in the city’s main monuments. The whole ensemble is made with reliefs and polychrome paintings that imitate marble and give it an unmistakable Baroque appearance. The two lateral bell towers and the different terraces are also outstanding features of this façade.
The church is the focal point of the entire palace. Its Latin cross plan centres the whole building and separates the two main cloisters. The High Altar stands out, which is a reconstruction of the original made by the students of a workshop school and which reproduces the original by Alonso Gómez Sandoval.
The Parish Church of Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes houses the Cristo de la Merced and an image of the Virgen de la Merced. We could say that this church contains the best Baroque altarpiece in Cordoba.
The Palace’s black marble staircases also stand out in this ensemble. They start in the Baroque Courtyard and divide in two to go up to the second floor of the cloister. It has the baroque style of much of the building, pink marble columns and a dome with scenes from the life of Saint Peter Nolasco, which adorn this imperial staircase.
This courtyard would have been the main courtyard of the former convent. It was renovated in 1752 in a Baroque style very similar to that of the façade of the Palace. The work of Alonso Gómez de Sandoval, it has double columns, a pink marble floor with a stone fountain and polychrome reliefs on the walls and balconies simulating marble.
This is another of the main courtyards in terms of size. Sober in appearance, it is completely white, both its walls, columns and simple arches. The only ornamentation we can see are some flowerpots on an earthenware floor.
The Andalusian Courtyard is the most recent. It has stone columns on which there are semicircular arches in white with relief decorations. There is a central fountain of white marble and Andalusian-style flowerpots on a mosaic floor typical of Courtyards in Cordoba.
It is named after the sundial on one of its walls. It marks the solar time at different times of the year and also has information on the zodiacal phase and other curious details.
Visiting the palace
The Palacio de la Merced is open in the mornings from 9:00 to 14:00 from Monday to Friday. This way you can see the church and the courtyards. For a more complete visit, you can arrange a guided tour.