The discovery of the Santiago’s tomb by Pelayo was important at the religious and political level. The religious was expected, but … political? The tomb discovery came at a time when Christian Europe needed to stop the advance of the muslim expansion in their conquest of the Iberian Peninsula, a fact that was becoming quite worrying for the Spaniards. The discovery led to the creation of lines of pilgrimage throughout Europe, a phenomenon that raised the construction of monasteries and Christian churches that served, among other things, to strengthen the position of Christianity against the Muslim advance.
Between the late tenth century and early eleventh, it was developed what is known as the first purely Christian art: the Romanesque.
Here you can see a list of the buildings i think are the most emblematic Romanesque construction of the Camino de Santiago
7. San Bartolomé’s Church, Logroño.
It has the honor to be the oldest Church of Logrono. The church was built during the twelfth century. Although the portal that you see in the image is from the Gothic period (XIII century), it integrates some statues from the Romanesque period. It is also Romanesque the church apse and the beginning of the tower. The church also has some mudéjar. This heterogeneous church is composed three different architectural styles.
6. Walls of Ávila.
The examples of civil and military Romanesque architecture are not very common in Spain, this is way i have to include Wallas of Ávila on this list. The wall together with the old town was declared World Heritage in 1985. In 2007 the denomination was extended to the churches outside the wall.
5. Santa María de Eunate’s church, Navarra.
This unusual Romanesque church is located in Ilzarbe Valley (Navarra). The uniqueness of its architecture, a centralized plant of octagonal character, only broken by the pentagonal apse, surrounded by a colonnade consisting of 33 arches, fact that it is very unusual in the Spanish Romanesque. This, coupled with its excellent state of preservation and the fact of the church location is a bit isolated from society, helps to accentuate its unusual beauty. This church deserves a place in the list.
4. San Pedro de Jaca’s Cathedral, Huesca.
King Sancho Ramirez ordered to built this cathedral in 1077. The cathedral is one of the first Hispanic Romanesque paradigms. Although the original apse is nearly completely lost, in the southern apse you can see the original Romanesque architecture elements. This construction was taken as a reference for the rest of the constructions that were built later on in “El Camino de Santiago”.
3. San Salvador de Leyre’s Monastery, Navarra.
This Benedictine monastery is not only the most important for Navarra but also for Spain, given its historical and architectural significance. The set is not entirely Romanesque, but the buildings that are belong to a very early romanesque period and are in a good condition. The monastery’s crypt deserves special mention due to its peculiar great capitals of tiny columns, and the fact that there is no evidence of any body burial in the crypt.
It is possible to stay in the monastery for the night as it has two inns : an outer inn, which function as a small hotel, and an indoor inn, that function as a cloister for male guests only as the monastery still has a community of Benedictine monks.
2. San Martín de Tours, Frómista.
Even though it undergone to several restorations and sometimes of them very controversial, San Martin de Tours remains as the perfect example of European Romanesque as well as the Hispanic. Controversy aside, the building follows the architectural line marked by the “modelo jaqués” (jaqués model). This church is one of the most important monuments of Spanish territory (not only of the Romanesque monuments), reason why has earned the second place in the list.
1. San Isidoro de León’s Basilica, León.
San Isidoro’s Basilica is, in my opinion, the most interesting Romanesque architectural complex that you can visit along the “Camino, even though nowadays has added some elements from the Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque periods. It is not only the architecture of the building which make it special, it is also because of the rooms that holds and the luxury items that can be seen inside such as: the Royal Pantheon, with exceptional Romanesque wall paintings and capitals ; the Romanesque cloister ; the Ark of San Isidoro´s relics ; Saint John and San Pelayo´s ark of ivories; Fernando I and Sancha´s Cross; the casket of Limoges enamels, and much more. All these pieces are under study for the country’s art historians.
Extra: Santa María del Naranco and San Miguel de Lillo, Oviedo.
Although there are not strictly Romanesque, I would like to add to the list these two pre-romanesque buildings (asturian style or ” ramirense ” style) , two authentic jewels of Spanish historical and cultural heritage. Do not miss them if you have in mind to do the Primitive Way. I had visit them during my student years and for me the buildings have an added a sentimental value.
And that’s it for today. You already know how, just below you have a nice little box where you can leave a comment . ¿ Would you add another sight ? Would you perhaps change the order? Do not forget to share the entrance if you liked it, and continue to follow Vojo on Facebook , Twitter and Instagram. See you next time!
Header photo: Fèlix González (Flickr).
Translation: Jessica Gispert.