With its ribbed blue-and-white Byzantine-style dome, there’s no mistaking Zamora’s cathedral. Built swiftly between 1151 and 1174 (although the transept wasn’t finished until 1192), it has a stylistic unity that is unusual in Spain, where cathedrals were generally completed over centuries rather than decades. Set on the high point of Zamora’s ridge, the cathedral looks as much like a fortress as a church when viewed from the riverbanks below. Yet it opens into the city with a harmonious plaza that gives viewers the distance to appreciate its full grandeur. Some Gothic towers have been added to the Romanesque temple, of course, and the interior decorations stretch out across the centuries. The choir stalls, carved 1512–16 by Juan de Bruselas, are especially notable for their lively scenes of country life in addition to the usual images of saints and famous figures from antiquity. The cathedral’s museum is located inside the cloister, and it contains the city’s greatest artistic treasure, the so-called “Black Tapestries” woven in Flanders in the 15th century. They illustrate scenes from the Trojan War as well as Hannibal’s campaign in Italy. They are called “black” because several show people about to be decapitated.
- Frommer's Staff