The work of Juan Villanueva, maximum level of Hispanic neoclassicism, was halted during the War of Independence. Years later, two tendencies, an austere or gelid, and another, picturesque and archaeological, would resume. These two languages spread from the Academy as seen through the small works that a country, ruined by war, could afford. The exception was seen in Galicia, with the construction of a great neoclassical shrine in 1816, the Colegiata de Vigo. This work was projected by the architect Melchor de Prado Mariño and was responsible for leading Galician architecture in an artistic direction that had been governed by the strictest official orthodoxy.
In the Vigo work, the influence of Villanueva is palpable. The layout is almost identical to that of a project of a basilica that this architect from Madrid did not get to build. On the contrary, the facade is far from the tendencies of the XVIIIth century; it defines the new, sort of cold composition that would be repeated in the new shrines of the first half of the XIXth century. The facades are of rigorous geometric and modular order, having planes that slightly project with either protrusions or indentations of squares, niches and smooth medallions. The Colegiata de Vigo uses the Toscan style in its columns, giving it a monumental freightage, accentuated by high and voluminous cubic plinths. This classic purism, so detached from what is Galician, is the result of the evolution of the postulate rationalists of the Illustration, toward a pragmatism obsessed with the coded composition. The windows are as mere drillings in the vaults and in the walls, and the pilaster almost disappears, reaching a situation of tense emotional coldness.
Universidade da Coruña.