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10 iconic examples of Spanish Romanesque architecture

10 iconic examples of Spanish Romanesque architecture

10 fotos

From the triple enclosure of Monasterio de Santa María de Poblet to the dodecagonal floor nave of La Iglesia de la Vera Cruz, here is a selection of essential visits

  • The abbey first began to be built in the 10th century and in 1022 the current church was consecrated. Its complex structure, with three superimposed levels, is unprecedented in Spanish Romanesque architecture and appears to be inspired by the monumental Roman facades, according to Jaime Cobreros, author of the guide “The best Romanesque destinations in Spain.” The monastery is located at the foothill of a mountain, with views of the bay of Llançà and Port de la Selva (north of Cape Creus).
    1Monasterio of Sant Pere de Rodes (Port de la Selva, Girona) The abbey first began to be built in the 10th century and in 1022 the current church was consecrated. Its complex structure, with three superimposed levels, is unprecedented in Spanish Romanesque architecture and appears to be inspired by the monumental Roman facades, according to Jaime Cobreros, author of the guide “The best Romanesque destinations in Spain.” The monastery is located at the foothill of a mountain, with views of the bay of Llançà and Port de la Selva (north of Cape Creus). 123F
  • This church was built between 1029 and 1040 within the walled enclosure of the Cardona Castle. Declared a National Monument in 1931, it was renovated and returned to its original state in 1962 after centuries of decline (in 1974 it was the artillery barracks of the Spanish army). It is currently in perfect condition and is considered one of the best examples of early Catalan Romanesque architecture.
    2Church of Sant Vicenç de Cardona (Barcelona) This church was built between 1029 and 1040 within the walled enclosure of the Cardona Castle. Declared a National Monument in 1931, it was renovated and returned to its original state in 1962 after centuries of decline (in 1974 it was the artillery barracks of the Spanish army). It is currently in perfect condition and is considered one of the best examples of early Catalan Romanesque architecture. 123F
  • Until a century ago, Romanesque pieces and frescos remained inside the Sant Climent de Taüll church in their original places, including the Christ Pantocrator dating back to 1123. This depiction of Christ, which currently resides in the National Art Museum of Catalonia in Barcelona, is considered the epitome of Catalan Romanesque art. The church, which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO within a group of nine Catalan Romanesque churches, has a basilical ground plan and three naves separated by three pairs of columns. It stands out for its six-story bell tower.
    3Church of Sant Climent de Taüll (Lleida) Until a century ago, Romanesque pieces and frescos remained inside the Sant Climent de Taüll church in their original places, including the Christ Pantocrator dating back to 1123. This depiction of Christ, which currently resides in the National Art Museum of Catalonia in Barcelona, is considered the epitome of Catalan Romanesque art. The church, which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO within a group of nine Catalan Romanesque churches, has a basilical ground plan and three naves separated by three pairs of columns. It stands out for its six-story bell tower. Getty Images
  • The Monastery of Poblet, protected by its triple-walled enclosure, “is the largest and best conserved of the Cistercian abbeys of all Christendom,” explains Cobreros. The church, the construction of which began in 1166, has an adjacent Romanesque cloister and three more in the gothic style to serve the monks (the Cistercian basin, the refectory, the kitchen, the cellar, the library, the bedroom).
    4Monastery of Santa María de Poblet (Tarragona) The Monastery of Poblet, protected by its triple-walled enclosure, “is the largest and best conserved of the Cistercian abbeys of all Christendom,” explains Cobreros. The church, the construction of which began in 1166, has an adjacent Romanesque cloister and three more in the gothic style to serve the monks (the Cistercian basin, the refectory, the kitchen, the cellar, the library, the bedroom). Depositphotos
  • The old and low-lying monastery of San Juan de la Peña, (Saint John of the Cliff) in Huesca, appears to be protected by an enormous hollow in Mount Pano, making it seem as if it is part of the rock. Descending from the entrance you can visit its oldest rooms – built between the 9th and 11th century – such as the Council Hall and the Lower and Mozarabic church. On the upper level there is the Nobles pantheon, a Romanesque church (consecrated in 1094) and the cloister, which is covered by reddish rock, and open to the outside on one side.
    5Monastery San Juan de la Peña (Botaya, Huesca) The old and low-lying monastery of San Juan de la Peña, (Saint John of the Cliff) in Huesca, appears to be protected by an enormous hollow in Mount Pano, making it seem as if it is part of the rock. Descending from the entrance you can visit its oldest rooms – built between the 9th and 11th century – such as the Council Hall and the Lower and Mozarabic church. On the upper level there is the Nobles pantheon, a Romanesque church (consecrated in 1094) and the cloister, which is covered by reddish rock, and open to the outside on one side. Getty Images
  • The Castle of Loarre is the oldest, most important and best-conserved Romanesque military-religious complex in Spain. Its entrance may be confusing as toward the end of the 11th century an additional chapel was constructed just outside the castle walls. The front entrance leads to the main stairs, the crypt and the church of San Pedro and brings you to the highest part, the ancient citadel where the keep (the Tower of Homage) and the Tower of the Queen are located.
    6Castillo of Loarre (Huesca) The Castle of Loarre is the oldest, most important and best-conserved Romanesque military-religious complex in Spain. Its entrance may be confusing as toward the end of the 11th century an additional chapel was constructed just outside the castle walls. The front entrance leads to the main stairs, the crypt and the church of San Pedro and brings you to the highest part, the ancient citadel where the keep (the Tower of Homage) and the Tower of the Queen are located. Thinkstock
  • In 924, Abderramán III, the first Caliph of Córdoba, organized a raid against Pamplona, causing the monarchy and diocese to take refuge in the Monasterio of San Salvador of Leyre. From this, the custom of choosing the Bishop of Pamplona from among the monks of Leyre was born and the monastery was strengthened as a spiritual and cultural center. The religious structure, which was consecrated in 1057, holds two Romanesque treasures of great importance – the front of the church and the western portico – separated by a great gothic nave. The monastery is in very good condition.
    7Monastery of San Salvador of Leyre (Yesa, Navarra) In 924, Abderramán III, the first Caliph of Córdoba, organized a raid against Pamplona, causing the monarchy and diocese to take refuge in the Monasterio of San Salvador of Leyre. From this, the custom of choosing the Bishop of Pamplona from among the monks of Leyre was born and the monastery was strengthened as a spiritual and cultural center. The religious structure, which was consecrated in 1057, holds two Romanesque treasures of great importance – the front of the church and the western portico – separated by a great gothic nave. The monastery is in very good condition. 123F
  • The Collegiate of San Isidoro is made up by the Royal Pantheon, the best set of Romanesque paintings conserved in their original place, the Isidorian Basilica, erected in three stages, from the end of the 11th century to the middle of the 12th, and its museum, which is filled with exceptional pieces. It brings together the different stages of the Romanesque style, from the Proto-Romanesque to the one present in Spain today.
    8Collegiate of San Isidoro (León) The Collegiate of San Isidoro is made up by the Royal Pantheon, the best set of Romanesque paintings conserved in their original place, the Isidorian Basilica, erected in three stages, from the end of the 11th century to the middle of the 12th, and its museum, which is filled with exceptional pieces. It brings together the different stages of the Romanesque style, from the Proto-Romanesque to the one present in Spain today. Anaya Touring
  • The Romanesque Abbey of Santo Domingo de Silos, located in the valley of Tabladillo (in the province of Burgos) experienced multiple extensions throughout the 12th century. As a result, this has led to its slightly irregular geometry, which brings together the sculptural evolution of this style. It consists of two floors (the lower is one is older; the upper one was raised in the 13th century). The north and south sides consist of 16 arches and of 14 sides facing east and west. It also features 64 capitals (the head of a column) and eight large stone reliefs in the corners of each of the wings of the lower floor.
    9Abbey of Santo Domingo de Silos (Burgos) The Romanesque Abbey of Santo Domingo de Silos, located in the valley of Tabladillo (in the province of Burgos) experienced multiple extensions throughout the 12th century. As a result, this has led to its slightly irregular geometry, which brings together the sculptural evolution of this style. It consists of two floors (the lower is one is older; the upper one was raised in the 13th century). The north and south sides consist of 16 arches and of 14 sides facing east and west. It also features 64 capitals (the head of a column) and eight large stone reliefs in the corners of each of the wings of the lower floor. 123F
  • The Church of Vera Cruz, which was consecrated in 1208, is located in the neighborhood of San Marcos, in Segovia. It features a 12-sided floor nave which surrounds a small central temple, also with 12 sides. Since 1531, this monument, considered one of the best preserved of its styles in Europe, has belonged to the Sovereign Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, Rhodes and Malta, better known as the Order of Malta.
    10Church of La Vera Cruz (Segovia) The Church of Vera Cruz, which was consecrated in 1208, is located in the neighborhood of San Marcos, in Segovia. It features a 12-sided floor nave which surrounds a small central temple, also with 12 sides. Since 1531, this monument, considered one of the best preserved of its styles in Europe, has belonged to the Sovereign Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, Rhodes and Malta, better known as the Order of Malta. Getty Images