The monastery, whose architecture evolved throughout many centuries, is still dominated by the templo mayor, or the main church, built by Alfonso XI and his immediate successors in the 14th and 15th centuries. The square chapel of Santa Catalina is also of the 15th century; it is known for a cluster of ornate 17th-century tombs. The 16th-century reliquaries chapel connects Santa Catalina with the baroque sacristy (1638-47), lavishly decorated and boasting a series of paintings by Zurbarán.
Behind the basilica is Camarin de la Virgen, an octagonal baroque structure (1687-96) with the impressive stuccoed Chamber of the Virgin and nine paintings by Luca Giordano. The jewel of this profusely ornamented hall is a throne containing the statue of the Madonna which gave the monastery its name.
Other notable structures include the Mudéjar cloister (1389-1405), with the magnificent Plateresque portal; the late Gothic cloister from 1531-33, and the new church, commissioned by one of Columbus's descendants in 1730. Regrettably, the palace of Isabella I of Castile (1487-91) was pulled down in 1856.
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